Cumbres and Toltec Commission meeting 12-Nov-22

This is my documentation from the aspect as a reporter. This is NOT any official documentation of the Cumbres & Toltec railroad, nor the Commission. If you saw this document via some other web site, the original site of this document is Videos of the commission meetings can be viewed at:
Steve Forney provides most of the equipment required to record these meetings (and create the video clips, above). My thanks to him for doing so. It allows me to gain a copy of the audio to create this document.

The official commission site is:

I may not have all of the “legal” terms correct. There may be spelling errors of persons or businesses. I paraphrase much of what was said. I try to indicate what the speaker means. This document serves to give the readers not present at the meeting a “pretty good” idea of what happened.

Content of this document is © 2022, Samuel B Seiber, all rights reserved.

Colorado Commissioners: Scott Gibbs, Mark Graybill
New Mexico Commissioners: William Lock, Billy Elbrock
President of the Cumbres & Toltec railroad: Scott Gibbs

Glossary (initialisms that may appear in this document):
C&TS: Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad
C19: Covid-19 virus
CO: Colorado
CRF: Car Restoration Facility, Antonito
CS: Colorado Springs, CO
CTO: Cumbres Toltec Operating company
D&RG: Denver & Rio Grande Railroad
D&S: Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
DFA: Department of Financial Administration (NM)
DRHS: Durango Railroad Historical Society
DTS: Dynamic Ticket Solutions (the ticketing company used by the C&TS)
FY: Fiscal Year
FRA: Federal Railroad Administration
HPA: Historic Preservation Account, or Historic Preservaton Association
HR: Human Relations
JBC: Joint Budget Committee (CO)
LFC: Leglislative Finance Committee (NM)
MOW: Maintenance Of Way
NOI: Net Operating Income
NM: New Mexico
ROW: Right of Way
RPO: Railroad Post Office
RR: Railroad, the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, unless mentioned otherwise
SHF: State Historic Fund (CO)
TABB: Tracks Across Borders Byway
VIHR: Victorian Iron Horse Roundup (August 2021 special event)
YTD: Year To Date (fiscal normally)
‘the Friends’: The Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic RR, the museum arm,

1. Call meeting to order

2. Pledge of Allegiance

3. Introductions

4. Motion to approve agenda

5. Motion to approve the Minutes from the July 30, 2022 commission meeting

6. Motion to approve the Minutes from the August 25, 2022 special meeting

7. President's Report-Scott Gibbs

7a. End of Season Report

Scott started of by reviewing safety. There were 2 FRA reportable accidents, both relatively minor in nature. This marks a major improvement over the last several years. There was a major emphasis on well and fire issues. There were two small fires, both between the rails, not line side. One due to an ash pan door not secured completely, the second caused by dropping a fire starting rag used on 489 that morning. New this year was a requirement for the RR to report fire starts to the Forest Service and forestry departments of both states, on a weekly basis. They were boring most of the year, no fire starts. The current expectation from all forest departments, don't start fires. The days of starting a line side fire, then putting it out are over. The RR has cleaned up the oil drum legacy in Chama and Antonito. Used tie cleanup is going on in Chama. There was a concern about the railroad using coal ash (cinders) around the railroad, such as ballast. It was determined it was safe.

Ridership recap came next. Do to the delay in opening this year, only 198 trains ran compared with 254 last year. That hit ridership hard. Scott reminded us that the delay of the season was due to the very high fire danger in June, moving opening day to July 1. Ridership last year was 37,735 with this year being 26,620. Average number of guests per train between was within 1, comparing the two seasons. Ridership on the geology train was up this year. The second geology train was canceled. Ridership on Goose 5 was up this year. Group sales were 13% of sales, last year it was 10%. Revenue this year compared to 2021 was 94%, compared to 2019 was 96%. Revenue wise, the RR did OK.

On time performance was mentioned next. Trains leaving after 10:00 were considered late. 77% of the trains that left Chama were on time, 61% out of Antonito. Some of the late trains were due to the buses getting hung up on Hwy 285 construction, causing the buses to run late. Two trains were annulled due to mechanical issues, one due to a fuel feed issue on 489, the other being a problem with the fire pan air damper. It overheated and fallen out. There is a design change to correct the problem. There were four hot boxes over the season that caused train delays, an improvement over last year.

