Passenger Operations?

Discussion in 'Model Rail Operations' started by 2-8-2, Feb 14, 2006.

  1. 2-8-2

    2-8-2 Member

    I can't really find much info on passenger operations on the internet. Maybe I'm expecting there to be more to it than there really is. It it as simple as carrying passengers from Point A to Point B? Surely these trains carried more than just people and mail.
  2. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Passenger operations could be as simple as taking a couple of cars to the end of a branch and bringing them back, or having a long train with a number a sections (as small as a single car) that would be dropped off at certain stations where other sections might be picked up. Dining cars would often be dropped off after lunch and picked up by the train going the other way.
    Major express trains (20th Century, Broadway, Super Chief) probably stayed the same all the way.
    I can imagine an NYC New York to Chicago train coming up to Albany and dropping some cars for Montreal and picking up a few from Boston. At Buffalo Toronto cars would be passed on and the train might be reduced in size. A car or two might be dropped there for a trip across Ontario to Detroit, or the Detroit portion might be dropped in Toledo. Any more changes to be done?
    When we travelled out west in Canada (late 70s) there were two trains -- Monteal Vancouver via Calgary and Toronto-vancouver via Edmonton. At Winnipeg the two trains met side by side and about half the sleepers were exchanged. We hadn't got a through sleeper, so we had to scramble across the platform (wasn't really a hurry -- remarshalling took at least an hour.)
    The passenger trains I saw growing up had a large collection of head-end cars -- usually some express reefers, then baggage and baggage/mail cars. A couple of us used to help move some of the loads onto the cars. I don't remember any switching, certainly not in our small town.
  3. GeorgeHO

    GeorgeHO Member

    For your head end cars don't forget REA (Railroad Express Agency) with cars appropriate for any of your passenger runs. If you are going through rural areas, the milk reefer could also be picked up in the morning, and returned empty later in the day. Reefers could also be added on if there weren't enough for their own consist. Smaller railroads like the Ma&Pa even used their doodlebugs for trailing point switching, picking up freight when it was convenient even though the train was a passenger. Smaller railroads also could have a mixed freight and passenger run which could have any freight car attached. If I get a chance I will look for references for you, but no promises.
  4. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Passenger operations doesn't have to be as simple as moving from A to B. Passengers can move to and from points A, B, C, D, etcetera, and those points don't all necessarily have to be in a straight line! Meeting other trains and sticking to a schedule is a priority for passenger trains--especially when mail is carried as well.

    Express freight is part of the equation, but a lot of passenger trains just carried people and mail, or just people.
  5. liven_letdie

    liven_letdie Member

    If i remember right Chuck Hitchock's Santa Fe Railroad was all about passenger operations for the Santa Fe. In model railroader he had articles about the details of passenger operations, much more complex than i thought. You have a lot of pullman cars getting transferred to different trains and like what has already been said the headend freight. If i can find that old issue i will scan it for you.

  6. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    And don't forget run-through sleepers with other railroads, or the junctions where a passenger train would be split in two going one way and where the sections would be joined going the other way.
  7. 2-8-2

    2-8-2 Member

    I thought I read somewhere that milk (back when it was still in bottles) was often delivered by passenger train. Cases of milk would be delivered to/picked up from elevated wooden platforms, often out in the middle of nowhere. I may be wrong though, I can't find the article.
  8. Skammer

    Skammer Member

    There was an extensive article on passenger operations in Model Railroader sometime last year. If you did an article search on their website you could probably find out which issue it was in.
  9. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    It really depends on the era you are modelling. From your references to mail and milk, I think you are looking at sometime ago...! ;)

    Passenger service has taken all kinds of forms over the years. Mixed trains and "milk runs" were common on branchlines, where there may have been a stop every few miles. The mixed train may have even done some switching while passengers (who could not have been in a hurry) waited in the combine. Depending on the road, they may have even ridden in a combine "caboose". Milk and other perishables might have been along for the ride as well. In those days, you might well have been able to get on and off where you wanted simply by making a request, and/or flagging down the train.

    Passenger operations also may have been carried out by gas-electrics (doodlebugs), railbus, or even railcar. Of course there are the famous high-speed "named" trains as well, especially in the Golden Age of rail travel - the NYC's streamlined 20th Century Limited is one of my favourites.

    There are also today's commuter railways that may have their origins in the original "radial" railways that spread out from a central business area like spokes on a wheel (hence the "radial" name).

    Also subways, streetcars, and trolleys... The list goes on!

    I think though for the era you seem to be thinking of, there was quite a lot of work that went into servicing the passenger trains. They would need to be turned, as the order of the cars was important, and they often had an observation or park car at the end that was "unidirectional". They also needed to be cleaned, loaded with water and food, etc, etc. At certain points, the engine and/or crew might be changed, and supplied refreshed. Also, some trains were split part way through their journey.

    I was not a big fan of passenger ops originally, but the more I learn, the more I like it!

    Hope that helps.

  10. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    C&O Hisrotical Society magazine had a detailed artical of how diner cars were run on the George Washington last month. It told of scheduals exchanges and other interesting things. I am sure you you could get a copy by contacting them @

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