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 Post subject: Re: Economic impact of steam
PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2019 7:24 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 969
Location: Tucson, Arizona
It appears that steam on the Grand Canyon is safe for now. However, the country that it runs through can get pretty dry during fire season and while burning oil reduces the danger of a railroad caused wildfire, it does not totally eliminate that risk. I believe that Xanterra will run steam as long as they perceive it to add value to the attraction of traveling by train and costs are reasonable. The future of the railroad is more that of a people mover, allowing visitors to make their base camp at Williams and reduce the footprint of automobile related facilities within the park itself.

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"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."- Conductor Nimrod Bell, 1896


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 Post subject: Re: Economic impact of steam
PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2019 7:34 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2490
Location: Northern Illinois
Following on to what Randy said...

Many people have made the statement that the general public doesn't care what pulls the train, because they don't know the difference, and that's true, steam has been gone from the general rail network so long now that you need to be in your mid seventies to remember it. They don't know the difference because they've never been exposed to it. But... what if we can show them something different... something amazing... a machine with a soul? Sure, the majority of folks won't be affected, but some will, and perhaps return to experience it again, or better yet, seek out other places around the country to find the steam experience.

Now I well realize that tourist railroads need to turn sufficient profit to keep the lights on, but doesn't this fall under the educational mandate of the not-for-profits? If nobody is running steam, there will be little demand for steam, because no one will know what it is about. If we expect the railway preservation work we do to continue past our lifetime, we need to be putting some effort into educating the public.

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 Post subject: Re: Economic impact of steam
PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2019 2:09 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 969
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Dennis Storzek wrote:
Now I well realize that tourist railroads need to turn sufficient profit to keep the lights on, but doesn't this fall under the educational mandate of the not-for-profits? If nobody is running steam, there will be little demand for steam, because no one will know what it is about. If we expect the railway preservation work we do to continue past our lifetime, we need to be putting some effort into educating the public.


Yes, operating to generate sufficient income (not profits) to sustain the operation falls under the educational mandate for not-for-profit organizations. However, we must focus on what has to be done to sustain museums and maintain their relevance. This goes hand in hand with the OT discussion on the future of warbirds in that we must attract new, younger members into the preservation field and we have to do what is necessary to attract them to us. Without that, the economic impact of steam will be zero because there will be no one for us to hand the torch off to.

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"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."- Conductor Nimrod Bell, 1896


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 Post subject: Re: Economic impact of steam
PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2019 4:55 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2608
bmt4449 wrote:
So, while I don’t have a study, I do have very reliable evidence that steam, at least on the railroad I volunteer, does substantially better. I don’t have a numbers breakdown but anytime our steam engine goes down for light repairs or a boiler wash and we have not had a backup our ticket sales get cut in at least half. Also, we get a lot of complaints from people who drove long distances when we are not running steam.


Brandon, your line is an excellent example of "it depends". Your core excursion, Garibaldi to Rockaway, parallels the highway for the vast majority of the trip. Passengers can get the same exact view in the air conditioned comfort of their car.

In my opinion, you have two reasons to ride. 1) The novelty of a train ride, any train ride. This would primarily appeal to people with kids, who will do it just for the "adventure". 2) The novelty of a steam train. Now you're providing something they can't experience in their car. It's pretty much the same scenery as the road, but a totally different experience.

For your line, your observations are spot on (no surprise there). But it's not always the same for other operations.


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