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Thread: North American railroad history - main questions

  1. #21

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    Hello again Vladislav! I hope this theme is fruitful for you.

    > 1) As far as I know, traditionally food is included in the price of ticket in sleeping cars

    The freight railroads generally did not include food in the ticket price and neither did Amtrak initially, though it has for the last 30 years or so. Coach passengers never had meals included.

    > 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?

    In my experience, Amtrak dinners have been open for breakfast from 6am to almost 11am, then open for lunch from about 11am to 2pm or so, and dinner from 5pm to almost 10 pm. The dinning car is a sit down meal experience, so while there is nothing stopping you from having two dinners, the second would not be included in the price and it isn't really a snack sort of environment.

    In contrast the lounge car or cafe car includes a snack bar which in my experience is open from 6am to midnight with some breaks for the attendant to eat lunch or take a breather.

    Of course, these hours only apply if the train is running. In my experience Amtrak shuts its dinning cars an hour or so before the final terminal (cafe or lounge car may stay open until up to 20 minutes before arrival) and they are not open right away when the train leaves the first station. Amtrak makes the crew inventory all the food at the start and the end and is too cheap to pay overtime or extra hours so that can be done outside of the run. I've always thought this is foolish because these cars could be earning revenue during these times. But Amtrak has often focused more on saving costs than earning extra revenue.

    > 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.

    I'm sure it is the Canadian.

    Amtrak's HEP (head end power) system that supplies electricity for lights, heating/ac and so on is good for a maximum of 18 cars (and potentially less if power draw is high. I imagine it would be possible to build a car with a generator in it that could supply 18 cars in both directions, but nothing like that was ever tried.

    When Amtrak tried hauling express in the late 1990's some trains got quite long, but they didn't have any extra passenger cars, just boxcars, baggage cars, refrigerator cars and road-railers for mail and express. At one point in that development there were proposals for a maximum length of 30 or 45 cars, representing mostly mail/express cars.

    > 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?

    This I do not know. I have never even seen an open section in my life. (I'm sure if they had existed, I'd have traveled in them - or in a cochette so Amtrak lost revenue from me by not having them.)

    > there was no chances for continuation of open sections?

    This is something I've wondered a lot about. Or if there was a possibility of introducing European style cochette cars. The nearest thing we got to that was the "slumbercoach" - basically 40 people in a sleeping car not considered first class that has smaller rooms. Had the slumbercoach been conceived 10 years earlier, I think it would have become ubiquitous. I still think there is a real market for something like a slumbercoach.

    > I heard that open sections could disappear even faster if it weren't government employees who had compensation for tickets in open sections.

    I've heard that too - that it was the United States government in the 1950s and sixties.

    > 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?

    These were never mainstream and only on the fancy trains.

    When you have to credit me in your report you can use the following for the citation: "Christopher Parker, Executive Director of Vermont Rail Action Network, Contributing Editor of Atlantic Northeast Rails & Ports, former passenger train Conductor on Cape Cod Central Railroad and Cape Cod & Hyannis Railroad." Rather than just saying "some guy on the internet."

  2. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by conductorchris View Post
    When you have to credit me in your report you can use the following for the citation: "Christopher Parker, Executive Director of Vermont Rail Action Network, Contributing Editor of Atlantic Northeast Rails & Ports, former passenger train Conductor on Cape Cod Central Railroad and Cape Cod & Hyannis Railroad." Rather than just saying "some guy on the internet."
    Good O'l VRAN. How many Executive-Directors these days?...I recall both Christine P, & Larry L, during my latter GMRC / VTR days.
    Also recall, during downtime delivering RR wheelsets via truck to those kind folks down to Hyannis Port.

    Somehow, Somewhere VRAN. 07-16 time frame rings a familiar bell with your name attached, Wendell Ma. comes to mind as well...
    Last edited by SMRY; 10-18-2020 at 09:38 PM.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by conductorchris View Post
    > 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.

    I'm sure it is the Canadian.
    I can see the Richmond Hill GO line from my balcony, where the Canadian (as Train 2 coming east) makes its final approach to Union Station, and can fully believe it's 33 cars. It just doesn't seem to end. I wish I had a more reliable way of knowing when it was due to show up so I could go to one of the many vantage points nearby and get a video myself... but here's one of it with 22 cars at Oriole GO:


  4. #24
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    and dinner from 5pm to almost 10 pm
    Dining car doesn't work after 10:00 PM, or after 10:00 it is possible to order something additionally?

    I'm sure it is the Canadian
    And if we considers pre-Amtrak era? Perhaps it's a San Francisco Chief in 1960s - bilevel chair cars from Chicago, sleeping cars from Chicago and Texas, single-level chair cars from Texas and between Bakersield and Richmond (San Francisco area), lot of baggage, postal and express-freight cars. Separate sphere - mail trains, there could be more than 30 cars.

    This is something I've wondered a lot about. Or if there was a possibility of introducing European style cochette cars. The nearest thing we got to that was the "slumbercoach" - basically 40 people in a sleeping car not considered first class that has smaller rooms
    Slumbercoach - quite an interesting alternative to European-style sleeping cars, actually something similar to European cars in the USA were experimental Pullman "Sleepercoaches", Pullman troop sleepers (similair with European couchette cars with 3 levels of berths) and dormitory cars with bedrooms with 6 berths for crew. The average American passenger wouldn't buy a ticket to bedroom with other random passengers like in Europe?

