Cumbres and Toltec Commission meeting 25-Feb-23

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:
Or, go straight to Steve Forneys YouTube page: Steves YouTube videos of the meetings
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:

My video of this meeting can be seen at: YouTube video of this meeting

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 © 2023, 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):
BAR: Budget Adjustment Request
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)
SLV: San Louis Valley, the area that contains Antonito
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. Approval of Agenda

Agenda item 16, the Executive Session will be performed after item 13, the Friends report.

5. Motion to approve the Minutes from the November 12, 2022 commission meeting

6. Motion to approve the Minutes from the January 30, 2023 special meeting

7. President's Report-Scott Gibbs

Scheduled trains 216/216 will begin running June 3 through October 21. Special trains to run are: Memorial day, Chama-Cumbres-Chama train departing 1:00. Out of Antonito a 315 powered train will leave Saturday, Sunday, 168 will pull a train. Those trains are available on the reservation system now, with a discount for riding both trains. Those trains depart 10:00. Opening day ceremonies will be done in Antonito then Chama, so people can attend both. A re-dedication of Osier will be done June 3 at Osier, as it reopens for service. For the National Narrow Gauge Convention (Denver, August 30 until September 2), the Friends will run two photo charters. August 28 will have engine 168 pull the historic passenger cars. August 29 will have engine 315 pull a freight special. On July 29, the Friends will have their annual wine and dinner train. This year will see two geology trains, June 11 & September 10. The Galloping Goose 5 will run September 26 through October 1. This details the special trains known at this time. More may be scheduled later. Recovering from the Osier fire has been quite a challenge. More details will appear in this report about that later. Last year saw difficulty in getting coal from King Coal in Hesperus CO. They had a cave in, that resulted in getting shut off from the coal supply. The RR gained a coal supplier from West Elk Mine in Sommerset CO. It is much more expensive than the King Coal. The West Elk coal results in much less ash than the King Coal. The RR will continue using both sources. King Coal has seen a much increased need to supply cement (their parent company's business), they send the coal to themselves first. 2023 reservations are running 44% ahead of 2022.

Locomotive status report. 168 needs a cylinder saddle repair, using the metal stitch method. Its FRA inspection is scheduled for the week of March 20. 463 will also be inspected that same week. 484 annual inspection is complete, it is ready for service. 487 has hat the lower 18 inches of its firebox removed. There was some evidence of star cracking. After doing a mag particle inspection, the damage was significant. After doing an ultrasonic, the side sheets were found to be very thin. 487 is also being converted to burn oil. A new riveted cistern tender has been fabricated in Farmington. It will be received in the next few weeks. Much work is going into this locomotive. Engine 488 has seen its 5 year flexible staybolt inspection completed. Its FRA inspection will be done with 168 & 463. This engine is also to see a new riveted tender cistern. 489 is getting extensive running gear work done. A new firepan will be installed, based on the D&S design. The existing firepan failed on the last day of last season (which is the reason that trip was canceled). Also to be installed is a closed oil heating system in the oil tank, replacing the temporary system used last year. 492, all of the appliances are being sourced. The RR is searching out all of the firms required to supply or build the parts needed. A stumbling block is side rods, main rods and valve gear parts. In working with the D&S, they have been replacing all of the rods on all of their fleet, due to a failure in Silverton a few years back. A set of rods has been purchased through the D&S for 492. When it comes out, it will have a new set of side rods, main rods and valve gear parts. It is planned to keep it a coal burner. There is no desire to cannibalize 497 to restore 492. 497's tender will probably be used for 492. The D&S provided much of the expendable parts that go into the firebox. Grates, grate bearers for both K-36 & K-37 were purchased from the D&S as new or used parts at quite a bargain. Part of the plan to convert 487 & 489 to oil, is to maintain a coal fleet as well. Working with the insurance companies has been interesting. The RR has been working with the various government agencies, as well as with the two state owners. The NM legislative side was pushing for everything to be converted to oil. The head of the LFC was really pushing for oil (after last seasons fire season). The RR has pointed out that they could manage to safely use coal. Finally, locomotive 315 (owned by the DRHS). All boiler work is complete (quite extensive). A new flanged rear tube sheet was fabricated, a new flat front sheet. The RR with Steve Butlers help actually flanged that sheet and welded it. Steam test was completed on January 4, 2023. The boiler lagging and jacket are installed. The drivers and driver boxes have been installed. The engineer's side cylinder has been re-sleeved and reassembled. This week should see the engine re-timed and putting the rods back on. The DRHS had the dynamo and hydro-static lubricator rebuilt. The piping and air tubing has been reinstalled. 315 is expected to be fired up very soon.

