261 Pulls Gourmet express on the former Milwaukee Road

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261 Pulls Gourmet express on the former Milwaukee Road

Postby moderator » Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:21 am

Now Twin Cities & Western, Gourmet chef's will lay out something I don't know about, but probably very enticing.
It happens two days. September 21 and Sunday, September 22.
Y'all are welcome until seats are sold out.
I'm pretty sure I'll be around in the first car of the train.
Going back the train will be pulled by an ancient covered wagon that, in its hey day was operated by Steve Sandberg's grandfather, who also operated the 261 back in the day.

More information at the 261 website https://261.com/

Mark D.

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Re: 261 Pulls Gourmet express on the former Milwaukee Road

Postby Al_Seever » Thu Aug 29, 2019 2:52 am

Sounds great Mark! I'm stuck at work, but I'll be cheering you folks on in spirit. Have a safe and fun trip!

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Re: 261 Pulls Gourmet express on the former Milwaukee Road

Postby Mark D » Thu Aug 29, 2019 9:41 am

Sucks to be you!
I might not go on this one.

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Re: 261 Pulls Gourmet express on the former Milwaukee Road

Postby Al_Seever » Tue Sep 03, 2019 12:15 pm

Yes, it does! ;) Over the years Steve has changed the appearance of the locomotive. I didn't get to see it run for the Milwaukee convention, and it looked so cool. He sure keeps the locomotive looking interesting. I liked the silver firebox and lack of running board stripe. I'm sure the train will be first class as always. Maybe I'll get to see the Christmas train?

Al Seever
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Re: 261 Pulls Gourmet express on the former Milwaukee Road

Postby Mark D » Sat Sep 07, 2019 8:40 am

Al, the way things are going none of us are likely able to witness steam power on the rails in the very near future. And we must never forget that the cause of that is that Amtrak wreck a few years ago. And when the then president of the United States came up with this idea of PTS. PTS truly is what is causing the steam community to be less than half the number of steam engines running on class 4 or better. Now relegated to class 1 track for the fortunate ones who can find a class 1 rail to operate on.
Get your last steam kicks now while you still can.

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Re: 261 Pulls Gourmet express on the former Milwaukee Road

Postby SOO2719 » Sun Sep 08, 2019 12:04 am

There needs to be a blanket waiver issued to all operating steam locomotives so this thorny Pathetic Tractionless... I mean, Positive Train Controll issue is resolved.
Richard "Tony" Held

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Re: 261 Pulls Gourmet express on the former Milwaukee Road

Postby tom c » Sun Sep 08, 2019 8:03 am

you can go to Duluth and see steam on the North Shore Scenic! I am a Colorado NG fan so dont have a problem with PTC interfering with steam!

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Lost somewhere in Michigan instead of Colorado!

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Re: 261 Pulls Gourmet express on the former Milwaukee Road

Postby Al_Seever » Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:44 pm

PTC, people-trains-crash... It sucks crashes happened, and things change. I'm thinking shortline steam will survive. But probably not on the mainlines.

Al Seever
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Re: 261 Pulls Gourmet express on the former Milwaukee Road

Postby SOO2719 » Wed Sep 11, 2019 12:10 pm

Here is where to park if you are going on the train:

https://261.com/excursions/parking-for-excursion/
Richard "Tony" Held

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Re: 261 Pulls Gourmet express on the former Milwaukee Road

Postby John Bohon » Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:31 am

It is important to remember the real reason the railroads went along with spending all the money on PTC is that they are looking to the future and crewless trains. The other option was to reduce train speeds to 40 mph and not spend all the money. I am not sure about the west but in the east that would not really have a great effect on overall train speeds. Eastern freight trains spend relatively little time above that speed anyway and the savings in fuel consumption would have more than made up any revenue differences on those trains that do. The real railroad that would have suffered would have been Amtrak but the railroads do not want that so they would consider losing Amtrak a benefit. A short term fix for steam is to design and build a system that will work with steam. It can be done. That would allow steam to run if you can find a railroad that will allow it. The long term problem will be the lack of crews due to crewless trains. Even moving steam engines will get more difficult when that happens, again if you can find anyone who will allow it. The only long term future of steam is on smaller railroads at speeds below 40 mph. As operators we have to be ready to deal with that circumstance. Remember, Australia is already running long distance crewless trains. They are being tested here. We live in a world where having an employee is the worst thing a company can have.

