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  1. #1
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    Default North American railroad history - main questions

    Inspired by this topic: https://www.trainsim.com/vbts/showth...rain-west-pack

    In general, I have long had an idea to create this topic, because I have some questions about North American railroads. I know about sites such as "American Rails" and sometimes I read information about "Fallen flags", but s sometimes I want to know specific information from railfans. It would be interesting to learn something from people, who for example remembers pre-Amtrak passenger trains.

    One of the questions - why in the USA did not have real "coast-to-coast" passenger trains (besides Amtrak Sunset Limited)? For example I imagine PRR train from New York City to Los Angeles, which goes to Effner, then from Effner to Lomax by Toledo, Peoria And Western Railway tracks, from Lomax to Los Angeles by ATSF tracks, i.e. bypass Chicago. Could pay off this train?

    Other question - on which "fallen flag" railroads were most good conditions for employees and most terrible? I mean salaries, overworks, relationships with superiors and all that on the various Northeastern, Southeastern, Midwestern and Western railroads.
    Vladislav

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    Compared to other parts of the world, US railroads began in the mid-late 1800's as small private companies with little incentive to cooperate. In fact, most were vigorous competitors in their geographic area.

    Without national government control and financial support, private RR companies didn't have the financial ability to build a wholly owned coast-to-coast rail network.

    In fact, during WWI the US Federal Government nationalized the RRs to get them to cooperate better. But things went back to the old competitive ways after the war.

    Finally, there was the Western RR consortium vs the Eastern RR consortium, which had an uneasy truce in places like St.Louis, Chicago, and New Orleans. In those locations, jointly owned terminal RRs were created so transcontinental shipping could be reliably done between east and west coast RRs.
    Chris
    "True rail fans have two favorite railroads. The B&O and one other."

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    I'm currently studying diagrams of American passenger cars, unlike the European countries, there is a lot more variety of sleeping cars, starting from widespread 10-6 and 4-4-2 sleeping cars up to exotic 4-7-3-1 and 6-5-2 Great Northern sleeping cars.

    If we considers dome cars, these car were mostly dome coaches, dome buffet/lounges, a small amount of dome diners (Union Pacific), while dome sleeping cars were rare - it's a only Northern Pacific 6 double bedrooms, 4 roomettes and 2 compartments as well as Baltimore & Ohio "Strata-Domes" with 5 roomettes, 3 drawing rooms and one bedroom. I could find floorplans of these cars, B&O: http://trainweb.org/DOMEmain/picCOdiagram.jpg and NP: http://www.trainweb.org/DOMEmain/picNPdiagrama.jpg

    In the NP dome sleeper bedrooms below the dome haves lower berths only, appropriate inscription is available in the drawing. In the B&O strata-dome below the dome located one bedroom and bed for porter - is in this bedroom upper berth? Even despite the lower floor level below the dome disposition of upper berths is impossible?

    Another question - height of Superliner bilevel cars is 16 ft 2 in (4,93 meters), lower level populated between bogies only, Colorado Railcar Ultra Domes are higher - 18 ft (5,5 meters) - I can not find floorplans of Ultra Domes, inside the lower level of Ultra Domes may be stand at full height even in the area of bogies?
    Vladislav

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    Cooperation between some railroads (for example joint train Expostion Flyer/California Zephyr of CB&Q, DRGW and WP) - it's a legacy of WWI government control?

    Finally, there was the Western RR consortium vs the Eastern RR consortium
    In 1900s was large Gould railroad system - WP, DRGW, MP, Wabash, WLE, PWV and WM railroads, it's a exception? Or there were other examples of Western and Eastern railroads cooperating?

    In 1940-1950s sleeping cars of some Eastern railroads could be included to transcontinental passenger trains of Western railroads. Wherein in ATSF Super Chief could be cars of B&o, PRR and NYC, in California Zephyr PRR and NYC, in SP/RI Golden State were PRR and NYC cars. If ATSF, UP/CNW, CB&Q/DRGW/WP and RI/SP competed among themselves, would be more logical if for example in Golden State were only PRR sleeping cars from New York and in Super Chief only NYC sleeping cars also from New York, why yet in one transcontinental train could be sleeping cars of B&O, PRR and NYC? Did exist sleeping cars of Erie and C&O, which could be included to trains of Western railroads?
    Vladislav

  5. #5

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    Hello Vladislav,

    There was more variety among American sleeping cars (in the 1950's) because each railroad did their own thing and ordered their own variations. This was sometimes something of a problem.

    I'm not quite sure what you are asking in regards to the bedroom under the dome. Do you mean, was their room for both lower and upper level births? I think so, although I've never seen a car like this.

