NEWSLETTER NO. 112 Wedneday Febuary 1, 2023Download Or View News Letter In PDF Format
NEWSLETTER NO. 111 Thursday November 10, 2022Download Or View News Letter In PDF Format
WE HAVE BEEN OFFERING EXCITING TRAIN TOURS
WORLDEWIDE - SINCE 1983
Welcome to the exciting world of railroads and train travel. We have been offering train tours, train trips, train vacations, and luxury private rail car trips since 1983. Here at Trains and Travel International we love traveling by train and will jump at the opportunity to travel by train or take our vacations by rail. Our staff is made up of professional railroaders both active and retired and railfans that has a passion for railroads and the excitement of an upcoming train trip. Taking a relaxing train tour is very popular.
Our tour director and general manager, Chris Skow is a retired conductor from the Western Pacific/Union Pacific Railroads. Additionally he worked for the Santa Fe as a station operator-ticket agent-towerman. Also he worked for the Black River & Western as a steam locomotive fireman and the High Iron Company in steam locomotive service. Prior to all of this while in college he helped arrange private rail car excursions for the California Southern Railroad Museum and also helped rebuild and operate the museum’s steam locomotive. We feel it is very important to have active and retired railroaders running our trips by train. It takes a railroader to understand railroad management and how they think and do business.
In the past 38 years we have now offered train tours worldwide in 47countries. This includes train tours in South America, Russia, Europe, Africa, China, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Canada, Mexico, Central America and of course the USA. We have chartered over 500 private trains in these countries.
One of our most popular tours is train trips out west using the private rail cars. Private railroad cars now allow travelers the option to step back in time and recapture that romantic era of train travel that Amtrak cannot provide. Once upon a time rail barons and wealthy socialites traveled the country on luxurious private railroad cars, dining on fine china and crystal and being pampered by the onboard staff. This form of luxury USA train travel is being offering to everyone at a very reasonable prices.
A small number of folks have purchased and refurbished private rail cars familiar to the first half of the 20th century. This was the golden age of passenger rail travel. These people have spent around a million dollars on each private rail car to bring back this golden age of travel. Passengers can sip on cocktails and nibble on hors d' oeuvres while sinking into deep leather sofas in lounges and vista domes and relax by the rhythm of the train wheels rolling down the track. All meals are prepared fresh onboard and made to order by the onboard gourmet chefs. These private luxury rail cars are coupled onto the rear of scheduled Amtrak passenger trains all over the country. We can run these private rail cars just about every where that Amtrak has trains. This makes up our luxury train tours in the USA. Our first class passengers are separated from the Amtrak passengers by locked doors. We provide our own onboard staff including our chef and make up our own gourmet menus for all meals. All drinks and food is included in the ticket price from the time you step onboard until you detrain. Everything is first class with every detail included. This is USA train tours at it's finest.
We invite you to come take a train tour with us and see just how relaxing and fun Train travel can be. Also be sure and check out our Merchandise page. We sell railroad DVD's, railroad videos, railroad photos, timetables and other railroad collectables.
Types Of Tours We Offer
These tours cater to the dedicated railfans and railroad photographers and are NOT suitable for the general tourist.
These tours will cater to the railfans and tourist with a great mix of rail photography, train riding, scenic locations and sightseeing.
These tours will cater mostly to the tourist but are very suitable for railfans with a large variety of photography and train riding. Special activities and events will be of interest to the railfans.
These tours will cater to the general tourist and their families.
These tours are suitable for everyone and include riding on private rail cars.
The owner and general manager of Trains and Travel International is Chris Skow. In 2021 he is celebrated 56 years in the tour and travel industry. Below is a brief account of his life long love and passion for trains, railroads and guiding tour groups.
CHRIS WELCOMES EVERYONE ON HIS TOURS
HOW IT ALL GOT STARTED MANY YEARS AGO
He became involved in railroads when he was still in high school in Victorville, California. In 1964 at the age of 16 he started to spend his weekends in Cajon Pass taking pictures of Santa Fe and Union Pacific trains. Then he started to hang out at the Victorville Depot after classes and was allowed to help load and unload the mail on the City of Los Angeles and Chief passenger trains.
