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Thread: Separate But Not-so"Equal" Express Trains

  1. #1
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    Default Separate But Not-so"Equal" Express Trains

    Hello Everybody.
    I'm on spring break right now, but I am going to do a history project when I get back.
    No racism intended, but in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, were streamlined express trains segregated?

    By streamlined express trains, I'm talking about:
    Empire Builder
    City of San Francisco Express
    California Zephyr
    Super Chief
    El Captian
    North Coast Limited
    Sunset Limited
    Shasta Daylight
    Coast Daylight
    Capitol Limited
    Broadway Limited
    Colonial Express (PRR-not-Amtrak)
    San Diegan
    George Washington Express

    Were these express trains segregated? I've googled and I only found some unnamed passenger trains that were segregated.
    Were named express trains segregated?

  2. #2
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  3. #3
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    One of the things that I've always been unsure about is the fare structure? There's one form of discrimination that is universal and that's Wealth over Poverty? In other words were the fares on some or all of these Named Streamliner Express Trains significantly higher?

    In Europe we had 1st, 2nd and 3rd class carriages (the UK still has 1st and 2nd Class seating) where the level of comfort you enjoyed depended on the fare you paid. Of course the mix of seating is in the same train but there were a few Pullman Trains in the UK which had all expensive luxury coaches. These died out in the UK when the standard coaches level of comfort improved to a point that made paying a premium fare rather pointless .....and that signed the death warrant for Pullman services in the UK.

    Most books on the Streamliners show a high proportion of African American staff on the trains and the Railroads publicity shots show a lot of VERY "well healed" white folk (all attractive and smiling of course) as the clientele. Pictures of ACTUAL passengers are rarer because the posed pictures show off the coach interior features better. The trains were proudly listed at their platforms at the Termini of course but whether that was just publicity or indicated a premium fare service I'm not sure?
    Geoff
    Dorset - near The Swanage Railway.
    UK

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by lateagain View Post
    One of the things that I've always been unsure about is the fare structure? There's one form of discrimination that is universal and that's Wealth over Poverty? In other words were the fares on some or all of these Named Streamliner Express Trains significantly higher?
    From what I've seen, there were usually premiums or surcharges attached to Express and Limited tickets. Can't say how substantial they were. Some Expresses like the Super Chief were all-Pullman, so if you couldn't afford a roomette, you were priced out of that particular train


    Quote Originally Posted by lateagain View Post
    Most books on the Streamliners show a high proportion of African American staff on the trains and the Railroads publicity shots show a lot of VERY "well healed" white folk (all attractive and smiling of course) as the clientele.
    Publicity shots were sometimes done with models, but many railroads utilized employees & their families from the railroad's general offices dressed in their Sunday best. The high proportion of black staff reflects 100 years of Pullman's hiring practices. They originally started out hiring former slaves, and my understanding is they went with referral hiring from that point, which resulted in an almost all-black workforce on the trains. It was a coveted position in the black communities - "marry a railroad man, always a dollar on Sundays"
    Last edited by eolesen; 03-30-2020 at 10:57 AM.

  5. #5
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    Thanks Eric. "...always a dollar on Sundays" is a reality that rings a bell with all working men and women. It got me pondering how the airlines that took their jobs also employed mainly women as cabin staff. Of course in these days when "Equality" is most folks goal one of the harsh realities of choosing young women would have been simply that they were lighter! ...weight that is not skin colour . Of course as aircraft improved such considerations no longer applied.

    This may interest US fans with an interest in Passenger traffic this side of the pond. Some of the best shots to illustrate the demise of Pullmans here in the UK in this thread. https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/in...llman-coaches/

    Interesting recognition point was that in the UK all Pullman coaches of any era had flat doors (as opposed to the door following the coaches bodyline) because unlike other stock the doors opened inward. In the shots here you can see the original Pullman livery, Brown and Cream, as worn today on the preserved original Pullman style stock used on the Simplon Orient Express.

    These "Modern Pullmans" were pretty much like the British Railways Mk1 coaches apart from the recessed flat doors and smaller windows. Inside is what you paid the premium for. In an attempt to "Modernise" their appearance BR painted them in a reverse Blue Grey Livery (Blue top and Grey lower) but you can see in the pictures here (4th pic down) the more rounded BR Mk2 Coaches which with Air Con, Comfortable seats, tables and better lighting offered the business traveller pretty much the same comfort with more modern facilities. These killed the Pullman service on the East Coast mainline.

    Once the HS125's arrived they were so successful that they pretty much ended Loco Hauled passenger traffic on most UK long distance lines and all of the UK's coaching stock became sought after by our many preserved Railways who've pretty much preserved or restored a massive amount of coaching stock from all regions and eras.
    Geoff
    Dorset - near The Swanage Railway.
    UK

  6. #6
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    The (modern First Group) GWR nominated a few of their HST long distance services as "Pullman" but this was simply a service banner with standard HST/Mk3 coaching stock, slightly better menu and at seat service. Not sure if it transposed to the IET's which are about as far from the concept of Pullman as you can get!
    Vern.

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