So where does that leave the public for NS rides this summer?
No where! The NS is doing all this for their employees, shippers, and community/political personnel. Just like the Union Pacific. You have to be an "invited guest" to ride the train.
Besides, it is against the law for class one railroads to sell tickets on passenger trains, ever since congress started Amtrak. The railroad may lease their train to private organizations who can then sell tickets to the "public".