The one spark that guided Chris into a life long adventure with trains happened in August 1964 when the family went on summer vacation and drove to Newton, Iowa to meet Grandma and the rest of the family. After the first day at Newton Chris was board and asked his father if he could walk down to the Depot and watch the Rock Island trains. After a couple of hours at the Newton Depot the local Rock Island switch crew made a stop in front of the depot and the conductor got off of the engine and came right over to Chris and asked if he would like to take a cab ride. You can guess where he spent the rest of the day and come dinner time his father had to come down to the depot and check up on Chris. No where to be found soon the Rock Island switch engine came by the depot and there he was riding in the cab and waving at his dad. He made it a point to ride in the Rock Island switch engine for the entire week that the family was in Newton.
Back in California after vacation he started spending his weekends in Cajon Pass taking pictures of the Santa Fe and Union Pacific trains. He became good friends with Chad Walker who worked at the Summit Station in Cajon Pass. He also spend a lot of time trackside on the Mojave Northern Railroad which was based in Victorville.
During high school he got involved with rebuilding Mojave Northern steam locomotive No. 2 after it was donated to the California Southern Railroad Museum and moved from Victorville to the Orange Empire Trolley Museum located at Perris, California. When No. 2 was moved in a freight train over Cajon Pass Chris was invited by the local Santa Fe trainmaster to ride both steam locomotive No. 2 and Mojave Northern No. 3 down the pass to San Bernardino watching for any hot bearing problems during the movement. Chris and Bill Garner rode the locomotives as a team.
Once No. 2 was back in operation he became it’s fireman and sometimes engineer when Bill Garner would let him over to the right side of the cab.
He also became more involved with the museum and soon took over the editor’s job for the clubs monthly newsletter, The California Southern Express.
WORKING THE FIREMAN’S JOB ON MOJAVE
NORTHERN NO. 2 AT THE ORANGE EMPIRE
TROLLY MUSEUM IN PERRIS, CALIFORNIA
During his three years in high school at Victor Valley Senior High he was the campus staff photographer for all events and this kept him very busy. In his senior year in 1967 he made arrangements with the Santa Fe Railway to have Train No. 20 The Chief spot the lead engine right in front of the depot for a PR photo of the high schools cheerleading squad.
CHRIS’S SPECIAL PR PHOTO FOR THE VICTOR VALLEY SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL
1967 ANNUAL. ARRANGEMENTS WERE MADE TO POSE THE CHEERLEADING
SQUAD IN FRONT OF SANTA FE’S CHIEF AT VICTORVILLE
Victor Valley Senior High School had a special arrangement with the local merchants where the seniors would take over running Victorville for a day. This was called Seniors Day. Chris was given the job of “Santa Fe Station Agent” at the Victorville Depot. Well of course!
He was able to make close friends with all of the Santa Fe employees at Victorville including the crew of the Victorville switch engine. On top of that he made friends with the trainmaster that handled Cajon Pass and Victorville. This friendship paid off on one trip where the Victorville Switch Job runs up to Summit in Cajon Pass with a water car once a week.
The day before Christmas in 1966 Chris rode with the crew up to Summit and back. The trainmaster just happened to be at Summit when they arrived and so the engineer asked Chris to sit on the floor of the GP 7 so he would not be seen. To the shock of the crew the trainmaster wanted to talk to the engineer so he climbed up on the engine and into the cab. When he walked into the cab the trainmaster looked right at Chris sitting on the floor and greeted him with “Merry Christmas Chris” then talked to the engineer and as he left the cab again turned to Chris and said “Get a lot of good pictures as I want to see some of them”. The crew was never disciplined for giving Chris a cab ride. Every year the same trainmaster would invite Chris to attend the annual rules class with the same crew at Victorville.
Also for several years during high school and college he started a program with all of the elementary schools in Victorville, Apple Valley, Hesperia, Adelanto, Oro Grande and George Air Force Base to come into the 4th and 5th grade classrooms during “Transportation Month” and give a talk and show his movies on railroads. Then he arranged for all of the classes to take a ride onboard Union Pacific’s westbound City of Los Angeles No. 103 Victorville to San Bernardino where they were given a guided tour of the Santa Fe Depot and diesel workshops. Chris would always be the guide for all of the trips down Cajon Pass with the elementary students and then come back with these groups on the school buses. So it was in 1965 where Chris caught the bug for guiding and leading groups on special trips.
During his high school years he would sit in his car and do his school homework parked next to the famous Santa Fe Crossover just west of Victorville and near the spur of Frost and watch all of the trains go by. As Chris put it, doing his homework was not so bad if he could watch the trains. He also would drop in at the Victorville Depot and do his homework there too as he caught all of the trains that went by.