Recovering from the Osier fire of last year has been a major challenge. Fire management caused the delay to the season. Once the season began, rain became the next challenge. It was a major effort to keep the tracks safe and draining. Two locomotives had some issues this year. 487 has a problem with piston rods and cross heads. The bore on the piston is about an inch larger than when it left Baldwin. Parts from the Aztec machine shop have been slow in arriving. 488 had 49CFR230.61 non compliance with the arch tubes. The RR self reported the issue. That took that locomotive out of service for a month while the issue was corrected. There were times the RR was down to one day of coal supply on hand. The long time supplier King Coal stopped supplying coal at one point in October. A second supplier, West Elk mine in Somerset CO began supplying coal. It burns very differently. The RR needs an additional coal supplier, as King just stopped providing coal. Insurance costs increased 31% this year, a huge cost impact to the RR. Staffing issues were another major issue, as it was with every employer in the area. Base pay was increased. Everyone got a 19% pay raise from the prior year. Also, both states have mandated new employee benefits. Business manager Thomas is blending those requirements so all employees are treated the same.

Off season locomotive work starts with 168 getting its annual inspection. That locomotive has a cracked cylinder saddle. Repairing it will cause a delay in getting that locomotive back in service. Engine 315 is working on getting its 1472 done. The FRA hydro has been done. The right cylinder needed to be re-sleeved due to alignment issues from the prior 1472. The engineer side of the cab was heavily rotted. All of the appliances have been re-built. Steam tests will be performed shortly. 463 needs annual inspection and running gear work. 484 is scheduled for annual FRA inspection on December 12. 487 will get its annual inspection, get its pistons back, crosshead work, it needs firebox side sheets. It will be converted to oil burning over the winter. It will be towed over to Antonito. A contractor will assist in the firebox work, and the conversion to oil. The D&S style conversion will be performed. All of the required parts are on hand. 488 will be getting its 5 year flexible stable cap inspection as well as its annual inspection. A new cistern is being built in Farmington. 489 needs a complete running gear overhaul. The running gear was not touched during its last 1472. It needs a lot of work now. The firing system will be changed to match what will be installed on the 487. That design will match what is used on the D&S engines 480 and 482. Diesel 15 needs work on its prime mover, traction motor, radiator, overhaul of the air brake system. Work will also begin to return locomotive 492 to service. The commission received a $400,000 donation from Gordon Eland to help return that engine to service. Gordon has been a big supporter. He has wanted to see a K-37 returned to service for a number of years. So the next step is to move 492 to an active track, hopefully this fall, to begin rebuilding appliances. 492 was selected as it has the best boiler compared to 497. 492 received a new boiler in 1948, probably the newest boiler on the RR. 497 has boiler repairs that do not comply with NBIC* standards. Those old repairs would need to be undone & redone to put it back into service. That makes 492 the best K-37 to restore to service.

It has taken a very long time to get work done since the Osier fire of last year. Current costs are in excess of $1,700,000. Sadly, it is now understood the property was under insured. The property values along the RR have been updated, increasing the coverage. By July 1 this season, the upstairs dining area & restrooms were operational. It was not cosmetically up to standards. More painting was needed. At least meals could be consumed inside, protecting the passengers from the weather. Drywall & texturing work could be performed on Mondays when there were no trains running up there. Drywall work downstairs was completed in August. That allowed for seating downstairs. Mid September, the first of the kitchen equipment was installed. The remainder of the equipment should be installed before next season. The layout of the building is being modified. A dish washer will be installed upstairs. This will allow for the cleaning of the lunch trays upstairs, rather than move the trays up and down the elevator. The food this year was prepared by a catering company that provides food service to the motion picture industry. They brought up a mobile kitchen to Osier. The catering company began its initial food preparation in Sante Fe. That was brought to Antonito, to be transferred to a refrigerated truck for transport to Osier. Final food preparation was then done in the mobile kitchen. Completed food was then taken into the dining room to populate the lunch lines. Getting the walk in cooler operational changed the logistic plans over the season. According to surveys, 72% rated the food as 4 or 5.

The 2023 schedule has the RR opening Memorial day weekend. Initially, the run will be Chama, Cumbres, Chama on Saturday & Sunday of that weekend. This is an attempt to draw more people into Chama. Those trains will depart right after lunch. A special set of trains will also depart out of Antonito. The remainder of that week will see no trains. The regular trains, 215 & 216 will begin running June 3. This gives a little more time to address work to be done at Osier. There will be a test run using employees to verify operations at Osier. The guest experience at Osier on day one needs to be a good one. The Chama express afternoon trains will run every Friday in July. Because of a lot of things, the fireman/engineer schools will not run in 2023. There are plans to bring them back in 2024 with some changes. There will be only two coal burners available for those schools going forward.

