Bring in Ed Ellis of Iowa Pacific to replace Don Phillips

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Bring in Ed Ellis of Iowa Pacific to replace Don Phillips
Posted by CandOforprogress2 on Wednesday, June 06, 2018 12:30 PM

I loved his articals when he wrote for Trains and he was progressive and had great ideas

http://cs.trains.com/trn/b/fred-frailey/archive/2014/04/29/the-ed-ellis-story-continued.aspx

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Thursday, June 07, 2018 7:03 AM

Considering his current business record, I would take many of his columns with a grain of salt.

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Posted by mudchicken on Thursday, June 07, 2018 11:33 AM

(+1) to CSSH's comments. I've dealt with some of the warts.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, June 07, 2018 11:35 AM

mudchicken

(+1) to CSSH's comments. I've dealt with some of the warts.

 

I'll second both of the above.  

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Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Thursday, June 07, 2018 11:47 AM

CSSHEGEWISCH

Considering his current business record, I would take many of his columns with a grain of salt.

 

+ 1 Ed certainly  had great ideas. But he ran into the same economic realities, the rest of the industry have always faced.

Let's hope some of unquie equipment he operated won't meet an early demise.

 

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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, June 07, 2018 6:41 PM

While some of his inovations haven't worked out, at least he was one of the few who was trying.

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Posted by CandOforprogress2 on Friday, June 08, 2018 2:50 PM

Upvote U

MidlandMike

While some of his inovations haven't worked out, at least he was one of the few who was trying.

 

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Posted by rrnut282 on Saturday, June 16, 2018 5:37 PM

It takes zero effort to rant about why something can't, won't or shouldn't.  It takes real effort to go out and do something, sweating all the little details.  Ed missed a few of those details along the way.  Hard to fault a guy for trying.  That is never a problem around here.

For what it's worth, he did have a column in Trains back in the day.  As I recall, it generated a lot of disagreement.

Mike (2-8-2)
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Posted by MidlandMike on Saturday, June 16, 2018 9:42 PM

Journalist, such as Mr. Phillips, report on history (it's hard to argue with historical facts) or give opinions about what they think should happen, and can discuss those theories with railfans.  On the other hand, Mr. Ellis is a railroader, who made decisions that created the history, and then becomes the verbal target of railfans who can sometimes be very unforgiving of mistakes, and that does not make for good dialogue.

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Posted by SD70Dude on Saturday, June 16, 2018 10:25 PM

"Iowa Pacific: A History"  co-written by Phillips and Ellis would be an excellent book.

Let's hope the ending is different from the Auto-Train Corporation's.

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Posted by zugmann on Sunday, June 17, 2018 12:39 PM

MidlandMike
and then becomes the verbal target of railfans who can sometimes be very unforgiving of mistakes, and that does not make for good dialogue.

"a lifetime of attaboys won't make up for one oh crap*!"

-paraphrased from a former trainmaster of mine.

*well, he didn't say crap, but use your imagination.

 The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by Euclid on Sunday, June 17, 2018 1:32 PM

MidlandMike

On the other hand, Mr. Ellis is a railroader, who made decisions that created the history, and then becomes the verbal target of railfans who can sometimes be very unforgiving of mistakes, and that does not make for good dialogue.

 

What were some of those decisions which made him the verbal target of railfans?

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Posted by MidlandMike on Sunday, June 17, 2018 9:02 PM

Euclid

 

 
MidlandMike

On the other hand, Mr. Ellis is a railroader, who made decisions that created the history, and then becomes the verbal target of railfans who can sometimes be very unforgiving of mistakes, and that does not make for good dialogue.

 

 

 

What were some of those decisions which made him the verbal target of railfans?

 

The two examples off the top of my head (and were forum topics) were how he ran the Pullman Journey (?) luxury cars attached to the City of New Orleans, and the Texas State RR (tourist train) consession.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, June 17, 2018 11:58 PM

MidlandMike
The two examples off the top of my head (and were forum topics) were how he ran the Pullman Journey (?) luxury cars attached to the City of New Orleans, and the Texas State RR (tourist train) consession.

You mean like putting the entire Amtrak City of New Orleans train at risk by running old cars with cracked wheelsets?