RIGHT TIME AND LOCATION AS CHRIS DOES HIS HOMEWORK SITTING IN
HIS CAR AS SANTA FE’S WESTBOUND EL CAPITAN MEETS AN EASTBOUND
FREIGHT AT THE CROSSOVER NEAR VICTORVILLE. (PHOTO BELOW) HE
WOULD ALSO SPEND HIS AFTERNOONS DOING HIS HOMEWORK AT THE
VICTORVILLE DEPOT AND WOULD PHOTOGRAPH MOST OF THE TRAINS
THAT WENT BY. HERE CHIRS CATCHES SANTA FE NO. 7 THE WESTBOUND
FAST MAIL EXPRESS. CHRIS’S FAVORITE DIESEL IS THE ALCO PA’S
Then in 1967 he requested to be placed on the crew for the private rail car Mt. Rubidoux which was owned by the California Southern Railroad Museum and is a former Soo Line open observation business car built in 1927. He worked on this car for a number of runs out of Los Angeles. This further enhanced his enjoyment of working with railfans and folks who enjoyed trains and train travel.
While in college at San Bernardino in 1968-69 he was hired by the Santa Fe Railway as a station operator full time with his home terminal at San Bernardino. When classes were in session the railway worked him on night positions over the entire Los Angeles Division. During summer vacation he worked day and night positions. His duties included: Train Order Telegraph, Towerman, Ticket Agent, Clerk, and General Agent. Some of the positions that he worked includes: San Bernardino Telegraph, Riverside Tower, Fullerton Ticket Agent, Azusa General Agent, Pomona Ticket Agent, West Yard Tower, Hemet Agency, and Mission Tower to name a few.
During his college years Chris continued his elementary school programs, working on the Mojave Northern locomotive, crew member on the Mt. Rubidoux Business Car, editor of the California Southern Express newsletter and finally working for the Santa Fe full time at night and holding down 18 ½ units of college credits. Since his major was in Photo-Journalism and Broadcasting he also took on yet three more jobs: Sports Editor for the Hesperia Reporter newspaper, Sports Photographer for the Victor Valley Daily Press, and the college campus newspaper as Sports Editor and Photographer.
During his 2nd year of college he lived with his folks at Hesperia for awhile and would commute to San Bernardino Valley College everyday. Three times a week he would ride Union Pacific’s City of Los Angeles from Victorville to San Bernardino doing his homework in one of the dome cars before classes began then in the evening rode Santa Fe’s Grand Canyon back to Victorville.
While working for the Santa Fe Railway he became very good friends with a engineer who had a run between Los Angeles and Barstow on the Super Chief, El Capitan and Grand Canyon trains. As the friendship grew Chris was invited into the cab and rode with his new friend several times between Los Angeles and Barstow.
Chris recalls on one run in the cab of the eastbound Super Chief on a five mile stretch of straight track just west of Barstow the engineer Walter Hodson said he would try and get our train up to 100 mph. As the train came around the curve and onto the straight track Walter pulled out the throttle to 8th notch and Chris stood next to the F unit speedometer with his camera ready to take a picture when the needle hit 100 mph. As everyone was watching the speedometer it hit 90, 91, 92, 93, 94 as we got closer and closer to the end of straight track. Just prior to the engineer being forced to apply some air to the brakes for the next curve we reached 99.5 mph. Chris recalls what a thrill that was.
CAB RIDE WITH ENGINEER WALTER HODSON ON THE WESTBOUND
GRAND CANYON IN CAJON PASS WITH A FANTASTIC CONSIST OF
ABABBA SANTA FE F UNITS ONE BAGGAGE CAR AND ONLY THREE
WALTER HODSON, ENGINEER ON THE EL CAPITAN/SUPER CHIEF
GIVES A HARDY WAVE TO CHRIS AT KEENBROOK IN CAJON PASS
Additionally he arranged a number of cross country train trips for many of his friends and professors from college. On a number of occasions he was asked to be the escort and soon he found it very enjoyable planning and leading tour groups onboard the passenger trains.
Needless to say during his college years he had very little extra time to get into any kind of trouble like some of his classmate would. This does explain why almost all of his railroad and train tours are packed full of highlights and things to see and do. Chris is known by his customers as running tours that are packed full of things to see and do. This is his calling card and most of his clients love it. His clients remark that going on one of Chris’s tours you get your money’s worth and then some!