Commissioner Graybill mentioned how the team did an incredible job this year. Osier was a gigantic hurdle. Starting the season late added to the challenges this year. The water situation in Chama was also mentioned, as well as the economy. Scott mentioned that in September, the reservations staff was being asked if Chama had water. It was also asked if the water was safe to drink. The news spread like crazy about the water problem. Sadly there was little news of the water problem being resolved. There was the impression that Chama didn't have any water, which really hurt the RR.

* NBIC (National Board Inspection Code (National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors))

8. Superintendent's Report-Marvin Casias

At the beginning of he season everyone attended a rules and safety course as well as a fire management course. It proved to be worthwhile. Marvin completed all of the FRA injury reporting. There were two minor injuries. One person got 6 stitches on his finger. The two fires mentioned above made everyone aware about fire safety. Water supplies (springs) around the RR vary in quantity over the season. Running more engines, means, using more water. Cisterns & tanks took longer to refill. Engine watering points would be altered to even things out. The rainy season didn't help the springs produce water. There were a lot of struggles with the Osier dining hall. Opening day, guests had a place to sit down for their meal, and have nice restrooms available.

9. Maintenance and Repair and Historic Car Report-Marvin Casias

The passenger coaches have been winterized. Annual work will now begin on the passenger fleet. Painting will be performed, as well as interior repairs. A new parlor car has been built over the last few years. There have been a few minor changes implemented. Changes that may apply to other cars in the fleet. There has been some metal siding fabricated. It looks like it will hold paint better vs. the existing fiberglass siding, and much better than the wood siding. It may be desireable to upgrade all cars to the metal siding. The exterior of the new car should be done in the next few weeks. The lanterns for the car are not yet on site. The walkway at Osier is constantly being worked on. It is desired to concrete the walkway in front of the dining hall. It will really help the physically challenged to get around better. Zell & Dan have done an excellent job on Pay car F. Risk management is always in Marvin's head. Accident prevention is very important.

Commissioner Elbrock asked about the weight difference between the metal siding vs. wood. Marvin replied about 800 to 1200 pounds. It won't affect the consist and how they run. Commissioner Graybill mentioned how the car work, both on the historic fleet as well as the new parlor car are top notch.

10. Financial Report-Alysia Martinez

Due to revenue increases this year, that will result in more income to the HPA. Income is derived via interest. Expenses are due to management liability which was renewed in January. The first quarter showed little activity. HPA funds are being used to construct a building in Antonito to protect the historic car fleet. Total commission assets have increased from the prior FY (June). Since the commission owns the buildings, Osier costs & insurance claims are running through the commission account. Liability costs have increased over the prior FY. This includes the accounts payable due to Osier. YTD income is up from the prior year. Funds from NM have been received. The commission balance sheet has a lot going on due to the Osier fire. The expenses exceed the budgeted amount. An amendment to the budget must be made. Next came the report for CTO. Its first quarter was down due to the delay in opening. Income through September 30 was down, due to a 29% drop in ridership over the prior year. Also compared to the prior year, there was no 50th anniversary activity. Operation expenses in 2021 exceeded 2022. VIHR added to operational costs in 2021. Payroll costs were under budget as of September 30. Insurance costs were over budget. A budget adjustment will be made. Additional liability coverage will be made. The annual audit is underway.

11. Marketing Report-Abigail (Abby) Martinez

Abby reports that overall the 2022 season was a success. There were many challenges, from the winding down of the pandemic, opening late due to fire danger, Chama water issues, workforce shortage, inflation. Marketing went fine. Several adjustments needed to be made due to the delayed opening. 2021 saw a great desire to travel due to C19. 2022 saw inflation, thus harder to get people to the RR. Overall marketing impressions were down this year across the board on all platforms compared to last season. They were more in line with 2019. Marketing is being done primarily on the digital aspect rather than print. The money spent via the digital platform increased by 60%. In 2021, the RR saw 5,630 conversions, this year saw 9,019, a huge success. Most of the RR's digital advertising is being viewed on a phone rather than a computer. Google search ads saw a click through rate of 22.13%. Normal click through for travel is 9.19%. Mondays saw the highest click through & conversions. Prior years saw the highest activity mid week. The top performing audience this year was females 65 and over. There were 213 known media placements. Last year saw 259 media placements (in part due to VIHR). The next marketing effort will be to attract the younger rider. Now the 2023 season has been established, the marketing effort can begin in earnest.

