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 Post subject: Re: Christmas Trains Update
PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2021 2:04 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:07 am
Posts: 735
Location: Philadelphia Pa
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
Since I can't seem to find Brother Hadder's query as to how heritage railways are handling "winter holiday" trains in 2021:

*Wilmington & Western has announced its schedule for both their Santa Claus Express and Holiday Lights Express, but has imposed assigned seating, and asked that groups wanting to sit together act accordingly:
https:www.facebook.com/WilmingtonWestern/posts/10158328172031676
"Mask Requirement Update: Face coverings are no longer required on the Open Air Car (Hayrides) and in the parking lot and on the platform of the Greenbank Station.".....



Not for nothing, but Wilmington & Western has always used assigned seating for their Santa trains.

When we refurbished the interiors of the coaches back in the 1990s, special metal plates with seating designation (Row Number and AB or CD) were installed over the interior windows...particularly needed for Santa Trains, Wild West Days, Civil War Days and any other special event where sellout crowds were/are commonplace...these plates replaced masking tape either on the seatbacks or over windows with same markings.


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 Post subject: Re: Christmas Trains Update
PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2021 8:58 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 10613
Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
junior wrote:
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
Since I can't seem to find Brother Hadder's query as to how heritage railways are handling "winter holiday" trains in 2021:

*Wilmington & Western has announced its schedule for both their Santa Claus Express and Holiday Lights Express, but has imposed assigned seating, and asked that groups wanting to sit together act accordingly:
https:www.facebook.com/WilmingtonWestern/posts/10158328172031676



Not for nothing, but Wilmington & Western has always used assigned seating for their Santa trains.

The wording of the Facebook post implies otherwise.


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 Post subject: Re: Christmas Trains Update
PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2021 5:40 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 2:46 pm
Posts: 2495
Location: Pac NW, via North Florida
softwerkslex wrote:
Bobharbison wrote:
Les Beckman wrote:
From what I heard at the museum yesterday, all of Hoosier Valley's Santa train runs have been sold out and we had to pull our radio and newspaper advertisements.
I'm curious as to why they wouldn't add more trains or run on additional days if they're already sold out?
Lack of volunteer labor. From a pure financial standpoint - we should add trains during Christmas week, and maybe on Friday evening. But, we don't have the volunteer labor to staff and clean all those trains.
Well written.
I am crew at the Chehalis WA operation and we are struggling to get crews for all the Polar Express trains. It's so easy to say, "Just run more trains" but in years past, the crews were completely wrung out by the time Christmas actually arrived. I expect the same will take place this year (the state shut us down last year for Polar). So far I've only been brakeman on one day's trains and it was a very long day, dealing with demanding parents, snafus of all kinds and getting people to show up.

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 Post subject: Re: Christmas Trains Update
PostPosted: Wed Nov 24, 2021 12:08 am 

Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:45 pm
Posts: 268
Lee Bishop is pretty correct here. If you have never worked a series of train excursions, you can't really imagine how hard the work is. For our regular 8am-5pm days, we have folks showing up by 6am to stock and prep, and they are there several hours after the day is done to clean and store the equipment. That means about 12-14 hours a day. Now we add evening trips to the plan and can see 16-hour days. I have 6 straight days out of Van Buren, Arkansas, coming up in early December, and finding folks who can last half a day is hard, much less six full days in a row. We then have two more weeks of trips at other cities along the line.

It is a lot of work to get families on and off the train, to clean between trips, keep the restrooms functioning, make sure that cookies and hot chocolate are ready, check people in and hand tickets out, etc. Then, you still have to be happy and friendly even with parents who show up the wrong day or at the wrong time, kids who get sick on the train, crying babies, a heating system failure, freight train meets, etc.

Everyone is invited to go get your training and volunteer to work these trips as staffing is really important, and often hard to find for these types of trips. It still amazes me that some railroads are able to run trips for weeks on end during this time of the year. All it takes is a lot of warm bodies working lots of hours.

Bart


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 Post subject: Re: Christmas Trains Update
PostPosted: Wed Nov 24, 2021 12:49 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:25 pm
Posts: 2170
Quote:
It's so easy to say, "Just run more trains" but in years past, the crews were completely wrung out by the time Christmas actually arrived. I expect the same will take place this year (the state shut us down last year for Polar).


This is why we are running only four days this year when we previously would run six days of Holly Trolleyfest.

Regarding an earlier question, the first time slots at Noon each day are selling out first, followed by mid-afternoon times at 2:30 or 3:00 p.m. Other sellout times are random.

Wesley


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 Post subject: Re: Christmas Trains Update
PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2021 11:24 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:25 pm
Posts: 2170
Our December 4 date is sold out.


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 Post subject: Re: Christmas Trains Update
PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2021 9:03 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:07 am
Posts: 735
Location: Philadelphia Pa
Bartman-TN wrote:
Lee Bishop is pretty correct here. If you have never worked a series of train excursions, you can't really imagine how hard the work is. For our regular 8am-5pm days, we have folks showing up by 6am to stock and prep, and they are there several hours after the day is done to clean and store the equipment. That means about 12-14 hours a day. Now we add evening trips to the plan and can see 16-hour days. I have 6 straight days out of Van Buren, Arkansas, coming up in early December, and finding folks who can last half a day is hard, much less six full days in a row. We then have two more weeks of trips at other cities along the line.

