Penn Central Intercity Passenger Service

Discussion relating to the Penn Central, up until its 1976 inclusion in Conrail. Visit the Penn Central Railroad Historical Society for more information.

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Re: Penn Central Intercity Passenger Service

Postby Dieter » Fri May 22, 2009 1:15 pm

wdburt1 wrote:Noel, I respect your experience and your comments, but they are not backed up by many of the comments on this forum. My own lousy experiences between Buffalo and GCT, detailed on Page 1 of the thread, were on an Empire Service train (hostile trainmen, too hot or too cold, holes in the coach floor emanating steam, flooded bathrooms, etc.) in 1971. I have to say that Perlman's commitment to quality service on this route, which I would like to believe was made in good faith, was undercut by bankruptcy and all that followed.

WDB


I have to agree with this, and I'm left scratching my head. Please note though, that we have no reason to doubt Noel's experiences. We just weren't on the same runs at the same times. I saw a Penn Central train at Harmon one AM in 69, it was smooth side passenger cars in that oddball Jade Green scheme with red lettering, it was the only one I saw and I wondered if it was a train from Chicago because it had the works (sleepers, diners, and an OBS). It was the only train I saw on that line since probably 1965 where the paint scheme and car types were UNIFORM.

As far as comfort, I never saw anything on Penn Central that I would consider properly maintained, as I had come to expect on Canadian National and later on VIA. My parents used to tell me NOT to put my head back on the headrest even if it had a cover. I hadn't thought about it before, and the first few times I checked out the headrest cover, it was pretty gross and clearly hadn't been changed/washed in some time. Every trip on Penn Central that I had, something didn't work, and either the Conductor couldn't get it to work, OR the surly crotch would snap some nasty comment and not bother with it. Always it seemed at issue was the failure of one of the "Big Three";

1) Lights
2) Heat
3) AC

I think the first thing Penn Central gave up on maintaining was the windowshades, which were pretty much torn out by 1971. Next to go was the individual light toggles, removed to standard lighting controlled by ONE breaker in the end closet.

Noel, I wish I had some of your better rides among my memories. You should consider yourself fortunate compared to some of us riding the rails at that time.

D/
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Re: Penn Central Intercity Passenger Service

Postby Noel Weaver » Sat May 23, 2009 1:49 am

I never said that all of the Penn Central passenger trains were good, not all of them were.
As for the New York State service, the New York Central wanted to cut their service and Perlman made a promise to New
York State that if they would allow the cuts to take place without opposition from New York, he in return would run a decent
corridor type operatilon between New York - Albany and Buffalo. In my opinion Perlman kept his part of the bargain and this
continued into the Penn Central period. I rode these trains a good number of times between 1968 and 1971 prior to Amtrak
and they were very decent to ride. The coaches were mostly Pullman Standard cars from the 3000 and 3100 series that were
thoroughly rebuilt with new AC equipment, new upholstery on the seats and much more. After the work was finished the
rebuilt cars were renumbered to the 3600 series and the coaches with snack bars renumbered to the 3200 series.
The Budd built coaches in the 2900 series were not rebuilt to this extant but they were very decent cars to ride in, some of
them remained on the two or three trains that operated through from New York to points west of Buffalo and also on various
trains on lines west.
The cars that remained and were not rebuilt for the Empire Service (it was called that at the time) were generally rebuilt for
commuter service in time but I don't recall exactly when this took place.
The New York Central cut their passenger loses but they still provided decent service in New York State between New York -
Albany and Buffalo and this carried over into Penn Central.
In the north east corridor and other places on the former Pennsylvania, it was a different story and I am not going to get
into that. Some of the trains on the New York Central side west of Buffalo were not as good either.
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Re: Penn Central Intercity Passenger Service

Postby Dieter » Sat May 23, 2009 11:37 am

Noel, I don't think anybody meant that you inferred that ALL PC Trains were good --

What's got some of us scratching our heads is that anybody can say there were ANY GOOD PC TRAINS at all.

My experience with riding Penn Central was exclusively in New York State, so that was Empire Service and pooled gear with D&H, on the run to Montreal. I would have to imagine that riding PC on the Pennsylvania Railroad territory was likely a vastly different experience, especially in light of the stories from workers.

