North American Railcar Operators Association

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North American Railcar Operators Association
Abbreviation NARCOA
Formation 1988
Type Incorporated Non-Profit
Bob Knight

The North American Railcar Operators Association (NARCOA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, restoration, and safe, legal operation of railroad equipment historically used for maintenance of way purposes. The organization is primarily composed of those who own and operate a personal rail speeder. NARCOA has over 1,800 members worldwide.


NARCOA started in 1980 as a list of motorcar owners, known as "The NARCOA Roster." In 1986, NARCOA organized the first private-owner motorcar meet ever held. In 1987, NARCOA began publication of their official newsletter, The Setoff. In 1988 the group incorporated as a non-profit organization in the State of Delaware and started an insurance program for member railcar operators.[1]

Services Provided[edit]

NARCOA provides several important services for members which are essential to safe and successful rail car operation. These services include:

  • Safety Program - The organization is focused on safe railcar operations. NARCOA publishes a rule book that outlines safe operating practices and rail motorcar standards. Safety meetings precede each rail excursion. Each issue of The Setoff includes safety information. Proper safety equipment is required for participants in each rail excursion. A judicial committee enforces safety policy and sanctions violators.
  • Insurance - NARCOA arranges for operating insurance that rail car operators must purchase, on an annual basis, before taking part in a rail excursion.
  • Operator Testing and Mentoring - New operators must successfully complete a written test before being permitted to purchase insurance. New operators must successfully complete mentoring under the guidance of an experienced operator during their first rail excursion.
  • Technical Information - NARCOA maintains a library of motorcar technical and historical information for member use.
  • Federal Railroad Administration Liaison - NARCOA maintains an ongoing dialogue with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on safety and regulatory issues affecting the hobby. [2]

Rail Motorcar Excursions[edit]

NARCOA affiliated regional clubs conduct rail excursions. The purpose of motorcar excursions is to provide an opportunity for owners to operate their cars. Motorcar operators, at their option, sometimes let friends or others ride along on a no fee basis.

A NARCOA certified excursion coordinator plans the event, coordinates with the host railroad, and has broad authority and responsibility for all aspects of the excursion. All NARCOA sponsored excursions are listed on the association website Excursion Calendar. The listing includes basic information such as the date, railroad name, location, miles to be traveled, fee, and contact information for additional details. Fees for the excursion cover only the costs of putting on an excursion. Some railroads charge a fixed fee for each car and some require reimbursement for railroad employees to act as pilots. Runs can be as short as 10 miles in a day to over 800 miles in multiple day event. Trailers are the most popular way to move a motorcar to an excursion.

A NARCOA motorcar excursion brings together people from all walks of life, including families and couples. Alcoholic beverages and illegal drugs are strictly prohibited. Maintaining a good safety record is necessary to allow NARCOA to continue operating on railroads.[3]

On June 25 and 26, 2013, members of NARCOA operated their privately owned railroad motorcars over the Leadville, Colorado and Southern Railroad in Colorado.[1][2]


NARCOA welcomes everyone regardless of race, religion, nationality, age or gender. Maintenance of membership is subject to the standards of conduct found in the rulebook. A general Railfan interest, willingness to adhere to safety rules, a mechanical ability to restore and maintain a rail motorcar, and some knowledge of railroad operations are characteristics of most NARCOA members.[4]


An 11-member Board of Directors governs NARCOA. The Board meets annually. A nominating committee selects candidates for association offices, including directors, president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer. The current president of NARCOA is Warren Froese. Board members are elected to two-year terms that represent the following areas:

  • Area 1 - (CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, Rl, VT)
  • Area 2 - (DE, MD, NJ, PA)
  • Area 3 - (IN, MI, OH)
  • Area 4 - (KY, NC, SC, TN, VA. WV)
  • Area 5 - (AL, GA, FL, MS)
  • Area 6 - (IL. MN, WI)
  • Area 7 - (IA, ND, NE, SD)
  • Area 8 - (All of Canada and Australia)
  • Area 9 - (AR, CO, KS, LA, MO, OK, TX)
  • Area 10 - (AK, ID, MT. OR, WA. WY)
  • Area 11 - (AZ. CA, Hl, NM, NV, UT)


  1. ^ Ramey, Danny (July 8, 2013). "Hobbyists borrow LC&S tracks for railcar event". The Mountain Mail. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  2. ^ "Teeny, Tiny Little (Rail) Cars: NARCOA!". Leadville Today. June 27, 2013. Retrieved July 14, 2013.

External links[edit]