Commissioner Gibbs asked what the difference between in person reservations, vs. web sales. Abby replied that 90% were via the web, the remaining 10% phone in to a reservationist. Walkup is about 3%. In prior seasons, guests booked two to three weeks in advance. This year was more like three days. That might be due to the uncertainty of the schedule this year. C19 may have changed the way people plan their vacations. This year, last minute sales worked OK in the summer, but the fall season, some walkups couldn't be accommodated. Commissioner Graybill commended Abby on the great job. It was a challenging year to market. An audience member agreed, and pointed out the Chama water challenge. You had to think on your toes. The audience member suggested that the people wanting to ride in the fall book in advance. Get them to plan ahead.

12. Commissioner Reports

12a. Chairman Report-Mark Graybill/marketing Liaison

Abby already explained marketing.

12b. Vice Chairman Report-Billy Elbrock/Local Affairs

Billy pointed out that there was a vicious rumor that he was going to voluntarily step down. That is not the case. He will stay until the Governor decides otherwise. This was a different year. Business was down at his restaurant (Finas) from the prior two years. Several of the gift shops in town did OK. The gas stations were busy. There were a lot of people on the road, even with the high fuel costs. Kim Casford then continued with this section. The communities reported a real tough year, but they are still standing. Chama & Antonito were very supportive of the delayed opening due to the fire danger. It would be better to delay opening by a month, rather than years should a fire get going. The Chama water situation was a double edge sward. The delayed opening provided time to resolve the issue. It still was rough on the businesses.

12c. Secretary Report-Scott Gibbs/Capital Projects

Construction of the building for the historic car fleet should begin the second week of December. The building will be 30 feet wide, 190 feet long. It will cover two tracks. It will have a work shop on one end, with roll up doors. There will be space to work on the wooden cars, as well as a place to keep them inside. This should help the paint to last longer. Two of the historic cars saw significant primer failures on the south side of the car. They will be re-finished, at substantial expense. This will be done one at a time in the new workshop. Pay car F will be completed in the new work shop. The trucks for that car are being completed currently. New track equipment is on the way. The RR has traditionally leased excavators to the tune of $5,000 to $6,000 per month. At that rate, 4 years of lease payments gets a new excavator. So a new excavator is being purchased, as well as various attachments for fire mitigation and ditching work, to clear some of the undergrowth on the sides of the ROW. The 1960's version of the ballast regulator will be replaced. A refurbished unit will replace the old one. A backhoe setup will be acquired for changing ties and localized tamping of ballast, to take care of the Chama yard. There is a huge amount of work that needs to be done in the yard in terms of switches and ties.

I then asked about the status of Utah locomotive 223. The reply indicated that the state of Utah is unclear who owns it. So no change is status since last year. An audience member asked if the RR was going to take over Eddy & Mikes body shop. Scott replied that the RR was looking for additional shop space. There are procurement rules from both states. It is unknown at this time if it will happen. So it is a maybe. Commissioner Graybill asked if Scott could go into other items, such as the repair of the station platform at Chama. Scott reported that the Candelaria fund provided substantial funding to replace the deck at the depot this last year. It was replaced with a synthetic material. It has held up well over the summer. Last year saw several slip and fall events on the old deck. This year there were none. The fund also paid for new lighting in the Chama engine shop. Lighting at the working floor are about three times than before. Light levels in the machine shop are about four to five times brighter. In the past, the shop crews would need to wait for the sun to come up through the windows to begin work. Insurance did not cover the cost to replace the Osier windows. Candelaria covered the cost of replacing all of the Osier windows. They have funded exterior painting of Osier dining building. They have been a great funding source for many projects, including the new parlor car that Marvin mentioned.

Kim Casford took a moment to inform everyone that the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad Governors mansion (NM) ornament is complete and ready for sale. They can be purchased on line, or at the depot December 3. It is $34.00. 200 were ordered, 72 remain.

12d. Treasurer Report-William Lock/Finance

Commissioner Lock mentioned the RR will receive $500,000 to restore locomotive 492. It comes from an individual donor. The remainder of the financial report was already done by Alysia.

