3751 has been restored and operational since 1991. In that time, she has participated in some two dozen excursions and display events throughout the western United States. We get so many questions about our operations, we thought it would be fun to have a little Q&A session with the President to answer the most frequently asked questions.
Q: What is SBRHS and what is the relationship with 3751?
A: The San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society (SBRHS) is a 501c3, all-volunteer organization that owns, maintains and operates ex-Santa Fe steam locomotive 3751. The organization is 100% volunteer run with absolutely no paid positions. The name of the society was originally selected while the locomotive was publicly displayed in San Bernardino from 1958 until 1997 after being donated to the city by the Santa Fe Railway. Post restoration, it was originally planned that she would be housed in San Bernardino but was moved to Los Angeles where she has remained since.
Q: Why doesn’t 3751 run more frequently?
A: It is our goal to run 3751 as often as possible. To answer this question directly, however, is complex. First, the SBRHS is not in the business of running excursions. We own, maintain, and operate 3751 and lease the locomotive to a number of excursion operators. We continuously seek opportunities to contract for as many excursions as we can each year. Second, because 3751 must utilize the mainlines of common carrier railroads (Metrolink, BNSF, UP, etc.), railroads that are among the busiest in the U.S., there are many entities, approvals, logistic and legal/liability issues to work through and agree to in the process of finalizing a trip. Third, the trip has to be financially beneficial for SBRHS. We have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that operations of 3751 generate sufficient income to cover the cost of both operating expenses and planned and unplanned repairs and maintenance, including setting money aside for the FRA Mandated 15 Year (or 1472 Operating Days) Inspection in the years to come. Sometimes proposed operations simply don’t pencil out.
Q: How is an excursion with 3751 planned?
A: A common, and easily made misconception is that the SBRHS runs the excursions 3751 pulls. A trip actually begins when a private entity or an excursion operator such as Central Coast Railroad Club, Pacific Railroad Society (PRS), the California State Railroad Museum, or the American Association of Private Car Owners (AAPRCO) to name a few, contact us about planning a possible trip. Because we run on the mainline when traveling, the hosting railroad is always involved (Metrolink, BNSF, UP, etc.). The process generally takes many months, and sometimes a more complex trip takes years to plan and execute. Planning for the 2002 trip to the Grand Canyon, for example, began with an initial planning meeting while we were attending Railfair in 1999.
Q: Why doesn’t the SBRHS post excursion information on their website and Facebook page?
A: We strive to keep our supporters and fans up to date regarding all planned 3751 operations and we do post the details once they are finalized. Because the SBRHS does not plan the logistics of actual trips (train consist, crews, ticket sales, departure/arrival times, etc.) we must wait until these details are disclosed by the trip organizer before we can publish any details and begin creating any promotions ourselves. If you’re unable to find information about an upcoming trip through the SBRHS, it is most likely because the plans are still being finalized by the organizer. Unfortunately, sometimes “planned” operations fall through because of low ticket sales or other reasons, and therefore are never announced by the SBRHS. Rest assured, when this happen – we are just as disappointed as you are to not get the locomotive out for the public to enjoy.
Q: Why doesn’t SBRHS sell tickets for excursions directly?
A: The SBRHS is not an excursion operator. As we finalize trips and details are released from the excursion operator who has hired SBRHS to have 3751 pull their train, we are able to announce trips, but the excursion operator is responsible for all ticket sales, train configuration and onboard services and amenities.
Q: How can I find out about excursions?
A: Three ways:
1) Become a Supporter to receive regular communications, exclusive updates and offers
2) Check our website frequently for updates
3) Like us on Facebook.