Or maybe was it spending lots of money on a rail interchange track for the Texas State Railroad before he even had one online customer to help on the payback on that investment?

I'll limit myself to just two items but I could probably fill a page or two.    There is a difference between a railroader and just playing with trains.    One is a business and the other is a hobby.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, June 18, 2018 6:52 AM
I'm not sure his attempt at running the Hoosier service as a nostalgia City of Indy was a failure or not, but his estimates of costs and revenue were so inaccurate that he had to end the experiment early.
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Posted by steve14 on Monday, June 18, 2018 12:51 PM

If you don't have a connection, how can you expect to attract any business to the TSR? 

As to "spending lots of money" on it, I would say that the amount spent to restore the track to service was pretty minimal overall, from my viewpoint as the one who organized it and worked on it personally. 

Indiana was a different kettle of fish. Amtrak basically went into "pout" mode and threw every conceivable (and some inconceivable) obstructions in IP's path. Not saying that Ed was perfect on his side, though.

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Posted by mdw on Monday, June 18, 2018 11:34 PM

steve14

If you don't have a connection, how can you expect to attract any business to the TSR? 

As to "spending lots of money" on it, I would say that the amount spent to restore the track to service was pretty minimal overall, from my viewpoint as the one who organized it and worked on it personally. 

Indiana was a different kettle of fish. Amtrak basically went into "pout" mode and threw every conceivable (and some inconceivable) obstructions in IP's path. Not saying that Ed was perfect on his side, though.

 

steve14

If you don't have a connection, how can you expect to attract any business to the TSR? 

As to "spending lots of money" on it, I would say that the amount spent to restore the track to service was pretty minimal overall, from my viewpoint as the one who organized it and worked on it personally. 

Indiana was a different kettle of fish. Amtrak basically went into "pout" mode and threw every conceivable (and some inconceivable) obstructions in IP's path. Not saying that Ed was perfect on his side, though.

 Iowa Pacific was damaged by the poison pill that Amtrak put into the contract between them and the state of Indiana.  For all of the effort that Iowa Pacific put into the service, Amtrak go more money and Iowa Pacific got less even though IP did all of the work.  The early exit was IP trying to prevent it getting bled to death financially.  Sadly the state of Indiana did not agree to a mininum level of payment to IP.  I think this is the reason for IP's troubles since then.  As for anothers snide comment about operating a "nostalgial" train, that "nostalgia" train increased ridership by about 30% and revenue by about 60% because it offered "service" to passengers.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 6:59 AM

mdw
As for anothers snide comment about operating a "nostalgial" train, that "nostalgia" train increased ridership by about 30% and revenue by about 60% because it offered "service" to passengers.

Right, it was all somebody else's fault, not Ellis'.  He signed the contract. I guess he didn't negotiate or attend to details.  This was part of CMStPnP's point, that Ellis made a lot of mistakes.   Railfan, yes, but not an effective transportation CEO.

Nostalgia.  Running a train in 2017 with equipment painted as a tribute to a passenger rail service from 46 or more years earlier (that never even ran in Indiana) is nostalgia. 

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Posted by BOB WITHORN on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 9:02 AM

When it's not your pocket, it's real easy to find fault. Looks to me like he tried to do too much to fast. Had early successes that lead to making some questionable decisions that mostly put him out of business. Very easy to get into the "Robbing Peter to pay PAUL" mode, thinking one more deal will solve it all. You can't borrow from the future for long, and one hiccup and your world disintegrates around you. Too bad.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 9:55 AM

steve14
If you don't have a connection, how can you expect to attract any business to the TSR?  As to "spending lots of money" on it, I would say that the amount spent to restore the track to service was pretty minimal overall, from my viewpoint as the one who organized it and worked on it personally. 

One only has to look at other state supported lines.    Lets look at Wisconsin and Southern for example.     Did they open the line to Sheboygan Falls before anyone committed to using it or did they wait until they had at least one long-term commitment to haul an almost daily train?     Answer:  They waited.

Because you do not have a connection does not mean you cannot attract potential customers.    It might be slightly more difficult but it still can be done.    It is just a matter of sales effort.   The strategy of spending money on the connection in hopes someone will generate traffic online has not worked to date either.    So who is paying for that track and maintenence on it in the mean time?

