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Thread: North American railroad history - main questions

  1. #11
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    As far as I know, in 1950s all transcontinental passenger trains between Chicago and Los Angeles were named, even all-coach El Capitan, maybe in earlier years were passenger trains from Chicago to LA/San Francisco/Seattle without our name and with number only?

    In 1950s between Chicago and Los Angeles were 8 trains (as far as I understand, many trains departures every day, but in late 1960s some trains were combined as ATSF Super Chief + El Capitan, Union Pacific "City of Everywhere" and Southern Pacific Golden State + Sunset Limited):

    Rock Island/Southern Pacific - Golden State (also with cars from Minneapolis, St. Louis and Memphis) and Imperial;

    Union Pacific/CNW (then Milwaukee Road) - City of Los Angeles and Challenger, optionally note the City of St. Louis, maybe the only between Los Angeles and St. Louis;

    Santa Fe, the greatest amount of passenger trains - El Capitan, The Chief, Super Chief, Grand Canyon Limited, as well as California Limited (withdrawn in 1954).

    I hope I haven’t forgotten anything?

    - Trains that carried passengers but were primarily for mail & express and scheduled accordingly, at odd hours with dwell time en-route for switching out mailbags and cars.
    Once upon a time I was found this photo: https://www.railpictures.net/photo/419844/ - it's a Souther Pacific train №39 Imperial, but many cars of this train intended for mail and express goods. Another one photo: https://www.railpictures.net/photo/420792/ - it's a train №21 in northern Nevada. It's a not City of San Francisco (train №101/102), therefore I can assume this train as unnamed long-distance mail/passenger train, I would like to find more information about this train.

    I tried to get an analogy with Transsiberian Railway - on this railway exists named train №1/2 "Russia" from Moscow to Vladivostok with improved service, many cars in this trai are "Coupe" and "Sleeping", also exists unnamed train №99/100 from Moscow to Vladivostok with lot of couchette "Plazkart" cars, and postal-baggage train №973/974 - now it's a train for mail and express cargo only, but in Soviet period in postal-baggage trains could be few cars for passengers without any dining service, it's a was cheapest way of long-distance passenger transportation, also exists lot of named and unnamed passenger train from Moscow to various Siberian cities (to Khabarovsk, Blagoveshensk, Chita, Ulan-Ude, Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk, Kemerovo, Novosibirsk and others).
    Vladislav

  2. #12
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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

  3. #13

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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.

  4. #14
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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

  5. #15

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    On the Northern Pacific domes, those were Single Bedrooms under the dome.

    The B&O domes, the story is a bit more complicated. Those three cars were built for the C&O, for "The Chessie", which was supposed to have been a luxury daytime train between Washington and Cincinnati. Of course, there were already good trains on that route, and The Chessie was going to be so expensive to operate that the C&O would have had to sell tickets to 150% of the train's capacity just to break even. So, after The Chessie was run on a display tour, it was cancelled without ever going into service.

    So those three domes went to the B&O. But first - The private rooms had to have berths installed! The rooms under the dome were inventoried by the Pullman Company as "Compartments"; but unlike other Pullman compartments, these had two lower berths side-by-side. In Pullman Company parlance, a Compartment was more than a Double-Bedroom, but less than a Drawing Room.

    It was important how each space was inventoried, because that would determine how much tariff they could charge. (In this case, 'tariff' basically means 'fare'.) Tariffs were regulated by the government. The list of tariffs for Pullman travel was listed as Sections and Drawing Rooms. The tariff for a Double-Bedroom was half the tariff of a Drawing Room. Not coincidentally, two Pullman Double-Bedrooms fit into the footprint of one Drawing Room! That's why there was a trend to take old Standard Pullmans and replace one Drawing Room with two Double-Bedrooms.

    But the clerk writing your ticket had to do the math - For a Double-Bedroom, One fare (mileage times the allowed rate per mile), plus One Step-Up for first class (payable to the railroad), plus One tariff for a Drawing Room divided by half (payable to the Pullman Company), times a multiplier for whatever fare increases the government had allowed since the most recent fare table went into effect. Oh, but first the clerk had to place a long-distance call to the Bureau to make sure that there was space available. Who here would like the clerk's job?

  6. #16

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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.

  7. #17
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    A little distracted from the scope of the topic - I could find dome sleeper with upper and lower berths in bedrooms, and it's a not American dome car.