It appears that NM appropriations for Capital and Commission funding are moving along. The RR expects to see what they got last year. Same with CO. The funding requested to stabilize the Chama roundhouse seems to have vanished in the legislative process. It seems the $750,000 to replace broken beams and other stuff looks to be diverted to someone else. One of the interesting topics discussed with both legislatures is the diversity of the RR. They have been impressed how the RR reflects the communities it serves, and how the management team reflects the local communities. The economic impact update provided has been invaluable. The $17.4 million in the five county region is something they know about. Base pay for the RR employees has been increased to $17 per hour. That gets the RR to be competitive with Pagosa Springs, Alamosa and the area in general. A few weeks ago the started a Trinidad State College scholarship. Marvin Casias and Kim Garcia got this program kicked off and in place. Two scholarships are available. One for a NM student, and one for CO, up at Trinidad State in Alamosa. This could develop a pipeline of skilled students to the RR. This could be used to recruit local students with fabrication skills as needed by the RR. It comes with an internship for the students awarded the scholarship. There was a very successful job fair in Chama. One will also be held in the SLV. The Chama job fair resulted in several new hires. There will also be several more to join the RR during the season. Locomotive availability revolves around the issue with the fireman/engineer schools. At this time there are only two K-36 coal burners, and trains 215 & 216 are priority, there is not much flexibility left to run the schools. No schools will operate this year. There is a desire to run them in the future. Costs of the schools have been compared to other like schools in the country. The C&Ts offered an extreme bargain. The Nevada Northern charges as much for a 28 mile trip as the C&Ts did for its four day course. CTO accomplishments include developing a strategic plan for the CTO. A car storage shed and shop in Antonito are under construction to get the historic car fleet under cover. The 1472 inspection for engine 315. Management development and training program is underway, getting the management together once a month to invest in the team that runs the RR. There are many changes to the employment policies due to statutory changes in both states. There have been substantial changes in sick leave and paid time off, and various benefit packages. The Secure act two, on the federal level has put requirements on the RR retirement program. The Osier water situation, have been re-categorized as ground water under the influence of surface water. That changed all of the requirements for water monitoring and water treatment at Osier. A water treatment plant will be taken up there this spring. Installed costs are expected to be about $140,000. This will then comply with all of the CO drinking water standards. The Florence & Cripple Creek combine that sat in Antonito for years is now in California. It is planned to be restored, to join the other F&CC cars. That car shipped out last spring, in one piece, and arrived that way as well. It was asked by commissioner Elbrock if the new water treatment plant at Osier will end the need for daily sampling. Scott replied that the system will do continuous sampling, relaying results via Starlink internet to Chama/Antonito to satisify the state reporting requirements.

8. Superintendent's Report-Marvin Casias

Permits as required are being worked on. A permit is required to open up the road to Osier. The forest service is OK with how the RR wants to open up the road. A snow blower will be used as it is easier on the road than a front loader with a bucket. Equipment needed should arrive early April and be available April 20. The lease of the equipment is for a month at around $25,000. Tire chains are not included and must be purchased by the RR. The first day of use is when the lease begins. Unused time will be refunded. The goal is to get the road open by the first of May, so the Osier dinning hall work can be completed. There are some painting contractors that need to get in there as soon as they can. About the time the road to Osier begins, the work to clear the entire track will begin. It is hoped that the RR will be open to Osier at the same time as the road to Osier is available, providing two ways to get to Osier. Ten passenger cars have been painted. Getting the required paint has been difficult. For two weeks, without paint, the crew could just prep. The paint has arrived, so the painting should be complete on time, May 10. After that date, it is desired to bring in the crews for training. There is a lot of training required for the crew that is new to the RR. Employee callback notices have gone out, and replies are coming in.

