GR&I upgrade?

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nathansixchime
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Re: GR&I upgrade?

Post by nathansixchime » Sat Jun 18, 2016 1:22 pm

Since you guys mentioned it. Here's a preview...
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Kelly Lynch
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Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society
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Hotbox
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Re: GR&I upgrade?

Post by Hotbox » Sun Jun 19, 2016 2:06 pm

If such a plan did come to fruition, does the FWRHS plan on boarding excursions by the 765 at this location?

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Bob Durnell
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Re: GR&I upgrade?

Post by Bob Durnell » Wed Jun 22, 2016 12:26 pm

I think any time that it would be practical, those trips would leave from there, assuming there is enough parking. It wouldn't be very easy to serve trips westward on the Wabash or southward on the NCD from there, but with enough backing up, I suppose you COULD do it. In many ways, Do It Best is a FANTASTIC boarding location.
The sweetest sounds in the world: A pair 567's at idle, and a non turbo 645 in run 8!

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Re: GR&I upgrade?

Post by Hotbox » Wed Jun 22, 2016 8:33 pm

It's really sort of "nowhere" out there, and your past schedules tended to be incompatible with city bus schedules.

Perhaps I'm a bit of a dreamer, but I think one roundtrip per day over 4 consecutive days between Ft Wayne and Chicago during the 3 rivers festival would be cool. Giving patrons the option of a stay over at their away destination . Ft Wayne residents could go spend a day or two in Chicago before returning home, While Chicago patrons might come on a Wednesday, spend a couple days at the festival and return on Friday. You could get some real synergies working in your promotion, Give them a destination. And a Downtown terminus right into the festival is likely more conducive to selling such outings. just a thought.

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Bob Durnell
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Re: GR&I upgrade?

Post by Bob Durnell » Thu Jun 23, 2016 5:53 pm

Interesting idea, but I don't think you could get enough riders in the middle of the week. I like the idea of being able to stay over in Chicago, BUT, I don't know how many people from Chicago would be all THAT excited about coming to Fort Wayne, or going to the Three River's Festival. It's a nice something to do during a layover, but I don't think it would be a big selling point for big city people. Perhaps that would make more sense running trains from smaller cities, an excursion starting FROM Lafayette, or maybe, Muncie, Frankfort, Findlay, etc. It could also lead to some weird load factor dynamics, where you might end up running a half empty train one day, and have more than you can handle the next. My thought for a cool trip would be Fort Wayne to Chicago, a Cubs game, and then back home. If done in the summer, you MIGHT even be able to get home before dark. A LOT of logistics would have to take place though, and the cost would scare away many. From a cool factor standpoint, a downtown boarding location is great, and if the new facility is done right, could have EVERYTHING you need. The problem though is still location for some trips. The Do-it Best location certainly lacks pizzazz, BUT, it has an excellent siding for the train, vehicle access to the whole consist (important for things like refueling generators on cars, a fence to reduce wanderers getting onto live tracks, a large lighted parking lot and is strategically located so that trips can leave for any one of five directions and return with minimal logistics. No matter HOW GOOD a new downtown facility is, it will be tough to beat Do-it-Best from a PRACTICAL standpoint. That's all I was saying.
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Notch 8
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Re: GR&I upgrade?

Post by Notch 8 » Thu Jun 23, 2016 6:52 pm

Too bad Baker Street passenger platforms don't exist anymore.. and too bad that track is under the CSX umbrella, the elevated platforms would work great especially since they're elevated.. If such a project is to work it needs to be tied closer to downtown.. how about the former Triple Crown Facility ?

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Re: GR&I upgrade?

Post by Bob Durnell » Thu Jun 23, 2016 7:29 pm

I think Headwaters is the right place for a new facility for LOTS of reasons, but it's just a fact that it is not an ideal boarding location for any trips that go south or southwest from Fort Wayne. It's not an insurmountable hurdle, it's just less than ideal. Keep in mind that for any trains that would disembark passengers in Fort Wayne, the proposed location is within walking distance of Headwaters Park and downtown.
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Re: GR&I upgrade?

