Maine Bullet

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Maine Bullet
Posted by Miningman on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 3:21 PM

Can't imagine doing much better than this even today. 

Boston Globe, June 11, 1931
A new freight train, The Maine Bullet, beginning next Monday, will make an overnight run each way every business day between Portland and New York, at a speed unapproached in the history of New England railroading. With an elaborate system of feeder connections by train and truck at various points en route, it will extend its speeded schedule to most of the principal centers of industry and business in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. The new train is a cooperative effort by the New Haven and the Boston & Maine to put freight service in New England on new standards of speed. Thus freight service, with a schedule of 12½ hours between Portland, Me, and New York City in each direction, giving shippers and receivers in more than 500 New England cities and towns at least 24 hours faster movement of their freight within New England and to and from New York City, will be furnished. The Maine Bullet, says the announcement, signed by Frank J. Wall, general traffic manager of the New Haven, and John W. Rimmer, freight traffic manager of the Boston & Maine, will provide a service at the existing regular freight rates, which will make a letter mailed on the day of shipment too slow to beat the shipment to destination. The new train will provide this overnight service in each direction between the following concentration points: in Northern New England (and communities adjacent): Portland, Biddeford, Saco, Rochester, Dover, Concord, Portsmouth, Manchester, Nashua, Lawrence, Lowell, Haverhill, Newburyport, Gloucester, Beverly, Salem and Lynn, and the following concentration points in Southern New England (and communities adjacent): Fall River, New Bedford, Providence, Waterbury, Bridgeport, Putnam, New Haven, Hartford and to New York City. The Maine Bullet, with its direct connections on both the New Haven and the Boston & Maine Systems, together with coordinated highway trucking service to be provided by the Boston & Maine Transportation Company and the New England Transportation Company, will revolutionize the speed of more than half the intra-New England freight service. With the highway trucks carrying merchandise to and from the concentration points to be loaded in through cars, joining the Maine Bullet at strategic junctions, it will give a superior service to New England shippers and receivers. The new train will make its initial run in both directions next Monday night, leaving Portland on the Boston & Maine at 4:15 p.m. (E.S.T.), arriving in New York City over the New Haven Railroad at 4:45 a.m. The east-bound train will leave New York at 5:15 p.m., and will arrive in Portland at 6:30 a.m. 
Service That Boston Will Receive 
 
The train will operate over the west side of the Portland division of the B & M. from Portland to Dover, Lawrence and Lowell, thence over the Stony Brook line to Worcester, where the New Haven will take it on to New York. It will be hauled by New Haven locomotives. The New Haven, with its subsidiary truck company, will pick up freight in and to the south of Boston for this train while trucks of the subsidiary trucking company of the B & M. will pick up freight at the north side and to the north of Boston for this train. Each railroad will load it into cars and they will be moved to Lowell where they will be attached to the Bullet. In the same manner shipments from Lynn and Salem will be collected by trucks and shipped in cars to Lowell, where they will be picked up by the new train.
 
 
 
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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 6:04 PM

Where is the wreck coverage that led to that verse in that very peculiar song?  Two steam locomotives in front and one behind does seem like something of a prescription for disaster on a fast freight train...

of course the first thing that poked me with a stick is that this train went nowhere near the Boston area, depending on precisely-scheduled aggregated LCL and carload from that and one other region; it would NOT have directly benefited much from the intermodal 'containerization' and swap-body LCL of that era in actual running.  Second, you already know why this amazing result isn't justly famous when you read that it's largely predicated on railroad-owned truck lines.  Imagine the "anticompetitive" screaming from truck interests, and a Depression-era ICC bringing down the boom... note that part about 'no increase in freight rates' for the precision scheduled efficient service?

i would perhaps not be as impressed with this had we not been looking at the logistics of the Rotterdam Cold Connect service recently.  This train served an enormous cross-section of then-burgeoning New England industry ... all of it, as noted, getting the freight there faster than a cover letter could be mailed... in the days of twice-daily mail deliveries.

One also wonders where this would have gone if there had been no protracted depression ending the New Era... think of the fun in a similar train on the route of the pre-1917 Federal making precision block meets with the various New Jersey and Pennsylvania railroads well clear of the New York City bottlenecks and congestion, and thence as appropriate with a wide range of coordinated delivery trucking...

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Posted by Miningman on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 6:43 PM

It's pretty impressive really... get your shipment in a boxcar by 4:00 pm and, if it goes the whole route, it is there early morning. Not too shabby! 

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Posted by SD70Dude on Wednesday, May 20, 2020 11:18 PM

Back in the days when manual labour was cheap.

I wonder if you could do something similar with Iron Highway or Lohr equipment?  Of course, the train would have to keep time like the Swiss.

