Latest Arrow, convention comments

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Sat Sep 15 23:52:05 EDT 2007


Frank, a lot of what you said is true, but being on the front line during the steam area and being involved with trip negotiations I can also tell you that another main factor in the decline of the NS steam program,( I am sure that Ken Miller will amen me on this) is the lack of ticket sales for excursions. During the last two years of the excursion program several sponsers had to cancell excursions and trains that ran, had plenty of vacancies, some where half empty. A lot of the railfan community forsake the program and opted to chase the 611 instead of ride, and that just don't pay the bills. The Watauga Valley NRHS and the Roanoke Chapter NRHS operated the last two succesful excursions before the 10/28/1994 announcement, while other chapters went in the hole or just barely broke even. The financial support was fading combined with the collision and car damage at Lynchburg. Mr, Goode only mentioned school kids as one reference, not the entire reason. Kids these days
are different than when I was one, they seem to have lost the respect factor and their parents know lawyers. On an excursion with the 1218 out of Spencer, some kids dropped cinderblocks onto some of the cars, nobody got hurt but, What if?
On a trip to Knoxville TN a air conditioning cover fell of, was run over and ricocheted into the next car and wiped out the plumbing in the men's room. nobody hurt, but ,What if??

As an employee of NS, I see everyday the struggles of a blossoming railroad, we can barely get enough time to maintain the tracks across the system and crew shortages plauge divisions everyday, where would they find the time or people to keep the program going today with NS busting at the seams? You can not take away from the costumer just to please a few fans.

One thought that sticks out in my mind about school kids and trains is the Good Morning America television coverage of the 50th running of the Santa Claus train with the Challenger stomping thru the Appalachias, the camera captures a little girl, near St. Paul, VA standing by the track waiting to jump behind the train and get goodies, when the 3985 blew by her, she was so close that the air/steam sent her backwards, I beleive if she had been any closer she could of had been sucked under the train on National TV.

We all loved the NS Steam trains, but simply put, we were not footing the bill , and when it comes down to Steam or my Job, I'm going to take my job anytime.

By the way Frank, You know good and well that I was once a silly railfan myself, and I enjoy meeting the trackside, but the Prancing Horse gave me a chance to be a real railroader and I haven't looked back since,
But even I occasionaly, after a long week of constant 100+ degree weather and 10,000 crossties, like to retreat back to my Marion,VA home and not mention a word about trains for a few days.

I'll climb out of my nest now.

Gary Price

NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at> wrote:
Well, Will, you are kind of opening a can of worms,
but I would suggest that you're certainly not
overstepping your bounds. However, I'd respectfully
offer a different take.

Mr. Goode is not an individual supported by our taxes
speaking at a public event (I've been that, sort of);
a government spokesperson should be expected to
respond to the "tough" questions from the people
paying his salary. However, Mr. Goode was our
"guest", and when you invite someone to dinner, and
ask them to speak, I think it's a form of courtesy to
clear a question like that before pinning him down in
front of what is, in some ways,a very tough crowd.
And, let's face it, a good percentage of "real
railroaders" have no use for those of us for whom this
is a hobby (whether historian and/or model
railroader). I would wager that some of the real
railroaders who are members of our historical
societies have had to put up with a certain amount of
"you one of those silly railfans?!?" at work [Gary
Price--feel free to chirp in here]. And,
pragmatically, it's good to have friends who either
work for the railroad, or did and still have
connections; would you rather tour a railyard or be
limited to pictures of how the yard used to be?
Frankly, I found Mr. Goode's accountability
refreshing. Yes, UP figured out a way, but the safety
and liability issues are Major and Out There. Just My
Humble Opinion.

Frank Bongiovanni

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