It was early morning on September 2, 1969 and he was working the nighttime 3rd trick at Mission Tower in downtown Los Angeles which controls all of the passenger trains coming in and out of LA Union Station. At 5am Bob Larson, a Western Pacific engineer and close friend of Chris’s from Portola called him to ask if he would like to get on the interview list for a brakeman’s position. The only catch was that he had to be in Portola that same day no later than 3pm. The trainmaster was going to hire ten brakeman. Chris said yes, and so when he got off duty at 7am he drove back to his apartment in San Bernardino changed his clothes, packed a few items and headed for Portola some 450 miles to the north.
Upon arrival he reported right to the trainmaster at around 3:30pm. By this time the 10 brakeman were already hired but the trainmaster was so impressed that Chris drove up from Los Angeles that he hired him to be a temporary clerk and crew caller at Portola Depot until a brakeman's job became available. Chris accepted the position and the next day drove back to San Bernardino gave notice to the Santa Fe that he was just hired by the WP and on September 9, 1969 reported to work for the midnight shift at the Portola Depot.
The highlight of this job was servicing and watering the California Zephyr which arrived at 7:10am. When it departed one of his duties was to set up the washing racks and make sure the silver lady departed Portola nice and clean. The trainmaster kept his word and two months later gave Chris his brakeman's job.
Meanwhile now being a Western Pacific employee he was able to enjoy several cab rides on the California Zephyr in the Feather River Canyon as seen below.
CHRIS ENJOYING A CAB RIDE ON THE CALIFORNIA ZEPHYR IN THE FEATHER RIVER CANYON
In early 1970 the US Army draft caught up to him so with Western Pacific’s blessing he enlisted just before receiving his draft notice and in turn was given the job of his choice after basic training. The Army put him in as PR Photographer which kept him out of Viet Nam. By the start of 1971 he found himself stationed at the Pentagon in Washington DC as a US Army Public Relations Photographer and photo lab tech. This gave him close access to all of the railroads on the East Coast.
CHRIS RECALLS ONE FUN PHOTO ASSIGNMENT WHILE IN THE ARMY WAS TO TRAVEL
TO FORT EUSTIS, VIRGINIA TO PHOTOGRAPH THE FT. EUSTIS MILITARY RAILROAD
WHICH WOULD HAVE ALL OF THE STEAM LOCOMOTIVES IN OPERATION FOR
“TRANSPORTATION WEEK” HE WAS GIVEN ACCESS TO ALL AREAS OF THIS
RAILROAD INCLUDING STEAM AND DIESEL CAB RIDES. DURING THE STEAM
EXCURSION CHRIS RECALLS THAT HE WAS THE ONLY RAILFAN FOLLOWING THE
TRAIN FOR THESE PR SHOTS. EVERY PICTURE HE TOOK HAD TO BE WITH TWO
CAMERAS. THE ARMY CAMERA AND HIS OWN PERSONAL CAMERA.
His Army job at Washington DC allowed for all of his weekends to be free and in fact most of the time he could arrange either Friday or Monday off and many times both of these days so that many of his weekends turned into four day mini vacations.
Chris covered the first run of the Auto Train for Railroad Magazine. The train departed Lorton, Virginia on December 6, 1971 and he was invited onboard for a ride as VIP press.
ON BOARD THE FIRST AUTO TRAIN DECEMBER 6, 1971
ENJOYING THE VIEW IN ONE OF THE FORMER CZ DOME CARS
With all of this extra time to enjoy the East Coast he joined up with the High Iron Company out of New Jersey as a crew member on their big steam locomotives. During his time with this company he was able to work on the Nickel Plate 759, a 2-8-4 Berkshire and the Reading 2102 a 4-8-4 Northern. He worked a number of excursions with these two large steam locomotives over the Jersey Central, Erie Lackawanna, Reading, Baltimore & Ohio, Delaware & Hudson, Western Maryland and Norfolk & Western Railroads.
IN 1970-72 CHRIS BECAME ONE OF THE CREW MEMBERS ON THE NICKLE PLATE
759 BERKSIRE WITH THE HIGH IRON COMPANY. (ABOVE LEFT) HE IS WORKING ON
THE 759 AT THE WESTERN MARYLAND ROUNDHOUSE HAGERSTOWN, MD AND
(RIGHT PHOTO) HE WORKED A PASSENGER EXCURSION ON THE ERIE LACKWANNA
PULLED BY THE NKP 759. CHRIS IS THE MIDDLE CREW MEMBER.