Those stories being how "all the good equipment was taken off the Central and taken into PRR territory.". I have to say I don't recall EVER seeing any Pennsylvania passenger cars mixed in on the Hudson, but on The Corridor, I saw NYC lounges and diners aplenty. PRR "Won The War", but I did hear people complain to me they thought The Broadway Limited was dirty in the years before Amtrak, I don't know from my own experience. I used to hear people say they preferred "The Water Level Route" on overnight trains because they thought they were getting tossed about in their berths in the mountains in Pennsylvania. It's all a mixed bag, I guess it depended on where people were and what equipment was available. You know, I have one friend who began with Penn Central in Harmon Shop, worked for Conrail, Metropolitain Transit Authority and finally Metro North. He SWEARS that Penn Central was the BEST outfit he EVER worked for.
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Re: Penn Central Intercity Passenger Service

Postby scoostraw » Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:35 pm

I used to ride the Hudson Division sometimes in the very early years of Amtrak ('72-'74). The only thing to my eyes that made it an Amtrak train to my eyes was the new paper headrest covers on the seat backs. I remember thinking even then "Is that it? Is that all they're going to do??".

One thing that I vividly remember is the sorry condition of the track. By the end of PC, things had deteriorated so much that it was impossible to ignore. At one point on the line the train had to slow - to what felt like 5mph - to pass over a portion of trackage that caused the train to list sharply toward the river. I have never ridden any train before or since that tilted that far. It really felt like you were going to tip over.

Noel (or anyone else) do you recall this slow-ordered portion of the line?
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Re: Penn Central Intercity Passenger Service

Postby Noel Weaver » Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:30 am

scoostraw wrote:I used to ride the Hudson Division sometimes in the very early years of Amtrak ('72-'74). The only thing to my eyes that made it an Amtrak train to my eyes was the new paper headrest covers on the seat backs. I remember thinking even then "Is that it? Is that all they're going to do??".

One thing that I vividly remember is the sorry condition of the track. By the end of PC, things had deteriorated so much that it was impossible to ignore. At one point on the line the train had to slow - to what felt like 5mph - to pass over a portion of trackage that caused the train to list sharply toward the river. I have never ridden any train before or since that tilted that far. It really felt like you were going to tip over.

Noel (or anyone else) do you recall this slow-ordered portion of the line?


The Hudson was maintained to a reasonable degree even in Penn Central days. By the early to mid 70's outside money was starting to be made available and some of it went to track work. I don't remember any really bad spots and although I was not working the Hudson at that time, I did ride over it frequently.
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Re: Penn Central Intercity Passenger Service

Postby TCurtin » Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:10 pm

John Laubenheimer wrote:
After the summer of 1970, the BROADWAY's sleeper complement was reduced to a 6 DBR lounge (usually a FALL-series car, sometimes a STREAM-series car), and a couple of 10-6s (whatever could roll, but usually stainless steel). The twin diners were replaced by ex-NYC cars. By the time I rode again, AMTRAK had taken over.

This is interesting --- Your recollection implies that the ex-PRR twin diner remained in service on the PC's BROADWAY through the summer of 1970? And through the summer of 1970 there were more sleepers than the 6BR-lounge and couple of 10 & 6's that you mention? I ask this because I have a long time interest in passenger train consists, and that sounds nicer than I would have expected in that period. In fact while I'm on this, can somebody list what the BROADWAY consist was then, i.e., in the summer of 1970 and then after the summer of 1970.
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Re: Penn Central Intercity Passenger Service

Postby Noel Weaver » Fri Aug 31, 2012 2:23 am

With regard to the sleeping cars on the Broadway (and other east - west trains of the period), I seem to think that at least a few of the New Haven Point Series 14-4 sleeping cars also wound up running between New York and Chicago. There were way more of them than the New Haven service required and by then it was all one railraod anyway. I remember seeing New Haven or former New Haven sleepers in Chicago and I might even have a picture or two of them there.
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Re: Penn Central Intercity Passenger Service

Postby John Laubenheimer » Fri Aug 31, 2012 3:02 pm

TCurtin wrote:
John Laubenheimer wrote:
After the summer of 1970, the BROADWAY's sleeper complement was reduced to a 6 DBR lounge (usually a FALL-series car, sometimes a STREAM-series car), and a couple of 10-6s (whatever could roll, but usually stainless steel). The twin diners were replaced by ex-NYC cars. By the time I rode again, AMTRAK had taken over.

This is interesting --- Your recollection implies that the ex-PRR twin diner remained in service on the PC's BROADWAY through the summer of 1970? And through the summer of 1970 there were more sleepers than the 6BR-lounge and couple of 10 & 6's that you mention? I ask this because I have a long time interest in passenger train consists, and that sounds nicer than I would have expected in that period. In fact while I'm on this, can somebody list what the BROADWAY consist was then, i.e., in the summer of 1970 and then after the summer of 1970.


