APRHF Rail Rangers Launch On-Demand Narration with TrainPodcast.com

Since July 2015, Interpretive Guides with the APRHF Rail Rangers program have been educating (as well as entertaining!) train passengers about what can be seen out their window. Without a doubt… travelers love learning about the people, places, and history of the various areas they are passing through. It helps pass the time aboard the train for many… and makes one better educated about the country. Perhaps you have caught one of the APRHF Rail Rangers’ “history talks” on a private rail excursion somewhere across the Midwest… or the South Shore Line between Downtown Chicago, Illinois and South Bend, Indiana?

One of the biggest challenges the APRHF Rail Rangers program has faced over the past three-and-a-half years is trying to reach out to as many train passengers as possible with on-board educational programs. Interpretive Guides with the Rail Rangers currently ride the South Shore Line two to three weekends per month year-round… and are on private rail excursions out of Chicago Union Station up to one dozen times per year. However, that barely scratches the surface for the millions of train rides passengers take every year across the Upper Midwest.

But… what if you could take the APRHF Rail Rangers with you whenever you are on a train ride in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and/or Wisconsin?

Well, now you can!

The APRHF Rail Rangers are proud to announce they have researched, written, and recorded 18 different MP3 podcasts for all of the major regional and long-distance passenger train lines across the Midwest.

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It doesn’t matter when you take a train ride — you can now purchase and download an MP3 podcast from the APRHF Rail Rangers to learn about the areas you are traveling through. Podcasts are now available for train routes running between Chicago and Milwaukee (Wisconsin), St. Paul-Minneapolis (Minnesota), La Plata (Missouri), Quincy (Illinois), St. Louis (Missouri), Carbondale (Illinois), Indianapolis (Indiana), South Bend Airport (Indiana) on the South Shore Line, and Detroit/Pontiac (Michigan).

All 12 of the APRHF Rail Rangers worked hard and contributed their voices for the MP3 podcasts. For example, purchase and download the MP3 podcast from Chicago to St. Paul (or St. Paul to Chicago) and listen to Interpretive Guides Kathy Bruecker and Steve Snyder telling you about the urban area between Chicago and Milwaukee… the scenic Driftless Region of Southwest Wisconsin… and the various Mississippi River towns in Minnesota.  Heading between La Plata, MO and Chicago in the future? You will want the Rail Rangers podcast featuring APRHF President Bob Cox and APRHF Treasurer Amy Cox to learn about historical landmarks along the Santa Fe and old CB&Q. APRHF Rail Rangers Executive Director Robert Tabern and Chicago Coordinator Kandace Tabern co-host all 18 podcasts. Other contributors include Rail Rangers Interpretive Guides Fred Glure, Joe Kuczynski, Alane Morgan, Robert Neil, Lowell Olberg, and Dave Poole.

The Rail Rangers’ Podcast lengths range from a little over 20 minutes to a little over one hour depending on the route. Separate podcasts have been recorded for each direction of a route, so that passengers will see the appropriate landmarks — as described on being out the right or left hand side windows. All podcasts cost $9.95 each, with all proceeds going to help support the APRHF Rail Rangers program, an affiliate of the 501(c)(3) non-profit American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation.

Rail Rangers Executive Director Robert Tabern explains, “We are really excited about this new chapter for the APRHF Rail Rangers and think it’s the future of on-board educational programs… as well as a great fundraiser. We really get such positive feedback about our programs — but we also have people approach us and say — wow, I’m going to Carbondale next weekend, I wish you were going to be on our train. Well, now we can!  Just click, download, and bring your ear phones with you — and we will be with you on any train. You can learn about your window regardless if you’re traveling north, south, west, or east out of Chicago.”

