• Pre-Amtrak RDC Discussion

  • Discussion about RDC's, "doodlebugs," gas-electrics, etc.
Discussion about RDC's, "doodlebugs," gas-electrics, etc.
  by Alcochaser
The B&O despite being super cash strapped, did it's best to provide a high level of courteous service until the end.

Southern was obvious.... as they kept their train until 1978.

The B&M however drove everyone off by using nothing buy RDC cars for EVERYTHING. Even long distance runs with the typical bad seats those things had.
  by bdawe
Ya know, I hardly ever hear anything bad about RDC except for those that served long service in North Eastern commuter operations.
  by Tadman
Good point, both B&O and WP had very long RDC runs. Perhaps it was just B&M cheaping out on the seats? I have never heard anything good about B&M passenger service. In fact, the only thing I have ever heard, good or bad, is that Trapper John (of M*A*S*H and Trapper John, MD fame) was so nicknamed because he "trapped" a woman on a B&M train and got a bit frisky in a vestibule or baggage car.
  by Backshophoss
Most NY Central RDC seating was the "flipback" type used on commuter equipment back then,has some kind of cushioning filler material.
Except when on bad track was OK to sit on. The only non "flipback" seats were at the bulkheads at the center and ends of the car.
Believe WP and B&O used seats that were the same type on LD coaches.
  by Alcochaser
Boston and Maine RDCs had the flipbacks.
http://www.bedforddepot.org/060609/0606 ... os.004.jpg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.bedforddepot.org/060609/0606 ... os.005.jpg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

B&M went to the extreme with the RDCs, they bought every single type except the RDC4. They had around a hundred of them. WP and B&O had comparatively less (20ish?)
B&M literally unloaded the entire locomotive hauled fleet for RDCs, all of which had flip backs, and none of which had food service.
(The exception being a screwball FM powered early talgo train)

The corrupt exec then sold off the locomotive hauled passenger cars and got illegal kickbacks for doing so.
  by bdawe
But is there anything wrong with that in principle? RDCs are faster than locomotive hauled trains, cheaper to operate for short trains, and seem to be appropriate for the services that the B&M was operating, no?
  by Backshophoss
Over time the B&M let maintaince slip on the RDC fleet,to the point that the RDC's were towed by freight Geeps.
Believe in some cases they just let them wear out to the point of failure.

Good discussion in progress here about the pre-Amtrak era before "A day"...
(May 1, 1971 for those who may not be familiar)
This is a way to look back and remember what rail travel was like back then.
The comparison with current day airline travel was interesting...

Anyone who remembers MBTA Commuter Rail service back in the mid 1980s (especially the
North Station routes) remember the "collection" of RDCs that the MBTA had from multiple
railroads along with the former B&M fleet and that they were primarily hauled in push-pull
trains with a locomotive. Some of those cars ended up as "Boise Budds" being converted
into straight coaches. Short trains or those with lower ridership were good for RDCs.

  by Gilbert B Norman
bdawe wrote:Ya know, I hardly ever hear anything bad about RDC.....
Well Mr. Dawe, you're now about to.

Sit end car to avoid listening to the engines and you got the rough ride all too prevalent on A-Day Eve. Sit center car and you "listened to the music".

For a railroad's MofE budget, each of those cars was a locomotive for required inspections. For the passenger the seats were "flipbacks"; although some on several roads were "high backs".

I never rode runs such as the B&O Wash-Pgh, but it must have been a noisy experience over the Alleghenies. Nor did I, or would I, ride the Western Pacific "local" - even if I know some "economical" fans back then who reveled in that kind of masochism. I did ride a 1961 fan trip (where I first met Mr. Weaver) Jersey City-Scranton which be it assured was enough.

I think, aside from some experiments such as the Chi-Dubuque "Black Hawk" and the more suitable NHV-SPF shuttle, Amtrak avoided any commitment to such equipment.

The economies were one thing for a road required to operate a steam powered two car branch line run, but Amtrak has never been compelled to operate any of such (even though some "far out nutcase fans" thought post-A-Day that if it ran during 1951, then Amtrak should restore the service).
  by ExCon90
And while it is true that most B&M service was commuter, they did have some longer trips: Boston-Montreal and--for a while--Boston-Troy, later cut back; also, the Gull, overnight from Halifax, was terminated at Portland on the MEC, where passengers transferred to RDCs with the same flipback (which I've also heard referred to as razorback) seats as all the others. My recollections of RDC's on the B&M and elsewhere is that if you had a sense of smell you were never in any doubt about the means of propulsion--that also could become wearisome on a long trip. With all that, for commuter service the RDCs were a huge step up from what they replaced (rendering them irrelevant for intercity service).
  by bdawe
what was wrong with the seats? just uncomfortable, or just not suited to intercity service?
  by ExCon90
Some were quite comfortable for short periods, especially those with high backs--it was largely a matter of how long you had to sit in them. It should probably be added that the seats were entirely comparable to seats in ordinary (non-reclining-seat) coaches of the mid-20th century.
  by Backshophoss
The seats were OK for commuter runs,not for long distance/all day type runs,at/around the half day point,
comfort disappears
  by oamundsen
Probably about 1962, when I was in collage near Boston and "commuted" on weekends to Riverside, CT, for some odd reason my roommate, who also lived down that way, and I decided to take "The Airline Route" from Stamford, CT to Boston via Springfield, MA instead of the Shoreline Route. In Springfield we transferred from regular couch to an RDC for a very exciting ride across Massachusetts on a fall night over some really rough track. It was a fast trip and we met some interesting people but it did demonstrate to me why those cars were not too good to the passenger for a long haul. I do not know the numbers of passengers the B&M hauled in and out of North Station when they had that massive fleet of RDC's, and it would be interesting to know how today's traffic is into that station comparatively.
  by Allen Hazen
Interested in your recollections! (I lived in New York but had family in Connecticut as a child, so have memories of New Haven services-- including Budd "Highliners," as I think RDC were called on the New Haven--in the 1950s and 1960s.)
Couple of questions (my memories of those days are old enough that I want to check with other people).
-- Are you sure that New Haven -> Springfield -> Boston was called the "Airline" route? I remember it as being the "Inland" route. ("Airline route," in Connecticut railroad parlance, was a -- more direct looking on a map -- route that went north-east from New Haven, mostly on track long since abandoned, though I think the existing freight route from New Haven to Middletown CT was part of it.)
-- A lot of the discussion so far on this string has been of Boston and Maine RDC service. Springfield to Boston as part of the Inland Route would have been on the Boston and Albany… which was a New York Central subsidiary, and so might have used NYC Budd cars(*). Or was there a more devious way of getting from Springfield to Boston using B&M?

(*) I have read that the NY Central did use its Budd cars on the B&A. I think that was where the NYC discovered that the Budds, which were fairly light in weight, didn't reliably activate track circuits: so the NYC installed tread brakes on them, replacing or supplementing the disc brakes they were delivered with, so that friction of the brake shoes on the wheel treads would scrape rust off them, and so make them better electrical conductors for the signal-activating track circuits.