Classic Train Questions Part Deux (50 Years or Older)

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, June 10, 2009 2:58 PM

One of the other threads has a picture or pictures that should provide you with three answers, leaving seven to go.  Now if this is too hard, let me know and I will give you the sixteen answers I know and pose another question.

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Posted by henry6 on Wednesday, June 10, 2009 4:32 PM

U N C L E  ! !

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Posted by al-in-chgo on Wednesday, June 10, 2009 6:54 PM

henry6

U N C L E  ! !

     Yeah, really!  -  a.s.

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, June 11, 2009 2:57 AM

OK!  First the ones I thought were obvious.   The Grand Central Depot - Grand Central Terminal and elevvated branch photos should have clued you to:   (1) The original subway south of GCT to Chambers Street on Park Avenue South - Fourth Avenue, a four track subway, still today (routes 4, 5, 6), but in the earlier time period the NY&Harlem 4th and Madison Avenue conduit (two power rails in a slot for each track) streetcar line that included America's first street railway, itself in a tunnel with two stations for part of the distance.  (2) 42nd Street west of GCT.   Conduit streetcar line through December 1946, the original subway, 4-tracks, later became the shuttle, with only three of the four tracks in regular use, condition still today, but the addition of the IRT Queens line (route 7) made up for it, a parallel and lower level separate tunnel.    (3) North of GCT, Lexington Avenue, four track subway in use today, opened about 1913, (routes 4, 5, 6), up to 1936 a Green Lines conduit streetcar line.

(4) Haven't you all seen photos of the tunnel portals south of Boston's North Station, with the then four track "Green Line" trolley subway paralleled by the Washington Street third rail heavy rapid transit line?  The six tracks were along side what I think was called Canal Street from Haymarket Square noth to Causway Street in front of North Station.   Today the Green Line subway has been reduced to two tracks and both it and the Washington Street line share an underground subway station at North Station, with the Green Line turning left to an incline to the older Lechemere Viaduct to cross the Charles River, while the Washington Street line, formerly elevated, now has an underground crossing the then runs parallel to the Boston and Maine RofW to Malden. 

(5)   Any New York City subway map will show you that the BMT B-division Brighton Line (now routes B and Q), with its two-track tunnel, and the IRT A-Division Brooklyn Line to New Lots and Nostrand-Flatbush (routes 2, 3, 4, 5) both run under Flatbush Avenue from Atlantic Avenue to Grand Army Plaza.  This is one of the six track streets still existing today.   And above was Brooklyn's heaviest streetcar line, Flatbush Avenue, giving eight tracks during the first two of the three time periods.

(6)   Staying with today and only recently, Market Street, San Francisco, with BART wide gauge third rail heavy rail on the lowest level, Muni Metro light rail, five different lines, with trolley wire above but still in a subway, and the F Castro-Market-Embarcadaro heavily used heritage streetcar line on the surface.   An additional four wires exist for several trolley-bus lines, mostly looping or operating just a short distance on Market.

(7)   In Philly, west of City Hall and almost to the Skuckhill River on Market, the four track subway with streetcars on the outer tracks and the Market Street third rail rapid transit on the inner tracks and streetcars that turned north or south before the river on the surface.   First time period only.

(8)   Sixth Avenue - Avenue of the Americas, New York.  In the first time period, the Hudson and Manhattan Hudson Tubes uptown line from about 10th to 32nd Street in its subway, the Sixth Avenue conduit streetcar line on the surface, and the Sixth Avenue elevated above.   Today, the H&M has become PATH, and the four-track Sixth Avnue subway runs partly below (express tracks) and partly along side (local tracks), routes, B, D, and F.

 (9, 10)   Broadway and Seventh Avenue in New York City.     The 4-track BMT subway (N, Q, R, T) uses 7th Ave. north of Times Square and Broadway south, the West Side IRT (1, 2, 3) uses Seventh Avenue south of TS and Broadway north.   Both streetcs had counduit streetcar line.   Between 65th and 72nd Streets on Broadway, each of the two streetcar tracks had two conduits and four power rails, one "slot" for Third Avenues' Broadway-42nd Street cars and one for the 8th & 9th Ave. Railway's 9th & Amsterdam cars.   After the GM bustitutions of 1935-1936, the off-center Broadway line slot remained off center even when the other slot was filled in and paved over.