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APRHF Rail Rangers Chicago Coordinator Kandace Tabern says, “We really put a lot of effort into recording these route guide podcasts… it really was a year-long process. First, we cut down the route guide material in our books and e-books that we have sold for a few years now into something that would be around 30-60 minutes in length. We don’t want to talk non-stop during someone’s train journey. Then we had to find time to record with all 12 of our Interpretive Guides… all of whom have a busy schedule. And then finding the time to edit 18 different podcasts was also a challenge. But, we got it done!  We are so happy to be able to share this with passengers. We are the only ones I know who have done train route guide podcasts for all of the major train routes out of Chicago.”

So, are you convinced and want to give the APRHF Rail Rangers brand new podcasts a try?

It’s simple… just head over to www.TrainPodcast.com and make your purchases!

The whole process is quite simple to use and understand. Each MP3 podcast download costs just $9.95 — and for that — you get 5 copies of the podcast you purchased. You can download one on your phone, laptop, desktop computer, tablet… and still have one download left to perhaps share with a friend or family member perhaps. Each download features the MP3 audio file as well as a PDF index sheet that shows a listing of the towns talked about. Basically, you listen to the story of an upcoming landmark… pause the podcast until you pass the landmark or town… and then listen up for the next story/landmark… and so on.

APRHF President Bob Cox says, “At a recent Board Meeting, we decided that starting in January 2019, TrainPodcast.com is going to offer Pullman Members ($65/year) a 15% discount code for podcasts and route guide e-books… and Engineer Members ($120/year) and above will get a 25% discount code for podcasts and route guide e-books from the APRHF Rail Rangers. It’s going to be yet another perk to look at upgrading your membership!”

Even though route guide books and e-books… and now route guide podcasts… give passengers more options to learn about the various train routes out there — you will still find the friendly faces of the APRHF Rail Rangers’ Interpretive Guides aboard the train too!

Robert Tabern says, “We are not going anywhere!  We will still have our Interpretive Guides on the South Shore Line two to three weekends per month and we are going to still do as many private rail excursions as we can given the new restrictions Amtrak has placed on private car movements earlier this year. Think of the podcasts as a big addition to our program when we are not on the train — but we hope people will come out an experience our live programming too because nothing replaces that one-on-one interaction we can have together on the train.”

And, even though all 18 Midwestern podcasts are done… that doesn’t mean there are not more podcasts coming!

Kandace Tabern explains, “We are going to take a little break now that we have produced podcasts for all of the major Midwestern train routes. However, starting in 2019, look for new podcasts to begin trickling on to the website. We have signed an agreement with author Eva Hoffman of the “Flashing Yellow” Route Guide series — and will begin producing podcasts for some of the routes she has written about. First up, will be for the daylight stretches of the California Zephyr between Chicago and Omaha, Denver to Green River (Utah), and from Winnemucca (Nevada) to San Francisco. We will then move on to the Southwest Chief and other routes. We got a lot more podcast coming!”

Once again, the APRHF Rail Rangers’ podcasts are now for sale at www.TrainPodcast.com.

We have a special deal for those of you who read out APRHF Blog Site, too.  Use code “ENEWS10” at check-out and get an unlimited number of Train Podcasts for 10 percent off. This offer is valid through December 31, 2018.

For more information about the APRHF Rail Rangers on-board educational programs, check out www.RailRangers.org or www.DunesTrain.com.

New APRHF Rail Rangers Podcasts Hope to Fill Onboard Educational Program Void

An article by author Karl Zimmermann in the most recent edition of “Passenger Train Journal” [Vol. 42, No. 2 (2018-2), Issue No. 275] pinpoints the many passenger amenities that Amtrak has decided to cut over the past few months. If you have not yet seen Zimmermann’s piece entitled “Amtrak: Pinching Pennies Again and Again”, it is definitely well worth the read. The main focus of the article deals with cuts that have been made to the popular onboard educational programs on Amtrak known as Trails & Rails. If you are not familiar with Trails & Rails, it is a partnership program between Amtrak and the National Park Service, established in the late 1990’s, that places volunteer docents on various routes all over the country to provide narration to passengers.