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

The building for the historic car fleet is having problems. As digging is performed, cave ins are an issue. A different method needs to be established. There needs to be an electrical upgrade in the car shop. Breakers are tripping too often. Upgrades should get underway next week, which include water. All of the lighting in the shop will be converted to LED. That should reduce operational costs of lighting. The upgrades are hoped to be done by season open. Work on Pay car F continues. A couple of guys have been hired to help on the work. Sheet metal work for the roof is soon to begin. Track work is waiting for materials required for various projects. Case reported that the excavator and its attachments will arrive next Monday. Case will provide an employee to train the RR on using the equipment, and how to connect the various hydraulics. Several RR employees will be trained on the new equipment. A (as I understand it, refurbished) back hoe is being assembled in Colorado Springs. In the next few weeks it should arrive with its attachments. (Editor note, it was mentioned in a prior meeting that the RR was going to purchase this equipment, rather than lease it to save in long term costs). This equipment is for use by the track crew. It was asked by commissioner Graybill what the equipment comes with. The excavator will have various digging tools, as well as a mulcher. The mulcher will be very helpful in clearing lineside brush, thus reducing fire hazards. The backhoe will have tamping tools on it. This will reduce the physical labor currently required by track crew. This may also help in gaining track crew, as the physical labor required is much reduced. Also on the backhoe will be a tie inserter (work done by hand currently). Commissioner Lock asked if the roof of Pay Car F will be done by the same person that did the other cars. Yes was the answer. Commissioner Graybill mentioned that the new equipment should increase productivity. Marvin mentioned that his team is getting older, the new equipment will really help out. His current track crew has a lot of knowledge and it is important to keep them healthy. Commissioner Graybill thanked the teams of Chama and Antonito for the fine work done over the off season. He pointed out how great the ten already painted passenger cars look. The new steel siding looks really nice. Commissioner Lock asked if diesel engine 15 has seen any work. (Editor note, both diesel engines 15 & 19 are in Antonito as of this report). No work on 15 has yet been done due to Antonito weather. It has to be worked on outside, as all of the inside space is occupied. The new traction motors and radiator are on hand for 15.

10. Financial Report-Alysia Martinez

HPA P&L, YTD income has just been interest. The cost of the historic fleet shelter came from HPA. Commission account will require a BAR. The commission budget needs to be amended with NM via a BAR. The commission account is over budget for supplies and services, professional fees, utilities. As seen everywhere, utilities are much more costly, the major reason for the BAR. The balance of the liabilities will decrease as the insurance expensed. Additional coverage for property and liability, increasing insurance expenses for the commission. CTO income over the YTD is about $4.58 million. This includes ticket revenue from the end of 2022. Expenses are over budget, so a BAR will be required. The reason is payroll, operations, professional fees and utilities. The balance sheet for CTO, the total assets have increased from the prior year, thus increasing insurance needs. Liabilities have decreased from last year. The capital side shows much activity. The locomotive work is in full swing now as well as the passenger cars, and Pay car F. CO was sent a billing for reimbursement. It is hoped that will be seen in the next few weeks. Work still remains to complete the NM side of capital funding. The new payroll system is working out fairly well. There are some challenges it to get to integrate with Quickbooks to remove the manual entries. There is work to get the General Ledger (from ADP, or EDP) to integrate with Quickbooks. The RR is looking for an Accounts Payable clerk. The work is currently being worked on by Alysia and her team. Commissioner Gibbs pointed out how the rebuilding costs at Osier have gone up dramatically. This illustrated how under insured the RR was. Property valuations have been updated. That really bumped insurance costs.

11, Marketing Report-Abigail Martinez (Abi)

Marketing going into the 2023 season is going very well. The 44% increase in bookings was reminded. Marketing is going yet more digital than in the past, as is marketing in general. Some print publications no longer exist, or is just online, leaving digital as the only avenue. A change this year is earlier advertising. Normally advertising begins mid April. This year, several advertising buys have already occurred, and more will begin in March. Since the Fall trains are full, earlier advertising is being used to gain passengers through the summer season. Digital advertising budget has increased 17%, with print going down by that much. The brochures for the season are in. The Friends purchased a supply of brochures as well. This year, the brochures are a three fold design, with prices, rather than a simple rack card. This allows for more information. Between January 21 and February 20, there have been 105 known media stories. The RR is doing a social media take over (from photographers (editor, not sure what this means)). Two RR employee photographers were highlighted. Website numbers are up significantly from last year, as well as month over month. Keeping the website refreshed often should draw previous users to return. A countdown to opening day has been added to the site. Planning for Christmas trains has begun. It is a goal to run Christmas trains this year. Commissioner Graybill pointed out that digital marketing allows for quick changes as RR operations may change over the season. He is also pleased with the increase in reservations at this point. Commissioner Lock mentioned he was pleased to see marketing effort going into selling summer seats, as the Fall seats sell themselves.