(11)   Guys may question me on this, but anyone riding the Panama Limited or the rear of any IC train into Chicago before the six tracks were reduced to four should have picked up on Michigan Avenue and the IC suburban.   Once there were eight since electric freight service also existed.  I think the six became four around 1969.

(12)   I recall streetcar tracks under the four-track Chicago Northside Elevated north of Merchandise Mart, at least as far as Wilson and possibly Belmont.

(13 and 14)  Obscure.   For some obscure reason, the normally four track IND 8th Avenue subway has six tracks starting south of 135th Street Local Station, switches just north of the 125th Street four-track express station, and continuing to merge into the seven-track layout of the 145h Street Express Station, which has four tracks on the upper level heading to Washington Heights and three on the lower level leading to the Concourse in The Bronx.  Note that north of 110th Street, the 8th Avenue Subway is actually on St. Nicholous Avenue, not 8th Avenue.   Then on Broadway and then on Fort Washington Avenue.   Along Central Park West the northbound trains are on an upper level and the southbound on a lower, with both local tracks on the west side, away from the park.  Between 81st and 72nd there is a middle emergency layup track between the local and express tracks on both levels.

 (15 and 16)   Smith and Ninth Streets in Brooklyn.  The massive concrete 4-track elevated structure used by routes F and G today.   The Smith-9th-Coney Island Avenue trolley line was below, the first line anywhere to be equipped with PCC cars.

New Question:   What was (is?) the USA's earliest MAIN LINE electrication, and give all possible details including photographs.

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Posted by daveklepper on Friday, June 12, 2009 4:17 AM

Accurate and thorough answer, so you get to ask the next question.   Meanwhile, some trivia.   Ask why the four-track eight avenue subway with a streetcar line above wasn't included?  (Just its six-track subway locations)  The streetcars and the 8th Avenue subway coexisted only from 1932 to 1936, not included in the time spans stated.   But I then did remember that on St. Nicholos Avenue, from 161 Street to 168th Street, the Washington Heights 4-track branch of the 8th Avenue subway was underneath the "K" streetcar line, and that stretch could have been included.  The K ran through June 28 1947, and I rode it on the last day of operation.  Like other Manhattan lines, it was conduit.

In Brooklyn, there were eight tracks on Fulton Street from 1936 to 1940.   The "A" line as far as Rcokaway Avenue was opened in 1936, and the BMT Fulton Street elevated was abandoned west of Rockaway Avenue (with free transfer to the subway below) in June 1940, along with the streetcar line under the elevated.   The elevated supported the trolley wire below, and the city did not want to erect separate trolley poles, since conversion of the whole system was being considered.

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Posted by wanswheel on Friday, June 12, 2009 2:36 PM

What was the busiest train station in the world in the 19th and 20th centuries and is still one of Amtrak's busiest stations?  And for Dave or anyone even half as knowledeable about city transit, what was the first elevated railway in the world?

Mike

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Posted by al-in-chgo on Friday, June 12, 2009 3:26 PM

If you mean busiest train station in the USA, I'll guess Chicago/Union.

First elevated in the world?  I'll guess London (before there was electricity they used steam engines). 

a.s.

 

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Posted by wanswheel on Friday, June 12, 2009 5:12 PM

http://pro.corbisimages.com/images/BE043728.jpg?size=67&uid={c357c692-ca47-4bc7-ad01-1e917605b89b}

A fine station but it wasn't there in 1899.  World's first elevated railway was in the USA.

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Posted by al-in-chgo on Friday, June 12, 2009 5:23 PM

A double-fault!  My bads!   -  a.s.

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Posted by KCSfan on Saturday, June 13, 2009 5:27 PM
wanswheel

What was the busiest train station in the world in the 19th and 20th centuries and is still one of Amtrak's busiest stations?  And for Dave or anyone even half as knowledeable about city transit, what was the first elevated railway in the world?

Mike

Mike,

Would that be South Station in Boston which was opened in January 1899.?

Mark

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Posted by henry6 on Saturday, June 13, 2009 7:14 PM

I believe NYC's nose was bent out of shape because the Brhamans of Boston beat them to the El.