A typical consist for the BROADWAY LIMITED from mid-1968 (after the Washington thru cars were dropped) up through the summer of 1970:

1 GG-1 Penn Station-Harrisburg
3 E-7/E-8 Harrisburg-Chicago
1 Baggage (usually ex-PRR heavyweight, occasionally ex-NYC)
2 10 Rmt-6 DBR (usually ex-PRR RAPIDS, but could be anything similar from the PC fleet)
1 12 Duplex-4 DBR (ex-PRR CREEK)
1 4 Comp-4 DBR-2 DR (ex-PRR IMPERIAL)
1 5 DBR-Buffet Lounge (ex-PRR HARBOR, although ex-PRR FALLS or ex-NYC STREAM could fill in)
1 Twin Diner (ex-PRR Budd, dining room forward, kitchen-dormitory rear)
1 Coach-Lounge (ex-D&RGW, although an ex-NYC could fill in)
3 Coaches (usually ex-UP 44 seat, but could be anything from the PC fleet)
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Re: Penn Central Intercity Passenger Service

Postby John Laubenheimer » Fri Aug 31, 2012 3:15 pm

Noel Weaver wrote:With regard to the sleeping cars on the Broadway (and other east - west trains of the period), I seem to think that at least a few of the New Haven Point Series 14-4 sleeping cars also wound up running between New York and Chicago. There were way more of them than the New Haven service required and by then it was all one railraod anyway. I remember seeing New Haven or former New Haven sleepers in Chicago and I might even have a picture or two of them there.
Noel Weaver


Some of the ex-NH 6 Rmt-6 Sec-4 DBR (BEACH-series, IIRC) ran on the ghost of the CENTURY (61-27 and 28-62) as sleeper-dormitory cars, toward the end of the pre-AMTRAK days. Out of GCT, a typical consist would be:

1 CUT motor (GCT-Croton Harmon)
2 E-7/E-8 (Croton-Harmon-Chicago)
1 Baggage (ex-NYC)
1 6 Rmt-6 Sec-4 DBR (ex-NH)
1 10 Rmt-6 DBR (ex-NYC VALLEY-series or similar, could be ex-PRR any 10-6 or ex-NH 14-4)
1 Sleepercoach (ex-NYC 16-10)
1 Diner (ex-NYC)
1 Lounge (ex-NYC ... not quite sure about this one)
3 Coaches (ex-NYC, could by 56-seat Budd or 64-seat PS)
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Re: Penn Central Intercity Passenger Service

Postby eastwind » Sat Sep 01, 2012 7:27 pm

Dieter wrote: I have to say I don't recall EVER seeing any Pennsylvania passenger cars mixed in on the Hudson

I do. I went to Grand Central one winter's evening in about 1969 (not sure of the year; I'd have to dig long and hard to see if I still have the ticket stubs from that trip) to board the overnight train to Detroit (and everywhere else) to go visit my sister. I had booked in the Slumbercoach, as I was still on a student budget. At the check-in desk, to my surprise, the conductor rewrote my ticket for a Roomette in a substitute car. When I got up the platform to the car, I was ecstatic to discover that the replacement was a Pennsy sleeper, still in its original colors. The "Tuscan reds" had the reputation among my railfan friends of being nicer than the run-down New York Central cars, whether that reputation was merited or not.

In this case, it wasn't. Somewhere in Ontario I awoke at dawn in a freezing roomette. I stayed under the covers as long as I could, and then dressed hurriedly to keep from shivering any longer. I went into another car that had heat and stayed there until it was time to go back and get my suitcase. When we arrived in Detroit, I was shocked by the cavernous old Michigan Central station, which was occupied by more pigeons than passengers. When I finally spotted my brother-in-law who had come to pick me up, I couldn't wait to get out of there. Creepy. And sad.

eastwind

P.S. I, too, remember seeing New Haven sleepers in Chicago and being struck by how out-of-place they looked.
Formerly of Pittsfield and Waterville (Maine), New York City, Montréal, and San Francisco.
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Re:

Postby jhdeasy » Tue Oct 23, 2012 10:36 pm

Tadman wrote:I don't remember any PC and hardly remember D&H, but all the pics I see show shiny PA's and rebuilt NYDOT coaches - was this just a front?


