• Freight trains carrying passengers!?

  • General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.
General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

Moderators: mtuandrew, gprimr1

  by charlesriverbranch
A Great Northern Railway passenger train timetable dated January 15, 1951 includes this language:

Certain Freight Trains are Permitted to Carry Passengers Under the Following Conditions: Adult male passengers must hold regular passage tickets. This Company is not a common carrier of passengers by its freight trains and does not stop such trains at stations or station platforms except when the freight business of the road makes it necessary to do so. Person using such trains for passage assume all risk of injury or loss of time while riding on or getting to and from said trains. Women and children will not be carried on freight trains. Persons desirous of having their baggage accompany them on freight trains should deliver it at station and have it way-billed. Stock drovers, when in charge of stock and provided with proper transportation will be carried on train with such stock.

How common was that? Was it a policy peculiar to Great Northern? Where would passengers ride in a freight train?
  by Shortline614
Passengers could ride in the cabeese of Soo Line freight trains between Sault Ste. Marie, Rhinelander, and Neenah from the 1960s all the way up to 1986!
  by ExCon90
Many major railroads in the US and Canada operated so-called "mixed trains," largely in the rural Midwest, usually identified in the public timetables with a specific symbol (often a capital M in the train column). Passenger accommodations could be either an elderly baggage-passenger combine or just the caboose. The terms and conditions were as stated by the GN but rarely appeared in the timetable. Back in the late 1950's I rode in a wooden B&M combine (I think it even had open platforms) -- there was no caboose -- from Portsmouth or Rockingham to Manchester, NH, which had a potbellied stove for heat, since freight diesels had no steam generators and there was no means of passing steam from the engine through the freight cars anyway. I know that the Georgia Railroad operated mixed trains (even up until Amtrak?), using a streamlined, stainless-steel coach with the air-conditioning inoperative) because of a condition in its charter requiring passenger service.
  by John_Perkowski
Most railroads offered the opportunity for passengers to ride freight trains, subject to conditions. Do note the absolute waiver of liability.

Of corse, with cabooses gone now, this doesn’t happen any more.
  by R36 Combine Coach
"M"or "Mixed" appeared in column headers in the Official Guide. Most mixed service ran 1-3 times per week,
with specific days noted.

In addition to Georgia Railroad, Black River operated mixed service in the 1970s between Flemington and

Keewatin and Ontario Northland run the last true mixed services.
  by Allen Hazen
If I remember correctly (it has been a couple of decades since I read it), "Yeager" (the autobiography of Chuck Yeager) has a section by Glennis (his wife) recounting a trip she made to see him while he was in training during WW II. The railroad involved was the Western Pacific, and the train -- I don't know if it was officially a mixed or just a freight, but there was no convenient passenger train on the route -- was basically a freight train, and I think she rode in the caboose. Suggesting that the "men only" policy of the GN was not universal.
  by GWoodle
Depends on the route & the company. Mixed train could be 1 coach with a short cut of freight cars. You could compare the mixed to a short local bringing a few passengers to a mainline station. Coach would have to wait for the mixed to do local switching duties.

GBN may have some pictures of homebuilt MILW combine bag-mail-coach tacked onto branchline service.
  by west point
Norfolk & Western ran a mixed from Abington VA to west Jefferson NC both steam and diesel after 1957. Ran with a combine as mail carried as well. Unofficially could ride to / From Bristol VA to Abington.. Freight and mail all originated from Bristol yard. One time the route was snowed in due to a freak localized storm. over 4 feet + drifts on to tracks. Some other RR shipped a plow ( Wedge ??) to Bristol and N&W really put power to it but have no idea what.

Was known as the Virginia Creeper. The Diesels assigned for running the train were the few N&W bought set up to operate short nose forward due to extreme curves on route. (GP-9s DB )
  by Gilbert B Norman
Dig into some of the "amateur hour" (pre-Mike Schafer standards) Patrick Dorin books on Midwest railroading and you will fine photos of the MILW car Mr. Woodle notes.
  by ExCon90
If you get Classic Trains, the Winter 2021 issue (Vol. 22, issue 4) has a photo on page 26 of a typical mixed train on the N&W in 1954.