Monday, August 18, 2014

Thomas Weekend 1 or is this Ground Hog Day?

Al writes ...

Randy has already posted some information on the first day of the Thomas weekend. Remodeling and addition work at home has prevented me from spending much time at IRM this summer. But I did feel guilty enough to make sure I had time to act in my usual role as assistant Master of Ceremonies for the Day Out With Thomas event in spite of the resulting ear worms of Thomas music in my head.

Due to earlier and earlier school openings (many schools opened last week) we did not have the Friday event on the first weekend this year. This meant that the Saturday was the day when we needed to make sure that everything was in place. But both days went almost flawlessly with near perfect weather. We had good crowds both days with the last train on Saturday being at 5 PM and the last train on Sunday being at 4:30 PM.

The day out with Thomas event is a bit like the movie Groundhog Day. Pretty much a repeat of what occurred last time with a few differences. So for this post I'll focus on those differences. The first is that the Thomas train utilized a car new to IRM. The recently acquired Henrietta replaced one of the Lakawanna coaches that has traditionally been used in the Thomas train. For those of you familiar with the Island of Sodor railway you'll recognize that Henrietta is one of the characters operating there.

 This year's event is the first and last time the Henrietta will be included in the Thomas train, since it is very close to being restored to its original Rock Island Identity.

A second difference is the use of the rather smart looking C&NW 411 as Thomas' helper engine. Certainly a lot nicer looking than a certain SD7. Of course the helper engine is required because Thomas can't see to the rear when he's backing up, or so the children are told.

With the 1630 back in service a competition developed between our two active "steam" locomotives for space in the servicing area. Here we see a standoff between them which Thomas won by the way. Hoses were extended across the roadway to supply water for the 1630.

On Saturday we had four street cars in service which provided adequate capacity for the crowds. We found that four cars would absorb the number of passengers getting off the Thomas train just in time for the crowd getting off the next train to queue up. However on Sunday the 144 experienced some air compressor problems and was taken out of service. During the one and a half hours that we were only operating three streetcars a significant queue developed waiting for streetcar rides. We found that the crowds from the proceeding train were not fully accommodated before the next Thomas train returned and the line grew considerably. The problem was stabilized with a rare public appearance of the 1374. Although it didn't have the capacity of the 144 it's additional seat space was welcome. This stabilized the queue size issue but we didn't totally recover until the planned (for a crew break) skipped 2 PM Thomas trip.

Although I didn't observe it myself there was some discussion at dinner that capacity on the three main line trains was maxed out during the mid day. There is some thought about adding a fourth train next week for several hours mid day, thus having a departure every 15min.

Hopefully next weekend will be as smooth and successful as this one was.  See you then.


Joel Ahrendt said...

If we have the crews for four trains.

Anonymous said...

Great report.

But why won't the restored "Henrietta" (2612) coach ever be used for the Thomas event again? I thought it was acquired precisely because it would help carry more people for events like Thomas. According to the Rail & Wire article on the car:

"One of the compelling reasons for accepting the car is that Rock cars are light-weight, high capacity cars that can carry up to 100 passengers. Once restored, it will take the place of a lower capacity car during our Day Out With Thomas event, allowing us to carry more people each trip utilizing the same number of cars."

Have plans changed?

Thank you...

Randall Hicks said...

Relax. He just means it won't be appearing under that name.

Al Reinschmidt said...

Of course the car will be used again, but by then it will be just another Rock Island commuter coach.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Al and Randall.
You know, that canary yellow Henrietta looks so good behind Thomas, I'm actually in favor of restoring it to its CR&IC appearance. Looks like a car from the Thomas TV show!

Ray Bellock said...

Without appearing totally ignorant of the proper color scheme of Henrietta, Emily and whoever else on the island of Sodor, we could do something different and maybe add a new dimension for Thomas fans by putting magnetic panels on Rock coaches with the proper Thomas names,