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Thread: North American railroad history - main questions

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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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    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

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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

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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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    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

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    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.
    I supposed about cultural aspect, howerver in US overnight trains more apply coaches as a cheap car than in Europe. However in Europe in one bedroom may be random passengers, usually it can only be one gender passengers. In the Soviet Union was not exists gender separation in sleeping cars (even in bedrooms for two passengers), explicit example of communist ideology! Wherein, to one hotel room could not settle not-married man and woman, but in railway sleeping car or ship cabin could there be absolutely random passengers!

    If tell about Russian overnight passenger trains, there 4 passenger car types - "Sleeping", "Coupe", "Plazkart" and "Interregional".

    "Interurregional" - it's a open coach car for 64 passengers, in some new coaches backrest of chair may fall quite low, but in older coaches chair backrest drops too little, sleeping in them is too uncomfortable and bed linens is not provided. Usually referred in daytime trains and rarely in overnight trains.

    "Plazkart" - it's a Russian version of European couchette car with three-level berths (similair with Pullman Troop Sleeper), but in plazkart car instead third highest berths used two berths parallel the corridor, wider size of Russian Railways allows do it. Inside plazkart car may be 54 sleeping passengers, also plazkart car may be used as commuter car with not-reserved seats - then this can accept 81 passengers, and if there will be passengers lying on upper berths - capacity may be over 100 passengers!

    Some people considers this car as "crib", but it's a cheapest sleeping car with bed linens. Plazkart car also actively used for mass transportation - transportation of Army conscripts, mass transportation of children to resorts, transpotation of student construction teams (but it was more common during Soviet period) and other similar goals.

    "Coupe" car - middle-class sleeping car with 2 upper and 2 lower berths in private bedroom perpendicular to corridor, coupe car carries 36 passengers, but in some coupe cars was one bedroom for two passengers with one upper and one lower berths, this car carries 38 passengers.

    "Sleeping" car (In Russia if someone says "sleeping car", it simples only this type of cars) - very similair with coupe car, but without lower berths, carries 18 passengers. However, even in these car were only 2 communal toilets, but in USSR was rarely modification of this car, where in bedroom were one upper and one lower berths with private washing sink and communal shower. Now in some named Russian trains may be one "VIP-car" with private toilets and showers in every compartments, but it's a very expensive car.

    Therefore difference of American passenger cars surprises me - overnight coaches for 48 passengers and for example 10-6 sleeping cars for 22 passengers - it's a big difference!

    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).
    It depends on what you compare it to, in Troop Sleeper was even porter (How many pullman porters were conscripted during WWII?)! If you compare with Soviet and many other European armies during WWII, transportation of military personnel in boxcars was commonplace, possibly only for comissioned officers could be used normal sleeping cars:


    Then for military transportations commonly used couchette cars, but sometimes could still be applied boxcars. Photo from 1990s during war in Chechnya:
    Vladislav

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    Another one question - during "Streamline era" many long-distance American passenger trains were named, as far as I know, unnamed were commuter and regional trains (I could find Great Northern unnamed trains in Wikipedia article, once upon a time existed passenger trains from Kalispell to Columbia Falls), did exists transcontinental unnamed passenger trains in American history?
    Vladislav

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vazyuk View Post
    Another one question - during "Streamline era" many long-distance American passenger trains were named, as far as I know, unnamed were commuter and regional trains (I could find Great Northern unnamed trains in Wikipedia article, once upon a time existed passenger trains from Kalispell to Columbia Falls), did exists transcontinental unnamed passenger trains in American history?
    There never were a named or unnamed transcontinental passenger train. To ride via a train one had to get a ticket from a minimum of at least two railroads. Example: Ride the NYC RR's Century Limited NYC to Chicago then take the AT&SF RR's Super Chief to Los Angeles. Although there was the possibility to buy a ticket on a Pullman Sleeper the full distance, it was the sleeper car that traveled transcontinental not a train. Even the "Named" Trains operated as a number. The Texas Zephyr was operated jointly by the Colorado & Southern (C&S) and the Fort Worth and Denver (FW&D) railroads. Both RR's were a part of the Burlington System. Southbound it was the C&S #1 when it left Denver, Colorado, and became the FW&D #1 when it crossed the New Mexico and Texas state line. Northbound it left Dallas, Texas, as the FW&D #2 and arrived in Denver as the C&S #2. My father's business was just a short 2 blocks from the Wichita Falls, Texas, depot and our next door neighbor was the Railway Express Agent. We frequently visited Mr. Hooper at the end of the work day when the northbound Zephyr stopped in Wichita Falls to take on passengers bound for Amarillo, Trinidad, Pueblo, Colorado Springs or Denver. It was a thrill for this then 5 year old to watch the big, slant nose, silver E5 locomotive bring those silver cars into town.
    Charles

  10. #10

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    In the streamline era, the named trains were the big deal fancy trains. The flagships, if you will. The important trains.

    There were plenty of nameless trains, sometimes on the same routes as the named trains. They were generally of three categories:
    - commuter trains from suburbs to the city
    - local trains, for example on a branchline but sometimes on the mainline as well. The all-stops local and so forth. '
    - 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.

    Christopher

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