    The Ultradomes: are full height on both floors all the way the length of the car. The first floor is about 4 feet off the rail (1.3 meters) with air conditioners, water for the toilet etc underneath, leaving 14 feet for the two levels, 7 feet (2.13 meters) for each level, more or less. High enough for almost everybody.

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    Another interesting question - historical features of American passenger cars.

    Why in the interiors of American sleeping cars such big differences with European sleeping cars?

    Open sections - the cheapest type of sleeping accomodations, I know that lower berth was intended for two passengers, but as far as I know, upper berth can accommodate only one passenger (for example 16-section sleeping car of California Zephyr was intended only for 48 passengers). Or in some sleeping cars upper berth could accommodate two passengers? Approximate European counterpart - couchette car with 6 berths in one open compartment and Russian "Plazkart" car: https://vmasshtabe.ru/wp-content/upl...-vms-vagon.jpg Why in the US were no experiments with cheap sleeping cars with berths for one passnger only?

    Compartment - also upper and lower berths each for two passengers, but private and with private toilet - no analogues in Europe. As far as I understand, in one compartment could not go random passengers? Were in the compartment upper berths during streamliners era?

    In Europe are popular sleeping cars with 4-berths bedrooms without private toilets, where can go random passengers - why in US sleeping cars there were no analogues? Approximate equivalent - Superliner roomette for two passengers, but these two passengers can not be random.

    Drawing rooms - during heavyweight era in drawing room were upper and lower berths for two passengers as well as sofa. Why in streamline era in drawing rooms have disappeared berths for two passengers and maximum capacity of drawing room hereafter was 3 passengers? As I understand it, Superliner family bedroom is ersatz-analogue of drawing room. Essentially the only example of drawing rooms now is "Chateau" passenger cars of VIA Rail.

    Once upon a time Pullman tried to create "Coach-Sleeper": http://streamlinermemories.info/?p=5983 It's a very similair car with European couchette cars, but somehow this car did not enter to regular operations - what could hinder? Even simpler sleeping car - Pullman Troop Sleeper - after WWII many cars were refitted to baggage or MOW sleeping cars. If such cars would be in civilian passenger trains - nobody would buy a even cheap ticket?

    In 1950s many section-sleepers were withdrawn, eventually was such a choice - coaches without bed linens and with communal toilets (almost like) or roomettes, bedrooms and compartments with private toilets, but more expensive. European-style couchette and sleeping cars could take an intermediate place between coaches and sleeping cars, or they would not be profitable? One of the attempts - Budd Slumbercoach with semi-private duplex roomettes, but with private toilets! Availability of our sink and toilet it's the most important?
    Vladislav

  7. #7

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    Hello Vazyuk,

    Quote Originally Posted by Vazyuk View Post
    Another interesting question - historical features of American passenger cars.

    Why in the interiors of American sleeping cars such big differences with European sleeping cars?
    I think only because the US and Europe developed separately with not a lot of communication and sharing.

    Why in the US were no experiments with cheap sleeping cars with berths for one passenger only?
    The "slumbercoach" designed in the late fifties filled this market. But it came late in the private railroad "streamliner" era and investment in slumbercoach cars was not large. They lasted into the Amtrak era; about 1995.

    Slumbercoach single rooms were in a "duplex" arrangement with every other room elevated a bit, accessed from the hallway by a few stairs. The leg area of the preceding room's bed extended under the seat of the upper room. Between the single and double rooms, slumbercoaches could fit about 40 passengers.

    In Europe are popular sleeping cars with 4-berths bedrooms without private toilets, where can go random passengers - why in US sleeping cars there were no analogues?
    Interesting question. I don't really know.
    I've heard speculation that the United States culture is more individualistic than Europe and wouldn't like this practice. Maybe, but I'm not sure that's it.

    Even simpler sleeping car - Pullman Troop Sleeper - after WWII many cars were refitted to baggage or MOW sleeping cars. If such cars would be in civilian passenger trains - nobody would buy a even cheap ticket?
    These cars were widely hated in WWII. I've heard it said that these cars sowed the demise of rail service in the fifties, because soldiers had such bad experiences in them that they wanted no part of rail travel once they became civilians. The rode bad. A few years after the war, their distinctive Allied Full-Cushion trucks were banned from operation (some remained, but only in local service).

    Budd Slumbercoach with semi-private duplex roomettes, but with private toilets! Availability of our sink and toilet it's the most important?
    I don't think so. Other sleeper rooms then and after did not have individual toilets.

    Christopher

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    I'm not quite sure what you are asking in regards to the bedroom under the dome. Do you mean, was their room for both lower and upper level births? I think so, although I've never seen a car like this.
    About bedrooms below the dome - I mean this inscription:


    Floorplan of NP dome sleeper clearly speaks about bedrooms below the dome - lower berths only. I wanted to ask B&O Strata-Dome, however I read about Strata-Dome - this car lower than other dome cars as car especially fo Eastern railroad, thereby inside the Strata-Dome bedroom below the dome also lower berth only.