    These were never mainstream and only on the fancy trains
    These fancy trains were still the most famous American trains (Super Chief, City of Los Angeles, Broadway Limited, XX Century and others), maybe there was something more interesting besides what I have listed?

    Another one question - drawing rooms. During heavyweight era in drawing rooms were two king-size berths (like in open sections) and sofa (additional berths during night) - maximal capacity was three or four (two passengers on the lower broad berth) adult passengers? In lightweight cars design was changed - three narrow berths for three passengers - for whatever reason was not added fourth berth - because is possibly combine two bedrooms? And what is the reason of design change in drawing rooms?

    Also in early lightweight 4-4-2 cars was possible to combine drawing room with compartment or drawing room with bedroom, but this is the maximum opportunity in comparison with all-room heavyweight sleeper - in heawyweight-style compartments with open toilets were doors to two neighboring compartments, that is, it was possible to combine few compartments and one drawing room! Why in lightweight sleepers was decided to abandon the idea of combinations of 3-4 compartments? It was only because in compartments were added closed toilets?
    Vladislav

  5. #25

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    Hello Vladislav,

    On Amtrak long-distance overnight trains, there is both a dinning car an a lounge car with a snack bar. So if you need a late night snack, you go to the lounge car. At least until midnight.

    > The average American passenger wouldn't buy a ticket to bedroom with other random passengers like in Europe?

    I would. I have. I love cochettes.
    Your question hasn't ever been given the test. Apparently the conclusion of freight railroads (and Amtrak) was to avoid it.
    I suspect that (like many things in America) the underlying dynamic comes down to race - and the fear of average white folks of mingling with "others". Just my suspicion, I'm not sure how we would really know.
    I also think that the younger generation in USA (college students) would be much happier with this kind of shared accommodation.

    I don't know the answer to your questions about drawing rooms (which I have never seen).

    Christopher

  6. #26
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    I also think that the younger generation in USA (college students) would be much happier with this kind of shared accommodation
    I have previously written here about Russian "Plazkart"- cheap open sleeping car with 18 berths in parallel to corridor and 36 berths perpendicular to corridor - some people hates these cars and think that these cars are pigsties, some people on the contrary appreciate these cars to low cost. However the best advantage of Plazkart car - convenience for mass transportation, primarily for troop transportation:


    Also during summer transported lot of children groups to resorts, sometimes for transportation to children camps can be are provided few cars:


    There were still plenty of upper and lower births on the train, mostly occupied by college students heading to and from home
    As far as I know, European open couchette cars (with 3 levels of berths) usually uses by students, generally lot of students in Plazkart cars also commonplace, also in Soviet era was usual thing "student construction teams" in passenger trains:


    As far as I know, troop transportation in the United States almost entirely implemented by aircraft and no need to departure lot of troop trains espicially for military personnel (although military equipment is transported by trains anyway). Although it would be interesting to imagine "student couchette car" in Amtrak trains.

    I don't know the answer to your questions about drawing rooms (which I have never seen).
    It seems that drawing rooms were the rudiment from heavyweight era and they are no longer used in Amtrak trains, so you can combine two bedrooms. However, I still wonder why in heawyweight cars were these drawing rooms (Pullman booklet from 1934 year):


    And in lightweight cars were these drawing rooms (Pullman 1954):


    Why in lightweight sleepers was decided to abandon the idea of combinations of 3-4 compartments? It was only because in compartments were added closed toilets?
    I mean this, it's amazing that 4 compartments and one drawing room it was possible to combine into one big suite!


    However, I do not think that this was actually applied, maybe only for families with big quantity of children and other relatives!
    Vladislav

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by conductorchris View Post
    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
    I was able to find some unnamed long-distance passenger trains in the official CB&Q timetatable: http://streamlinermemories.info/Zephyr/B51-5TT.pdf It's a trains 19-43/42-6 between Chicago and Billings, trains 43/42-20 between Kansas City and Billings, trains 29/30 between Denver and Billings - in these trains were sleepers and dining cars, but they didn't have their names - the reason is that these trains passed through sparsely populated area?

    Another one question about passenger trains. In my scientific work I also want to mention the special passenger trains, that is, I mean:
    1) Steam excursion trains
    2) Tourist trains like the Rocky Montaineer
    3) Fun trains (Florida Fun Train, Reno Fun Train)
    4) Business and safety trains
    5) Funeral trains
    6) Troop trains
    7) American Freedom Train

    What other trains can be added to this list?
    Vladislav

  8. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vazyuk View Post
    What other trains can be added to this list?
    Circus trains!

  9. #29

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    There were also POTUS movements, where they would clear the railroad to let the POTUS through; sometimes even taking such extensive precautions as spiking the turnouts! There have been whole entire books on the subject.

    And there's inspection trains, school specials, convention specials, football specials; and not to forget, regularly scheduled trains could also operate in multiple sections as business warranted.

  10. #30

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    And once in a while you could even see a FLOTUS, as in this illustration here:
    https://www.loc.gov/resource/ppmsca.41684/

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