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You may remember that the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation (APRHF) even co-sponsored a Trails & Rails program on the Southwest Chief between December 2012 and July 2015. That program had over 30 guides who performed twice-weekly round-trips on the train through Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri during the summer and winter holiday months. The APRHF-sponsored Trails & Rails program on the Chief reached out to over 50,000 passengers during the course of its run… and it regularly ranked as one of the top Trails & Rails programs in the country in terms of both positive comments received from passengers and volunteer hours given to Amtrak and the National Park Service.

Unfortunately, even going back almost a decade, budget issues and mis-management plagued Trails & Rails. The extremely popular Chicago-to-Twin Cities Trails & Rails program on the Empire Builder was eliminated in September 2010 when Amtrak and the National Park Service decided to no longer cover the motel costs of volunteers during their layover in Minnesota. Likewise, Amtrak and the National Park Service mandated that the APRHF cover almost all of the costs of the proposed Chicago-La Plata, MO Trails & Rails program, including 100% of the layover expenses, before it was actually allowed to operate. Luckily, at the time, the APRHF had an affiliation with the Depot Inn & Suites in La Plata, so the program had a generous lodging sponsor. The volunteer guides themselves also made up any funding deficits out of their own pockets.

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Despite all of the successes, James E. Miculka, the National Coordinator of Trails & Rails, advised the APRHF Board of Directors in July 2015 that Amtrak and the National Park Service no longer wished to partner with non-profits such as the APRHF to operate its onboard educational programs. The last run of Trails & Rails between Chicago and La Plata, MO took place later that month. Almost three years later… there are still no Chicago-based Trails & Rails programs that operate on long-distance trains. The APRHF-sponsored Trails & Rails program remained on the rails by quickly re-branding itself as the APRHF Rail Rangers. The independent program, which is managed by the APRHF Board of Directors, continues to be extremely successful by providing onboard educational programs several times per month on the South Shore Line between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana… and on occasional private rail excursions across a seven-state region in the Upper Midwest.

APRHF Rail Rangers Executive Director Robert Tabern explains, “Our onboard educational programs are in a much better position now because they are managed directly by the APRHF than when we operated as part of Trails & Rails. There was a lot of red tape and bureaucracy dealing with two government organizations – Amtrak and the National Park Service. It got to a ridiculous point at the end of our runs on the Southwest Chief — Trails & Rails management actually told our guides that they couldn’t talk about a topic unless it was in the ‘approved’ reference manual. Imagine possibly seeing a blue heron or even a bald eagle fly by the train — but you couldn’t talk about it because it wasn’t an ‘approved’ topic! We were extremely limited in what we could do for our fundraising efforts, too, when we were part of Trails & Rails. I remember at one point we went to Mr. Miculka and proposed selling our route guide books on the train to raise money for Trails & Rails, offering to donate all funds made to either Amtrak or the National Park Service… and were told ‘no’! Neither organization behind Trails & Rails, nor its National Coordinator, was willing to think outside of the box… and I think that is why they are in so much trouble now and facing so many cuts. Maybe they wouldn’t have been in such a budget predicament and losing half of their programs if they had more willing to work cooperatively and productively with non-profit partners such as the APRHF, or even for-profit hotels or sponsors, to cover some of the expenses. Seems like they are learning the hard way now and their volunteers and the passengers who can’t attend programs are the ones who are suffering unfortunately.”

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Passengers will indeed notice the massive cuts made to Trails & Rails this summer. Two of the three Trails & Rails programs that operated on the Empire Builder have been eliminated; including programs through Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota. The sole remaining Empire Builder program has been scaled back to run only with-in Washington State… meaning guides will not be on the train going through Glacier National Park. All Trails & Rails programs on the California Zephyr have been eliminated, including the extremely popular route from Denver to Grand Junction. Only one program remains on the Southwest Chief, and that has been scaled back to end in Las Vegas, New Mexico instead of Albuquerque. In fact, with the exception of one program, all Trails & Rails programs that required volunteers to overnight somewhere were either completely eliminated or severely scaled back. Many of the Trails & Rails volunteers we spoke with are upset at both Amtrak and the National Park Service for this decision – and feel that those in charge of Trails & Rails did not do enough to go to bat for keeping docents on the train. Several current Trails & Rails volunteers also made the point that cutting Trails & Rails programs will only result in Amtrak and the National Park Service saving a few pennies per passenger, if that. Volunteers on the remaining routes have been informed that neither Amtrak nor the National Park Service will pick up meal expenses… or even as little as a bottle of soda or water… in return for their time.

