Death of a Railroad?

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by nmtexman, Jul 12, 2002.

  1. nmtexman

    nmtexman Member

    This an excerpt from the Albuquerque Journal of July 12th, 2002.

    "Hammered by losses from the U.S. Forest Service's shutdown of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, the operator announced Thursday it will not run the 1880s-era railroad next year under its existing five-year contract.
    The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad Commission, which oversees operations, stated Thursday it will seek a new company to operate the railroad next year to replace the struggling nonprofit Rio Grande Railway Preservation Corp.
    The commission's decision not to renegotiate Rio Grande's contract means the corporation will be liquidated after the end of this year's operating season in October, Rio Grande board member Geof Gordon said.
    The corporation has lost more than $500,000 in ticket revenue and continues to lose about $17,000 per day because of the June 7 shutdown. About 70 employees have been laid off, and only a handful of administrative staff are still on the payroll.
    "You just can't absorb in this railroad that kind of revenue loss with ongoing expenses and survive," Gordon said. "We can't continue to tread water indefinitely in a bureaucratic void."
    The railroad, which is jointly owned by New Mexico and Colorado, links Chama and Antonito, Colo., and the closure has cost the mountain towns millions of dollars in tourist revenue.
    The Forest Service shut down railroad operations because of fears the coal-fired steam locomotives would ignite wildfires in the drought-stricken Rio Grande and Carson national forests.
    The attorneys general of New Mexico and Colorado have questioned the legality of the closure because the railroad operates on a strip of private property that predates both forests.
    The Rio Grande corporation asked the commission to seek a court injunction to lift the closure order, but the commission took no action, leaving the corporation to suffer its mounting losses.
    Commission chairwoman Carol Salisbury couldn't be reached for comment Thursday. In a press release, she lashed out at the Forest Service, but she did not explain why the commission did nothing to help the Rio Grande corporation during the shutdown.
    "I feel we will need to resolve whether this Forest Service action was an unlawful taking of private property, so that the commission and future railroad operators will know whether they are subject to the whim of Forest Service edicts issued without any pretense of fair hearings or normal due process," the release stated.
    In 2000, the Rio Grande corporation was created by the volunteer group Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad to run the railroad after the commission couldn't find any qualified operators. The corporation, which had successful operating seasons in 2000 and 2001, was expected to run the railroad for two more years under a five-year contract.
    If or when the railroad will reopen this year is still undecided. The Rio Grande forest has agreed the railroad can resume operation when certain fire-danger indicators decrease.
    But Carson forest officials have not agreed to the same reopening conditions. Even though the Carson reopens today to camping and hiking, the railroad is still prohibited from running because fire restrictions have not been lifted.
    The Rio Grande corporation's board of directors has requested the railroad be allowed to reopen Tuesday, but forest officials have not yet responded to the request, Gordon said.
    "We need to get started or just stop," he said. "If they're going to keep us closed for the rest of the year, what's the point?""

    From the looks of it, this is probably the death knell of the Cumbres & Toltec.
  2. rich maiorano

    rich maiorano Member

    thats a shame a lot of people will lose there jobs not only on thge railroad :mad: rich
  3. farmer ron

    farmer ron Member

    Thats horrifying, isn't there some way that a fire prevention system could have been put in place? I know from experience that some of our forests get an extremely high danger rate for fires and that certain measures and put in place to prevent fires from equipment that runs in the bush areas. It sounds like to me that the forestry service wants to shut down the RR. I agree with Rich, not only all the workers and their families, but think of all those effected through the tourist industry, not to even think of the loss of the RR line. It just baffles me that when government flexes its mussles and its tunnel vision thinking, it has no idea of the ripple effect of damage that it causes, and the scary part IT DOES NOT CARE !!! Sounds like there is more that just wanting to prevent fires. Ron..
  4. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Thanks Bob for the update on this situation which I have been following. I'm a big fan of the Cumbres and Toltec. Although I can understand the Forest Service's position it does appear that the Attorneys General may have dropped the ball on this one.

