State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby eastwind » Tue Dec 17, 2013 10:09 pm

gokeefe wrote: Could we say that PINE TREE STATE and its peers were among the last if not the very last cars ordered new for passenger service to Maine?

Quite possibly.

According to The Official Pullman-Standard Library, Vol. 10 Northeast Railroads, in 1953 the New Haven Railroad ordered four 6-bedroom buffet lounge cars in the State series. The other three were: Bay State, Keystone State, and Nutmeg State. They were delivered in January 1955. The way I read the index in this book, they were the last sleepers built by Pullman-Standard for the New Haven. Whether they were ordered specifically for State of Maine service I do not know, but given the cars' names, it is a reasonable assumption.
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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby eastwind » Tue Dec 17, 2013 10:32 pm

The sleeper-buffet lounge cars were an ingenious solution to the problem of providing dining service on overnight runs that did not require a full 48-seat dining car. Late supper or nightcaps in the evening and breakfast in the morning were what these cars could offer. They seated 24. I remember having a hearty, to-order breakfast in a car like this on the Federal into Boston in the late '60s. Such cars were also used on the Bar Harbor to provide meal service to Rockland patrons while the full diner went on the longer Ellsworth section.

In the picture on the right, the passageway to the left of the bulkhead passed by the kitchen and led to the sleeping accommodations.
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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby gokeefe » Wed Dec 18, 2013 12:48 am

Thanks for the clarification on the sleeping cars. I had wondered why there would be a buffet area on trains that were likely equipped with a dining car. These really were very efficient cars.
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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby eastwind » Wed Dec 18, 2013 5:12 pm

gokeefe wrote: These really were very efficient cars.

They were indeed. Pullman had a hundred years' experience designing first-class passenger cars, and they knew how to squeeze the most out of every available square inch.

For the life of me I don't know why Amtrak doesn't adopt the design. But then, people don't eat like they used to.

I sometimes wonder, though: If better food service were available, would people use it? (I would.) Or have our expectations been lowered to where a bag of peanuts and a drink in a plastic cup are all one can look forward to? (One reason I dislike flying.)
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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby gokeefe » Thu Dec 19, 2013 4:39 am

eastwind wrote:For the life of me I don't know why Amtrak doesn't adopt the design. But then, people don't eat like they used to.


The same thought crossed my mind and I think the answer is fairly simple. Amtrak just doesn't do connecting Pullman (sleeper) service like the old railroads did. This car is fundamentally for a service that "runs-through". Almost all of Amtrak's sleeper service is "direct" or single line service where the cars always remain with the primary train.

Largely a guess on my part but that's my take on it.
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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby jbvb » Thu Dec 19, 2013 4:25 pm

Diner service was not common on the short trips usually found in northern New England. The B&M and the MEC between them only bought 4 lightweight diner/bar/lounges, the MEC sold theirs in 1952 and IIRC the B&M never had more than 6 serviceable diners after WWII. Parlor-buffets and buffet sleepers were assigned to trains operating through mealtimes where most passengers dined before or after the trip, not during it. You see this on Boston - Montreal, Boston -Troy and Boston - Bangor trains, in addition to the State of Maine and Connecticut River service.
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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby eastwind » Thu Dec 19, 2013 7:05 pm

gokeefe wrote:
eastwind wrote:For the life of me I don't know why Amtrak doesn't adopt the design. But then, people don't eat like they used to.


The same thought crossed my mind and I think the answer is fairly simple. Amtrak just doesn't do connecting Pullman (sleeper) service like the old railroads did. This car is fundamentally for a service that "runs-through". Almost all of Amtrak's sleeper service is "direct" or single line service where the cars always remain with the primary train.

Largely a guess on my part but that's my take on it.

Right. And since Amtrak is now pretty much confined to routes of 750 miles or more, that means trip times of at least 12 hours and a lot of hungry passengers at some point, so full diners on those routes.

A trip from Washington to Bangor on the Bar Harbor was 741.9 rail miles. You'd have to go all the way to Ellsworth (771.1 miles) to meet the 750-mile requirement. There were full dining cars on both ends of that route (Washington-Philadelphia-New Haven and Portland-Ellsworth).

A route such as the Gull at 454.1 miles, leaving Boston at 9:30 pm and arriving Saint John at 11:15 am, would need to provide only breakfast service, which they did by stopping at McAdam for 30 minutes. Except for the parlor-buffet car added to the consist in the last years of its life, I see little evidence that meal service was ever offered on that train. It really wasn't needed.

The State of Maine left New York around 9:00 pm and arrived in Portland around 6:45 am (with minor variations over the years), a trip of 376.4 miles. There really was no need to provide any kind of meal service, except that for passengers connecting at Portland for points north, there was little time to run into the station for breakfast before the connecting trains left, so breakfast service into Portland was needed, for some of the passengers. Hence the sleeper-buffet car on that train.

I remember reading in some Maine Central report that thrifty New Englanders were reluctant to pay the prices charged for meals in the dining cars. For a trip of only four or five hours, even I might bring along my own sandwiches. But to be required to because there is no alternative? I always looked forward to dining on the New Haven, even though the Boston-New York trip was only four and a half hours, because the food was so good and the unobstructed views out the windows were so much better than in the coaches or even the parlor cars. Heck, I even used to visit the diner on New York-Philadelphia trips, just for the delight of a Pennsy meal. It was nice to be able to get up, stretch my legs, and go somewhere else in the train instead of being more or less obligated to stay put! "Room to roam" is the way an early Amtrak ad described it. You don't get that in a bus or a plane. But if there's really nowhere special to roam to....

