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The Queen of Steam will not have excursions during 2018

The Virginia Museum of Transportation has announced new events for the 611. 

The Queen of Steam will not having any public excursions this year.

Instead, the train will be a part of special events at The Virginia Museum of Transportation and at North Carolina Transportation Museum.  The 611 will also be a part of Roanoke's Big Lick Train Tug in September. 

While those plans are developing, efforts to get a weather-proof home at The Virginia Museum of Transportation continue and organizers hope to break ground on the project by the end of the year.

Because the train will not be doing excursions this year, the museum is asking supporters to consider donations to the FireUp611 campaign.

Here is the press release: 

ROANOKE, Va. (June 16, 2018) - The Virginia Museum of Transportation, Inc. announced new community events today for its iconic 611 Class J locomotive and plans to continue working to explore new opportunities for 611. 611 will not be operating public excursions in 2018, but will be participating in special events.

“We are very pleased to announce that we are engaged in substantive conversations about exciting potential 2019 excursions and special appearances for 611. We will continue to seek opportunities for the public to experience a pivotal piece of American history firsthand, under steam”, according to Virginia Museum of Transportation FORWARD 611 Committee Chairman, Trey Davis.

Public excursions engage new audiences with railroads, produce essential revenue for the upkeep of the locomotive, and generate significant economic impact in the communities 611 serves. Despite the changes, annual maintenance to keep the famed locomotive operational is ongoing and expected to be finished later this summer at the North Carolina Transportation Museum (NCTM) in Spencer, NC. Upon completion, the 611 will be put back into service.

“We’re working hard to ensure the public continues to have opportunities to engage with 611 and are planning unique events to provide opportunities to experience 611 under steam in 2018,” said VMT Board President Will Harris. “The Virginia Museum of Transportation and NCTM are both planning special events with the locomotive in Roanoke and Spencer NC, respectively. In addition, 611 is slated to again be the highlight of Roanoke’s Big Lick Train Tug on September 29, 2018.” 

While event plans highlighting the Queen of Steam continue to develop, efforts to provide 611 a weather-proof home at the Virginia Museum of Transportation have advanced significantly.

“With generous donors and community support, the Museum has obtained a steel building that will form the core of the new 611 Preservation & Education Facility. We’re now closer than ever before to providing future generations the opportunity to see steam technology up close, better understand a foundational technology of America’s industrial power, and see firsthand how the railroad helped build our country. Ideally, we would like to break ground before the end of this calendar year,” said Harris.

As is the case for all mainline steam locomotives, PTC (Positive Train Control) is very likely to be a central issue in determining where and how 611 may operate in 2019 and beyond. The FORWARD 611 team at VMT has been studying potential solutions and participating in discussions with other mainline steam operators. The initial cost to develop and apply PTC technology to 611 will be significant and there will be recurring annual expenses. In the absence of revenue-generating excursions in 2018, we are asking supporters to consider a donation to FireUp611 (www.fireup611.org) to support this and other investments in 611's future. 

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