Grand Canyon Railway Discontinuing Steam

ladybngnfan Oct 31, 2008

  1. ladybngnfan

    ladybngnfan TrainBoard Member

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    I just got my newest issue of Trains, and there is an article about the Grand Canyon Railway discontinuing steam operations, because of several reasons, including fuel prices. The article said they would put two of their steam locomotives on display. What is going to happen to the others, particularly Spokane Portland and Seattle number 539, which they repaired and started running again? Hopefully, not scrapped.
     
  2. MP333

    MP333 TrainBoard Supporter

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    It's all a shame. Both the 29 and the 4960 were fully restored and put on a good show. And it's not like they don't have riders, I've watched them fill 15 heavyweights with hundreds and hundreds of people many times. They already have a shay on display, it seems a shame to put these out to pasture also. As far as the SP&S, who knows...

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  3. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Sad to know this would happen. Especially since fuel prices have dropped dramatically. Now nearing where they were before the increases.

    I have a feeling the lack of steam will effect ridership. People are not going to travel to see or ride diesels in numbers they would to ride steam. Regardless of it being the Grand Canyon.

    Boxcab E50
     
  4. SteamDonkey74

    SteamDonkey74 TrainBoard Supporter

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    I have the same feelings as Ken. I don't think that these railroads are going to have the turnout with diesels as with steam. Maybe they've already done the math and figured out that they'll still do better even with decreased ridership, but since so many of these things are shoestring/volunteer type operations I am going to guess that there wasn't a major cost-benefit analysis performed.

    Well, I'd be happy to have the SP&S engine back up in the Pacific Northwest!
     
  5. MP333

    MP333 TrainBoard Supporter

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    I know they laid off all the steam personnel. I bet feelings are bad in Williams right now. It's a VERY railfan-friendly town, but it's the train tourists that make that town go.

    So the (staged) train robbers are going to be robbing the F40PHs now? That just seems goofy.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 31, 2008
  6. MP333

    MP333 TrainBoard Supporter

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    Through the years I've been going up there, I was always amazed at the large crowds and the good times they had. You should see all the regular joes that go there and suddenly turn into drooling foamers when those locos and their Alco B-units chug out of the ex-Harvey House/station with a full passenger train! The former owners ran a fantastic program and really made that place go. I know GCRR gets ridiculed by train purists, but to heck with them! It was a fun place to spend a day.

    Actually a group was trying to build an enormous Disneyland type park nearby, (as if the Canyon needs that to attract tourists) but thankfully the TOTAL lack of water has prevented this so far. But I would never count the developers out.
     
  7. pastoolio

    pastoolio TrainBoard Member

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    Sad it is. =(
    One of the guys at the Flagstaff MR Club I'm part of is a conductor for the GCRR. He's been letting us know about all the crap that's going on out there. It's a shame. :thumbs_down:

    -Mike
     
  8. MP333

    MP333 TrainBoard Supporter

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    I hope your conductor friend got to keep his job!
     
  9. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I wish it could happen. We can only hope.

    Boxcab E50
     
  10. Ironhorseman

    Ironhorseman Staff Member

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    I was there on September 25 and just missed the last steam run by a couple of weeks. The conductor I spoke with said they can run the diesel to the south rim 6 times for what it would cost for steam to run once. I guess the new owner is like the rest of them ... just get as much money out of it and screw the rest of 'em!

    I have to say, it was a great ride. My wife and I had a wonderful time. With fuel prices falling, maybe they will have special steam excursions once in a while. :)
     
  11. fitz

    fitz Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    They have not restored the SP&S 539 to operation. It was shipped there and has just sat there in basically the same condition it was in Battle Ground. What a shame. I remember when she was in the park in Vancouver, looking much better than she does now. I guess we will never see the likes of this again, eh? :tb-sad:

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  12. SteveM76

    SteveM76 TrainBoard Member

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    I heard about this a while back from the steam crew on RJ Corman. My wife and I had planned a trip for next year but I'll just skip the train ride now. Sad to hear.
     
  13. Stourbridge Lion

    Stourbridge Lion TrainBoard Supporter

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    :tb-sad: :tb-sad: :tb-sad: :tb-sad:
     
  14. ladybngnfan

    ladybngnfan TrainBoard Member

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    I would be, too, even though I'm a diesel fan. My dad is an SP&S fan, and he was not too happy when that locomotive was pulled out of Esther Short Park in Vancouver by the group in Battle Ground who wanted to restore it to run again. He told me that the boiler on that locomotive had been condemned, though he didn't say what was wrong with it-he probably does not know. He was also not too happy that the City of Vancouver let the locomotive be removed from the park. He felt that Vancouver dropped the ball on that one, and that they had no appreciation for the history of Vancouver, which of course, the locomotive is a part of.
     
  15. ladybngnfan

    ladybngnfan TrainBoard Member

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    You and my dad would agree. He thinks the city of Vancouver should never have let 539 go. I must say he was right, especially since it's so much a part of Vancouver's history. Shame on them!
     
  16. BN9900

    BN9900 TrainBoard Member

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    With the faltering Economy maybe they are just trying to stay afloat, has any one said they sold or scrapped any of the steamers? They can rehire the steam folks too. I don't know, just my two cents worth, maybe with the economy going back up (when it does. then we'll see steam back in action. I'd go see an Alco, F or especially and E operate there.
     
  17. SteamDonkey74

    SteamDonkey74 TrainBoard Supporter

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    I would, too, but the question is whether the family vactioners and retired RV couples and such would be so enthusiastic about early diesel. I would guess that many just see diesels as being all one category.
     
  18. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I have the same feeling. Joe Public traveler, and railfans are usually two widely separated viewpoints. Steam has a much wider appeal. While I might be excited about seeing an ALCo FA, etc, would the "average" sightseer be as thrilled? Are they there for the Canyon, the RR and ride, the tourist trap as a whole, or?

    I wouldn't want to believe they'd scrap any steam. Surely they know it's value, and would prefer to sell from that standpoint.

    Boxcab E50
     
  19. Allen

    Allen TrainBoard Member

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    I had several friends who worked for the GCR and I hope that they'll be able to find "steam" employment elsewhere. Sam Lanter, GCR's CMO, taught me a lot about the philosophy of 1:1 scale "model" railroading back in the late 1970's.

    I was last there in 2005 and they felt that the new owners would eventually pull this little stunt and put the screws to the employees. But then, their bean counters are grooming the property to be sold next year.
     
  20. BALOU LINE

    BALOU LINE TrainBoard Member

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    Another factor for any tourist line running steam is insurance. Because steam has the 'potential' to throw sparks and start forest fires they have a higher insurance liability. Running steam through a national forest in a high fire danger area like northern Arizona has a high risk. Starting a forest fire either accidentally or intentional is a prosecutable offense and I'm sure this is part of the bean counters math. It is sad to see steam pulled from the front line of service. Many tourist railroads face this type of dilemma.
     

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