We are running our full schedule now, which means 7 round trip trains each day on the days that the Notch Train and Dinner Trains run. We run the Notch Train four days a week at this time of the year and will increase that to seven days per week in the Fall for foliage time. But I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself here. Ridership has been so good that we recently added a 6th car to the Valley Train. Right now 5 cars are enough to handle the business on the Notch Train, and we will add additional cars to the train as they are needed.
Coach 6739, Mt. Bemis, was rolled out of the Roundhouse just in time to be put into the consist of the Notch Train. This coach traditionally runs right behind Vista Dome Car Dorthea Mae. It has one of the largest washrooms on the train along with two areas that will accommodate wheel chairs. The other coaches on the train do not offer these spacious amenities (but most are equipped with a washroom), thus 6739 is always a regular in the consist. The car came out of the shops shining like a brand new penny! It looks great inside and out and is now ready to provide many more years of service to our patrons. Come on over and check it out!
Out on the railroad, the State of New Hampshire oversaw a project to rebuild the railroad crossing at Rolling Ridge Road in Bartlett. It came out beautifully! Since this road is the only access into and out of a local neighborhood, a temporary gravel crossing had to be constructed right beside the existing crossing so that residents could have access to their homes. This required bringing in quite a lot of fill. We also had to close that portion of the railroad for a day while the crossing was replaced. On that particular day, the Bartlett train went out with locomotives on both ends of the train and only went as far as Attitash Bear Peak. Two 39′ 85# rails were installed in the new crossing.
Most of the 85# rails on our line are only 33′ long per section, so 39′ rails are something special around here! The extra length means that no rail joints had to be located within the road surface area of the crossing. Over the years, we have learned that we don’t want any joints in the paved area of a crossing. Joints tend to get low when the track is used frequently and, if there is a joint in the crossing, there is no way to tamp it up without breaking the paved surface. Also, when the bolts in the joints loosen up (which they will over time), you can’t get at them to tighten them without breaking the paved surface. The first time you disturb the paved surface you begin the process of allowing water under the pavement and then you have damage from freeze -thaw cycles, and within a few years the whole thing is a mess! Many thanks to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation’s, Bureau of Rail & Transit and to the contractors and the suppliers of the needed materials for a job well done. The improvement there for both highway and rail users is remarkable.
People are always asking us how Steam Locomotive #7470 is coming along. We haven’t actually touched a wrench to her in about six weeks, but the work has been going on with the math to complete the calculations for her Form 4 for the Federal Railroad Administration. We are just about ready to submit the Form 4 to the FRA for review. FRA will send an inspector to take a look at the boiler while the tubes are out and verify some of the base data from the ultrasonic testing that has been used to make the calculations. As a result of the testing, we know that we have some metal to replace in the firebox. This was not unexpected, and the work is well within the capabilities of our contractor. We expect the firebox work to take place in the not-too-distant future. The lion’s share of physical labor on the locomotive will occur during the off season as we are just too busy with other normal maintenance activities and the actual operation of the railroad when we are in season. We sure can tell that there is a lot of love for 7470 out there!
Thomas the Tank Engine and Percy the Tank Engine both will be arriving in North Conway pretty soon for our DAY OUT WITH THOMAS event. This year the dates are July 17, 18, 19 & 24, 25, 26. We have lots of trains to run, and there will be the traditional fun activities for the kids. Thomas is an important event for us, not only because of the revenue, but because it brings in new families every year who may never have visited a heritage railroad like ours before. This is a big part of how new railroad enthusiasts are born! Who knows how many members of the future heritage railroad workforce will be visiting during Thomas? Quite a few I dare say!
July 4th is coming right up, and I will report next month on how our “Park & Ride” service from Conway to North Conway for the fireworks crowd was received. It should be a very fun and interesting evening for all.
As always, we thank you for your continued interest and support of the Conway Scenic Railroad.
Keep it Safe,