Reservations And Ticketing - The Good Old Days

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Reservations And Ticketing - The Good Old Days

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Mon Aug 26, 2013 8:41 am

At Mr. Benton's request, I am X-posting material I first submitted at the Amtrak Forum:

Funny how I have a way of reliving historical memories (hope this appropriate here).

Last evening, my NRHS Chapter, North Western Illinois (spelt like the railroad; not the university), held its monthly meeting at the former 'Q' station in Oregon, IL. While, I had not been near the structure since my A-Day Eve 'farewell' trip on MILW 103, City, to Savanna and returning on BN 8, Zephyr, it is now owned by the city, fairly well maintained - even air conditioned, and is available for groups such as ours.

During the BYO (and BYOB; Rule G waived) cookout Dinner hour, I was sitting inside and staring at the Ticket Cage. All I could think of was 'I'd like a Roomette on the Empire Builder to Seattle for today; and a return in a week'. 'Well Sir, he's left Chicago and uh, let's see, they release their space if any, to St Paul'. 'OK, let me phone Chicago and see if they released any'. 'Well, they did; now I'll phone St Paul and get you one.' 'OK Sir, I have you Roomette 7, Car 3105 for this afternoon's Builder leaving here at 402P today. Now let's see, for your return, I'll have to wire Seattle and you can pick it up when you get there.' 'But I'd like to pay for it all now'. 'Well, I'll sell you an Open Pullman for a Roomette if you wish'. 'OK, may I write you a check for this?'. 'Of course, it will be, uh let me check my addition once more (mechanical adding machine clanks away), $177.38, and make your check to the CB&Q'. 'Thank you'. Here you go Sir, he's on time, so just have a seat, and have a great trip'.

Youngsters, that's how it was pre-Arrow (or whatever Amtrak Res and Ticketing system is known as); I've 'been there done that'.

Hopefully, others who 'were there' can share experiences of the labryinth of ticketing procedures that were hardly consistent station to station and even roa to road.

Likely, the most positive improvement Amtrak has made to rail travel is their reservations and ticketing systems.
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Re: Reservations And Ticketing - The Good Old Days

Postby Ocala Mike » Mon Aug 26, 2013 5:45 pm

Well, I "was there" in The Good Old Days, but I was considerably less traveled than Mr. Norman. The only thing I remember is my Mom buying our tickets at GCT for a trip to Lewiston, ME circa early 50's, and the tickets she wound up with were folded up like accordions. Came to find out later that each segment of the trip that involved a different RR (and there were three), got its own ticket portion, and the various "conductors" seemed to be coming through the train continually asking for "tickets, please!" Guess the accounting for fares on those multi-RR trips were good job security for a lot of bean counters in the industry back then.
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Re: Reservations And Ticketing - The Good Old Days

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Mon Aug 26, 2013 6:54 pm

Mike, that would have been a three coupon for one way, six for RT.

NH-B&M-MEC

The bureaus that divided revenues, freight and passenger, were known on some roads as Rates and Divisions, others (mine) Interline Settlements.

An Interline ticket I once saw (because it was my Mother's), was Stamford CT to Vero Beach FL and return. that was TEN coupons for the Round Trip. NH-PRR-RF&P-ACL-FEC.

Accommodations were a separate ticket, be they reserved Coach or Pullman. While in Coach, a coupon was collected upon interchange to another road - often during the wee hours, I would guess. Pullman and accompanaying rail tickets were collected once and 'pouched' for oncoming Conductors.
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Re: Reservations And Ticketing - The Good Old Days

Postby David Benton » Mon Aug 26, 2013 8:00 pm

Thanks for starting the topic, Mr Norman.
Hopefully I will have a chance to post tonight on the New Zealand system.
However, I don't think either NZ or the USA can hold a light to India, where I traveled in the 1990's, which was still a manual system. Patience and persistance were the key to obtaining a reservation there.
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Re: Reservations And Ticketing - The Good Old Days

Postby David Benton » Thu Aug 29, 2013 8:29 pm

I have not had a chance to write about the New Zealand system yet. I have this vision in my head of a row of ladies, sitting behind the ticket office at Auckland Railway station. Each had a set of plan books, which represented a certain train, for a certain day.But I cant find any photos or reference to it.
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Re: Reservations And Ticketing - The Good Old Days

Postby David Benton » Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:33 am

Mr Norman Et al, I just happened to pick up the January 2013 "Trains" magazine on the weekend. In the Post Office section , there is a picture of the Pittsburgh booking office for Pullman services. Is this a representative photo of booking offices in those days ?
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Re: Reservations And Ticketing - The Good Old Days

Postby gokeefe » Mon Mar 03, 2014 3:52 am

Although hardly worth mentioning here I remember my mother receiving paper tickets in the mail from Amtrak for our trip on the Silver Star (I think for Thanksgiving) in the late 1980's. The tickets were printed on similar stock as airline tickets and used the same machine print font. I also seem recall that each of us had a single ticket which she naturally held onto. Those "Good Old Days" have just barely passed on at Amtrak.

