• A&A Receives Another $1.1 Million in State Funds

  • All about the Arcade & Attica Railroad
All about the Arcade & Attica Railroad

Moderator: Benjamin Maggi

  by pablo
Um, Tom, it's public money. It's everyone's concern.

Additionally, a few of the people that post here either work for the A&A now, or did, so they know what's up.

Dave Becker

  by tomjohn
pablo wrote:Um, Tom, it's public money. It's everyone's concern.

Additionally, a few of the people that post here either work for the A&A now, or did, so they know what's up.

Dave Becker

OH ! That's a nice surprise .


  by Otto Vondrak
jgallaway81 wrote:If anyone has looked at the railbed lately, the smart thing the A&A could do would be to rip the entire line up and rebuild.

The A&A has a LOT of work to do just to keep up.
Congratulations on your new job! When did you start as a track inspector? :-)


  by jgallaway81
Tom, its not a surprise. None of us have made a secret of the fact that we have access to the railroad.

I was an employee for five years, 98-02, with further volunteer work from 2002-08/07.

There is one member of the Board of Directors who frequents here.

Despite what he said in the newspaper, before George Ling REQUESTED the GM's position, there was another individual who was supposed to become GM. Because of the political BS that went on, he decided it was more trouble then he was willing to deal with. That individual keeps an eye on things here as well.

Besides myself and the member of the BoD mentioned above, there are at least two stockholders who visit here as well.

Its no surprise that the A&A has people here. The entire time I was employed as webmaster, I kept an eye on things on the net, making sure management was aware of what was being told online.

Now, I may not be able to give any info of what is currently happening, but I can still relate info & events that happened while I was there, as well as help in any historical questions. My library of A&A info is pretty vast, though not entirely as complete as, say, BSOR Pat's collection.


Otto: Its not my field of expertice. Daily Locomotive Inspection and train operations is where I'm trained. The observation comes from a friend in Harrisburg, who IS qualified as an FRA-compliant track inspector. After much discussion, its my opinion as well.

The Arcade & Attica Railroad's history stretches as far back as the 1830's, when the idea for a railroad from Attica south was first broached. It took until 1880 to get operational, and then it was only narrow-gauge.

The A&A never had the backing of a Class 1 like some lines do. Many shortlines were created when branchlines became uneconomical to operate due to union agreements, or the need to maintain the tracks to the high standards demanded of the bigger roads. When the A&A's RoW was constructed, it was built for narrow-gauge operations (the Tonawanda Valley RR). Over the years, one practice that was used was the use of steam locomotive cinders & ashes as ballast for the roadbed.

In MANY places, the tampers are useless because the roadbed (covered in trees) never dries out enough for the mud to revert to dirt. I can remember tamping and in the time it took to pull the tines back out and place them back in the same hole, the holes filled with water.

All I'm advocating is a project of mass-rehabilitation, instead of patchwork repairs. A GOOD subbed of drainage ballast, a good footing of track ballast, new ties, new rail. My opinion, that maintaining a new roadbed is more cost effective then upgrading a line that looks like its been abandoned for a decade or so.

Yes, I realize that there is a substantial cost factor to such a program, I'm guessing roughly 1.5 to 2.3 million a mile. But, in the long run, I think its justified, however if you want the full dissertation on cost-benefit analysis, feel free to email me. I won't absorb anymore of RR.net's space.

As has been said, the funds are government money, therefore the grants, and how the railroad uses the funds, falls under the Freedom of Information Act.

Should the A&A go for a rebuild like I'm advocating? Only if the current BoD decides to get their collective heads out of their ***** and realize that only ONE person on that Board has ANY clue how REAL railroads operate. Utilization of the railroad for only one customer is pathetic. The passenger excursions MIGHT revitalize themselves with the addition of 18, but with gas prices continuing to climb, and the new ticket prices costing a family of four to shell out $48 JUST for tickets (Used to be kids got a special price, now they cost the same as an adult) its gonna be hard.

Unless more attractions are developed, and while I laud the Friends for their efforts with the display, its a pathetic attempt compared to whats possible.

Trouble is, there are too many on the Board who feel that the railroad 'can't make waves' or that 'thats how its always been done'. With that attitude, the railroad WILL go belly up when a certain individual dies.

