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CP or NS: which has a soul for preservation? NEWSWIRE

By Chase Gunnoe | November 19, 2015

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No. 611 on an excursion.
Jim Wrinn
Canadian Pacific’s offer to purchase Norfolk Southern has the full attention of industry analysts and investors. They’re thinking deeply about the railroads’ “net present values,” network operations, and regulatory filings. But what about the companies’ souls? How do the two companies compare in terms of railway preservation?
A product of Norfolk Southern’s heritage soul: an entire fleet of locomotives in heritage paint schemes. As seen in Spencer, N.C., in 2012.
Norfolk Southern
Norfolk Southern
Let’s start with the obvious leader in Class I railroad showmanship — NS. The industry’s followers have grown accustomed to NS recognizing its heritage in ways that have exceeded most observers’ expectations. We know that Norfolk Southern’s 21st Century Steam Program excursions are the only such trips offered in the country on a large scale.

NS has also been a good supporter of sustainable railway preservation projects, donating cash and services, repairing locomotives, and moving equipment across its system. Thanks to NS, major events like the NS heritage unit family gathering and Streamliners at Spencer took place in 2012 and 2014, respectively.

Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611 had a successful spring and summer in Virginia and Nickel Plate Road No. 765 traveled far into upstate New York and northeastern Pennsylvania from Indiana. Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum piloted several successful trips featuring Southern Railway 2-8-2 No. 4501. Taken together, NS and its steam partners accumulated thousands of miles and generated much public and employee good will in the 2015 good season. Oh, and NS’ executive F units and business car fleet are just plain nice to look at, day or night, rain or shine.

NS CEO Wick Moorman’s retirement this year resulted in executive leadership changes in the top ranks, and we’re waiting to learn how the new administration of CEO Jim Squires will treat the steam and heritage unit programs in 2016 and in years to come.

And what about Canadian Pacific’s heritage soul? It’s once proud steam program is cold and dead. CP 4-6-4 No. 2816 the Empress pulls the westbound Children’s Wish Foundation toward Kicking Horse Pass on the Alberta/British Columbia border in 2010. The engine has remained cold since 2011.
Matthew Hicks
Canadian Pacific
More than 2,400 miles to the northwest in Calgary, Alberta, CP public steam excursions are non-existent. CEO E. Hunter Harrison is an industry businessman, transforming Canadian Pacific since taking the helm in late 2012. Harrison has led the company into record profits and significantly reduced operating ratios. He eliminated steam and preservation in the process. Many believe it will stay that way.

Canadian Pacific 4-6-4 No. 2816 resides in Calgary with much of the railroad’s heritage fleet. Under former CEO Fred Green, the semi-streamlined Hudson was restored and operated from 2001 to 2008 until sidelined by the Great Recession. It ran again in 2010 and was featured in a well-received IMAX film “Rocky Mountain Express.” It last operated in the summer of 2011 on public excursions that promoted the Children’s Wish Foundation. The locomotive has been out-of-service since
a mechanical issue midway through its two-month excursion season that year. Under Harrison’s leadership, the locomotive has not returned to steam. Likewise, Minneapolis-based Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261 has not turned a wheel on its former main line after Harrison’s arrival. Sources close to the group say they see no point in even asking about a 261 excursion on CP rails because they believe the answer would be “no.”

CP still operates its Royal Canadian Pacific heritage fleet using Canadian Pacific-painted EMD FP9u locomotives and restored passenger cars. Headquartered in Calgary, the fleet is primarily used for special events and office car specials. The A-B-A set made several appearances in 2015, including an 11-car business train to Oregon as part of a joint CP-UP trip in March 2015.

In a head-to-head match-up NS seems to outshine CP in every way on railway preservation. But there is hope if a CP-NS combination comes to fruition. Only one railroad sought candidates for an employee to maintain and service steam locomotives this summer, you guessed it — CP.

13 thoughts on “CP or NS: which has a soul for preservation? NEWSWIRE

  1. No doubt this is a very trivial point, but 2816 is not semi-streamlined. The Hudsons numbered 2820 through 2864 are, or were, semi-streamlined.

  2. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that any preservation program or steam program will ever run on a Harrison line again.
    Why would CP not let 765 run on a very short stretch of CP line in Pennsylvania (at the last minute) this past Summer that destroyed well planned ceremonies for the 100th anniversary of the great Viaduct Bridge.?

  3. I love steam as much as anyone, I hope 611 runs so my kids can see mainline steam, and I would love to see 2816 back. The truth though is it is hard to know how long any of the above will last and when its last day is. In 94 611 went from Buffalo to Conneaut. I was a year to young at the time to ride and my uncle promised that next year I could go. Well the program got cut, no one expected it at the time.

    But no one expected that NS would allow steam back which they have and that 611 would be restored to the condition it is and operating. Additionally no one expected CP to restore a Hudson that was rusting away in Pennsylvania. Management changes over time though and as railfans we get lucky to see from time to time some really cool things happen.

    I do not believe in the end NS and CP will merge for a variety of reasons, the largest being STB saying no from the get go and NS not having interest. However if a merger were to happen I will still be grateful that this year I was able to chase 765 along the Southern Tier in NY and hope that some steam/heritage activities continue. If things change for a bit after the merger so be it, steam came back before and at some point would comeback again.

  4. And yet in August 26, 2015, CP advertised for the job "Technician, Heritage Locomotive (42824)".

    Job Description Excerpt:

    All facets of mechanical operations relating to the heritage fleet, specific accountability for mechanical operations of heritage locomotives (F-series, B Unit, Steam Train). Locomotive Engineer on excursions utilizing the 2816 Empress Steam locomotive. Act as Train Manager (Operations) on heritage excursions with heritage fleet…"

    I have no idea if position was filled or is still open.

  5. One thing you have to remember is that NS under David Goode nixed the steam program in 1994 two years after he took the helm. If Wick Moorman had not been chosen to succeed Goode then I doubt there would have been a steam program today.

  6. Watch and ride anything you can while you have the chance. This doesn't only apply to NS steam. Everything, including our own lives (here on earth) is uncertain.

  7. "Why would CP not let 765 run on a very short stretch of CP line in Pennsylvania (at the last minute) this past Summer that destroyed well planned ceremonies for the 100th anniversary of the great Viaduct Bridge.?"

    I believe the real reason was Norfolk Southern's purchase of that line was planned to be complete by the time of the excursion. Since it was not, it could not be run, because CP did not have insurance for it.

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