Other positions that he has held with the High Iron Company was Onboard VIP Photographer, VIP Passenger Relations and also worked on preparing some of the cars for the American Freedom Train. A number of his VIP photos were used to promote the American Freedom Train. Chris recalls that one very important PR shot that he took was when Ernest Borgnine from the popular TV show “McHale’s Navy” come up into the cab for this special photo.
PR PHOTO SHOOT WITH ROSS ROWLAND, OWNER
OF THE HIGH IRON COMPANY AND MOVE STAR
ERNEST BORGNINE IN THE CAB OF READING 2102
AT HOBOKEN, NEW JERSEY ON THE EL RAILROAD
If all of this was not enough the general manager for the High Iron Company was also an engineer for the Black River & Western in New Jersey. Chris was invited to go to work for this company by this manager as his fireman on No. 60 a 2-8-0 Consolidation and No. 148, a 4-6-2 Pacific.
WORKING FOR THE BLACK RIVER & WESTERN CHRIS WAS ABLE TO BE FIREMAN
ON NO. 60 A 2-8-0 AND NO. 148 A 4-6-2. ABOVE LEFT PHOTO HE IS STANDING IN
FRONT OF NO. 60 AND ABOVE RIGHT PHOTO IN THE RIGHT HAND SEAT OF NO.
148. LOWER PHOTO IN THE ENGINEER’S SEAT OF NO. 60. THE ENGINEER WOULD
LET CHRIS RUN EVERY OTHER TRIP.
After release from active duty in Washington DC in 1973 Chris returned to Portola and went right back to work for the Western Pacific. He also started to arrange train tours to South Africa and South America mostly for fellow Western Pacific employees.
In 1983 he ran his first ever international tour which went to South Africa to see the steam locomotives and ride their trains. This small group had 5 customers plus Chris. The following year he arranged a tour to Brazil and then back to Africa. Perhaps one of the most exciting tours he arranged in Africa was when his small group of railfans and himself rode the trains from Cape Town, South Africa all the way to Nairobi, Kenya traveling through South Africa, Botswana, Rhodesia, Zambia, Tanzania, and Kenya.
THE VERY FIRST TOUR WAS IN OCTOBER 1983 TO SOUTH AFRICA.
GROUP SIZE WAS JUST SIX. CHRIS IS 2ND IN FROM THE RIGHT
THE FOLLOWING YEAR IN 1984 THE RAN HIS FIRST TOUR TO
BRAZIL. THREE OF THE TOUR MEMBERS WERE WESTERN PACIFIC
EMPLOYEES SEEN HERE. CHRIS IS STANDING LEFT, BILL
MAGAZINE CENTER AND BOB LARSON RIGHT
Wanting to keep involved in the history of the Western Pacific Chris contacted Mr. Flannery, president of the railroad with suggestions on repairing and repainting the last four F units and again repainting a unit into Bicentennial colors.
CHRIS WROTE THE LETTER TO THE WESTERN PACIFIC PRESIDENT
SUGGESTING A ENGINE BE PAINTED UP FOR OUR BICENTENNIAL
He also was the hand picked VIP Conductor based out of Portola to run most of the WP and UP special passenger trains. This was a very exciting change from working the same old freight train assignments. In fact this is how he got to know Mr. Flannery who in turn introduced him to some of the Union Pacific CEO’s , President’s and upper management.
Chris was always keen on getting hand picked for any special assignments and one such adventure took place in 1978-79 when he was asked to be conductor on the movie train set for the NBC pilot program called “Super Train” The in field filming was done just east of Oroville. After that filming was complete the director invited Chris to come down to Hollywood and be present at some of the studio filming as an adviser.
CHRIS AND HIS CREW ON THE SUPER TRAIN SET AT OROVILLE IN 1978. CHRIS RECALLS
DURING THE FILMING THE DIRECTOR WANTED HIM TO MAKE THE TRAIN GO FASTER AND
FASTER AND ALREADY THEY WERE FILMING AT 55MPH AND THE SPEED LIMIT WAS ONLY
40MPH. BELOW CHRIS IS TRYING TO EXPLAIN TO THE DIRECTOR THAT 55MPH IS THE
MAX WE CAN GO. ANY FASTER AND WE MIGHT DERAIL!
OH THE WONDERFUL DAYS OF CABOOSES. CHRIS IS STANDING
ON THE PLATFORM OF HIS CABOOSE ON A WESTBOUND FREIGHT
AT BLAIRSDEN IN 1981. HE SAYS HE STILL LOVED THE CABOOSES.