    However, if we considers Northern Pacific dome sleeper - maximal height of this car is 15 ft 10 in (4,83 meters), height of Superliner is 16 ft 2 in (4,93 meters), but inside the both lower and upper levels of Superliner sleeper in roomettes exists lower and upper berths! It seems to me, inside the bedrooms below the dome of NP dome sleeper is possible to place upper berths, or is it better not to do?

    I ask it because I think about "Alternative Universe" about American Railroad transport - where railraods were able to compete with aircraft and motor transport and also exists some fictional railroads - primarily Full Bucket Line, fourth railroad, which provides passenger trains from Chicago/St. Louis to Los Angeles in cooperation Missouri Pacific and Illinois Central (line from Chicago to Omaha). I think about premier train of FBL - "Full Bucket Limited", classic streamliner with various types of sleeping cars. One of the cars is dome sleeper, in all bedrooms of this sleeper (including bedrooms below the dome) must be upper and lower berths, however I decided to search real drawings of dome sleepers and floorplan of NP dome sleeper made me think about realism of my ideas...

    Someday I will show MSTS screenshots of this trains (fble7set.zip), but I will also show my custom floorplans (some drafts are ready), because interiors of cars I imagine differently.
    Vladislav

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vazyuk View Post
    why in the USA did not have real "coast-to-coast" passenger trains
    The division into separate railroad companies was the main reason, but also consider that most passengers aren't going coast to coast New York - Chicago is a much bigger market than New York - Los Angeles. A train bypassing Chicago would have much lower economics, because it would miss the lucrative Chicago market.

    In the Amtrak era, the divide persisted. In part because it had always been that way, but also it was possible to use more efficient double deck equipment in the west and not the northeast.

    which "fallen flag" railroads were most good conditions for employees and most terrible? I mean salaries, overworks, relationships with superiors and all that on the various Northeastern, Southeastern, Midwestern and Western railroads.
    For most of the twentieth century Unions negotiated with railroads for a national contract. Same wages, same work rules. Still true, to a large extent. Shortlines were different though.

    Certain railroads were known to have a certain pride and team spirit and generally good management. Others less so. It was common for a spirit of animosity to exist between railroad workers and their bosses. Bosses had to follow the negotiated union rules, but could still find plenty of ways to be a jerk if they tried.

    Railroads had (and have) discipline procedures for railroaders caught not following the rules. Some rule violations (such as going through a red signal) would be serious and be the end of employment. Some would mean two weeks off work with no pay. Managers had various "tests" to make sure their workers knew and were following the rules, for example a classic was to throw a signal red in front of a train while a manager hid in the bushes and watched. Obviously this area inspired animosity.

    Railroad work was generally very well paid. But overworked with long times away from home. In the fifties the "hours of service" law limited railroaders to 16 hour days. And that was a reduction from previous times. Now the hours of service is a maximum of 12. Mandatory 8 hours rest (now 10) between shifts. Other shifts were much easier though. Union rules in the twentieth century gave crews a days pay for a 100 mile run - even though running times improved so that could often be accomplished in just a couple of hours (even less on a passenger train). Work shifts were and are often "on call" meaning you wouldn't know in advance when you were going to work - you'd get a phone call and have two hours to report. Work could be at any hour of the day. A great many shifts involved making a 100 mile run, laying over at an "away" terminal (in a hotel, boarding house or caboose) and then making another run home. Drinking on the job was common in the twentieth century - unheard of now.

    Christopher

  10. #10

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    > Who here would like the clerk's job?

    Some of my favorite Amtrak workers got their start as station agents. They all seem to understand the business really well and have good social skills. (I still remember the era when it was a job requirement of being a conductor to have *bad* social skills. Notice that I've been one, so I am not just lobbing off arrows a others)

    Vladislav, your alternate universe in which the freight railroads were able to compete is possible, technically and economically. It really was a cultural problem that locked the railroads into dumping their passenger trains (in part caused by government regulation; in part caused by changing economic fortunes; in part caused by the broader US culture in the 20th century). In order to be different, railroads would have had to repair their relationship with the public, throw off the stranglehold of the ICC much earlier and participate differently in some of the public decisions made between 1930-1960. But if the investment in interstate highways had include investment in railroads ; if the tax structure was different; and if interstate highways were tolled (or the gas tax set up differently) and the post office kept business on railroads then railroads could have been in a position to make a go of it. Also necessary would have been a different relationship with unions. They would have had the capability to invest more easily, control their costs and be more efficient. I believe a robust and successful long-distance passenger train network would be with us still. However all these cultural problems were there for a reason and they combined to make alternatives impossible to imagine and incentivised removing resources for profit instead of preserving and strengthening the system.

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