Amtrak vs. pre-Amtrak consists

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Amtrak vs. pre-Amtrak consists

Postby SouthernRailway » Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:56 pm

Out of curiosity:

Did typical long-distance trains before Amtrak have the same car order as Amtrak does:

Locomotive-baggage-sleepers-diner-lounge-coaches (or locomotive-coaches-lounge-diner-sleepers-baggage)

Or did different railroads do their car orders in varying ways? Or did they generally have sleeping cars at the rear of the train, with a separate first-class lounge at the very end?

Did pre-Amtrak long-distance trains have parlor car seating (or however the equivalent of Amtrak's business class would be named) in a car between the baggage car and sleepers--or anywhere?

Thanks.
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Re: Amtrak vs. pre-Amtrak consists

Postby GWoodle » Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:13 pm

Depends if the train was long or short distance. A day train carried all coaches with a diner & maybe a lounge. In the 1960's there4 could be an RPO & several mail & express cars at the head end. Some trains could tack on a baggage/mail car or 2 on the tail end for pickup or drop off. Into the late 1960's you could have a 3 car lounge/cafe/coach & 2 coach. Sometimes these trains were made to fit into a long distance schedule.
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Re: Amtrak vs. pre-Amtrak consists

Postby Ridgefielder » Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:31 pm

Some of what I guess you'd call "super-premium" trains (the 20th Century Limited, the Merchant's Limited) didn't carry a straight baggage car at all. Instead the lead car was a combination baggage/lounge.
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Re: Amtrak vs. pre-Amtrak consists

Postby ExCon90 » Tue Jan 02, 2018 2:49 pm

It's hard to generalize because there were many exceptions; however, for long-distance trains having both coaches and sleepers the most common practice was to have coaches on the head end and sleepers on the rear, with a diner (or two) in between. Some railroads went to considerable lengths to maintain this sequence, one example being PRR Train 575, the Northern Express, between Washington and Buffalo, with through coaches from New York to both Buffalo and Erie received at Harrisburg, with the Buffalo and Erie sleepers duly inserted among the sleepers from Washington, and the coaches among the coaches from Washington. On one trip, by my count I passed STATE tower 5 times (in my roomette) during the switching operation. At Emporium a similar exercise took place; as I recall the last coach and first two sleepers, destined to Erie, arrived coupled together in the center of 575 and thus could be switched out as a unit while the head-end cars were somehow switched out up forward to assemble the connecting train for Erie.
I'm pretty sure (subject to correction) that a major exception was NYC 50/51, the Empire State Express, with parlor cars on the head end and the observation car on the rear open to coach passengers. If there was a through parlor for Detroit as well as Cleveland, I believe they were together leaving New York and were switched separately from the coaches at Buffalo.
The SP had an interesting operation at San Jose on northbound Daylight Train 99: the parlor and parlor-obs were on the rear, behind the diner and coffee shop. I think just ahead of the coffee shop were through coaches for Oakland and one through coach which departed on the next Peninsula local for San Francisco--imagine a one-seat ride from Los Angeles and Glendale to any local station between San Jose and San Francisco. After those coaches were switched out, the train was reassembled and departed for San Francisco. The timetable allowed 12 minutes for the whole operation which surely must have required two station switchers at San Jose.
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Re: Amtrak vs. pre-Amtrak consists

Postby Tadman » Fri Jan 05, 2018 3:29 pm

ExCon90 wrote:On one trip, by my count I passed STATE tower 5 times (in my roomette) during the switching operation. At Emporium a similar exercise took place; as I recall the last coach and first two sleepers, destined to Erie, arrived coupled together in the center of 575 and thus could be switched out as a unit while the head-end cars were somehow switched out up forward to assemble the connecting train for Erie.


How the heck do you get any sleep during that song-and-dance? I realize a train is not a place for deep sleep, but you'd never get a wink on that train.
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Re: Amtrak vs. pre-Amtrak consists

Postby Greg Moore » Fri Jan 05, 2018 5:23 pm

Tadman wrote:
ExCon90 wrote:On one trip, by my count I passed STATE tower 5 times (in my roomette) during the switching operation. At Emporium a similar exercise took place; as I recall the last coach and first two sleepers, destined to Erie, arrived coupled together in the center of 575 and thus could be switched out as a unit while the head-end cars were somehow switched out up forward to assemble the connecting train for Erie.


How the heck do you get any sleep during that song-and-dance? I realize a train is not a place for deep sleep, but you'd never get a wink on that train.

Watcha talking about.. they were clearly attempting to rock him to sleep :-)
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Re: Amtrak vs. pre-Amtrak consists

Postby Tadman » Fri Jan 05, 2018 6:39 pm

Reminds me of a certain Don Rickles joke about a metaphorical barge docking in the night... yall can google it from here, I'm not going any further. The more grown-up mods might have something to say about that... have a Good Friday.
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Re: Amtrak vs. pre-Amtrak consists

Postby ExCon90 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:04 pm

Railfans were made of sterner stuff in those days. Plus, I didn't have to ask the porter to wake me at Emporium for the switching moves.
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