southern steam special : LUSENET : Southern Railway : One Thread

i have one question, i work for amtrak in the diesel shop in new orleans,la as a electrician, i have always been a big railfan since i was a child i was wondering what happened to southern railway's steam excursion that use to come to new orleans every november, it has been about 12 years since it has came i was just wondering what had happened and why it was discontinued?

-- randy burke jr. (, December 19, 1998


The short answer,Norfolk Southern. The long answer,the passing of Graham and Bob Claytor.They were the champions of the steam program.Without their influence the steam program was doomed. I was involved with a historical society planning and promoting these outings and I remember thinking that the railroad had a big liability here. Unfortunately the derailment of NW #611 and the wreck of "The Sunset Limited" in Alabama confirmed this concern.The directors of NS pulled the plug on excursion service,and they were right to do so.I know you don't want to hear this but,passengers and freight railroads will not mix in this age of profits for Wall St. first.

-- Jim McGhee (, December 19, 1998.

Some will say that NS discontinued the program due to excessive liability exposure, too much expense, and too little return, which springs from good business sense, that both the SR and N&W were known for. NS's official opinion at the time was that it "simply didn't have the capacity to run the trains."

My opinion, for what that's worth, is that Norfolk Southern was and still is grossly lacking in the style and class that both predecessors had and their absurd explanation was a slap in the face of knowledgeable railfans. My position is supported by the fact that the UP still runs *BIG* excursions and will for the forseeable future. UP even commented upon NS's explanation by stating that "they supposed NS would fire everyone in the marketing department since there was no more capacity for any more trains and new customers". Long live the spirit of the Claytors and Southern Railway. Pray for UP to take over NS if you ever want to see big mainline excursions again. In the meantime, throw whatever support you can to the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (Chattanoga, TN) or the Historic Spencer Shops (Spencer, NC). They are the last bastions of SR steam heritage.

-- Matt Bumgarner (, December 25, 1998.

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