The APRHF Rail Rangers definitely sympathize with train passengers who value the opportunity to attend an onboard educational opportunity, but now will not be able to because of the cuts involving Trails & Rails. However, there are some exciting new options that may help fill the void.

APRHF Rail Rangers Chicago Coordinator Kandace Tabern explains, “We are offering some exciting new options for train travelers who love learning about what is out their window, just in time for summer vacation season. All 12 editions of our Midwestern route guidebooks are now available in e-book format. Some of the books in our ‘Outside the Rails’ series are so detailed that they feature more than one page per mile of information about the route. We have also teamed up with Eva Hoffman, a recently-displaced Trails & Rails guide out of Colorado, to have her popular route guidebooks also available in e-book format. A lot of people have wrote us over the years asking for an e-book option because the traditional hard-bound books sometimes get just too bulky to carry on the train. Eva’s ‘Flashing Yellow Guidebooks’ series cover most of the long-distance routes, while our focus is exclusively on the Midwest. Whatever edition you choose — you will learn so much!”

Train enthusiasts also have another exciting and fun option to learn about their favorite routes in the Upper Midwest. In the just the past few months, the APRHF Rail Rangers have started producing downloadable MP3 podcasts. This means you can listen to expert narration from a Rail Rangers Guide on any train at any time — just don’t forget your earphones. On June 3rd, 2018, the first of six podcasts were made available from the APRHF Rail Rangers… this includes Chicago to Milwaukee, Milwaukee to Chicago, Chicago to St. Paul-Minneapolis, St. Paul-Minneapolis to Chicago, Chicago to South Bend Airport, and South Bend Airport to Chicago.

Executive Director Robert Tabern explains, “We are really excited about this podcast project. I love the fact people will be able to listen to our guides virtually on any train at any time. It’s the ultimate self-guiding experience, but it’s like we are along for the ride, too. This is something I really wanted to do for a long time.”

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When all is said and done, at least 20 podcasts are planned for release. Next up to be produced will be the routes between Chicago-St. Louis and Chicago-Detroit/Pontiac, MI. Two additional recording sessions are planned later this summer to cover the Chicago-Quincy, Chicago-La Plata, Chicago-Carbondale, and Chicago-Indianapolis routes. All 12 current APRHF Rail Rangers’ Interpretive Guides are lending their voices to this project.

If the podcasts end up being a success, there is the possibility they become extended to passenger train routes outside of the Midwest; the focus would then likely be on sections of routes that have lost Trails & Rails guides.

E-books and podcasts from the APRHF Rail Rangers are available at www.MidwestRails.com or www.TrainPodcast.com.

While onboard educational programs may be taking a hit this summer with cuts made to Trails & Rails, the APRHF Rail Rangers are certainly happy to fill the void as best they can with their route guidebooks, e-books, and podcasts.

Flashing Yellow Guidebooks Now Available in Travel-Friendly E-Book Format

At the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation, we have saying… Not knowing what you are seeing out the window on a train ride… is much like watching the Travel Channel with the audio turned off. No one is going to listen to their favorite travel show on mute… so why would you hit the rails and not know what you are seeing out the window? That would just be silly! Imagine all of the cool things that could be passing you by — and you wouldn’t even know it!