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, June 14, 2009 8:48 AM

The First Elevated Rapid Transit Railroad in the world was Charles Havey's West Side Patent Elevated Railroad which opened in 1867, with two cable cars, and two stations.  The southern one was at Broom Street and the northern one at West 33rd Street.   The route was Geenwich Street and Ninth Avenue (one still merges into the other, with transit service provided by the M11 bus.)   Originally, it was single track with one passing siding, a very simple structure, without cross ties (sleepers for you Brits) and the rails directly on the longitudinal girders supported by a line of single columns along the sidewalk curb line.   Ties were and a strengthened structure were introduced to allow steam traction and longer trains.  The original single track was on the east side of Greenwich and the west side of 9th Avenue.

 

Grand Central Depot then Grand Central Terminal was and still is the busiest in the world

IF YOU COUNT ALL THE RAPID TRANSIT SERVICE AS WELL AS THE CURRENT COMMUTER LINE-UP.   (Long distance trains have been moved to Penn Station, what was left of them.)

For while, not counting rapid transit, Flinders Street Staion, Melborn, Australia, had the most arrivals and departures.    But GCT still handled more people.  Charing Cross, LOndon, also had more arrivals and departure, with both its own terminating trains and all trains that temrinate at Waterloo Station (London) also stopping at Charing Cross.   But GCT still handled more people.

 

At the present moment, not conting rapid transit, according to friend David Read, see his article in TRAINS, the new Berlin Central Station is the busiest in the World.

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Posted by KCSfan on Sunday, June 14, 2009 10:48 AM

The early 1900's were the heyday of the interurban era with many lines completed, others only partially built and still others proposed but never constructed. One line clearly was more ambitious than all the others in terms of its proposed reach, route and objective operating speed. Only a small portion of the line was actually built which ultimately became a part of a successful local transit system.

What was the name of the proposed railroad and the transit system that later came to operate the completed portion of the line? What construction feature and objective end to end train operating time made the proposed line so unique?

Mark

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Posted by erikem on Sunday, June 14, 2009 6:39 PM

That would be the New York Chicago Electric Air Line. The line that was constructed became part of the Gary Railways.

The line was supposed to allow 100 MPH top speeds, the ruling grades were to have been 0.5% and the end to end transit time was supposed to have been 10 hours.

If built, this would have been the first High Speed Rail line - but the technology wasn't quite there and the financing certainly wasn't there yet. 

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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, June 15, 2009 2:51 AM

I knew this answer, but you beat me to it.   I'll be interested in the question you ask, although I was denied the possibility of asking a question after answering the busiest station and elevated quesitons.   I'll enjoy your quesiton anyway.

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Posted by KCSfan on Monday, June 15, 2009 4:11 PM

Erikem,

Good answer. Except for transposing its name (it was the Chicago - New York Electric Air Line RR) you are right on all points. The 17+ miles that were actually built was operated with conventional interurban cars powered from overhead trolley wire. It was planned to ultimately double track the entire 743 mile route and run trains of conventional railroad cars pulled by 3rd rail powered "wind splitter" design electric locomotives. Lots of additional info and pictures are available on the link below. (Click on the link just below the large picture of Mary MacLane.)

http://www,marymaclane.com/airline/

Your turn to ask the next question.

Mark 

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Posted by erikem on Tuesday, June 16, 2009 12:47 AM

Mark, et. al.,

This is a short one as I will be heading up to the land of the Rocky Fork and Cooke City RR in a couple of days.

Which electrified railroad was the first to have continuous block signaling and how was it accomplished? (Note the method used is still in use by many electric RR's.)

- Erik

P.S. I liked what Hilton and Due had to say about the Electric Air Line - the construction standards were expensive in northeastern Indiana and would have been much more so in Pennsylvania. 

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, June 16, 2009 3:19 AM

Still no response on the Charing Cross and GTC answers?

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Posted by wanswheel on Tuesday, June 16, 2009 2:07 PM

Charing Cross I don't know beans about.  It looks impressive in a picture.

http://viewfinder.english-heritage.org.uk/search/enlarge.aspx?index=0&uid=17284

1914 NY Times article, The World's Busiest Spot, induced a letter to the editor saying Hudson Terminal was tops.

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9B0CE4DE153DE733A25750C1A9629C946596D6CF

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9905E6DC173AE633A25754C0A9639C946596D6CF

Just in case some didn't spot the comma in Mark's link to Chicago-NY Electric Air Line

http://www.marymaclane.com/airline/

Mike

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Posted by Deggesty on Tuesday, June 16, 2009 3:16 PM

Wanswheel has again come up with interesting pictures/information.