I know of one major customer, that the Board of Directors turned away, that would have DOUBLED business. Because it would have offended a couple of people and increased the railroad's operations.

I've let out more than I should have here, but, if the BoD doesn't start doing whats best for the company and the stockholders, instead of what's most convienent for themselves, it won't matter in a few years.

This post is MY OPINION, based on knowledge of whats transpired over the last few years. It represents NO opinion of the railroad or any of its employees (that I know of).

  by Otto Vondrak
jgallaway81 wrote:The observation comes from a friend in Harrisburg, who IS qualified as an FRA-compliant track inspector.
That's fine. Get him to post here! :-)


  by WNYP431
You don't have to be a "certified track inspector" to be able to identify a hole in the ground when you see one, or 4" of water over the track - every year - in the same spot over and over, foot-long chunks of railhead popping out and replaced after each run, switches held together with wire and shimmed with plywood, and occupied passenger coaches coming uncoupled on the way to Curriers because the deviation and cross-level is so bad...that's the stuff that gets you in the newspapers eventually.

For crying out loud, some members of that railroad's Board think it's a GOOD thing that the A&A's rail is so flexible, and stated so in a board meeting! Duh? So much for having to be a track inspector, huh?

The 'grant' money is public funds. Their books are now open because of it - one way or the other. The DOT has very specific guidlines about how they want the money spent, because they have been burned over and over again by NY railroads - including the A&A - just "doing what they want" with the money. The A&A argued and fought with the DOT back in 1980, and they'll do it again. Knowing the railroad like I do, they will argue with DOT instead of just doing what the DOT engineers - the professionals - want them to do.

JG is absolutely right...the railroad lost what would have been a significant amount of new freight business last year because they are not prepared for it - and apparently don't care either. And for all the railfans who just love the A&A and want to see it survive?.... last spring, a bone-fide helping hand was extended to the company by other local businesses that would have propped up your lil' A&A for years and maybe turned it around for good....

...and that hand was slapped outright.

No matter what happens, grants or no grants, the A&A doesn't have to look any further than the mirror.

  by nessman
I do find it amazing that over the years, in spite of poor track conditions, that 1.) the FRA hasn't sidelined the excursions, 2.) no major mishaps have occured on the line (well - at least none that were made public knowledge), and 3.) no serious injuries or deaths as a result of track conditions.

I haven't been on the A&A in a few years and I would hope things have improved since then. But the $$$ has been sitting there not doing anything and guess what - it's a use it or lose it proposition.

If they want to upgrade to 286k cars, that's great... but I'll agree with JJ in that we're talking a complete major rehab of the entire line. Much of the track is old 70 lb rail and there's a 220k weight limit on the entire line. If you ride the open gon at the end of the excursion consist, you can hear the ties crunching under the weight of the car (and that's an unloaded car) too, and generally see and hear all sorts of problems with the track as the car moves down the line. There's evidence of poor drainage in many areas. Looking at aerials of the line - there are parts of the line (particularly from the NS interchange to the enginehouse) where the ROW is barely discernable.

I think with the money they have now - it will improve the track conditions significantly. For a small shortline that runs a handful of grain hoppers each week - a total rehab isn't worth it. For the sake of tourism in the area (and safety/liability) - a rehab of the passenger only portion may be worthwhile though.

  by jgallaway81

You got it in 1!

My comments about a complete rebuild were based on the idea of bringing in new business, and more importantly, making the current business more efficient.

If the tracks were good, the local run to N.Java could be completed in a couple hours.... run the freights at 20 or dare I say even 25 mph. the crews could move double the freight in one day, or do maintenence on the two diesels, one steam engine & tender, six coaches, one gon, seven pieces of MoW equipment, two ballast hoppers and one snowplow.

There are so many ways that the A&A could completely overhaul their operations to reduce costs roughly 40%. The main trouble is the resistance to change. In the 14 yrs the previous GM was there, it took so much work just to get 111 completely operational.

Remember, both 110 & 111 were half dead (one dead engine/generator assembly) rather then run both units for a train, she forced a transplant, getting 111 fully operational, and mothballing 110. If that hadn't happened, 110 wouldn't be on display today, and chances are teh railroad would be even worse off.