Post by Hotbox » Thu Jun 23, 2016 7:49 pm

Bob Durnell wrote:Interesting idea, but I don't think you could get enough riders in the middle of the week. I like the idea of being able to stay over in Chicago, BUT, I don't know how many people from Chicago would be all THAT excited about coming to Fort Wayne, or going to the Three River's Festival. It's a nice something to do during a layover, but I don't think it would be a big selling point for big city people.
The way I am seeing it, my concept would mean that you guys would have the biggest baddest 'ride' on the midway. And, I think that the opportunity to ride a steam excursion would be a tremendous draw for Chicagoland patrons, in essence your operation would be bringing (tourist) business into the Fort sort of an opportunity for you guys to give a little back to the community. People might feel better about helping to support 'your big dreams' if they see a way that doing so brings money into Fort Wayne.

Personally, I've gone to so many 3RF's that the luster has long since worn off. I'd prefer an opportunity to "tour" into Chicago (some folks like riding the Helicopter rides down there, you would be offering something even more exciting) instead. Joe Blow might be going to the Beer tent for the 3RF, but I'd be going to (name preferred Chicago destination) for much more fun.

I don't know exactly how you would work it out, but just for giggles, let's say that your consist would be six cars for round trip one day tickets, and three cars for stay-over guests. The 3 cars used to haul Ft Wayne to Chicago stay-overs on day one would be used to haul Chicago fares back to Ft Wayne that evening. ( in addition to the 6 round trip cars). Chicago Fares would just have to understand that their first opportunity to return home would be the next morning on your second trip to Chicago. Perhaps your best schedule would be to split up, and run the first Saturday and Sunday of the 3 RF, wait a few days and then run again on Thursday and Friday. letting the customer choose if they want short (one day) or long (3-4 day) layovers. You might have to tack on an extra car or two on the last trip just to make sure no one gets stranded for a lack of seats. But I'm betting that if you promoted your Chicago boarding in something like Trains Magazine, there would be people coming from all over the Midwest just for the train ride, the 3RF would be something of a side show for them. While at the same time giving you guys an opportunity to look like you are promoting the community. I think it might be important to give this last point due consideration with thought as to how it might play back into your ambitions to have the community become interested in $upporting you.

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Re: GR&I upgrade?

Post by Steve Bryan » Thu Jun 23, 2016 8:24 pm

Back when NS was running their steam program, I recall them running excursions from Detroit one weekend and Chicago the other weekend to the 3RF and they were quite full.
Our group (3 Rivers RR Heritage) ran the last steam excursion out of FWA on a Tuesday and it was also full.

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Re: GR&I upgrade?

Post by nathansixchime » Sat Jul 09, 2016 1:03 pm

Ideally we could board trips for the 765 at HWJ and that's part of the planning - but as its been pointed out, the direction of the trips could be prohibitive in some fashion.
Notch 8 wrote:Too bad Baker Street passenger platforms don't exist anymore.. and too bad that track is under the CSX umbrella, the elevated platforms would work great especially since they're elevated.. If such a project is to work it needs to be tied closer to downtown.. how about the former Triple Crown Facility ?
The key to property north of the river along the FW&J is that it gives us some ROW for a "demonstration railroad" -- we need to be able to regularly operate some sort of seasonal tourist train - think of Monticello or Strasburg. The scope of the 765's operations don't change dramatically. The excursion business model isn't one that will be part of HWJ's budget.
Kelly Lynch
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Hotbox
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Re: GR&I upgrade?

Post by Hotbox » Sun Jul 10, 2016 2:42 pm

nathansixchime wrote:The scope of the 765's operations don't change dramatically. The excursion business model isn't one that will be part of HWJ's budget.
Of course, you will make that abundantly clear in your solicitations for support of HWJ? People see the imagery featuring the 765 in your promotions, they might get the wrong idea of what you intend to do. The word 'vintage' is easily misconstrued.