    In early 1960s their dome cars trying to create completely different country - the Soviet Union, in 1965 year were built several experimental dome cars, but no more than 5 cars.


    It's a slleping car with 7 bedrooms, two upper and two lower berths in every bedroom, totally 32 passengers, also in this car was small buffet. Height of this car is 5,17 meters and upper berths in bedroms are provided:


    Unfortunately, these cars were produced in small quantities - mass production of dome cars would be difficult to begin, also these cars did not corresponded to some safety standards. Fortunately, one car was preserves and located in Tashkent railway museum in Uzbekistan:


    In 1959 year Soviet General Secretary Nikita Khrushchev makes a large trip to the USA. Trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco was made by train (probably by Southern Pacific) and Khrushchev was inside the dome car. Probably creation of Soviet dome car was idea of country leader.


    However, if in Soviet Union was an attempt to creation of our dome car, observation cars did not exists, in many European countries it's a also almost unknown cars, I only heard about observation cars in some British trains.
    Vladislav

  8. #18

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    Now that's an interesting car. The dome is larger than most domes in USA (not counting the "full dome" cars) -- which makes sense because the entire space between the trucks can be taken up with bedrooms. Thanks for sharing.
    Christopher

  9. #19
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    Now I am extramural student in Moscow Railway University and this is my last year of study, we have provided for writing a scientific work and I decided to choose as a theme of my scientific work the history of North American passenger trains - generally this theme rather poorly represented in Russian language, I want to try to systematize my knowledge in this work, so I have new questions.

    1) As far as I know, traditionally food is included in the price of ticket in sleeping cars (for example unlike the Russia, where dining cars usually half-empty and passengers prefer to take food with them), were there any exceptions? I would like to know typical work schedule of dining cars - breakfast, lunch, dinner, is it possible to order additional food in the dining car after evening dinner? I mean the Amtrak era and Streanliners era also.

    2) Which train is among the streamliners could be the longest? In Wikipedia was information about VIA Rail the Canadian (in fact, this is the only surviving streamliner, as well as the Ocean) that maximal consist during peak season may be with 33 cars. This is also a personal question - I continue think about consist of fictional train "Full Bucket Limited" and my consist is 30 cars - perhaps it's a overmuch.

    3) About open sections - as far as I understand, in early times to any berth (lower of upper) could lie down adult passngers, in streamline era two passngers on the lower berth and one passenger with baggage to upper berth, but now in VIA Rail trains (where open sections still in use) one berth intended for only one adult passenger, as far as I understand. It is clear that ticket to one berth could buy only two people who know each other, but most likely only a married couple can do this in these days - earlier co-location of two passenger on the one berth was more normally?

    After WWII open sections began to lose popularity in favor to day-nite coaches and new types of sleeping accomodations (roomettes, duplex roomettes) - there was no chances for continuation of open sections? Surviving open sections in Canadian trains - it's a randomness? I heard that open sections could disappear even faster if it weren't government employees who had compensation for tickets in open sections.

    4) Why in new Amtrak sleepers (Superliner and Viewliner) does not exists standard roomettes or duplex roomettes? Besides the standard Superliner sleepers were made "deluxe sleepers" with only bedrooms only on hte upper level - maybe could add roomettes for one passenger?

    5) I would like to know about the most unusual services on the passenger trains - in streamline era in some trains were barber shops, maid/manicure service, telephone, secretary staterooms, gym, movie theatres, nurse service, Turqise Room (closed room for private parties in Super Chief), night club (in the original Auto Train), in never-launched train Chessie was envisaged children theatre. What other unusual services are in American trains?

    More questions coming soon...
    Vladislav

  10. #20
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    Hi Vladislav,

    About open sections you said "I heard that open sections could disappear even faster if it weren't government employees who had compensation for tickets in open sections". My father was in the Canadian Air Force and when we were transferred we normally took the train as my mother didn't like flying. My parents would get a double bedroom and us kids would all get our own roomette. When the time came, my father would just submit the ticket for reimbursement. There were still plenty of upper and lower births on the train, mostly occupied by college students heading to and from home. As long as you didn't mind waiting your turn to use the washroom it was a cheap way to travel and have a bed at night. I don't imagine many government employees ever used a birth on a train, not when the rest of us were paying for their trips!

    Paul :-)

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