BTW, my view is the TSR efforts at attracting freight have been fairly weak so far.    No joint effort with the state business development department?     What are they going it alone?    TSR is in the middle of nowhere, I have my doubts with just the TSR sales team they will EVER find anyone to locate a business on that line.   They need to form partnerships and extend their reach along with a potential real estate pool along the line........definitely need to enlist the State of Texas as well.

Now that they have the connection in place......why not also put in a rail siding or small yard and make an attempt at rail car storage?     Understood they are cash strapped but they could put a business plan for that in front of the State and the State would pay the cost if the proposal brought in enough money to move the line closer to profitability.    Sadly, I don't think even that has been done yet.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 10:00 AM

charlie hebdo
Nostalgia.  Running a train in 2017 with equipment painted as a tribute to a passenger rail service from 46 or more years earlier (that never even ran in Indiana) is nostalgia. 

What is the cost difference in painting stainless steel equipment (which does not need paint) and an acid bath (or whatever the official term is) to restore the lustre of the stainless steel?    I would suspect the acid bath is cheaper route than the paint but I have no idea.

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Posted by steve14 on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 11:00 AM

Baze Chemical built a siding between the UP connection and the Palestine depot that went into service shortly after the connection was repaired. That was the first revenue car move in 30+ years or something like that.

At Rusk, the city (I believe) helped finance the rebuilding of the track east of the highway crossing as a proposed industry park. Storage cars have been put in there in the past. Don't know current status. 

Now with the change of operator, Greg Udoff is actively promoting his steam excursions and continuing to develop the streamline passenger train set. The deisel was acquired with state funding. Not sure what current freight efforts are.

Seems like what CMStPnP is asking for is and has been done in large part.

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Posted by rrnut282 on Friday, June 22, 2018 7:58 PM

charlie hebdo
Right, it was all somebody else's fault, not Ellis'.  He signed the contract. 

Nostalgia.  Running a train in 2017 with equipment painted as a tribute to a passenger rail service from 46 or more years earlier (that never even ran in Indiana) is nostalgia. 

I think you will find a lot of IP's equipment, no matter what state it is in, is painted in colors similar to Illinois Central, which did run in Indiana. (on a branch line to Indianapolis)

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Posted by Cotton Belt MP104 on Saturday, June 23, 2018 3:28 PM

rrnut282

It takes zero effort to rant about why something can't, won't or shouldn't.  It takes real effort to go out and do something, sweating all the little details.  Ed missed a few of those details along the way.  Hard to fault a guy for trying.  That is never a problem around here.

For what it's worth, he did have a column in Trains back in the day.  As I recall, it generated a lot of disagreement.

 

......at times in the past i have had discussions and offered my view ......later to realize i had never even outwardly thought about that view ....... well guess what, that is what civil discourse is all about .......view verses a different view ....then decide what works for you.........  w/o the disagreement we might not even realize where we stand  ..........just sayin'   endmrw0623181525

The ONE the ONLY/ Paragould, Arkansas/ Est. 1883 / formerly called The Crossing/ a portmanteau/ JW Paramore (Cotton Belt RR) Jay Gould (MoPac)/crossed at our town/ None other, NOWHERE in the world
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Posted by Cotton Belt MP104 on Saturday, June 23, 2018 3:34 PM

zugmann
 
MidlandMike
and then becomes the verbal target of railfans who can sometimes be very unforgiving of mistakes, and that does not make for good dialogue.

 

"a lifetime of attaboys won't make up for one oh crap*!"

-paraphrased from a former trainmaster of mine.

*well, he didn't say crap, but use your imagination.

 

  .......boy, you can say that again......................excuse me......let me say, that, is a great quote .......ya really don't have to.......... say it again      endmrw0623181533

The ONE the ONLY/ Paragould, Arkansas/ Est. 1883 / formerly called The Crossing/ a portmanteau/ JW Paramore (Cotton Belt RR) Jay Gould (MoPac)/crossed at our town/ None other, NOWHERE in the world
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Posted by Cotton Belt MP104 on Saturday, June 23, 2018 3:48 PM

steve14

If you don't have a connection, how can you expect to attract any business to the TSR? 

As to "spending lots of money" on it, I would say that the amount spent to restore the track to service was pretty minimal overall, from my viewpoint as the one who organized it and worked on it personally. 

