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Sun Sep 16 22:52:55 EDT 2007

As the manager of a group that is working on putting things together regarding the 611 (The Friends of the 611) we are investigating reasons that might stand in our way if we ever get to the place we can operate this engine. However, we have begun by planning to implement a no-tolerance policy on railroad trespassing and a strict safety program, but is that only the beginning? Will any parent be anxious to sue us just because their child was hurt on one of our trips even though this child did not follow our safety rules? It all boils down to personal responsibility. If people are not willing to be responsible and act in something regarding a safe manner, then it is best the engine stay where she is. We will not have the engine out for a few trips just to have someone hurt and be closed down by a costly lawsuit that could have been avoided by common sense.
As to support, the Friends of the 611 had a rough start due to lack of support, and it is only now that we have members willing to step forward and take part in this worthy cause in preserving two beautiful engines, N&W 611 and 1218.
Lois J.Ponton,
Manager and Board Member,
Friends of the 611


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
Can you find the hidden words?  Take a break and play Seekadoo!
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