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To help educate passengers about the people, places, and history passing by, our APRHF Rail Rangers program has produced a total of 11 different railroad route guides that cover most of the passenger rail lines in the Upper Midwest. The book series entitled “Outside the Rails” is designed for passengers traveling between Chicago and Milwaukee, St. Paul, La Plata, Quincy, St. Louis, Carbondale, Indianapolis, and Detroit/Pontiac. The goal in writing and publishing the books was to give passengers a chance to know what they are seeing out the window… even when they don’t have one of the Rail Rangers’ Interpretive Guides aboard the train. Sit back, relax, open the book… and enjoy your train trip that much more! You will be amazed at how much more fun… and how much faster… a train trip will go when you are learning en route.

Originally, authors Robert and Kandace Tabern started their “Outside the Rails” book series in 2011 as a for-profit company. However, when they were appointed the Executive Director and Chicago Coordinator of the APRHF Rail Rangers program in 2015 — they decided to use all proceeds from book sales to help fund the group that provides educational programs on private rail excursions and the South Shore Line. Money raised from book sales (after the publisher is paid off) goes to fund such things as the handouts given to passengers on the train and at train shows the Rail Rangers attend… new props and informational displays… research trips for new routes… some travel expense reimbursement for volunteers… payment for the Rail Rangers’ websites and promotions… speaker upkeep and replacement… and much more. So, not only are you getting a fun book to learn about a route on your next train trip — you are helping support a wonderful 501(c)(3) non-profit organization who offers guided tours several times per month on various railroad lines.

A few years ago, “Outside the Rails” and the APRHF Rail Rangers decided to team up to cross-promote book series with Colorado-based author Eva Hoffman, who wrote her own series of railroad route guides under the “Flashing Yellow Guidebooks” title. In fact, “Flashing Yellow” served as the original inspiration for “Outside the Rails”! While “Outside the Rails” exclusively focuses on educating passengers about Upper Midwestern train routes, “Flashing Yellow” covers the various long-distance train lines in-depth, from Maine to California. Author Eva Hoffman has written route guidebooks for various Amtrak routes… including the Empire Builder, California Zephyr, Southwest Chief, Coast Starlight, Texas Eagle, Sunset Limited, Northeast Corridor, and Downeaster. Right now there are 16 editions currently available… with books for the City of New Orleans and Capitol Limited coming in the near future.

Up until now, all 11 editions of “Outside the Rails” and 16 editions of “Flashing Yellow” were only available in hard book format. While passengers enjoyed this option and will continue to enjoy this option — we are happy to announce that all books are now available in an e-book PDF format. Yes… instead of carrying around pounds of heavy books… you can simply purchase the books that will cover your route on to your e-reader, laptop, Kindle, tablet, or other device. It will make enjoying the scenery that much lighter and travel-friendly! Many fans of both railroad route guide series have been requesting this for many years, but it wasn’t until recently that we found a reasonably-priced provider to host this service. In addition, there is special software provided by the host that marks the purchaser’s contact information so the PDF files can not be duplicated without it being trace-able back to the purchaser.

Both the traditional books and e-books are available exclusively through MIDWESTRAILS.COM. The purchase price allows the buyer to 5 downloads — so with one purchase — you could theoretically have a copy on your phone, laptop, Kindle, and two different tablets!

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As an incentive to purchase the e-book versions, for a limited time, “Outside the Rails” is offering its e-books at 25% off the hard copy version. That is something that is too good to be true for travelers planning their summer vacation.

* = There is no shipping and handling charged and sales taxes are built in to the sale prices of all e-books. Please be aware that our vendor, Sellfy, does charge a 7% handling fee for each book which is not reflected in these prices, but will be charged to the customer at the time of check-out.

The following editions of “Outside the Rails” are now available:

* Chicago to Milwaukee, WI ($15.00*)

* Chicago to St. Paul, MN – Abbreviated ($11.25*)

* Chicago to St. Paul, MN – Expanded ($26.25*)

* Chicago to La Plata, MO – Abbreviated ($7.25*)

* Chicago to La Plata, MO – Expanded ($26.25*)

* Chicago to Quincy, IL ($11.25*)

* Chicago to St. Louis, MO ($15.00*)

* Chicago to Carbondale, IL ($15.00*)

* Chicago to Indianapolis, IN/Riding the Hoosier Rails ($15.00*)