Would Sherlock Holmes know where he was if he were dropped into the Charing Cross station of today?

Back in 1969, Kalmbach republished a classic book, John A. Droege's Passenger Terminals and Trains. (McGraw-Hill, 1916) (John Droege was then the General Superintendent of the NYNH&H; he had also written Freight Terminals and Trains) On pp. 108-114, there is a discussion of South Station (there is also a foldout showing the general plan of the station; do not try to use it to find your way around the station today). "The Boston South Station enjoyed for several years the distinction of being the largest and busiest railroad station in America....It has since been eclipsed in some categories by various newer rivals but it has not lost its honor of being the busiest head station in the United States, for in the fiscal year ended June 30, 1913 it handled over 38,000,000 passengers, or 9,000,000 more than its nearest competitor, its sister station in Boston, and about 16,000,000 more than the Grand Central Terminal in New York, now the largest head station in the world." (pp. 108-109)

Mr. Droege acknowledges that most of the trains are suburban, "...but they include a large number of busy runs between Boston and New York over the New Haven and Boston & Albany and between Boston and the West over the New York Central and its leased line, the Boston & Albany." (p. 109)  Yes, there was through service Boston-Springfield-New Haven-New York.

The busiest station in the world? Gare Saint Lazare, in Paris--1,200 daily train arrivals and departures with a maximum traffic of 250,000 passengers a day (p. 287).

Johnny

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Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, June 17, 2009 9:10 AM

Deggesty

Would Sherlock Holmes know where he was if he were dropped into the Charing Cross station of today?

Off subject a bit, but one interesting bit of Holmesian trivia is that his address, which was/is a real London address (221B Baker Street) was basically across the street from the headquarters / station of the Metropolitan Railway so he could go out his door, across the street and via their subway trains be just about anywhere in metropolitan London in a matter of minutes.

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, June 17, 2009 2:47 PM

I think today, you will find that GCT has more trains than South Station, even not counting subways in the mix.  Counting subways, GCT is still busier than St. Lzaier, but only if counting the subways.

Amtrak did operate some NY - Boston service via Hartford and Springfield.   For a while this was New Haven - Boston service using the Budd Hotrod Roger Wiliiams equipment with regular RD's occaisonally mixed in as well.   I am pretty sure some pre-Amtrak service did survive on this route into Penn Central days.

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Posted by wanswheel on Wednesday, June 17, 2009 4:03 PM
Erik, was it the New York Central?   None of what follows was written by me.                     

American automatic block signaling received a boost when in 1881 George Westinghouse formed the Union Switch and Signal Company. Westinghouse applied his experience with the air brake to the development of electro-pneumatic automatic signal. A low voltage direct current track circuit operated the valves of a compressed air system, which in turn controlled the position of the signal. Electricity traveled by wire to one rail at the head of the block, then back down the track to the signal end, where the current crossed to the other rail through the relays of the signal circuit, and returned to the head of the block. Each section of track was electrically insulated from the adjoining blocks. When a train entered the block, the current short-circuited the system by crossing the track through the car wheels and axles, and never reached the signal relays. As the last car left the block, the track circuit was again closed. The opening and closing of the signal relay switch activated electric circuits controlling the valves of the pneumatic circuit.

In 1884, Westinghouse installed his electro-pneumatic signals on a stretch of the Pennsylvania Railroad east of Pittsburgh. Traffic volume on the steam roads increased, and by 1890, recognition of the need for automatic signaling under such conditions spurred wider adoption of the electro-pneumatic system in the United States. The timing of its introduction and development meant that the system was no longer experimental. It was thoroughly up-to-date when construction crews broke ground for the New York subway in 1900.

Electro-pneumatic operation of signals was ideal for the subway. The compressors and dynamos could be located far from the cramped tunnels. The conducting wires and small pipes took up little space along the tunnel roof, and the signal apparatus was quite compact. These considerations, plus its record of reliable service, prompted the adoption of the Westinghouse electro-pneumatic block signal system, whose "essentials had been worked out with years of practice in steam railways."

