Late Trains


Out on the road with private railcars, there is a saying that often comes into play.

Late trains become only one thing.


Let’s face it. Trains do get delayed. You name it, we all have seen or experienced it. Everything from weather to mechanical issues to encounters with tumbleweeds. Yes, tumbleweeds! In the case seen above, a westbound freight train east of  Wendover, Utah stalled due to tumbleweeds on the rails. The train could not get traction because of the green mess. And of course, everything behind it ran into delays because of that. By the time train number 5, the westbound California Zephyr arrived into Sparks, Nevada, to pick up the former Santa Fe Car number 33 that day, it was a good 9 hours late.  Which meant that instead of a late afternoon arrival into Martinez, CA, it was now a very late night arrival. And an early morning arrival into the Oakland coach yard for the crew.

But making the best of things, what else can you do? We knew well enough ahead of time to let the passengers know what was in store. Storing baggage for them on the car, they had extra time in Reno. And they made good use of it, adding to their enjoyment of a fun trip so far. Everything from an afternoon movie to late brunch and some Nevada style diversions passed the time. What was originally intended as a light mid-day meal, became a festive supper. And the Sierra crossing at night with stars to illuminate the way, and light wind was the stuff memories are indeed made from.

Now some folks can get stressed out over delays. Understandable, but why worry? Sit back and enjoy instead.

Another case in point, a wedding and reception aboard the Pony Express was enjoyed one Saturday afternoon between Los Angeles and San Diego. A beautiful and romantic ceremony along the shore of the Pacific Ocean near San Juan Capistrano at sunset, promised a great party on the way home. Now this was in August, with racing in season at Del Mar. Joining us for the ride home were also the Silver Solarium and the Scottish Thistle. And one packed train of low level Horizon coaches. For a variety of reasons, we departed  late from San Diego. But aboard the Pony Express, you would never have known it! Even with other delays along the way – like the standing room only crowd boarding at Solana Beach from the race track; or the emergency stop at 90 miles per hour (likely caused by a passenger pulling an emergency brake in the dark) – those folks had a wonderful event. Even with an arrival back into Los Angeles almost 3 hours later than that advertised. One guest called it the party of a lifetime.

The moral of the stories? Don’t worry! Just enjoy the ride aboard the private railcar.