This weekend, the Coos Bay Rail Line (CBRL) welcomes the Pacific Railcar Operators (PRO) on the line. PRO is a nonprofit corporation that provides railcar excursion coordinators a safe, legal and professional environment for sponsoring excursions on the North American railroads. It is part of the North American Railcar Operators Association (NARCOA) which has over 1,400 members worldwide. About 30 PRO members will be out on the line riding railroad motorcars, also known as “Speeders”. Speeders were used by railroads as maintenance vehicles to inspect rail tracks for defects. In the 1980’s, they were phased out by the railroad in favor of Hy-Rail vehicles which can be operated on both track and road. CBRL uses Hy-Rail vehicles daily to inspect and perform maintenance on the tracks. As a result of being phased out, many railfans bought scrap speeders and organized NARCOA in the mid-1980’s. These hobbyists now travel for railcar excursions with their speeders to railroads all around the world.
PRO has been hosting railcar excursions on the Coos Bay Rail Line for the past five years, usually coming a few times a year to enjoy the scenery of the line. Nancy Andrews, PRO member, says her favorite part of riding speeders is being able to see parts of the country you cannot see from the highway.
NARCOA members come from a variety of backgrounds, including former rail employees, rail historians, and travel enthusiast. Safety is the number one priority on all rail excursions for members. NARCOA ensures every railcar operator is insured, licensed and mentored before being able to operate a speeder on the railroads.
The speeders tied up across from the Red Lion Hotel on Friday night, but please do not approach the cars at that time as it is not a designated safe zone for doing so, or when railcars are in operation. However, PRO invites the public to come to the Oregon Coast Historical Railway Museum on Saturday afternoon to see and learn more about speeders and railroading. See history spring into colorful action as the speeders make their way along the Coos Bay Rail Line this weekend! For more information about NARCOA, go to https://www.narcoa.org/.