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Re: 261 Pulls Gourmet express on the former Milwaukee Road

Postby SOO2719 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:16 pm

In my opinion, there is no way the "not in my backyard" crowd would ever go for crewless trains in the United States. The automated trains in Australia serve mines in a remote region, not a populated one. I seriously doubt crewless trains will become the norm in North America because of the NIMBY outcry alone that, in turn, would influence politicos into the "just say no" crowd. (The labor unions would like that.)
As for PTC? Again, the Federal Railroad Administration needs to have the guts to issue blanket waivers to all mainline steam operators so they can continue to run. Steam runs on PTC-type mainlines in England (IIRC), so why not here?
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Re: 261 Pulls Gourmet express on the former Milwaukee Road

Postby John Bohon » Sun Sep 15, 2019 3:30 pm

I would not be surprised we have the beginning of one man crews in the next 5 years. Many shortlines already operate this way with the conductor following in an automobile. Amtrak only has one man on the locomotive. This may start in isolated areas but like one man yard crews operating with remote packs it is coming. The nimbys will cry and wail but our government clearly favors big business regardless of which side is in power so the best they will achieve will be delays. As for the labor unions they have such a small influence today they can offer very little opposition. Like the nimbys they will cry and wail. FRA and the government in general are not in the business of putting business out of business and will offer rules but will not be inclined to eliminate the practice. I think crewless trains could easily be a reality in the next 10 years at least on a trial basis.

As for FRA giving blanket waivers to cover operating steam engines without PTC it will not happen. Having dealt with the FRA for 40 years I can tell you they consider waivers on a case by case basis. Until a railroad comes to them and requests a waiver they will not and probably can not issue one. It just is not how they operate. In the mean time they are all about enforcing the law and the law includes PCT. It is up to the individual railroad to request a waiver just as UP did last year and it is not in the best interest of most, if not all, railroads to do so. Even if a blanket waiver were to somehow appear it would still be up to the steam locomotive operator to find a railroad willing to allow them to operate. Operations in England are very different than here. Their track is owned by the state and trains operated by the people owning the trains. From what I hear it slowly gets more difficult to operate steam in England so their operators may eventually get into the same catch 22 situation in which we find ourselves.

The people who are going to succeed in running steam in the foreseeable future are those who find a place to run and if necessary a way to get there. In nearly all cases that will be on railroads running under 40 mph. The Nashville Steam project with 576 is unique in that they have a place to run 60 mph without PTC but that ruling just came about in recent times. The project started before the ruling. They made sure they had a place to run before going after the locomotive. That fact has definitely helped with fundraising. It is unfortunate but finding a place to run steam engines will probably be the biggest challenge to running them in the future.

John Bohon

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Re: 261 Pulls Gourmet express on the former Milwaukee Road

Postby Fitz » Sun Sep 15, 2019 5:08 pm

I'm glad I had the opportunity to be a steam fan for the last 28 years, and have been fortunate enough to have the means and the desire to find, travel with, photograph, sometimes volunteer and just enjoy mainline operations with 4449, 3751, 261, 700, 1225, 765 and others, and have had the great pleasure of meeting and befriending many crew members from all these operators, including you, Mark, Brent, and Steve and so many others on the 261 crew, Doyle McCormack, Jack Wheelihan and many others on the 4449 crew. One of the greatest experiences I had was as part of the crew of 4449, though just in merchandise sales, in 2009 when the combined forces of the 261 and 4449 crew managed to move 4449 from Oregon to Minnesota as one step in the Michigan steam celebration.
Hope I can attach this. Steve, Bill and Doyle, of the steam operators.
Attachments
49minn278.jpg
Image

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Re: 261 Pulls Gourmet express on the former Milwaukee Road

Postby Mark D » Mon Sep 16, 2019 9:35 am

In truth, PTS isn't the steam world's first problem. Even PTCS (Positive Train Control Steam) were to become reality most main line steam engines still couldn't operate. The reason is that the railroad they operate on don't want to insure the steam operation. How did the 261 operate back in the day? They were able to operate as an Amtrak Special, thus using Amtrak insurance. Amtrak today is no longer interested in insuring for sure steam operations and I believe any non-Amtrak owned operation.
PTC is still not mandatory - yet. It has one or two years before it's mandatory. So, if the 261 were in a position to go back to those super fun trips down to the Windy City, we could not go because of insurance.
How does it go on the TC&W? I have no clue. I do know that it does operate on that line. Rough track that can almost knock you right out of the tool car, or the cab, or anywhere, is now the norm.
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Re: 261 Pulls Gourmet express on the former Milwaukee Road

Postby Mark D » Tue Sep 17, 2019 10:46 am

I have to play mother to the 261 over night on 19th and 20th this week.
I don't have information on when I start or when someone comes to relieve me.
And since I don't want to hang around all day after being on the engine over night, I'll drive the 60 some miles home again between the two stints.
Fun
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