Cumbres and Toltec Commission meeting 11-May-24

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 & written reports of all commission meetings that exist can be found here: Index of videos/reports
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Colorado Commissioners: Scott Gibbs-Vice Chair, Mark Graybill-Treasurer
New Mexico Commissioners: Kim Smith-Casford-Secretary, Billy Elbrock-Chairman
General Manager of the Cumbres & Toltec railroad: Ed Beaudette

Glossary (initialisms that may appear in this document):
ARPA: American Rescue Plan Act of 2021
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 prior 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. Approval of Agenda

4. Approval of the Minutes from the February 17, 2024 Regular commission meeting

5. CTO Reports

5a. General Manager's Introduction

Ed Beaudette announced that the format of this section will be modified a bit from prior meetings.

5b. Superintendent's Report-Marvin Casias

Marvin started off by saying that they are still working on getting the new coach finished. Should be about July 1 for service. Plumbing work is being worked on at Osier. Painting and some other work needs to be done. Work will begin Monday 5/13 to be complete by that weekend. It should be ready for the first train to arrive Osier. Next week Marvin and John Mathews will ride across the ROW to check clearances as well as other issues. There are a few outside contractors coming in to perform some work around the Antonito yard. Work that would be tough to do inhouse. In part, they will help finish up the new coach. The contractors are to arrive on the RR Friday (5/17). They will be around to help repair bad seats on the existing coaches. There is a workaround should the contractors arrive late. Training classes begin 5/13, such as CPR and wild land fire suppression. State forestry as well as the Chama fire department will host the classes. Work on Pay Car F has been held up. Zell has been helping with locomotive wood work recently. Having the locomotives ready is more important right now. The track has been cleared of snow completely. The rebuilt tamper returns next week. The culverts at Long Creek need work. There is a search for a contractor to come in to help with that work. It is going to be difficult to stitch culverts in there. The RR has meet with Martin and Martin, the bridge inspectors. Some timbers need to be replaced on the Cascade trestle. Some of the woodwork needs to be straightened. It will help the trestle overall. Seven hundred tons of ballast was moved this week. The RR is making room at Sublette to store more. It is going to be a real push to be ready for opening day, but it will get done. Commissioner Greybill asked about locomotive status. Ed responded that the status is pretty good. There should be four ready for opening day, and possibly a fifth. Oil and coal burners will be available. The coal supply is getting replenished. Last year, coal was getting tough to get. The supply chain is better at this time. Having both types of locomotives provides good management of fire protection as well as costs. Mr. Greybill also thanked Marvin and his crew for the great amount of work done over the winter. Marvin said that anyone willing to work got put to work. Most of the track crew came, and learned how to do locomotive and car work. The cross training will pay off should something come up. Several track guys know their way around a locomotive. This crew cares about what happens. They really put in the effort over the winter. Commissioner Gibbs thanked Marvin (and crew) for just about finishing new coach 526. It rolled onto the property last fall as a skeleton (the rough build of the couch is done in Farmington). So, in less than a year, that car will be in service. Marvin was asked to talk about the new historical car facility (storage and woodshop). He replied that the building is just about complete. Last week the county did their walk through, and it was approved. Formal power is soon to be installed. A temporary solution is being used currently. The workshop part of the building was real chilly. Once the foam insulation was installed, it became a nice place to work. It is not loud. A conversation can be held. Mr. Gibbs also wanted to thank the crew for refinishing all of the historic cars, a big task. The cars have yet to be lettered. Ed pointed out how a lot of stuff is coming together. Both states have done well in supporting the capital efforts. It helped keep the track crew busy during the winter on the other work already mentioned. It gave them a chance to learn new skills. It helps keep those people working for the RR. The HPA has also helped in the winter efforts. The team effort is quite visible.

Commissioner Elbrock said he forgot to mention Ed as the new interm general manager. Ed has agreed to run the RR and get it through the season. Thanks Ed! (round of applause here). Ed mentioned he is still young. Plenty left in the tank. Ed was asked about his history with the RR. Ed said he retired long ago. About 16 years ago, Ronnie kept asking for his help. Seemed to always have a need for a spare brakeman. Over the last 15 years, Ed has enjoyed working with the great people of the RR. It has been a really great experience. The RR is important to the economies of the area. Its historic preservation. It is important to people. He feels great to be a part of it. Mr. Greybill pointed out how Ed’s knowledge of finance, governmental relations, as well as operations is valuable.

Editor note, Often Abi & Alysia provide material for the official minutes

When the minutes are posted, they can be viewed here: meeting minutes
They often include information not presented at the meeting. It may be of interest to you.