Not wanting to let any grass grow under his feet in 1981 he joined the Promontory Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society in Salt Lake City and helped arranged and operate some of their excursions and tours including the Union Pacific steam fleet. With trains pulled by the UP 844 and the UP 3985. This all was in keeping with Chris’s desire to be involved with running train tours.
Next in his desire to seek out new adventures in 1981-82-83 he agreed to be the Conductor Pilot for the Sperry Rail Detector Car tests on the WP. Chris would fly to Salt Lake City a couple of days prior to each Sperry test and would pick-up the detector car from the Rio Grande and then would proceed to assist the Sperry crew in testing the Western Pacific all the way to Oakland including some of the branch lines , Tidewater Southern and the Highline before returning to Utah. The WP scheduled four Sperry Car tests per year and each test took about 30 days. This continued until the Union Pacific took over in 1983 and then canceled the Sperry contract.
CHRIS AND THE SPERRY CREW TRYING TO TEST RAIL IN TWO FEET OF SNOW
AT THE ALMANOR SIDING ON THE HIGHLINE. PHOTOS BELOW HE IS ON THE
RADIO TALKING TO THE DISPATCHER AND ON THE PHONE WITH THE DS.
The next adventure was getting involved in forming the Feather River Rail Society and the Western Pacific Railroad Museum. Being a founding father for this museum he ended up on the board of directors and started the museum gift shop and the display room and spent countless hours working on some of the rolling stock. He is now the last museum founding father that still lives in the Portola area.
In 1983 Chris helped organized some of the events for the First Annual Feather River Railroad Days Festival and then a few years later joined up with the planning committee for this event. The Railroad Days Festival is what gave him the idea to run a charter passenger train from Emeryville (Oakland) to Portola up the Feather River Canyon for this event. Several trains were run prior to Amtrak’s new CEO canceling most all charter trains.
(LEFT PHOTO) CONDUCTOR SKOW ON ONE OF THE UP VIP TRAINS READY TO MAKE A RUN
DOWN THE FEATHER RIVER CANYON. (RIGHT PHOTO) CHRIS SKOW AND NORMAN HOLMES
OPERATING THE JUNE 1983 UNION PACIFIC FAMILY PICNIC EXCURSION TRAINS THAT RAN
OUT OF PORTOLA. (PHOTO BELOW) CHRIS IS COLLECTING TICKETS.
THE FAMILY DAYS PICNIC SPECIAL RAN PORTOLA TO RENO JUNCTION AND RETURN
AND HAD THE ONLY WESTERN PACIFIC ENGINE PAINTED IN UP YELLOW BUT LETTERED
WESTERN PACIFIC. THERE WAS AN ENGINE ON BOTH ENDS. AT RENO JCT. CHRIS
AND NORM WERE LINED ONTO THE RENO BRANCH AND HAD TO CLEAR FOR A FREIGHT
TRAIN. WHILE WAITING FOR THE FREIGHT CHRIS GOT THIS IDEA TO TURN HIS
PASSENGER TRAIN ON THE WYE AT RENO JCT MAKING THIS THE ONLY TIME A
PASSENGER TRAIN USED THIS TRACK. A FEW MONTHS LATER UP TORE UP THIS WYE.
A TOAST TO THE FIRST CHARTER TRAIN HE RAN IN THE FEATHER RIVER CANYON
FOR THE RAILROAD DAYS FESTIVAL, AS IT CROSSES OVER THE KEDDIE WYE BRIDGE
As if his life was not busy enough every summer from 1974 until 1982 he would go back to New Jersey and put on his overalls and work on the steam locomotives of the Black River & Western and High Iron Company as fireman . He would always drive back east and would line up a number of sound movie programs to railroad clubs and groups all the way across the country all the time promoting upcoming train tours that he had on the drawing board.
CHRIS IS FIREING UP THE READING 4-8-4 2102 AT HAGERSTOWN, MD. SHARING
A STALL AT THE WESTERN MARYLAND ROUNDHOUSE WITH THE D&H ALCO PA’S
(LEFT PHOTO BELOW) AND EARLY MORNING THE 2102 IS READY TO GO FOR A
LONG DEADHEAD MOVE WITH A SHORT TRAIN FROM MARYLAND TO NEW JERSEY
OVER THE WESTERN MARYLAND, READING AND JERSEY CENTRAL RAILROADS.
