The 'J' - Where is it allowed to operate?

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Mark D
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The 'J' - Where is it allowed to operate?

Postby Mark D » Sat May 27, 2017 8:58 am

I'm wondering about the future of the N&W 611, considering the transfer of Hunter Harrison to CSX. Does CSX have any control over any trackage that the steam engine would run on?

And on a side note, I wonder how long it will be before CP puts their gorgeous Hudson back in service. There's no real answer to that question, but food for thought.
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Charles T. McCullough
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Re: The 'J' - Where is it allowed to operate?

Postby Charles T. McCullough » Sat May 27, 2017 5:12 pm

Hmmm... speak of the devil...

I read your post and remembered that the 611 was to be running an excursion today... so I went to the YouTube channel and just as the video came on, the engine had JUST PASSED the Roanoke Hotel Rail Cam!

YouTube keeps the last 4 hours of video, so, it is now 5:00 PM as I type this, so if you drag the right side of the time line back to just before 5 PM (based on when you get to YouTube) you can see it go past.

The YouTube channel is: https://www.youtube.com/embed/jV9BKnJgkhs

See if I can attach a screen shot of it (cropped):

Image
Semper Vaporo,
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Re: The 'J' - Where is it allowed to operate?

Postby tom c » Sat May 27, 2017 5:42 pm

The J runs on NS not CSX

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Mark D
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Re: The 'J' - Where is it allowed to operate?

Postby Mark D » Sun May 28, 2017 8:10 pm

Thanks Tom, I didn't know - don't know - their contract to operate. I was assuming they were running with an Amtrak agreement as is often done. That would mean I have no clue.

Charles, that's a great still shot from the video. From the angle it almost looks like a well put together model railroad. Cool. I'll take a look at the site you mentioned.
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Re: The 'J' - Where is it allowed to operate?

Postby tom c » Mon May 29, 2017 10:33 am

i dont think they are run under amtrak as NS contracted with the RR museums to run them. Just my guess from some reads

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Wowak
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Re: The 'J' - Where is it allowed to operate?

Postby Wowak » Mon May 29, 2017 11:34 pm

Currently they're allowed to run anywhere on NS as long as they pay for the insurance. From the sounds of things this weekend, they're talking with Amtrak to get certified and possibly take the J other places. So far the VMT has had zero interest in operating the J outside of VA/NC, but I believe declining ridership this year has made them realize they can't just offer the same 5 rides indefinitely if they want to keep selling tickets. I wouldn't be shocked if the J comes to Pennsylvania next year.
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Mark D
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Re: The 'J' - Where is it allowed to operate?

Postby Mark D » Tue Jun 06, 2017 11:29 am

Very true that if you play the same game long enough everyone gets tired of it.
Going to Amtrak certification can help a lot, but does not mean you can take your choo choo to just any railroad and demand to run.
Amtrak itself will not give you the permission to operate. Amtrak will allow you to run under their self insured protection only if you are allowed by the potential host railroad to operate. Even then, you still need your own insurance for your equipment and possibly any employees you might have on the train.
The railroad really doesn't want to add more liability to their operations than they already carry.
The above all started just after a certain guy who wore a towel around his head decided to destroy a couple huge buildings in New York and kill a lot of people. Days after that, they world of rail excursions was turned onto its head.

It seems that very slowly things are starting to turn around again, but it's too early to tell how things will be in a few more years. A lot depends also on the amount of business and good fortune of the intended host railroad. Add to that the particular likings or dislikes of the officials within the company, from road foremen all the way to the top.

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Re: The 'J' - Where is it allowed to operate?

Postby SOO2719 » Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:16 pm

Hold on, Mark. Steam excursions were already "turned on their head" long before 9/11 thanks to liability concerns. I vividly remember reading Jim Wrinn's article in a 1995 issue of Trains entitled "Mainline Malaise" that told the whole sorry story of how liability concerns were hurting mainline steam trips.
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Mark D
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Re: The 'J' - Where is it allowed to operate?

Postby Mark D » Wed Jun 07, 2017 7:27 pm

I never saw that story, but I believe it because Jim Wrinn has great credibility. I can only go by what I saw happening after 9/11/01. Before that time we could pretty much go just about anywhere we wanted to go on the BNSF. After 2011, we had to have enormous insurance coverage - way beyond affordable. Everyone was afraid the terrorists were going to bomb an excursion train and those same everyone's were afraid it would be their company that would be sued. That was when the rules changed and mainline excursions had to operate as an Amtrak train, using their self-insurance.
That is still going on, but there are some small signs that railroads are starting to look a bit more at the idea of good public relations from excursions on their rails.
Just my own opinion, of course, and I sure don't know what really goes on in the minds of railroad officials.
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John Bohon
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Re: The 'J' - Where is it allowed to operate?

Postby John Bohon » Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:19 pm

I can go back further than that. In the mid eighties when I was either General Manager or President, I was both at different times, of a shortline railroad in TN insurance was getting tight. One year we could only find one company in the country willing to write a policy for a shortline railroad. We had no passenger traffic and very little hazmat but still nobody was willing to insure us. I am pretty sure the same was true for mainline and tourist train operators. Needless to say the company willing to write a policy could charge whatever they wanted.

Insurance has been the reason only companies who are self insured like UP and NS can run an excursion program that amounts to more than a couple of trips per year. It has been that way for decades and I see no improvement in the foreseeable future. Like so many other things in todays world ticket prices are for the well to do and the market even in a big city environment like New York City is limited. The pool of people willing to ride who can afford to ride is just to small.

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Mark D
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Re: The 'J' - Where is it allowed to operate?

Postby Mark D » Sat Jun 10, 2017 7:03 pm

All I know about railroad insurance can be placed on the pointy end of a pin. However, I do recall that back in the late 1990's we were able to purchase insurance for the 261 to operate excursions on main lines that were willing to allow us to operate. That ended in 2001. It hasn't been the same since, but I'm sensing that things are starting to swing back, as things usually do. Or it's just my imagination. Not sure which.
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John Bohon
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Re: The 'J' - Where is it allowed to operate?

Postby John Bohon » Sun Jun 11, 2017 3:38 pm

For whatever my opinion is worth the insurance situation seems to come and go. Much like oil and several other big industries they seem to find a reason to have a crisis and things get very tight for a period of time. When that time is past the two common things that remain are the reductions in coverage and the increase in price. I agree things have gotten worse after 2001. Except for the new NS Steam Program which has already been abandon there has been basically no mainline steam in the east since the original NS steam program ended in 1994. Until Wick Moreman came around neither eastern class 1 could consider the operation of a steam locomotive. CSX still won't. To be honest over here it was hard to tell if there was a difference after 2001 since nothing was running anyway. I hope you are right about things turning around.

John Bohon


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