* Chicago to South Bend, IN/South Shore Line ($15.00*)

* Chicago to Detroit/Pontiac, MI ($15.00*)

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The following editions of “Flashing Yellow Guidebooks” is now available:

* St. Paul, MN to Glacier Park, MT ($14.00*)

* Glacier Park, MT to Seattle, WA/Portland, OR ($15.00*)

* Chicago, IL to Denver, CO ($10.00*)

* Denver, CO to Salt Lake City, UT ($12.00*)

* Salt Lake City, UT to San Francisco Bay Area, CA ($15.00*)

* Chicago to Kansas City, MO ($8.50*)

* Kansas City, MO to Albuquerque, NM ($14.00*)

* Albuquerque, NM to Los Angeles, CA ($12.00*)

* Chicago to San Antonio, TX ($20.00*)

* New Orleans, LA to San Antonio, TX ($15.00*)

* San Antonio, TX to Los Angeles, CA ($16.00*)

* Sacramento, CA to Los Angeles, CA ($10.00*)

* Seattle, WA to Sacramento, CA ($12.00*)

* New York City to Washington, DC ($14.00*)

* New York City to Boston, MA ($15.00*)

* Boston, MA to Coastal Maine/Downeaster ($8.50*)

We think you’ll agree that these books (and now e-books!) make great gifts for yourself and loved one who will be taking the train.

Thanks in large part to book sales… the APRHF Rail Rangers have been able to self-fund almost all of their expenses. In the three years the program has been operating, no money from the APRHF General Fund has been used for handouts, promotions, and many other expenses. This means money raised from memberships and donations to the General Fund are able to stay in La Plata and help with projects out there such as the Lookout Point Park and Exhibition of Amtrak History.

Get your favorite book OR e-book now at MIDWESTRAILS.COM!

So what’s next? When not actually on the train… The APRHF Rail Rangers will begin working on developing MP3 podcasts for train passengers. More details coming soon! This is a project that will likely take several years to fully complete — but we hope to begin rolling out the podcasts one-by-one… with the first one arriving in late spring or early summer 2018.

APRHF Rail Rangers’ Route Guidebooks Now Digital; Podcasts Coming Soon!

At the APRHF Rail Rangers… we have a popular saying that we tell passengers on almost all of our partners’ excursions and during almost all of our outreach events —

“Not knowing what you are seeing out your window, is just like watching the Travel Channel with the audio turned off.”

If you have attended one of our onboard educational programs, you have probably heard this line. It’s more than a statement to us though — it’s almost a mindset — that our Interpretive Guides always keep first and foremost when presenting programs to you, our audience. While most of our Guides are “railfans” — much like you probably are — we know most of our passengers/audience (especially on the public South Shore Line programs) are not. That is why we offer a mix of railroad history with general knowledge about the history, people, and places along along the train route.

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For example, passengers who have rode with us on one of our South Shore Line programs between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana, are amazed to learn in the 90 miles between the two Midwestern cities — pass near or through four units/affiliates of the National Park Service. That is the most parks hit on any Midwestern railroad line! For the first five or six miles of the route between Millennium Station and 47th Street, passengers travel through the historic Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor. This important waterway (I&M Canal) linked the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River shipping basins — saving mariners thousands of miles or a tough portage through swamps. A lot of our travelers love when the train reaches 115th Street on Chicago’s South Side and we pass by the recently-designated Pullman National Monument. Our Interpretive Guides point out the old shops, hotel, and clock tower/administration building (all adjacent to the train line!). Plus, we might tell you some of the lesser-known stories about Pullman… like the bars that still line the “other side of the tracks” because Pullman did not allow alcohol into the town. The South Shore also passes through the heart of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore — a 15-mile-long stretch of preserved sand dunes and wetland areas. Many people take the South Shore to the Indiana Dunes to avoid the heavy traffic on area expressways and toll roads. Closer to Hudson Lake and South Bend, the train travels just a few miles away from the beautiful Kankakee River National Water Trail — an affiliated unit of the National Park Service.

