• Revenue sharing joint trains pre-Amtrak

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

Moderators: mtuandrew, gprimr1

  by urr304
On another forum, a question arose how revenue was dispersed on the jointly operated trains pre-Amtrak. Trains that had equipment contributed to it by the different lines involved: specifically the Florida trains from the North, like the Silver Meteor, or South Wind, and others. How was space sold through the cars, first come-first served or were cars sold by individual companies? How about non-revenue cars: diners, lounges?

I believe it was first come-first available-first sold, but wanted details before answering.

I suppose Mr.Norman could answer very well, others are invited to contribute too.
  by electricron
I would hazard to suggest a third company was involved in collecting the fares and distributing any profits for these long distance sleeper trains, ie The Pullman Company.
  by JimBoylan
Selling could be even more complicated for North - South trains, if racial segregation was practiced.
Some railroads in some years assigned certain spaces to busy stations for sale, with unsold spaces to be returned, yielded, or sent down the line a short time before departure. This was part of a delicate balance to reduce telegrams and phone calls to a central reservation bureau.
  by urr304
Not getting into the Jim Crow stuff, read about PRR allowing any seating but at DC, other southern railway connections seating became segregated.

I was wondering about division of revenue for coaches, undersatnd Pullman would work separately.
  by ExCon90
Revenue from fares and assignment of equipment were separate issues.

Allocation of revenue from through fares involving several railroads would theoretically be agreed upon by the participating railroads; if they were unable to agree, as was usually the case, they would bring the matter before the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), which would make the final decision after an administrative proceeding involving many months and many lawyers. The originating carrier issued a through ticket having a coupon for -- in most cases -- each railroad participating in the route (there's a thread on those tickets on here somewhere, but I can't remember on which forum). Each coupon would be collected ("lifted" in railspeak) by the conductor of each railroad involved, for which each railroad would receive its share from the originating railroad, which had collected the total cost of the ticket from the passenger. The matter of interline divisions was a whole subset of railroad accounting, and if you have a chance to look through an Official Guide from prior to 1960 or so you'll see listed among the officers of the major railroads a Manager, Divisions or some such who headed a whole department devoted to keeping track of all that.

In general, space in coaches (if reservations were even required) was assigned regardless of equipment ownership, although some assignments might be determined by the passenger's origin and destination. Pullman space was assigned by railroad employees as directed by the Pullman Company, which owned the cars (until later years, and let's not get into that just now) and staffed them with its own employees. In the case of prestige trains in demand by industrial traffic managers who controlled the routing of valuable freight movements, a certain number of bedrooms, compartments, or drawing rooms might be held off sale to enable the railroad controlling the assignments to accommodate last-minute VIPs. Generally, a railroad owning a particular car would be compensated by each railroad over which the car traveled (specifically whichever railroad had it at midnight each day).
Individual railroads could make mutual arrangements -- for example, the PRR and New Haven ran four daily trains between Washington and Boston: the Colonial and the Patriot had mostly NH equipment, while the Senator and the Federal had mostly PRR, and they may have had their own bilateral agreement; the dining- and club car on-board employees worked through and were paid by their respective employers, who I believe received all the revenue from meals and refreshments served, regardless of where the train was when the check was paid. As far as I know the same situation prevailed on trains such as the City of San Francisco and the California Zephyr, where six trainsets were required, with a dining car provided by one railroad on today's departure and another on tomorrow's, etc.
  by eolesen
That's correct. The last major IT project I worked on involved an airline revenue accounting system, and it's amazing how the same processes have persisted over almost 100 years, thanks to how they were already established by the railroads.

Proration of fares is embedded in the passenger tariff, and just as there is with freight waybills, each railroad's lifted coupons would be settled out on a monthly basis via a neutral clearinghouse.

Sales would be handled thru each railroad's traffic offices, with inventory being communicated via telegraph/teletype and later telephone. Where there was a large enough regular volume of connecting traffic, some railroads would give an allocation to the other railroad to sell which would later be released back to the operating railroad closer to day of departure. Anything above the allocation (e.g. a group movement) would be confirmed between the respective traffic offices before releasing it for ticketing.
  by urr304
Thank you, that is the background information I was looking for. Also, as you mentioned trains with reserved space; coach or Pullman; had reserved sales for downline stations held until a predetermined time usually train time at those stations but sometimes earlier.

I seen in older timetables that food service on some of the joint City trains were divide among the particpants, while other trains had the same service cars.
  by JimBoylan
And then there was the allocation of and accounting for locomotives, fuel, and operating crews, if they weren't changed at every junction.
In the early 1960s, there were 3 weekday round trip trains between Philadelphia and Jersey City via the Reading Company and the Central RR of New Jersey. The mileage was exactly almost a 60 - 30 or 2/3- 1/3 split, so 2 of the trains were entirely equipment and crews, the other train was entirely Jersey Central. On weekends when there were less than 3 trains, the Reading did everything 8 months of the year and the Jersey Central, the other 4 months.
Later, the Reading supplied all of the equipment, usually Budd Rail Diesel Cars, and the operating crews split by months. The Reading did complain when a Jersey Central yardmaster didn't see the difference between his RDCs and the Reading's, and used Reading equipment for one of his own mid day trains! The normal accounting didn't pay for that extra use.
Amtrak in modern times has to deal with various solutions to this problem with its International trains.
  by JimBoylan
"Through" fares were often the sum of the local fares on either side of the various junctions. That makes it easy to allocate the fares to each railroad regardless of which car was used, and the cars, whether empty or loaded, can be separately handled just like foreign freight cars are done.