Once again the Holiday Season has rolled around, and we are running our “Santa’s Holiday Express” trains, as well as supplying equipment and personnel for the “Journey to the North Pole” trains. Ridership on the Santa trains has been exceptionally strong, and we have found it necessary to add cars to the train to accommodate the crowds. Passengers on the “Journey to the North Pole” trains have been filling 8 cars on a regular basis too. Business is good!
Recently we have had two different crews from the Maine Track Maintenance Company on the property. One crew was installing ties, and the other was doing some surfacing. Ties are important! Lots of good ties are basic to a safe track structure. Surfacing with a tamper is important work too. I spent a lot of time over the last month with the surfacing crew. We started at Conway and went along raising and aligning track where it was needed most. With the time and resources that were available, it wasn’t possible to surface 100% of the line so we concentrated on ‘peaking’ or raising the low joints using the ballast material that was already in place on the roadbed.
Whenever we came to a ‘line spot,’ the machine (and just as important, the operator) had the ability to actually lift the track and move it laterally by means of jacks and rail clamps back into a straight line or a smooth curve again. It is an interesting procedure to watch. I always tend to think of railroad track as a more-or-less permanent and stable structure, and it is a bit unnerving to see it so easily picked up and moved from side to side. We made a lot of improvements on the Conway line, and we also spot tamped out as far as Gove’s overhead bridge (formerly known as Cook’s crossing) on the Crawford Notch Line. There is always more to do, but I am very pleased that we were able to make these basic track improvements to our lines.
Dining car Hattie Evans has been in the shop for attention to her windows. Pockets of rust had been forming around the windows under the paint, causing it to blister and flake off. That problem has been corrected, and new red paint has been applied in the window area. The car is about ready to leave the shop. We have lots of car and locomotive work to do during the coming maintenance season, and I’ll be keeping you up to date on that work beginning with the next WHEEL REPORT.
Santa’s Holiday Express trains will be running daily December 17-23, then we will be running regular Conway trains daily December 26 through Sunday, January 1, 2017. That will be our last day of operations for the 2016 season. We will miss running our end of the season excursion out to Notchland this year!
From our crew to your crew, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Thank you for your interest in and support of the Conway Scenic Railroad.
Keep it Safe,