12. Commissioner Reports

12a. Chairman Report-Billy Elbrock/Local Affairs

He has been asked about opening day, Memorial day weekend. That is keeping the communities happy. Next Kim Casford finished this section. She started off by thanking the town of Antonito to allow the meeting to be held at their town hall. The restaurants are starting to reopen for the season. Local is opening March 1. The Boxcar is reopening after being closed for a few weeks. One of the local wedding venues has 30 weddings booked this season. One of their busiest weekends is October 6. Work will begin to work with businesses on both sides of the RR. Kim then presented a large replica check for the scholarship mentioned earlier (Trinidad State College Foundation for $5,000). Further proof the RR is working with the communities.

12b. Vice Chairman Report-Scott Gibbs/Capital Projects

Capital projects regarding infrastructure across the RR have begun. An infrastructure improvement plan really needs to be developed. Things like the roundhouse project in Chama, the Lava water tank and other needs across the RR are to be included. Then funding needs to be gained. NM is asking the RR for the list of work needed.

12c. Secretary Report-William Lock/Finance

He says he is glad to see the accounts payable has gone down, leaving an increased balance sheet. Things are looking well. He is looking forward to gaining the accounts payable employee or two, that would really help.

12d. Treasurer Report-Mark Graybill/marketing Liaison

Abi did a great job. Nothing to add.

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

Tim passed out the Friends report to the commissioners. He then brought up an item not in the report he passed out. Friends member Ron Burkhart will donate $100,000 toward the work on engine 492. Tim will be presenting a check to the commission when Scott provides the green light. Spring banquet comes up March 17. Scott is invited to say a few words there. President Gibbs already mentioned the Friends charters that will run in August. That is a pre National Narrow Gauge convention (in Denver) charter. About 63% of seats have been sold. That puts the Friends costs to the RR shy of about $1,000. The success of sales has been due to Abi's work as well as the Friends e-mail blast to its members. The Friends and the RR have space at the convention. The wine train has already been mentioned. Jeff Gordon passed away February 13. He was a longtime Friends member, as RGRPC member. Last year, via a mailing list from Classic Trains magazine, sent out traditional mail, to gain new members. That has gained 170 new members. While mail seems old fashioned, it works for the demographics of the members being sought out. The costs have been made three times over. Work on gaining new members continues. The brochures purchased go out with membership renewals and train shows. Work sessions were detailed in the report. Photos of the work of express bag car in CS are also in the report. This will be a long term project, like the tourist sleeper car (now part of the historic car fleet). Tim them mentioned the October banquet will be in Golden CO.

14. New Business

14a. Approve/Disapprove additional $1500 payment to John Bush for Locomotive 223 assessment

Approved by all

14b. Approve/Disapprove resolution 2023-001: A resolution to approve the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad Commission strategic plan calendar years 2023-2027

Approved by all

14c. Approve/Disapprove resolution 2023-002: A resolution to purchase real property: Lot 3 block 5, Tierra del Parque subdivision

This property is Sandra Grey's property in Antonito. The gift shop area next to the RR parking lot.
Approved by all. Commissioner Lock mentioned that he has been trying to buy that property since 2004.

14d. Approve/Disapprove resolution 2023-003: A resolution to purchase real property: 888 N State Hwy 17

This property is Ed & Mike's in Chama. Also known as Ed's body shop.
Approved by all

15. Old Business

John offered an update on TABB as well as engine 223 in Ogden, UT. First, TABB. Work is being done to get representation out of Rio Arriba county (NM). Matt Giagos from the village council has agreed to be an alternate representative for the county. His work should help things on the NM side. Approval to put up two informative signs in CO has been gained. One will be placed at the watchable wildlife and one near Jaunita. CO has provided the sign bases and will pay for installation. There is a desire to get signage in Dulce and Chama to encourage traffic on the NM side. Engine 223, John has been over to SLC to do an inventory of the parts last December. The state of UT has apparently an agreement from City of Salt Lake to sign everything over to the state of UT. This then gives UT permission to move the locomotive out of state. There is still unsigned paperwork. The effort is moving slowly in the right direction. It is unknown if Ogden will resist the departure of the locomotive. They have shown little interest. Politics is politics. There has been a society established. The C-16 society. The society was established to protect, and provide interest in both the 268 locomotive in Gunnison CO, as well as 278 in Cimarron CO, and eventually the 223. They are expected to have a table at the National Narrow Convention in Denver this year. Commissioner Lock asked about the value of the C-16 society. John replied that they are very interested in trying to increase interest in the C-16s, as well as gain funding should there be a chance to restore 223.

16. Executive Session**

Note, this was moved to follow item 13.

17. Actions following Executive Session

18. Adjournment

Next Meeting date: May 20, 2023, 9AM in Chama, subject to change if required

** 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.

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