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, May 21, 2020 11:11 AM

SD70Dude
I wonder if you could do something similar with Iron Highway or Lohr equipment?  Of course, the train would have to keep time like the Swiss

Yes, but no.  This train is a somewhat unusual case.

It pays to recall the kinds of traffic being generated for these four trains, much of which was LCL in 'special cars' that would have to be broken-bulk if delivered in LTL form.  Note the container crane in the ad NOT being used with containers.  

In operation, the Bullet essentially gets much of its speed from only requiring two parallel, extremely highly-timed loadings -- they are in the switching-in of precise blocks at the two defined 'feeder points' (and presumably switching-out of other equally defined blocks serving the other express points, although this is less essential, for a number of reasons).  Think of this as little more than a crew stop, probably set around 100-mile points, where you have a switch crew on call and ready to shove the Lowell or wherever cut on the rear and make the air.  You wouldn't get one intermodal car on there in the time it takes to do the whole job, a hidden advantage of loose-car railroading; likewise there is no competitive advantage in expensive and incompatible specialized intermodal equipment to speed up the train movement.

Meanwhile we take a look at those 'special'  LCL cars.  Note all the ways in which accelerated stripping and stuffing of purpose-built cars can be optimized.  While things like Evans loaders hadn't quite been invented yet, some standardization on packaging and dunning certainly could be -- as could, in the time before "B-minute", careful loading so that packages off could be easily tracked and routed to the waiting last-mile trucks.  (To do this with a trailer would involve taking it off your Iron Highway or out of its Lohr pocket and parking it 'somewhere' at a dock with its end doors accessible, by which time New Haven crews would have a LCL express car half emptied...)

Part of the trick might also involve the ability to get a priority 'passenger' routing with traffic levels already probably Depression-affected.  I suspect it also involved good track all the way to Portland, something unlikely to characterize much Maine railroading in the postwar years and perhaps even today.

Now, I may have learned something from that ad.  As I recall, one of S. Kip Farrington's best remembrances was riding the Speed Witch behind a New Haven three-cylinder Mountain at a steady 65mph ... through Cedar Hill and, I thought, over the Poughkeepsie Bridge, L&HR or whatever, and BelDel down to the 'Trenton' mentioned as a stop.  But from the list of destinations it looks as if the train were routed through Bay Ridge to some optimized carfloat delivery, perhaps Greenville, and thence down the six-track behind electric power.  Perhaps Mike knows how the New Haven improved service over the years... 

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Posted by Miningman on Thursday, May 21, 2020 3:15 PM

Lots to read here: keep you fascinated for some time.

https://movingthefreight.files.wordpress.com/2019/08/nynhh-freight-train-and-package-car-schedule-070-9-29-1940.pdf

 

 

 Looks like New Haven and Pennsy share the same icon..  it's kind of weird though, not too crazy about it.  Different times. 

All those connections really show how many trains operated each day on regular schedules and that just for this service. Pretty darn good. 

I think they did a great job, just as good as today.  Too much has been lost.

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, May 21, 2020 5:04 PM

Miningman
All those connections really show how many trains operated each day on regular schedules and that just for this service.

Not just for these services.  Look at some of the implied dwell times.  These are 'connecting' trains operating hours, in a couple of cases multiple hours, before the scheduled connections.  What I don't see, and perhaps this was partly intentional, is precisely where and how the connecting cars were switched into the train (cf. Pawtucket).

This is eight hours down the Shore Line from Boston origin to Bay Ridge, then two hours for the lightering and reassembly in Greenville, then apparently either the train went down (as PRR freight N-51, "Speed Witch" more by courtesy) to Camden first or they split it east of Philadelphia (perhaps at Morrisville) and sections went to various points in Camden and then Philadelphia in around the 6am range ... right about where truck transfer would give pre-opening business service 'timely'... and Baltimore (Edgemoor?) by around 9:00.  One might strongly argue this train is operating 'only as fast as it needs to' provided there is good quick transfer to last-mile delivery.

Pretty darn good.  I think they did a great job, just as good as today.

Perhaps better.  I'd bet the "modern" service has that 'I shot an arrow in the air...' PSR response as soon as the intermodal transfer gets accomplished, and I doubt any "local" setouts from a similar service would (or could!) be made enroute with switcher and loose-car service, let alone cross-dock performance.

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Posted by rcdrye on Thursday, May 21, 2020 6:32 PM

Overmod
What I don't see, and perhaps this was partly intentional, is precisely where and how the connecting cars were switched into the train (cf. Pawtucket).

Pretty straightforward.  Pawtucket is on the Shore Line, so switcher.  Brockton at Providence, Worcester and Woonsocket (Along with Central Vermont connections) at New London, Holyoke/New Britain (New Haven & Northampton) at New Haven, Waterbury at Bridgeport.

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