Here is a question for the thread: How complicated was it to purchase passage to destinations in Canada?
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Re: Reservations And Ticketing - The Good Old Days

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Mon Mar 03, 2014 9:33 am

Mr. O'Keefe, to travel from New York to Kapitachuan Club QC during August 1956 involved an eight coupon (accordion) ticket (CV-CN was one coupon, but there was a separate CN for Mont-KC). Pullman and CN Sleepers were four separate coupons. As I recall, my Mother simply wrote a CN office the camp director supplied and about a week later, back come the tickets - no phones, just a check and postage stamps. Back then, 'instant gratification' was about a week.
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Re: Reservations And Ticketing - The Good Old Days

Postby gokeefe » Tue Mar 04, 2014 3:39 am

Gilbert B Norman wrote:Pullman and accompanaying rail tickets were collected once and 'pouched' for oncoming Conductors.


I was thinking about the above. Was safe keeping of these tickets one of the responsibilities exclusive to the Pullman Conductor? It was position which I understand many if not most trains with Pullman cars had and was extremely well paid but not all that demanding.
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Re: Reservations And Ticketing - The Good Old Days

Postby David Benton » Tue Mar 04, 2014 3:58 am

I would imagine that would save a lot of late nite/early morning calls for "all tickets please", for Pullman class passengers. Or do they not have them with America's seat check system ?
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Re: Reservations And Ticketing - The Good Old Days

Postby gokeefe » Tue Mar 04, 2014 4:35 am

David Benton wrote:I would imagine that would save a lot of late nite/early morning calls for "all tickets please", for Pullman class passengers. Or do they not have them with America's seat check system ?


Tricky question because I think you're comparing pre-Amtrak operations with what you've seen while riding on Amtrak. The seat check system is universal on Amtrak because there aren't any overnight "run-through" interline trains anymore. But in general "yes" I think that's exactly the point, no ticket collection necessary in the middle of the night for sleeping car passengers. In coach class on Amtrak even if you have a seat check that doesn't guarantee that the crew may not need to see your ticket. But as a general rule, "you're all set."

As Mr. Norman has mentioned one of Amtrak's best innovations has been the reservations system and I would think the accompanying universal ticketing system is part of that. Today I use a ticket to get from Boston South Station to Norfolk or more broadly a single reservation to go from any one point to another on Amtrak's system. While this might involve multiple tickets that's only because it also involves multiple trains and that is no different than having to pickup multiple boarding passes for airline reservations involving more than one flight.

As an aside, to test my knowledge a trip from BOS-NFK in "The Good Old Days" of this topic would have required coupons for the following segments: BOS-NYP (NH), NYP-WAS (PRR), WAS-"RBS/RUS" (Richmond Broad Street Station/Richmond Union Station- RF&P), "RBS/RUS"-NFK (N&W). I am of course assuming that generally I would follow the route of the current Amtrak service to Norfolk (with the exception of Broad Street Station in Richmond of course). I am however aware that there are a number of alternate choices from WAS south to Richmond (SAL in particular). I am also assuming that I would have to transfer trains (probably at New York Pennylvania Station, perhaps to the Cannonball.) at least once because there was not nor had there ever been through service to BOS from NFK prior to Amtrak's current Northeast Regional service.
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Re: Reservations And Ticketing - The Good Old Days

Postby gokeefe » Sat Mar 15, 2014 4:28 am

From the Sleeping Car Routings thread in the Boston & Maine/Maine Central forum comes this gem:

Statkowski wrote:Concerning the through service, it also included through ticketing. At Grand Central Terminal, New York, one could purchase a NH/B&M/MEC/SRRL ticket - it came perforated in four parts so that each railroad's conductor could collect his ticket.


I take the above to mean that there was actually special stock printed just for this routing.
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Re: Reservations And Ticketing - The Good Old Days

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sat Mar 15, 2014 6:23 am

While I'm not certain if the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes was a road party to AAR interline billings, the Interline Coupons were preprinted showing the end points of the intermediate roads, but the originating road and the ending road always showed blank to interchange point and v.v.

Of interest, I learned something once upon a time (try Dec 1963) that the CRIP-SP Golden State Route operational change occurred at Tucumcari NM, the actual interchange occurred at Santa Rosa; Santa Rosa was reflected on a Coupon Ticket for a Golden State journey.
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Re: Reservations And Ticketing - The Good Old Days

Postby gokeefe » Sat Mar 15, 2014 7:07 am

Gilbert B Norman wrote:While I'm not certain if the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes was a road party to AAR interline billings, the Interline Coupons were preprinted showing the end points of the intermediate roads, but the originating road and the ending road always showed blank to interchange point and v.v.


Mr. Norman,

In your post above is this a ticket that was assembled from separate coupons? The original post appeared to imply that the tickets were printed as a single sheet with perforations for each coupon, meaning that specific tickets were printed just for the route from New York (GCT) to the SR&RL. While in a digital era this seems unlikely I would imagine that in an age dominated by paper tickets (especially pre-Depression) this might not have been out of the question. Your thoughts?
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Re: Reservations And Ticketing - The Good Old Days

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sat Mar 15, 2014 10:01 am

Mr. O'Keefe, while I'm uncertain how any confusion arose, the coupon tickete were simply a long strip as we had previously noted.

I have searched without success to find an interline coupon ticket pictured on sites such as E-bay.
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