The Downeaster has the right idea with its food service. The trip is short and a dining car is not needed. But I did appreciate being able to get a decent hot lunch when I took the afternoon trip to Boston. I'm sorry, but I don't consider a bag of chips and a microwaved slice of pizza "food." (Gawd, I'm so out of touch :-)),

My point is, for shorter overnight trips, the sleeper-buffet concept is ideal. I'm sure there's a market for overnight service Cleveland-Washington or Pittsburgh-New York, say. There used to be. But until somebody gets this kind of overnight trip running, you're right, Amtrak has no need for "buffet" cars. I have thought, however, that one of these cars on the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited would provide that train's relatively few sleeping car patrons (not to mention the coach passengers) something better than what they can get at mealtimes nowadays, without tying up a dining car (actually, two).

--eastwind
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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby edbear » Thu Dec 19, 2013 8:53 pm

Was the meal service in those sleeper lounges available to passengers or just Pullman passengers? I checked a 1958 Official Guide and the Red Wing's sleeper lounge was open only to sleeping car passengers (it had a different configuration than the 6 DBR lightweights). However, there is no such notation for the State of Maine or Washingtonian/Montrealer lounge sleepers. However, these trains ran with 3 or 4 Pullmans and the crew may have rigidly enforced a separation of coach passengers from sleeping car passengers. When the B & M/MEC offered their own parlor service, on older hw cars bought from Pullman about 1940, they sometimes offered meal and beverage service to all passengers in the lounge on cars that had a lounge. Even here there was probably a rigid separation between passengers paying the parlor fare and those paying coach. On the Conn. River the parlors were Pullman operated until given up in the mid-1950s. At least one broiler-buffet parlor operated NYG to WRJ, extended through to Berlin from NYG to Sat. return Mon. from May to October. Somewhere I read, probably in the timetable fine print, there was a notation that anyone could eat in the buffet section but for the distance spent in the buffet, the passenger had to pay the additional Pullman charge, over the coach rate, for the distance covered.
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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby jbvb » Fri Dec 20, 2013 11:43 am

Per timetable scrutiny and eyewitness reports found on BM_RR@yahoogroups.com, in the 1950s usually all passengers could eat in parlor-buffets and sleeper-buffets. I expect the sleeper passengers got priority, and there were some trains which were exceptions.
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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby Watchman318 » Fri Dec 20, 2013 2:08 pm

eastwind wrote:The Downeaster has the right idea with its food service. The trip is short and a dining car is not needed. But I did appreciate being able to get a decent hot lunch when I took the afternoon trip to Boston. I'm sorry, but I don't consider a bag of chips and a microwaved slice of pizza "food." (Gawd, I'm so out of touch :-)),
I was thinking it was Lewis Grizzard who said something about preferring microwaved Amtrak fare over anything the airlines might serve, but I think Lewis was even more particular about "travel food." He'd probably either have held out for a Southern (Railway)-style diner meal, or gone hungry.
Regardless of who made the comment, I'd have to agree, and not just because I dislike air travel.

Back to original topic. ;-)
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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby eastwind » Fri Dec 20, 2013 4:11 pm

edbear wrote: Somewhere I read, probably in the timetable fine print, there was a notation that anyone could eat in the buffet section but for the distance spent in the buffet, the passenger had to pay the additional Pullman charge, over the coach rate, for the distance covered.

Man, that's a new one on me. Am I right in thinking it must have been pre-war (maybe even pre-WWI)? I wonder how much the charge would have been...a dollar? A lot of money in those days.
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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby eastwind » Fri Dec 20, 2013 4:30 pm

Watchman318 wrote: I think Lewis was even more particular about "travel food." He'd probably either have held out for a Southern (Railway)-style diner meal, or gone hungry.

Oh, I had one of those once....

I have such fond memories, no wonder I'm cranky nowadays. :-)

What do you think would be the chances of a real lobster dinner on a revived State of Maine or Bar Harbor? I'd pay almost anything and ride the train just for that.
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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby eastwind » Fri Dec 20, 2013 10:40 pm

eastwind wrote: I have thought, however, that one of these cars on the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited would provide that train's relatively few sleeping car patrons (not to mention the coach passengers) something better than what they can get at mealtimes nowadays, without tying up a dining car (actually, two).

I have also thought that a similar car on the Federal (or Night Owl or whatever Amtrak may decide to name it, if it decides to give the train a name again at all) overnight between Newport News-Washington-Boston would be nice, if that train again receives sleeping cars as some have conjectured. And sharing a Boston terminal with the LSL might provide a way to rotate cars on both lines for better utilization or maintenance.

But I digress...
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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby eastwind » Wed Dec 25, 2013 7:24 pm

I've come across a post in the Boston & Maine Yahoo! group that has extensive information about the Gull. These are personal recollections by Donald H. "Don" Scott, covering the years 1937 to end of service in 1960.
There's a lot of information about the train, what motive power was assigned to it, what equipment it carried, the head-end traffic, and so forth. I learned much I never knew before.

Here's the link: http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/BM_RR/conversations/topics/30291. Click on the title to expand the post.
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Re: State of Maine - The Gull (B&M/MEC LD Passenger Service)

Postby gokeefe » Sat Dec 28, 2013 2:26 pm

Very interesting information! Thanks!

I remain surprised by both the extent of this service and the typical train consists especially the fact that it ran without the benefit of a diner over such great distances.
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