East Broad Top Railroad Has New Owners

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East Broad Top Railroad Has New Owners

Postby SOO2719 » Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:13 pm

Richard "Tony" Held

"Trackside with Tony"

Mark D
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Location: Sort of between Litchfield and Forest City, MN.

Re: East Broad Top Railroad Has New Owners

Postby Mark D » Fri Feb 14, 2020 9:03 pm

I hope they can make a go of it. I wonder if they know what they've gotten themselves into? It's not much different from people with vintage aircraft, or vintage cars. In the vintage aircraft it's probably twice the cost of maintenance than the steam engines and rolling stock. But still, operating steam locomotives is a venture of lost money. And then the insurance... And the upkeep...
Vintage cars? Yeah, they're more thrifty, but insurance is still costly because of the scarcity of parts to keep them running. If something happens, you drive it into a tree, for instance. Not meaning to, but let's just say you aren't the best, not nearly the best, driver. Insurance will break you. But, it's not nearly what it costs to haul general public people with ticket's. A car derails, it gets off the rails totally, rolls over even, It's not pretty, and it's even less pretty the next time you talk to your insurance adjuster.

Mark D.
Mark D. - The bottom of the information curve

John Bohon
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Location: North Carolina

Re: East Broad Top Railroad Has New Owners

Postby John Bohon » Sun Feb 16, 2020 3:53 pm

These guys definitely know what they have gotten themselves into. They know EBT is going to be a money pit for a number of years to come. There are millions of dollars to be spent just getting it back up running and stabilizing the existing property without even thinking about any expansion. The railroad needs so much. Before they can haul bigger trains they will have to get cars in service. There train consists of one coach, a converted boxcar, the observation car, and two cabooses. The FEBT owns or has leases on several cars and a few of the originals are in Orbisonia but out of service for major repairs. Repairing wooden coaches is not cheap and building new ones is even more expensive. Just getting one engine in running condition is going to be expensive and that does not include the repairs that they really need but have not received since at least the fifties. As far as I know none of the engines has had serious running gear work since the railroad shut down in 1956.

A lot of people are talking about expanding the railroad. Personally I do not expect to live to see mush of that happen if it ever does. It would be reasonably cheap to put ties in the few thousand feet of cleared track going south out of Orbisonia but for what purpose? It really does not get you anywhere unless there is some potential for photo freights leaving that end of town. Expanding the wye at the clay spur on the other end of the ride would probably be a better investment. That would at least allow for longer trains in the future. As for opening the rest of the railroad, what would have been relatively easy in the sixties is now a monumental task. About 20 years ago I returned a 4 mile section of railroad to service for freight service that looked just about like the current EBT. This line had not run in many decades and large trees were so thick you could hardly walk parts of the track in the winter. Even that long ago the price for restoring the track was more than a million dollars. Today I suspect it would be closer to 2 million. Multiply that by 25 miles and you start to get an idea. The EBT has a number of out of service bridges on the old track and the one I rebuilt had none. To say the least bridges get expensive fast. All of this does not even begin to deal with 2 collapsed tunnels.

It is difficult to realize how remote this area is. Getting people to Orbisonia is not easy and there is nothing but the railroad when they get there. I think the only brand name anything in town may be a Subway. There are virtually no hotel rooms in the area. I am not sure where the nearest campground is. All of this means making the area a destination is going to be very difficult. Being a destination with several things to do is a big plus in marketing a tourist attraction. More than anything else I would love to know what the new management has in mind for marketing the railroad. That may be the most important item the new team has to think out to allow the railroad to grow and prosper.

John Bohon

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