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Bob Durnell
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Re: GR&I upgrade?

Post by Bob Durnell » Sun Jul 10, 2016 6:24 pm

I'm not sure what you mean by that. What wrong impression do you think people are going to get? 765 is the star attraction whether it''s operating or not. Do to the vagaries of the world we live in, Headwaters Junction would have to be able to survive whether 765 ever ran another excursion or not. The big time steam excursions are kind of like the icing on the cake.
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Re: GR&I upgrade?

Post by Hotbox » Sun Jul 17, 2016 2:25 pm

Using the imagery of the 765 in conjunction with vague references to "frequent excursions behind a vintage locomotive", could mislead people into believing that those frequent local excursions will involve the 765 operating them. Since that is not the case, I believe openess and transparency up-front might avoid possible confusion. You do agree that it would be regrettable if the public bought into a strategy that was never intended?

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Re: GR&I upgrade?

Post by Bob Durnell » Sun Jul 17, 2016 9:30 pm

Every locomotive the FWRHS has can accurately be described as "vintage", so there is no false advertisement there. As I said, OF COURSE most of the promotional material highlights the 765, as it is the star attraction, and the reason the FWRHS even exists. I think it's safe to say that nothing would make the FWRHS happier than running frequent mainline excursions from HWJ, but due to many factors completely outside of their control, it would be wrong to promise something that may or may not happen, and running 765 up and down the GR&I isn't terribly practical. If you want to make a case for misleading, try Steamtown, which often has no operating steam locomotives. THAT, I have a real problem with. I think you are trying a little too hard to be negative in this case.
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Re: GR&I upgrade?

Post by nathansixchime » Mon Jul 25, 2016 9:09 am

For some reason I'm not getting the reply notification emails, so let me play catch up...
Hotbox wrote:Using the imagery of the 765 in conjunction with vague references to "frequent excursions behind a vintage locomotive", could mislead people into believing that those frequent local excursions will involve the 765 operating them. Since that is not the case, I believe openess and transparency up-front might avoid possible confusion. You do agree that it would be regrettable if the public bought into a strategy that was never intended?
Completely agree, but your phrasing here may imply that we aren't being open and transparent. There's a difference between advertising the 765 as being the sole operating attraction at HWJ and advertising that we would have a fleet historic equipment and motive power and as Bob says, the 765 just happens to have the highest profile among them. In the renderings we're developing a 2-8-4 model is used 2-3 times in the same picture, which would "imply" that we have multiple 2-8-4s, but we don't.

You won't find anything in the last seven years (!!) that advertises or suggests the 765 as being the only operating piece of equipment. It's not at all helped by the fact that we don't exactly have images of our operating 0-6-0 or SD9 up and running. Additionally, we use quite a lot of imagery from other tourist attractions that display a wide swath of motive power from streetcars to switch engines to other mainline locomotives.

(While due for an overhaul here soon, a place like this paints a big picture overall http://headwatersjunction.com/programs-and-events.)

It also largely depends on the audience.

I usually break down the message like this:
- the 765 is a major attraction that operates on a seasonal basis throughout the year and has developed a major following over 40 years
- railroad tourism as an industry is immensely popular and can be very successful if well designed, programmed and executed
- the 765 and our collection is "hidden away in a barn in the middle of nowhere"
- our non-765 events like Santa Train, etc., are immensely popular even without steam and with just a short ride on a caboose
- we have other locomotives and equipment with ties to the area (LE&FW no. 1) that could be restored and operated if the justification was there
- what if there was a centralized location where all of these popular elements could be designed, programmed and executed together?

There's a marketing phrase that I usually dislike but it's appropriate here: Sell the sizzle, not the steak.

KL
Kelly Lynch
Vice President
Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society
http://www.fortwaynerailroad.org

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