5d. Marketing Report-Abigail Martinez (Abi)

Reservations are holding strong, ahead of last year. Ridership is changing. Last year bookings were mostly individual riders, where this year is showing a lot more group sales. When the reservation system was turned on for booking this year, bookings were strong. People wanted to lock in their fall ride in the premium cars on a weekend, or just coach on a weekend. The fall seat sales slowed for a month. Recently, booking activity is picking back up. Marketing got turned on in April. There are a lot more ads out there. Last year, people saw the online ad, clicked it, and booked their trip. The ad was seen due to a Google search. This year the driving force is videos and Facebook ads. Changes are being made on the digital side to reflect the changes in the target audience. Regarding the social media side, the most activity is on the posts dealing with the historical aspect of the RR. Still photos do well. Instagram sees good activity on the short (less than 30 second) videos. Longer videos don’t do as well. The demographics between Facebook and Instagram are quite different. The younger people on Instagram are interest in the short videos. A media train will run on 5/21. A lot of media outlets have been invited. About 30 people are expected. Abi will be going to Albuquerque to do a live interview on KOB channel 4. Media contacts are picking up as the season approaches. Mr. Greybill pointed out that having an agile approach to marketing is key. Abi plans to adjust things to see what works best. She also mentioned that during the summer season, coach prices have been reduced by twenty dollars. She also mentioned the short Friday trip that will run this summer. (That would be the Cumbres pass to Osier and back). Reducing the coach price over the summer might do a better job filling trains. It might be more attractive to price conscious travelers. The premium cars still sell well. Parlor car availability for the Fall is already tight. In the Fall, a second train will leave Chama (9AM) and it will also have a parlor car. People are starting to book this train when they understand the 10AM parlor car is sold out. Ed pointed out how the media coverage is quite valuable. People don’t watch the news for the commercials. Same for the magazines. By befriending the media should provide the RR great exposure.

5d. Financial Report-Alysia Martinez

FY is soon here. This year, the annual audit will be different. It will be done on the CO side. The audit changes states every 6 years. The NM years are over. A search for a CO auditor is in progress. Talks have been going on with both states auditor offices. Guidance has been given as how to approach the CO audit. CO and NM have slight differences in procedures. CO doesn’t have the hard November 1 deadline to have it. The RR will continue the 10/1 deadline. It has been suggested the RR go with a certified CPA to perform the CO audit. A budget for FY 25 is wrapping up. Budget adjustments for NM is due 5/17. None look to be required at this time. There will be a learning curve dealing with the CO auditors. Over the last few years the RR has gotten to know what the NM auditor expected. As far as current fund status, HPA and commission is pretty quiet as they normally are for this time of year. HPA will start seeing P&L changes at the end of the month when operational revenue is realized. Commission should see P&L activity change soon. Both states provide capital funding about July 1. CTO, the P&L is being monitored closely. There needs to be proper funding during the first few months. Ticket and retail sales for the first quarter are being applied to the balance. Capital is seeing the spend down of the ARPA funds. Right now, the RR is not sure what is going on with ARPA due to the political climate. On a side note, Alysia has seen a decrease from license plate funding from NM. (guessing this means that the C&T car plates available in NM are selling slower, possibly due to lack of availability). Mr. Greybill thanked Alysia for having a grasp on the complicated financials required of this RR. Ed pointed out how he thought financials in the private sector (big company) were complicated. The RR is much more complicated, being a government entity, highly regulated (people, operational and financial). Ed wanted to recognize the key people working the finances that are not seen by the public. Alysia also mentioned that there will also be an audit done for the ARPA funds. Ed then commented that in regards to employees that safety and welfare are important. The prior GM engaged with a retired FRA inspector for an assessment of the RR. This guidance should help run the RR as a better operation. Also, the states have responded well to the capital needs of the RR. This year, the NM legislature has provided the standard support for capital and commission. They also are providing support for several other important projects. The CO legislature also came up with expected capital and commission funding. This year, $500,000 was gained for fire mitigation. The states are showing confidence in the RR. Mr. Greybill pointed out the great relationship the RR has with the D&S. They have been very helpful in so many ways. The tourist RR’s in CO are a community that works together. Ed pointed out that the RR and the D&S are not so much competitors, but rather friends. Other friends are the Georgetown Loop, the Colorado RR museum. Mr. Gibbs pointed out how spare parts for coal burning equipment was purchased from the D&S now they are fully oil. That will keep the RR coal fleet going that much longer.

5e. General Manager Summary

Pretty much shown above.

6. Local Affairs Report-Commissioner Billy Elbrock

Commissioner Casford-Smith was not here to provide her usual report. Commissioner Elbrock said he had nothing to say. He has not heard anything negative. Good.

7. Capital Projects Report-Commissioner Scott Gibbs

Commissioner Gibbs wanted to thank the crews on both sides for the amount of capital work they got done during the off season. Diesel engine 114 from the White Pass and Yukon still sits in AK. It is waiting for a barge to go up and get it for transport to WA. Once in WA, it will move to CO via rail or truck. That work is in progress. Locomotive 168 will be ready. 463 has been through a 5 year flexible staybolt inspection. 484 got a 5 year inspection. It is ready to go. 488 will be ready. 489 will be ready. 484 & 489 got running gear work overhauls. A tremendous amount of work got done on locomotives. Nearing completion of coach 526, repainting the historic car fleet included was incredible work. Thanks to the people that worked so hard over the last few months to make that all happen. (round of applause here). To answer what is going on with 492, its front end has been disassembled, cab removed, tube removal is being prepped, air compressors being rebuilt, lubricators being rebuilt, dynamo being rebuilt. D&S with a contractor have designed a set of side rods, valve gear components. The RR has managed to purchase two sets of rods from the D&S, leaving a spare set. So, the work is done unseen off site by various contractors.