It is a lot of work to get families on and off the train, to clean between trips, keep the restrooms functioning, make sure that cookies and hot chocolate are ready, check people in and hand tickets out, etc. Then, you still have to be happy and friendly even with parents who show up the wrong day or at the wrong time, kids who get sick on the train, crying babies, a heating system failure, freight train meets, etc.

Everyone is invited to go get your training and volunteer to work these trips as staffing is really important, and often hard to find for these types of trips. It still amazes me that some railroads are able to run trips for weeks on end during this time of the year. All it takes is a lot of warm bodies working lots of hours.

Bart


Let's not forget that train crews can only do 12 hour days.....so that limits your staff even more, particularly if you are running steam and your engine crew is also the morning hostling team....


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 Post subject: Re: Christmas Trains Update
PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2021 11:14 am 

Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:45 pm
Posts: 268
Quote:
Let's not forget that train crews can only do 12 hour days.....so that limits your staff even more, particularly if you are running steam and your engine crew is also the morning hostling team....


Good point, but it is actually more complicated than simply a maximum of 12 hours a day. Many of these can impact special events that take place over many days like Christmas trains, Thomas, etc. There are rules about the required rest, the number of days in a row that a crew can work, the number of hours in a month, etc.

From my transportation textbook that I wrote a couple of years ago....

As of 2018, the railroad T&E hours of service consists of three basic limits on the on-duty time. The first is generally known as the daily limit, although the shift can actually stretch into two days if conducted at night. This daily work limit is 12 hours, with then a required 10 hours of undisturbed rest. Undisturbed rest means the employee cannot be contacted in such a way as to break up the rest. This includes things like phone calls and visits by a manager. If the railroad contacts the employee during this time period, the undisturbed rest time must start again. However, the employee is allowed to contact the railroad to get a question answered, but the railroad is only allowed to answer questions and not provide other information.

An unusual element of the daily limit is limbo time, a classification of time where the employee is paid for being on-duty, but where they cannot work. Limbo time includes activities such as waiting for transportation (deadheading) from the train to a rest location after the 12 hour work limit has been reached. Limbo time impacts the required undisturbed rest time, as each minute of limbo time must be added to the rest time. For example, should a train crew, who has already used their 12 hours of work time require 45 minutes to be transported from the train to a local hotel to get their rest, their required undisturbed rest time becomes 10 hours and 45 minutes. The regulations limit limbo time to no more than 30 hours per calendar month (e.g., January, February, etc.).

The second category of time is the six-and-two and seven-and-three standard, often known as the weekly limit even though the limit is based upon any six or seven days. This standard is designed to reduce the impact of working multiple days in a row. The rule limits T&E crews to six straight calendar days of work, and then requires two days (48 hours) off duty at the home terminal of the employees. However, if the employee ends their sixth day away from their home terminal, they are allowed to work a seventh day to return home, but then must take a three day (72 hours) off duty time. The two day and three day off duty times are not considered to be undisturbed rest time.

The third category of time that is limited is the monthly hours that can be worked. T&E crews are limited to 276 hours (23 days of 12 hours a day = 276 hours) per calendar month, including limbo time. There is no rest that will reset this requirement, only a new calendar month.


There are actually more details but this is what I use with students learning the basics.

Bart


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 Post subject: Re: Christmas Trains Update
PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2021 1:05 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:52 am
Posts: 2171
Location: Strasburg, PA
IIRC, the weekly limit doesn't apply to passenger service.

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 Post subject: Re: Christmas Trains Update
PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2021 4:37 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:45 pm
Posts: 268
Quote:
IIRC, the weekly limit doesn't apply to passenger service.


Yeah - that part always amazed me and shows the influence of passenger operators. Moving a carload of lumber has tighter standards than a trainload of people. There are a few other areas in the hours-of-service where passenger operators have different standards, such as the split shift, etc.

For freight operators, the hours-of-service standards also get extended due to emergencies where a line is out of service (weather, derailments, bridge failures, etc.). However, if over the 12 hours, the crew must cease work when the line is opened.

Our crews do both freight and passenger work so we have to apply the tighter rules, so thanks for the reminder on how pure passenger operations get a bit of relief. But folks, watch your crews if they also work elsewhere.

Bart


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 Post subject: Re: Christmas Trains Update
PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2021 3:25 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 24, 2013 3:25 am
Posts: 78
Kelly Anderson wrote:
IIRC, the weekly limit doesn't apply to passenger service.

Yep. I've worked 13 days in a row in commuter service and talk a out feeling like a zombie afterward. Plus you're only required to have 8 hours of undisturbed rest in between. At least most of our jobs have a 4+ hour respite (layover) during the day during which you can catch a nap, shower, and food.


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