The shiny Alco PA locomotives and passenger cars you see in those pics were D&H equipment rebuilt with NYDOT funds that operated between New York GCT, Albany-Rensselaer and Montreal Windsor Station on the Amtrak Adirondack between 1974 (when the service was inaugurated) and 1977 (when the train was converted to Amfleet or Turboliner equipment). After 1977, the rebuilt D&H coaches and the two D&H diner-lounge cars were leased by MTA and re-assigned to their Hudson and Harlem line commuter trains, so that the NYDOT investment in these cars could continue to benefit New York commuter passengers. Here are a few pics of these cars from either Amtrak Adirondack or MTA commuter service.

D&H 31 AUSABLE RIVER http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=488083

D&H 33 SCHROON LAKE http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=488082

D&H 41 SARATOGA INN http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=874631

D&H 42 ADIRONDACK LODGE http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPictur ... id=1055109

D&H 205 FORT TICONDEROGA http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=492741

These D&H cars were a lot nicer than the typical former PC coaches used in Hudson & Harlem line service, but eventually the lack of proper maintenance had its adverse impact on these cars.

I should also mention that from time to time, in the 1974-1977 era, PC commuter coaches operated on Amtrak's Adirondack when either a regularly assigned D&H coach or one of Amtrak's x-NYC 64 seat Empire Service coaches was bad-ordered at GCT. At times in those situations, D&H would add one of their own coaches at Rensselaer, so passengers did not have to ride in PC "junk" between Rensselaer and Montreal.
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Re: Penn Central Intercity Passenger Service

Postby scoostraw » Tue Oct 23, 2012 10:54 pm

That was a real waste of some really nice cars - putting them in commuter service like that and letting them rot.
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Re: Penn Central Intercity Passenger Service

Postby Noel Weaver » Sun Oct 28, 2012 9:56 pm

scoostraw wrote:That was a real waste of some really nice cars - putting them in commuter service like that and letting them rot.


Not really, the cars were no longer needed for long distance trains and most of them were not worn out at least mechanically. The cars they replaced were good commuter cars but many of them were worn out and they were also obselete. This move helped save the New York commuter services until the state finally got involved with needed financial assistance. The move also extended the life of these cars by quite a few years.
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Re: Penn Central Intercity Passenger Service

Postby Ken S. » Sun Oct 28, 2012 10:44 pm

Noel Weaver wrote:
scoostraw wrote:That was a real waste of some really nice cars - putting them in commuter service like that and letting them rot.


Not really, the cars were no longer needed for long distance trains and most of them were not worn out at least mechanically. The cars they replaced were good commuter cars but many of them were worn out and they were also obsolete. This move helped save the New York commuter services until the state finally got involved with needed financial assistance. The move also extended the life of these cars by quite a few years.
Noel Weaver


The state was already involved with the PC commuter services at the time the D&H cars were added to the pool via the MTA. The M-1As and M-2s pre-dated the D&H equipment overhauls. NYSDOT IMO, should have seen about transferring title to some FL-9s to the D&H and including them in the overhaul. D&H Warbonnet would probably have looked better on the FL-9s then faded PC colors.

Of course PC passenger service on my layout is nothing more then a PC GP-38 or Black Amtrak RS-3 pulling 2-3 coaches and a Tavern-Obs if the passengers are lucky and the Tavern car isn't bad-ordered.
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Re: Penn Central Intercity Passenger Service

Postby Noel Weaver » Mon Oct 29, 2012 6:20 pm

Ken S. wrote:
Noel Weaver wrote:
scoostraw wrote:That was a real waste of some really nice cars - putting them in commuter service like that and letting them rot.


Not really, the cars were no longer needed for long distance trains and most of them were not worn out at least mechanically. The cars they replaced were good commuter cars but many of them were worn out and they were also obsolete. This move helped save the New York commuter services until the state finally got involved with needed financial assistance. The move also extended the life of these cars by quite a few years.
Noel Weaver


The state was already involved with the PC commuter services at the time the D&H cars were added to the pool via the MTA. The M-1As and M-2s pre-dated the D&H equipment overhauls. NYSDOT IMO, should have seen about transferring title to some FL-9s to the D&H and including them in the overhaul. D&H Warbonnet would probably have looked better on the FL-9s then faded PC colors.

Of course PC passenger service on my layout is nothing more then a PC GP-38 or Black Amtrak RS-3 pulling 2-3 coaches and a Tavern-Obs if the passengers are lucky and the Tavern car isn't bad-ordered.


The conversion began under the Penn Central and long before the D & H cars came in to the picture. There were not enough D & H cars to really help either. For the most part it was all a stop gap measure to help until enough state and federal money came through to really do what was needed.
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