Indiana was a different kettle of fish. Amtrak basically went into "pout" mode and threw every conceivable (and some inconceivable) obstructions in IP's path. Not saying that Ed was perfect on his side, though.

 

........isn't civil, first hand knowledge, discussion of differences of opinion interesting and refreshing...........especially when the past various discussion postings have often shown such petty childish trashing of folks     endmrw0623181541

The ONE the ONLY/ Paragould, Arkansas/ Est. 1883 / formerly called The Crossing/ a portmanteau/ JW Paramore (Cotton Belt RR) Jay Gould (MoPac)/crossed at our town/ None other, NOWHERE in the world
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Posted by Cotton Belt MP104 on Saturday, June 23, 2018 4:00 PM

BOB WITHORN

............... Looks to me like he tried to do to much to fast. ....................

 

    BOB, please do not take offense ...... this is for charlie h  ....... should that be ......... "TOO much"???????????   anglish teacher (retarded, eye mean .....retired) surely dats what ya R.......  endmrw0623181558

The ONE the ONLY/ Paragould, Arkansas/ Est. 1883 / formerly called The Crossing/ a portmanteau/ JW Paramore (Cotton Belt RR) Jay Gould (MoPac)/crossed at our town/ None other, NOWHERE in the world
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Posted by charlie hebdo on Saturday, June 23, 2018 8:39 PM

rrnut282

 

 
charlie hebdo
Right, it was all somebody else's fault, not Ellis'.  He signed the contract. 

Nostalgia.  Running a train in 2017 with equipment painted as a tribute to a passenger rail service from 46 or more years earlier (that never even ran in Indiana) is nostalgia. 

 

 

I think you will find a lot of IP's equipment, no matter what state it is in, is painted in colors similar to Illinois Central, which did run in Indiana. (on a branch line to Indianapolis)

 

And when was the last IC branch line train to Indy run? The Indianapolis and Southern  running to Effingham?  Passenger service?  Not sure, maybe.  Timetable?  In chocolate brown and burnt orange?  Never.

The ending of the Iowa Pacific cars and crew and service (still was run by Amtrak) showed Ellis not only didn't know what he was doing, he reneged on a contract.

On Monday [Jan 2017] the Indiana Department of Transportation announced its contract with Iowa Pacific Holdings, which has operated the Hoosier State train since July 2015, would only remain in effect until the end of February.

INDOT said Iowa Pacific wanted more money than was agreed upon in its contract.

"They were looking for a minimum monthly subsidy that was outside the budget we had," INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield said. "Even under the existing contracts, their needs were beyond what we had budgeted."

To date, INDOT has paid $500,000 to Iowa Pacific to provide on-board service, marketing and equipment for the Hoosier State and $3.9 million to Amtrak to run the actual train. It agreed to pay Iowa Pacific an additional $300,000 to operate the train through the end of February.

"It should be said we signed contracts in good faith with Iowa Pacific that was through the end of June, and then they came to us and said they we’re unable to continue under those contracts," Wingfield said.

 

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Sunday, June 24, 2018 12:37 AM

charlie hebdo
To date, INDOT has paid $500,000 to Iowa Pacific to provide on-board service, marketing and equipment for the Hoosier State and $3.9 million to Amtrak to run the actual train.

 

Don't know what Amtrak did for the $3.9 million except provide a two man crew, their reservation system, man the stations, pay CSX charges, and Overhead costs. Ed provided and maintained the cars and locomotives including fuel, plus provided a five person "Hotel" crew. He provided (IMHO) a good operation. I rode it once and found it excellent. The supper dome had a three person crew plus there were two coach attendents. Sure they were not getting Amtrak union pay rates but suspect they were much more than minimum wage. Good chef cooked food included in the first class fare. Don't understand how Ed thought he could make money at 1/8th of what Amtrak got. Perhaps he thought that there was a bigger growth opportunity than really existed. I think he over committed himself. But I give him an A for effort and a D for financial planning. 

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Posted by MidlandMike on Sunday, June 24, 2018 8:12 PM

The problem was that Amtrak got to deduct all their costs before Iowa Pacific got what was left over.  I would guess that Iowa Pacific did not anticipate that ATK would need or take such a big piece of the pie.  IP increased the number of riders.

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