    Keep us posted when you have're the closest one to the situation. Thanks
  5. nmtexman

    nmtexman Member

    The Attorney Generals of Colorado and New Mexico tried to have the Forest Departments order revoked. Actually, the Cumbres & Toltec has it's own fire fighting department that follows about a mile behind the train with fire fighting equipment. This is just a case of bureaucracy over-reacting. Considering that it was, I believe, a Forest Service employee who started the fire, I think the government should attempt to keep the operation going. As is, the C&T is a joint New Mexico/Colorado government operation anyway which was outsourced to a private contractor.

    In addition, the C&T has been having problems with track work and other things in the near past. I think it's all over for the C&T.
  6. Catt

    Catt Guest

    This reads to me like a government agency working for it self instead of the people its supposed to work for. You know like this-"I'm the government and you will do what I say."
  7. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    Very sad, but it reminds me of the world's biggest lie,"Hi there, I'm from the government and I'm here to help you". Yeah, right!
  8. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Bob, the future does look bleak:( We experienced the same thing here in Ga some years back when the Dept. of Natural Resources outsourced Stone Mt. Park.(Has a railroad) One bad season and the contactor was down and out. DNR took it over, hired their own management and its been "great guns" ever since:) Here's hoping that they come up with a plan:)
  9. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Yes,a sad day indeed! While it is always sad when people lose their jobs,there is one more important thing to remember. The C&T is part of our heritage of railroad history and how the railroads help our great nation grow...What is next? The EPA vs. the Durango & Silverton ? Will they close the D&S as well? Then will the goverment set their eyes on live steam and say it is much to dangerous and you will need a boiler operator license,have your flues checked every 90 days? Will the EPA step in and say,You are putting out to much smoke! The forest department shutting you down as you may cause a fire? This may seem far out,But,IS IT??? After all big brother knows what is best for us.

    While I can understand the reasoning behind the Forrest Department's fears,I can not see them shutting down and,in a way killing,the T&S. Tis' a sad day indeed.
  10. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    The only problem with letting history repeat itself is that, There is no longer any place on this earth for freedom loving people to go, and start again. This time, freedom must stand, where it is, or perish.
    On that note, I'll shut up.
  11. kettlestack

    kettlestack Member

    As a foreigner you might think my comments strange but here goes....
    I've been to Chama, Cumbres Alamosa and Antonito several times. I was thrilled to see living history, and it left me pretty proud of the folks who pioneered the area and RR which brought prosperity to such a remote place. I can't tell you how sad I was to read your transcrip Bob. It's a sad day when beaurocrats decide to toss history into the trash can together with all it stands for.
    I've been in Chama "out-of-season" with snow 3 ft high and seen the local people and talked to the local folks, they're the salt of this earth and it's culpable to dictate policies which threaten their very livelyhood.
    I guess the mighty $$$ is more important to some than their heritage.
    As for forest fires .... well, it's not the first time nor the last time they have ocurred, and it's not even as if it was the RR which started it. The C&T RR are fully aware of their responsibilities in fire prevention and they take it very seriously.
    Perhaps as an "alien" (as your immigration officials prefer to call me) I should be quiet before I invoke the wrath of someone.

    In truth, this post has knocked the stuffing out of me and I think I'll wait till I cool down before I look at the other posts I haven't read yet.

  12. Vic

    Vic Active Member

  13. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    Thankyou. My feelings about what is right and proper is enough at odds with those of my countrymen, that I sometimes feel like the "alien" in my own home. The wrath you might invoke, will never be mine.
    By the way, good to hear from you again, you've been missed here.
  14. nmtexman

    nmtexman Member

    Saturday's Albuquerque Journal stated that the Cumbres & Toltec is supposed to start running again on Tuesday, the 16th. Hopefully, it won't be too late.

Share This Page