It’s stories like this — and so much more we have to offer — that our Interpretive Guides can add to one’s train trip. Often times you might just see buildings, factories, sand dunes, and farms — but once you hear our narration — you will really learn “the rest of the story”.

The APRHF Rail Rangers is a team of just 12 Interpretive Guides. Many still work full-time and always just volunteer our services and are never paid. This obviously means we can’t be on every train ride you might be taking. That is why our Executive Director (Robert Tabern) and Chicago Coordinator (Kandace Tabern) have spent the past six years writing railroad route guidebooks for all of the major medium-distance and long-distance passenger railroad lines across the Midwest. “Outside the Rails”, the name of their series, has grown to include 11 different editions now. Passengers traveling between Chicago and such cities as Milwaukee (Wisconsin), St. Paul (Minnesota), Quincy (Illinois), La Plata (Missouri), St. Louis (Missouri), Carbondale (Illinois), Indianapolis (Indiana), South Bend-Airport (Indiana), and Detroit/Pontiac (Michigan), can now know what they are seeing out their windows all of the time!

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If you haven’t heard of “Outside the Rails”, you really need to purchase a book for your favorite route or two. Just like with the APRHF Rail Rangers’ onboard educational programs, quality and detail come out in every paragraph. Many regular riders are surprised by some of the stories in these books that they didn’t know about. Prices range between $10 and $35, with route guidebooks ranging in size from 48 pages all the way up to 350 pages.

The APRHF Rail Rangers have also teamed up with author Eva Hoffman whose “Flashing Yellow Guidebook” series covers most of the long-distance passenger rail lines beyond just the Midwest. From the Coast Starlight along the Pacific Ocean to the Downeaster in Maine — “Flashing Yellow” will no doubt enhance your trip. Many sleeping car attendants on Amtrak recommend “Flashing Yellow”‘; some even carry copies aboard so they can share landmarks with passengers!

Both series are available at http://www.MidwestRails.com. The Outside the Rails series is also available through the new APRHF Store at http://www.APRHFStore.com. A portion of all sales goes to benefit the APRHF Rail Rangers program.

There is also some exciting news to share regarding the “Outside the Rails” Guidebook series! Over the years, many passengers have said they enjoy the information contained in the books — but sometimes they are just too bulky to carry on a long train trip. We have worked long and hard to come up with a solution — and have finally found a vendor who converted all 11 editions of “Outside the Rails” into a digital PDF download. For now, the digital versions are available exclusively at www.MidwestRails.com. Get your books available almost immediately and download them to your laptop, phone, tablet, or other electronic device. Have all of the information about your train route available without carrying around heavy books. Digital versions come with no shipping and handling costs AND are 25 percent off the purchase price.

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APRHF Vice President and Rail Rangers Executive Director Robert Tabern says, “Over the course of 2018 we will be launching Podcasts of the various Midwestern train routes. Now people can sit back and listen to some our narration anytime they want — ON DEMAND! We are in the beginning stages of this project and hope to roll out the first podcast sometime during Spring 2018. Each podcast will likely be 20 to 30 minutes in length and will feature not all of the text of the books — but will include the major route highlights. Four of our Interpretive Guides will be providing the voicework for this project. We hope to have all route completed sometime in late 2018 or early 2019. This is something we have wanted to do for a long time — and now is just the right time to do the work on this effort. This will be another great way to raise money and make sure the APRHF Rail Rangers remain as financially sound as possible.”

Podcasts will be available for sale exclusively through http://www.MidwestRails.com starting in late spring 2018.

APRHF Rail Rangers Chicago Coordinator Kandace Tabern adds, “We would like to thank APRHF President Bob Cox for his support in doing this — and for our friends over at Let’s Talk Trains for some of their technological help. ‘Kansas City Nathan’ has been guiding us through the whole process in making and editing the MP3 files that we will be putting together.’

A true partnership between various APRHF affiliates to make something really great for passengers is coming soon… STAY TUNED!