Photo charters for 2-6-6-2 delayed until 2018

Western Maryland officials say added work will push back first runs into the winter
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An image of Chesapeake & Ohio No. 1309 2-6-6-2 as it appeared at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, Md., in 2014.
Trains file photo
CUMBERLAND, Md. — Western Maryland Scenic Railroad and Trains Magazine will postpone inaugural photo-charter freights with Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309, Chief Executive Officer John Garner and Trains Editor Jim Wrinn announced Tuesday. The delay will give the railroad more time to perform additional running gear work, complete restoration of the 1949 Baldwin-built locomotive, and complete break-in runs. The 80 ticket holders for each photo freight will be given the first opportunity to reschedule their reservations to an early 2018 date.

“Additional wheel work will take place to ensure the engine’s long term operability. It makes much more sense from both a financial and a mechanical perspective to perform this work now than it does to reassemble the engine, run it, and then take it out of service again for repairs,” Garner says. “We want to get it done right the first time. We are committed to returning the engine to service. We are optimistic for operations starting this winter.”

The preservation railroad’s first obligation is to build a fully Federal Railroad Administration-compliant steam locomotive. Western Maryland Scenic and Diversified Rail Services will do this so future operational opportunities will be met with confidence, Garner says. Western Maryland desires a locomotive fully capable of unrestricted mechanical operations and completing the additional running gear repairs will ensure that concept.

“We will be seeing smoke and paint by the end of fall,” says steam locomotive restoration contractor Gary Bensman, who is completing the engine at the railroad’s shop in Ridgeley, W.Va. “We want to make sure the engine is in good shape for its long-term sustainability.”

He says the engine should be completed in early winter.

“While we would like to see the locomotive in operation this fall, it’s more important for the restoration to proceed with the long-term in mind.” Wrinn says. “All of us steam fans, myself included, can wait a few more months to see this magnificent articulated in steam once again, a sight none of us ever expected to see in our lifetimes.”

The alternate dates will provide participants with a fantastic show of steam power in winter, hopefully with snow on the ground, Wrinn says. “We’d love to see No. 1309 rounding famous Helmstetter’s Curve with a nice snow on the ground.”

The new dates will be announced two months in advance of the events. Ticket holders for the photo freights will be contacted in the next week to reschedule their spots or request a refund.

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad is a quasi-public not-for-profit heritage railroad corporation based in Cumberland. For answers to additional questions, please contact WMSR at (301) 759-4400.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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