One thing that few people realize was that the FRA took 111 out of service because of bad wheels. We had to have the wheels lathed to bring them back withing FRA regs. Plus 112 needed work at that time as well. we managed because each engine could handle the full work load individually.

I could go into further detail, but I'm trying to cut a fine line... re-enforce & prove my points, without doing too much damage to the railroad. I may completely disagree with the current management (from the General Manager & his assistant up to the President of the Board) in how they do things, but that doesn't mean I want to see the road fail.

I grew up in Arcade, and fell in love with the steamers in 1984... when i was 3yo. I've never stopped being loyal to the A&A... not to management, but to the railroad. When I worked on the Middletown & Hummelstown, everytime I learned something new, I called back to Arcade to give them the insight... When I'm rolling down the NS rails, I used to look for ways to help the A&A.

  by BSOR Patarak
Please try to get all of the facts right before spurting off. Many of the above items are things that are between the stockholders, employees and the board. Somethings have been taken out of context and the whole story can not be shared here. Bring them up at the proper place, not this faceless online forum. I didn't see any of the concerned at the Annual Meeting. I AM NOT TRYING TO SAY THAT YOU CAN"T EXPRESS YOUR OPINION, only that there is a better place to talk about some of this content.

The discussion is supposed to be about how the grant money will be spent, not slamming individuals. When it is spent it will become public knowledge. Until then, it is between the State and the A&A. Period. I don't see many harping representatives about how they hand out their member item monies to everything else under then sun.

110 was not operational at any time under Mrs. Kempf. It was out of service prior. 111 wheels are a common problem on ALL locomotives. It is routine maintenance to correct high flanges.

  by pablo
Well, then let's talk about what can be done.

Is there a plan to use volunteers or other people to rehab the line now or in the summer time? I assume this can be made public knowledge.

It is clear to me, and just about anyone with a brain, that it will take one major incident to shut the line down for good, whether because of the cost of repair, paying settlements, or a rise in insurance costs.

I'm also worried about the steam engine, but that's a separate issue.

So, what's the plan? Pat or anyone?

Dave Becker

  by Benjamin Maggi
Wow, this topic has really caused some heated discussions! Right now, I currently am: A fan of the railroad, A stockholder of the railroad, and the moderator of this forum. This puts my in a unique bind, based on some of the things I personally know, some of the things that former AND current employees of the railroad have told me, and some of the things I wish I knew. Right now, I don't see this topic going very much farther in the right direction.

Sure, we could all speculate on what the money is going to be used for (that WAS the original point of this topic! :wink: ), but I don't see the answer coming out. There are several people who read this board who know the answer to this question, and if they have not chosen to answer it by now then I respect their decisions to do so.

The purpose of this forum is to create a public community where people can come together and discuss the railroad, find out public information about the railroad, and also have fun. This post has abandoned these principles, instead having turned into a place to publicly attack the railroad for decisions that their board have made (right or wrong, I will not comment... people can have their opinions, but this forum is not the place to air them in a hostile manner). In addition, in reading the posts I can find very few instances where one could come away after reading them having had any positive, or fun, experiences. True, it can be fun to fight, but I won't tolerate the level that I have seen so far. Finally, I don't mind the per se mention of inaccurate information, because usually it is in the form of a question and the discussion that follows leads to the correct information... which benefits everyone. However, I also don't see how currently there is an ongoing attempt for anyone to gather real information in this thread.

Might I last comment that I cannot hope to comprehend all sides in this issue. I have talked with many of you and I understand that this small railroad has had many large impacts on your lives. It has been a year of transition for the railroad, many of its employees and former employees, and also its fans. My only last recommendation is that if there are true genuine concerns about the railroad, or the way it is handling its business, then they should be taken up directly with the railroad itself. Just because Board members or employees post here does not make this the appropriate forum to post complaints to. Please use their mailbox.

I hope you all can appreciate what I am saying. I am not trying to tell any of you that you are incorrect in what you are doing or saying, or incorrect in feeling the way you do, but that the intent of this forum is being lost (at least in this post). If you have any questions, you all know how to reach me. But, I bet I know what you would say to me (and I bet you know what I would say to you!)

LASTLY: #18 is returning in just over 2 weeks. If we are going to get "heated and steamed up" over something, why not have it be a steam locomotive. (yes, I realize that was horrible! )