(RIGHT PHOTO BELOW)
CHRIS’S VIEW FROM THE FIREMAN’S SEAT OF THE SHORT TRAIN. (UPPER LEFT
PHOTO) AND (UPPER RIGHT PHOTO) HIS VIEW FROM THE FIREMAN’S SEAT MEETING
A READING FREIGHT. (PHOTOS BELOW) MEETING ANOTHER READING FREIGHT AND
THE VIEW FROM THE FIREMAN’S SEAT
HIS FIRE LOOKS GOOD AS THE READING ENGINEER BLOWS FOR A ROAD CROSSING
Wanting to stay active and up-to-date with his love of trains and steam locomotives in 1984 he took over the job of editor for the Steam Column of the CTC Board Magazine. This job kept him in the loop of what was happening with the steam locomotives of North America. He kept this job for several years.
ONE OF CHRIS’S PASSENGER TRAIN ASSIGNMENTS WESTBOUND AT PAXTON WITH A
VIP UNION PACIFIC SPECIAL IN 1984. HE WALKED UP TO THE ENGINE FOR THIS SHOT
In December 2007 he chartered the California Zephyr Silver Solarium rear end observation/Pullman/Dome car for his 2nd marriage. The Silver Solarium was attached to Amtrak’s San Joaquin Oakland to Bakersfield and return. At 85 mph somewhere between Merced and Madera he said his “I Do’s”
Moving forward into the 2010’s he joined the Central Coast Chapter of the NRHS in Santa Clara and got on the excursion committee to help the club plan and operate train tours and excursions. During his time on this committee he was involved in a number of trips including the ATSF 3751 steam excursion from Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon and return.
To date Chris has been involved in arranging hundreds of charter trains and private rail cars in 47 countries including the USA. He has made more than 50 trips just to Latin America. According to Chris his passion for working with railfans and folks that love train travel will continue for the rest of his life. He hopes to see you on one of his tours in the future.
IN CHRIS’S OWN WORDS......”WELCOME ABOARD FOR AN ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME”
TOUR CONDITIONS **PLEASE READ CAREFULLY**
Tour Price: All tour prices are subject to change without notice, at any time. All prices based on double room occupancy. Those people that use a credit card for payments a 3% conveyance fee will be added to the tour price. We reserve the right to change tour prices if necessary without prior notice.
Prices do not include:Prices do not include :Personal items, meals not listed in the itinerary, laundry, phone calls, excess baggage charges, rental cars, side tours, insurance, passport fees including visas, vaccinations, gratuities, medical costs, tips to train or motor coach staff, extra tour costs due to unanticipated changes in the itinerary for reasons beyond our control, including weather, travel conditions, or cancellations, government intervention, sickness, political disputes, and failure of transportation or other causes beyond our control.
TRAVEL AND HEALTH DOCUMENTS:A valid passport is required for our international tours. In some cases a visa is also needed. Consult your health professional for the recommended immunizations and documents. Trains and Travel , here on referred to as TT, assumes no other responsibility if a client is refused entry into a country. Cost and cancellation fees will be paid by the client in the event they do not have valid documents.
CHANGE OF ITINERARY:We reserve the right to substitute, alter or modify the tour if any unexpected and unforeseen conditions beyond our control preventing the completion of such. Conditions can include weather, train schedules, equipment, motive power, revision of train consist, train delays, labor strikes, political disputes, derailments, closure of a rail line, break down of railroad or motive power equipment, railroads not honoring contracts and bus equipment problems. We will always endeavor, in each case, to provide substitutes, if any changes take place. TT is not responsible for canceled trains, delays, hotel rooms, route changes or missed connections, for any reason whatsoever. We will not give refunds if such conditions or cancellations take place.
TRAVEL INSURANCE:Travel insurance is strongly suggested. Insurance will cover and give tour members many benefits and protection. Benefits include baggage loss, accident, life, trip cancellation, sickness, bankruptcy, strike, weather conditions, employer termination or layoff effecting you or a person sharing the room with you, terrorist incident in your departure city or city of destination, jury duty, you are subpoenaed, hijacked, or quarantined, your residence or traveling companion residence is rendered uninhabitable, emergency military duty, traffic accident, single supplement upgrade when your room- mate cancels their trip, trip interruption, trip delay, missed connections, itinerary change, emergency medical benefits, medical evacuation, pre-existing medical conditions if enrollment is within 21days of your invoice date, assault of you or your traveling companion before departure, burglary of you or your companion before departure 24 hour hotline emergency assistance, emergency cash transfer and more . .
