SP No. 4449 performed 'flawlessly' during weekend excurison

Malfunctioning air conditioning units were volunteers' primary challenge
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PORTLAND, Ore. — A two-day big steam excursion that traveled almost 500 miles, hosted 560 riders, and involved more than 60 volunteers took more than a year of planning, says the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation, but it paid off on last weekend’s excursion.

Martin Hansen, a spokesperson for the foundation, called the excursion a success and said that the trip was without issue except for problems with the air conditioners on some of the rented coaches that delayed the train’s departure from Portland by about an hour and a half.

“The HVAC issues caused us to leave late for the first time in our 40-year history,” Hansen says, “But the guests were understanding and knew that the volunteers were working to resolve the issue. We didn’t see nearly as many comments about that on our suggestion cards as we expected.”

Hansen said the passengers in the affected cars were offered different seats and vouchers to the concessions car. He also had high praise for the railroads and assorted vendors that came together to offer a seamless excursion. He said that BNSF Railway was “a pleasure to work with,” and said that foundation officials appreciated the City of Prineville Railway’s flexibility after the train left late.

“We asked them to accommodate us and turn the consist on their wye in the morning, instead of at night, as was the original plan,” Hansen said. “They were really great about it, and sent their general manager out in the morning and had the switches lined up for us.”

Hansen said that the volunteers staffing the train spent a considerable amount of time training for their jobs and making sure that outside vendors correctly handled the more delicate parts of the excursion, like making sure busses arrived on time to take the guests to their hotels.

“These volunteers weren’t just rounded up,” he says, “They had extensive written instructions, uniforms, and mandatory meetings leading up to the excursion. This isn’t something that we do every day, so we had to make sure that we did it right.”

And as for No. 4449, the ex-Southern Pacific 4-8-4 Daylight locomotive at the head of the train? The engine, Hansen said, performed "flawlessly."
The foundation doesn’t have plans for more excursions, but will consider participating in more events in 2017 and 2018.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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