How would you manage this tourist railroad?

Ironhorseman Jun 6, 2015

  1. Ironhorseman

    Ironhorseman Staff Member

    The Yreka Western RR is about 7 miles long and runs between Yreka and Montague, CA and is accessible at the bottom of an of-ramp of I-5 in central Yreka. I-5 is a major North-South highway between Mexico and Canada.

    Currently, the equipment for freight is a 1957 GE SW8. Freight would be products from a lumber mill that would provide about 5 chip cars, 6 center-beam and/or flat cars of, (plywood) laminate and 2 flats of peeler-core, each day. A second mill owned by Fruitgrowers Corp. is currently under construction and would have an unknown number of daily cars to ship their product(s). These cars would be interchanged with the G&W in Montague.

    Nothing has moved over these rails since 2008, so the RW likely needs some work.

    There is a steam locomotive currently bogged down legal procedures that has been used to pull an excursion train since 1988. But let's consider the locomotive and passenger cars, (none exist on site at this time).

    If you owned the YW, how would you make this operation, or one like it a success?
  2. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    A bit of pondering to do.
  3. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

    I would offer a pair of ride along options for the local. Run a "be a fireman" and a "be a brakeman" program, charge a hundred bucks for the experience of riding in the cab or caboose. Tack on a gondola with seats and a roof and have a joke of "be a hobo" as well, and charge $30 for it with free beans and coffee.

    As for the steamer, I wouldn't run it, it is too expensive. I would rather have an old ALCO FPA on the tourist train and an agreement with a local museum to let them run their steam locomotives on a regular basis, splitting the revenue.
  4. Ironhorseman

    Ironhorseman Staff Member

    Interesting thoughts, Bremner. Thanks for participating. :)
  5. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    If we are assuming the right of way was brought back to operable condition and maintenance capabilities established, I would not immediately step into tourist operation. First I'd want to get a positive cash flow going with the freight. You will need to spend money on supplies, payroll, taxes, monthly bills, debt service. That is going to be your key to survival. Operating with one unit is chancy, so you'd need to lease a second engine capable of doing the whole job. ($$$)

    If all is going well, then after a year or two of keeping eyes open for possibilities, then look at ideas for excursion purposes.
  6. fitz

    fitz Staff Member

    Bill, you know I would want to get YW 19 back in operating condition, and for sure offer rides. The problem I see is raising enough money to improve the RoW, buy some coaches, and finance the restoration of 19. The Lotto?
  7. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

    I tend to go with Ken's concept.

    Phase-1, establish a business plan to recover and operate freight with existing customers, and develop new ones.

    Step-1 of Phase-1 - develop investors who will fund ROW recovery, rehab/lease of two(!) locomotives (customers and investors like reliability), and locate a source for leased, or on-call rental freight cars.

    Step-2 (during Step-1), convince old customers that you will be at least as reliable as their current over-the-road haulers and LESS expensive.

    Step-3 demonstrate a profit to your investors within a year or two so that they might be willing to invest in Phase-2, Tourism.

    Phase-2 - Tourism with Steam, if only to satisfy Jim...LOL

    Caveat - I have NEVER run a railroad, or a small business, or any business of any kind. I am a computer systems engineer, mid-level manager, and technical marketer....i.e. BS Artist. Obviously my opinion is well-founded and invaluable...R-I-G-H-T ! (LOL)
  8. Mr. SP

    Mr. SP Passed away August 5, 2016 In Memoriam

    Coaches? How about flatcars with benches? 417786552.jpg
    FriscoCharlie likes this.
  9. ScaleCraft

    ScaleCraft TrainBoard Member

    There isn't a local museum to run least anywhere close to Yreka, is there?
    Right now the headquarters and display is Yreka....but you've got far more expansion room in Montague.
    ROW doesn't look bad. Seems to be quite a few spurs for on-line shippers at the Yreka end.
    Freight and business M-F, rides and such only on weekends and/or holidays.
    The problem with steam is yes, it's expensive, but even if you don't own it, you have to be insured, and don't they jack the rates out of reality if you run steam on you rails?
  10. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Do any past records of the business exist where the public could access? To see what the freight and passenger revenues were...?

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