RESPONSIBILITY AND LIMITATION OF LIABILITY:Accepting your payment represents an agreement that you understand all the conditions, to be a member of our tours. TT gives notice that they are acting agents for the owners, contractors and suppliers, providing the transportation and all related travel services and assume no responsibility for equipment problems, mechanical failures, injury, sickness, damage, loss, additional expenses accidental delay or irregularities which may be caused through willful and or negligent acts or omissions on the part of the companies providing or engage in transportation, accommodations or services related to the accomplishment of the tour. Nor do we assume responsibility for natural disasters, social or political upheaval, acts of terrorism or acts of nature. TT reserves the right to substitute hotels, tour leaders, equipment, motive power, trains, onboard accommodations, routes and to alter the itinerary when deemed necessary without notice. The right is also reserved to cancel any trip or train prior to departure for any reason . TT is not responsible for expenses incurred by tour members in preparing for the tour, including non-refundable airline tickets, visa fees, planning, phone calls, or any other expenses. TT reserves the right to decline to accept, or ask to leave a tour, any person whose actions impede the daily operations of a tour, welfare or enjoyment of other tour members. TT cannot give any refunds for any unused services. The terms contained herein shall serve as a waiver of liability to TT . Assumption of risk on behalf of the client, their heirs, executor, administrators, successors, and assigns for any and all known persons injuries. In many cases it is not possible to advise the passengers on reasons for train delays if beyond our control.
RESERVATIONS: A deposit is due in our office within 14 days after you make your bookings. Full payment is due 90 days before departure except if noted differently. You will receive an invoice, reservation form and current tour bulletins with your confirmation and travel insurance forms. No notice for final payment will be sent to you. It is your responsible to make the final payment on-time.
CANCELLATIONS:TT does not accept cancellations on the phone. Cancellations must be received by postal mail, email or fax before any refunds will be considered. Allow enough time if sending your written notice by US mail postal system. When a written cancellation is received in the Trains and Travel office this will be the effective date of the cancellation. Please take note that it can take up to 60 days to to process some refunds. Cancellation refund rules: 120 days prior to the start of any tour you will receive a refund less a $200 per person administration fee. 119 to 61 days before the departure of any tour there will be a 80% cancellation penalty based on the full cost of the tour. Cancellations received 60 or less days before the start of any tour will not receive any refund. GW Travel Ltd has their own cancellation rules and these will apply. If booking on GW Travel Ltd ask for cancellation rules.
PRE-DEPARTURE TOUR BULLETINS:Tour bulletins will be sent to clients that have booked on tours operated by TT . Bulletins include travel info related to the tour. Final documents will be sent out about two to three weeks before a tour begins. We offer tours operated by other companies and they may or may not send out tour bulletins and updates and most send out final documents only one to two weeks prior to the start of their tours.
PAYMENTS:Payments can be made with personal check drawn on a U.S. Dollar account, money order for U.S. Dollars, bank wire transfer, or credit card. We accept Visa, Master Card, Discover or American Express. Final payment for all tours is due 90 days prior to departure and we will charge your credit card on file unless you have given us other instructions. If final payment has not been received 7 days after the due date, a late fee of $50 per week will apply.
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT:All prices are based on double room occupancy. We will try and match you with a roommate if one is available. If not, you may be charged the single room supplement listed for the tour you are booked on. Single rooms may not be available in some remote locations and on some trains.
TOUR REFUNDS:If for any reason tour members amend or delete any arrangements during travel, and leave the tour on their own, we cannot give any refunds on unused portions of the tour. If buses and trains are cancelled by the carrier or there is a labor strike or they go out of business, we cannot be held responsible and we cannot give refunds. Travel insurance will protect you for any of these reasons. If TT needs to cancel any tour everyone will receive a full refund. Please take note that in some cases refunds can take up to 60 days to process.
PARTIAL TOURS:We will allow passengers to join or leave a tour at certain points. Give us a call and we will try and work up a custom option for you.
MILEAGE COLLECTORS:Mileage collectors please take note that TT does not cater just to mileage collectors. We cater to all folks that enjoy trains and Rail journeys. We give strong warning that itinerary and route changes do happen and this is totally beyond our control when it does. If the only reason that you would want to book a tour is to collect the rare mileage, you need to understand that possible route changes do happen.
Questions? Send Email To: Chris@traintrips.biz
Trains & Travel International LLC
Portola CA 96122
1-800-359-4870 USA or (530) 836-1944