13. Friends of the C&TSRR Report-Tim Tenant

Tim pointed out that the Friends had their own challenges. The Friends provided over 2,100 hours of docent work on the regular scheduled trains, 212 trips. They printed 15,000 trip maps. Docents came from 8 states. The docents add a lot to the C&T trip. Friends membership has been declining over the last few years. There has been an effort via ads and digital methods to rebuild member numbers. A direct mailing to Classic Trains subscribers in 8 western states was done. That netted 70 new members. The demographic of that magazine are people with expendable income as well as an interest of historic railroading. That gets current membership numbers over 2,000. There are seven weeks of work sessions scheduled for 2023. The first two weeks will be in Antonito. The next two in Chama. The last three will be in Antonito. Support has been an issue. Volunteers are running short, in part due to age of the members. Gas prices may have been part of the problem this season. Express bag car 163 is now in Colorado Springs at the trolley museum, the Friends satellite work area. Refurbishment work on that car is expected to take five to seven years. The commissioners were provided an information packet which contained work session attendance over the years. This year, work session C was canceled due to the Chama water issue. It reveals a dip in volunteer attendance. It is hoped that attendance will rebound. Next year, the Friends will have two eight foot tables at the Narrow Gauge convention in Denver (late August to September 2). Tim has been working with Scott to be sure the RR & the Friends have a presence there. A request has been made to do a pre-convention charter on August 28 & 29. Communication efforts are being worked on. Kathleen has been brought on. She has Facebook & Instagram experience. A board member provides an e-mail blast to members to suppliment the paper publication “The Dispatch”. Tim said that they would pay for extra brochures this year. Other than the last few years, the Friends have sent the brochures to members. The Friends want to have brochures available at train shows. This would assist the Friends to promote the RR.

14. New Business

14a. Approve/Disapprove Resolution 2022-009: A Resolution to Adopt an Open Meeting Resolution

This is a resolution that must be addressed on an annual basis. All commissioners vote yes.

14b. Approve/Disapprove Resolution 2022-010: A Resolution to Amend the Purchase Order System Policy and Adopt the Policy for Inclusion in the Commission's Policy and Practices Manual v7.0

In the current manual, any item over $500.00 requires a purchase order. That dollar figure has been in the manual for many years. It has been suggested to raise that amount to $1,000.00. This will reduce paperwork. All commissioners vote yes.

14c. Approve/Disapprove Assignment of offices for Commissioners

Annual rotation of office positions for the commissioners. Now to become:
Billy Elbrock: Chairman
Scott Gibbs: Vice Chairman
Bill Lock: Secretary
Mark Graybill: Treasurer
All commissioners vote yes.

14d. Approve/Disapprove Commission Quarterly Meeting dates

February 25, 2023 Antonito
May 20, 2023 Chama
August 26, 2023 Antonito
November 11, 2023 Chama
All commissioners vote yes.

15. Old Business

NM department of transportation will be providing an electric vehicle charging station in Chama. The RR will be making a space available where three phase power can be provided for a high speed charging station.

An audience member asked about the Christmas trains for this year. Scott replied that there is no heat in the bathrooms in Chama. Pipe freezing is a concern. There is no place in the depot to help people keep warm. No Christmas trains will run this year. There will be some events like were done last year. It is hoped that the trains can resume in 2023.

Just before adjournment an audience member (owner of Cumbres Suites) had a comment. She mentioned she had the best season in quite a little while. She got everyones overflow. She thought the RR did a heck of a job, with all of the challenges.

16. Executive Session**

None required.

17. Actions following Executive Session


18. Adjournment

Next meeting is scheduled for February, 25, 2023, Antonito CO, subject to change

** An Executive Session may be called at any time during the meeting, pursuant to Commission Policy and Practices Manual v7.0, adopted March 29, 2012, to dicuss limited personnel matters, Attorney-client privlilege pertaining to threatining or pending litigation in which the public is or may become a participant and dicussion of the purchase, acquisition or disposal of real property or water rights by the Commission. The Commission may revise the order of the agenda items considered at this Open Meeting.

Commission meetings are open to the public. If you are an individual with a disability who needs an auxiliary aid, service, or other accommodation to attend or participate in a hearing or meeting, please contact the Commission office at 575.756.4411 at least 3 days prior to the meeting so that accommodations can be made accordingly.