March 2023 Wheel Report
By Brian Solomon
Conclusion of Snow Train 2023
Snow Train 2023 concluded with a stint of daily operations from February 18 through President’s Week until Sunday February 26. One of the highlights of the final weeks of Snow Train was a visit from the television crew of New England Traveler on February 21st. They spent time interviewing railroad staff and filming on board the train, which included recording performances by Eastwood Station, who sang their Snow Train—written about the North Conway to Attitash Winter run. The success of winter operations boosted business by dramatically increasing ridership and revenue during the previously quiet January and February periods, while offering some season employees opportunities to work during the winter. The railroad expects to continue with Snow Train operations in the coming years.
More Plow Trains
The railroad has continued to keep the line open between North Conway and Attitash to facilitate tree removal and other necessary maintenance. On several occasions weather conditions have brough significant amounts of fresh snow that required the railroad to operate plow extras, even after the conclusion of Snow Train 2023. Former Maine Central GP38 255 shoved the plow west to Attitash on March 3rd and 6th to clear the line. As this report was being written, it was expected that the plow might be needed again on the week of St. Patrick’s day.
Maintenance and Spring Cleaning
Although the station has been closed during March, our crews have been busy working on a variety of projects including: Gift Shop renovation, inventory and restocking; cleaning and repair of our passenger car fleet; and the repair and maintenace of locomotives. This has included removal of remaining Covid-19 era partitions from First Class Coach C.P. Reed and Budd Vista Dome Dorthea Mae. The partitions have been stored so if they are again required they can be easily reinstalled. On March 13, 2023, the roundhouse crew repositioned several of the locomotives in the yard and inside the roundhouse in preparation for upcoming work. Notably, steam locomotive 7470 made a rare winter appearance out of stall three where it has been hibernating. It was moved to the coal pocket in the North Yard by GP38 255, in order for coal to be removed from the tender in preparation for upcoming work to the engine. A small crowd of observers gathered at the Post Office crossing near the North Conway Station to watch the 102-year old machine and raise a cheer when it cleared the crossing.
Rules Class and a New Timetable
Conway Scenic has its annual Rules Class for operating employees planned for April 1, 2023 (no fooling!). This is a day-long event aimed at refreshing employee understanding of the rules regime and helping to train new hires as to the system of rules employed by the railroad. Among the features of this year’s class is to review changes to the operating Timetable, which despite its name, is an adjunct to the Rule Book rather than a list of train schedules. I am presently revising the old Timetable (Number 34) with an aim to bring the document up to date while correcting errors or omissions so as to make this a more useful and accurate document.