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Welcome to the Railroad Passenger Car Alliance
RPCA Annual Conference - Jan 16 - 29, 2018
OPEN FOR REGISTRATION
Join RPCA for our 37th annual Conference to take place in Cincinnati Ohio.
The 2019 Railroad Passenger Car Alliance Conference, hosted by Cincinnati Scenic Railway. Our goal is to provide Educational Seminars, Entertaining Activities, and most importantly a place for networking amongst fellow industry peers. Below are some details for this year’s Conference:
Conference Program Highlights
You can register online
WOWK TV report on the New River Train
Here is a report from a Charleston, WV TV station on what West Virginia is doing to try to keep the New River Train running. WOWK report
RPCA RailCamp sponcerships for 2018
Each year the RPCA, through the generosity of our members and our insurance vendors, strives to send at least two deserving youth to the NRHS RailCamps via our Caldwell-Luebke RailCamp Fund and the Stanlee E. Weller Fund.
The Caldwell-Luebke Scholarship
Elliot St.Peter. Elliot is actually a repeat camper. He attended the East camp last year and received no financial assistance. Among many things this energetic and enthusiastic young man is active with the Rutland Railroad Museum. His was the first application received this year on January 9th. Elliot will be attending the Northwest camp July 29 - August 5 and will be traveling to Tacoma, WA. Elliot lives in Rutland, VT and is in the 11th grade.
The Stanlee E. Weller Scholarship
Nichole Howell. Nichole (and many of her family) are members of the Roanoke Chapter, NRHS. Nichole has been interested in railroading since a very young age. Proving it is indeed a family affair, Nichole has worked on the Amtrak charter trains operated by the Roanoke Chapter, NRHS as well as the VMT's N&W 611 excursions for the last three years. Nichole is from Check, VA and is in the 8th grade. She will be attending the East camp in Wilmington, DE June 24-30.
We congratulate these students and, once again, thank you for your continued support of RPCA's NRHS RailCamp Scholarship program.
Roy J. Wullich
Private Railcar Ownership Not Limited to the Wealthy
Recently, two national news articles have highlighted private railcar ownership. In both articles, it was inferred that only the “rich and famous” could afford to own such a piece of property. The truth is, private railcars (called PVs) can be within the financial reach of many Americans. The deciding factor for ownership probably lies with the intended use of the car.
For comparison purposes, an analogy can be drawn between the ownership of a 1968 “muscle car”, say a Plymouth Road Runner or Pontiac GTO, and a “PV”. The first step towards ownership is to develop a plan for the “car”. Is the car going to be a family car which can be enjoyed on a weekend outing or is it going to be a “show car only”and eventually developed into a small business? Where will the car be stored? Who will do the restoration and work on the car? Are you a D-Y-I person or will the restoration be hired out?
These are the same questions which need addressed if purchasing a PV. What is the intended use? Will it be a weekend project or will it be a small business for charter? The financial commitment between these two points is enormous. Where will the car be stored? Who will do the restoration and maintenance on the PV?
A web search for a railcar with lounge and bedrooms brings up a listing for a 1954 built car. This car has an open area for a lounge, a small galley or kitchen and 6 bedrooms, each room sleeping 2 people. This is definitely an entry level PV and in need of copious amounts of TLC and labor. The asking price for such a rig? $8,000. Likewise, I suppose that “fixer-upper” Road Runner or GTO would be in the same price range.
Above all, research and planning are key components. Membership in organizations like the Railroad Passenger Car Alliance (RPCA.com) and the American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners (AAPRCO.com) is a must. These organizations are there to educate and offer resources for car owners. If the car is going to be certified to run on Amtrak routes, be prepared mentally and financially to dig deep into the pocket book to meet very rigid requirements. Obviously, the total investment is dependent on many factors as some owners have worked for years on their car to bring it up to Amtrak certification. Likewise, that “show only” Roadrunner or GTO can drain off your pocket book as well.
The notion that only oil company magnates, cattle barons or twice homeless billionaires can own PVs, is disproven by the fact that many Americans own and labor over their railcars. Desire, knowledge and some financial resources will put you into PV ownership. Dream big, this is America
Example Letters to Congress about Amtrak Policy Announcment
April 9, 2018
Please use this link and example letters to contact congress. We need to bring this issue before congress and your letters to Congress are the key to resulving the issue.