Scott discovered via the Narrow Gauge Discussion Forum that he forgot to mention 487. On that forum he posted:
I am apologize to the Antonito shop crew, I was speaking without notes and missed 487 during my review of capital work. Thank you Sam for captureing the Commission meeting.

The 487 has recieved extensive firebox work. The firebox work has been completed, the annual inspection has been performed with the hydrostatic test to 125% of MAWP. The locomotive also is being converted to burn recylced lubricating oil. The conversion involved removal of the grates, grate bearers, arch tubes, and cyclone front end, and the installation of a new firepan, air damper, air inlet damper fire door, oil burner, and new peticoat pipe. The tender has had an oil tank installed along with the oil suppply piping. Currently the firebrick is being installed in the firebox. The tender recieved a new tender tank, an oil tank, and new white oak deck planking. The locomotive has recieved crosshead work and new piston rings as well. A new white oak pilot beam has been fabricated. The snowplow will be refitted to the engine. The D&S has been extreamly helpful during the conversion of the 487 to burn oil.

The 463, 484 and the 487 have all recieved new paint for this season.

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

The work session season is coming up. Session A will begin 5/20. Registrations are a bit off, but there is still time. 20 people are coming for A, 19 for B, 53 for C, 53 for D. It is still early. June, between sessions, the friends will run their annual member train. June 20 sees that train run, followed by the board of directors meeting on the 21st in Chama. Vern Glover passed away a few weeks ago. July sees the running of the moonlight and wine train. Work is being done to increase membership. Sending info out to the Classic Trains subscribers seems to be fairly effective. The friends have been nudging people to vote in the USA Today best train rides poll. The commissioners were provided photos of the work progress of Express Bag Car 163, occurring in CS. Mr. Greybill thanked the friends for the great work they get done. The RR wouldn’t be in its current shape without the work. Tim then explained how things have changed over the years. Some time ago, they needed to turn down people for the C & D sessions. Now, they need people. Fortunately there are still a lot of people that love to work in Chama and Antonito. Tim said that who ever follows him in his footsteps will have the challenge of keeping a work force in place, as well as keeping docents on the train.

9. Tracks Across Borders Byway

Executive Director John Porcco of Tracks Across Borders Byway (TABB) presented his report. Just as the friends have a great relationship with the RR, so does TABB. A mission of TABB is to encourage travel in the Durango and Chama area and more. The proposal to extend the Byway from Chama to the NM/CO state lines looks like it will be approved. That would connect TABB with the existing Los Caminos Antiguos byway which extends into the San Louis valley. On the Durango side, it connects with the San Juan Skyway. This would create a network of byways from the San Luis Valley to Durango, Cortez, Ridgway back to Durango. The hope is it will increase traffic along those byways. TABB has been working with the north central NM economic development. They are the transportation organization that has to approve the extension. They seem very supportive. Once approved, TABB will be seeking funding for signage. Just north of the NM/CO border, there is some great signage of the Los Caminos Antigous byway. TABB got a grant from the CO tourism office for some expertise to develop a marketing plan for the byway. Website improvements are to be worked, as well as a Facebook presence. Facebook has some activity. The TABB keeps an eye on the RR as well as the friends Facebook posts. The TABB reposts some of those to their page. It does generate some clicks. Part of the grant is to develop a sponsorship program. Right now there is no consistent source of funding for signs and handout materials. Perhaps businesses could help sponsor byway activity via a small stipend to generate activity along the byway. John thanked the RR for their support provided, particularly with the phone app. Third, work is starting to replace the two bad shape stock cars in Dulce. Thanks to the friends, and a few other organizations, that issue could be solved. It could be very helpful to the Jicarilla Apache tribe. They are expanding their cultural center there in Dulce. Those stock cars, back in the day (1930’s), were very important to the tribe, when they raised huge amounts of sheep. A major economic facet of the tribe of the period. Next Friday, the TABB will be meeting at Victoria’s B&B in Chama. If anyone is interested, join in.

10. Old Business


11. New Business

A special meeting will be called in the near future to deal with some resolutions.

12. Executive Session** Personnel Matters


13. Actions following Executive Session

No actions performed.

14. Adjournment

Next regular meeting date: August 10, 2024, 9AM in Antonito, subject to change if required

** An Executive Session may be called at any time during the meeting, pursuant to Commission Policy and Practices Manual v8.0, adopted May 20,2023 regarding limited personnel matters; strategy preliminary to attorney-client privilege pertaining to threatening or pending litigation in which the public is or may become a prticipant, discussion of the purchase, acquisition or disposal of real property or water rights by the public body. The Governing Body may revise the order of the agenda items considered at this Open Meeting.

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