Contact list and Example Letters
Response to Amtrak Policy Announcment
April 5, 2018
Amtrak’s surprise announcement in late March that led to the cancellation of scheduled charter trains was a big blow to several of us. The consideration by Amtrak to cancel private car moves at intermediate points was the next blow. A conference call was held between AAPRCO leadership, Amtrak and RPCA leadership on April 2nd. Amtrak was very gracious and listened to our concerns and suggestions in regards to the private cars on the back of regularly scheduled trains.We sent out an email blast via our monthly newsletter contacts for response from car owners on a survey of intermediate point switching. Jointly with AAPRCO we will present those findings to Amtrak sometime within the next week.
Loss of charters will bring tighter budgets and loss of revenue for our big steam operations. I find it interesting how our steam partners didn’t let PTC persuade them to throw in the towel. Some of the most creative operators are those men and women who care and love those big locomotives. Have they been deterred by PTC? Absolutely not. More large steam locomotives have been rebuilt, or are in the process of being rebuilt, in the last few years than we have seen in 30 years. It’s been an amazing time in our history and it’s imperative that we work hard to protect the ability for these locomotives to continue operating on the mainline.
It’s important for you take the steps that have been suggested. I ask that you reachout to Legislators, Governors, Mayors and community leaders that would understand the economic loss, and continued degradation of our national rail network. With the loss of its biggest supporters, (the private car owners and operators), this will affect everyone within the industry. Dominos fall quickly when Amtrak will no longer haul our cars or pull our charters. When communicating in any format (letters, social media, etc.), make sure we lift Amtrak up. Yes, we need to get charters going again and private cars rolling on the back of scheduled trains. But, we must put our best foot forward in assisting Amtrak with the ultimate goal of providing our country with a strong national rail network.
I want to thank Nick Ozorak of The Roundhouse podcast for his interview on March 30th and his support. As of April 2nd around 10AM, he had just under 2,000 downloads and over 350 YouTube visits. Huntington NRHS has also done a great job of getting local press coverage. There has also been positive coverage on several sites online. Let’s keep it going!
If your attending the ASLRRA conference in Nashville in April, look me up.
W. Roger Fuehring
Amtrak Policy Changes
March 28, 2018
Policy ChangesTo all Amtrak employees:
Amtrak must operate a safe and reliable schedule for our customers. Our mission from Congress is clear: safely and efficiently operate our trains on schedule while minimizing federal subsidies. Therefore, we have implemented two significant changes in our business lines that are consistent with these two principles.
Charters and Special TrainsGenerally, Amtrak will no longer operate charter services or special trains. These operations caused significant operational distraction, failed to capture fully allocated profitable margins and sometimes delayed our paying customers on our scheduled trains. There may be a few narrow exceptions to this policy in order to support specific strategic initiatives, for example trial service in support of growing new scheduled service. Otherwise, one-time trips and charters are immediately discontinued. We must narrow our focus to running a great core railroad: safe, on time, clean cars, friendly service and great customer-facing technology.
Automatic DiscountsAmtrak has eliminated distribution agreements with private company membership clubs which obtain significant discounts for free from Amtrak and then charge fees to their members for use of the Amtrak discount rates. Instead, we will use our revenue management system to sell targeted discounts to our customers throughout the year.
This week we are running a big Spring Sale to drive ridership through Amtrak.com. Please note that we continue our statutory discount programs for the disabled and seniors; we also have a generous discount program for active duty military members and their families.
Thank you, and please be safe.
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About Railroad Passenger Car Alliance
Founded in 1982, the Railroad Passenger Car Alliance was created as a resource to owners and operators of privately owned railroad passenger equipment. The primary goal was to coordinate efforts for pooling their equipment for mainline steam excursions. The popularity of the organization quickly grew and today includes over 400 members.
As mainline steam excursions ceased, the organization changed the mission statement to include promoting the preservation and operation of historic railroad equipment, addressing the issues facing equipment owners and working with the nation's railroads and Amtrak to facilitate the operation and movement of member's passenger cars.
Today RPCA is a growing and forward thinking organization led by a Board of Directors who are railroad industry professionals, and are capable of thinking outside the box. Dedicated to preserving a unique and enjoyable mode of transportation, R.P.C.A. welcomes your membership and participation.
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Railroad Passenger Car AllianceAn organization dedicated to serving private railroad equipment owners & operators.