The modifications of signal technology were of course required in changing from steam to electric railway service. On steam roads, the rails could be devoted entirely to the signal circuit, while on most electric railways the running rails returned the propulsion current to the substation. Use of the same track for both propulsion and signal circuits complicated the operation of each. First, electric block signaling required that at least one rail be divided into electrically insulated sections, sacrificing its usefulness as a propulsion current return. In order to return the entire propulsion current along the remaining undivided rail, its electrical resistance was effectively doubled, decreasing, the efficiency of power return.

More important for safety was the severe voltage drop in the propulsion current along given sections of track during periods of heavy traffic. Experience on steam roads had shown that even small stray currents could interfere with the proper functioning of the signals. Clearly, reliable automatic block signaling on electric railways required a signal circuit control which would not be influenced or damaged by the power surges and drops of the higher voltage propulsion return current. For many years these difficulties prevented the introduction of automatic electric signaling on electric roads.

The first and only major installation of electric block signaling on an electric road in the United States prior to the New York subway was on the Boston Elevated lines in 1900-1901. The company installed a modification of the Westinghouse electro-pneumatic system, designed by S. M. Young for the Pneumatic Signal Company. The Young system was the first to subdivide only one rail into insulated blocks, leaving the other to return the entire propulsion current. The elevated structure had a large return capacity, somewhat relieving the burden on the individual rail and obviating one of the objections to the use of the same track for both propulsion and signal circuits. In addition, block length was short, lessening the likelihood of very great voltage drop along a given section. This alone, however, was not sufficient protection against interference by the propulsion current.

The Boston installation solved this technical problem by opposing the directions of the propulsion and signal current through the rails. The signal relays were provided with polarized armatures, sensitive only to direct current flowing in a single direction. The higher voltage propulsion return current, flowing in the opposite direction, would be ignored by the relays, preventing its damaging and dangerous intrusion into the relay and signal mechanisms.

The service of the Boston elevated system was in many ways analogous to the service planned for the New York subway. In July 1902, supervising and electrical engineers of the Rapid Transit Subway inspected the Boston system. Also present was a representative of the Union Switch and Signal Company, the eventual recipient of the Interborough signal contract. Boston provided the only example of automatic block signaling with a track circuit on an electric road, and the subway engineers felt that its system successfully handled the moderately heavy traffic on the els.

Traffic conditions in New York were expected to be of "unprecedented density," requiring a propulsion current of great magnitude.  Interborough engineers feared that the correspondingly great current fluctuations which even normal service might induce would damage the signal circuit controls of even the Boston system. They sought to design a system in which the signal circuit used current entirely different from the propulsion current.

Alternating current provided the answer.  Union Switch and Signal engineers, working with George Gibbs and J. M. Waldron of the Interborough, replaced the polarized direct current relays of the Boston system with relays sensitive only to alternating currents. The fluctuating magnetic field of the alternating current flowing through the rail induced a second current in a relay coil placed near, but not in contact with, the original current. The steady magnetic field of the direct current, unable to induce currents in nearby conductors, could not affect the relay mechanism. The relays, selectively transmitting the low voltage alternating signal current, remained unaffected by the behavior of the direct current propulsion return. Interposition of a shunting choke coil at the signal relay further screened the direct current from the signal mechanism. Aside from these subtle modifications, the system was identical to the Boston elevated adaptation of the Westinghouse electro-pneumatic operation.

The New York subway signal system was both innovative and pioneering. It interested major trunk line electric roads in the New York area. Although many electric railways were hesitant to install electric block signaling, the use of alternating current for signal systems on direct current roads eventually became standard practice.

The Interborough engineers thought that the automatic block signal would operate best by adopting overlaps. An overlap system extended the length of a block circuit a certain distance beyond the signal post of the following block. Extensive tests and studies by both the Interborough and Pennsylvania Railroad engineers provided train speed curves and braking curves, used to determine an appropriate overlap distance. Block lengths were set at twice that of the overlap, giving a shorter block length than was standard. This was desirable in the subway because the shorter the block, the greater the carrying capacity of the road.

Without an overlap a train cleared the signal of the block behind it as the last car left the block, and set the signal of its new block at danger. If it stopped just a few feet inside this block, a fast train over-running the danger signal could not avoid a collision. With an overlap, a train leaving a block would not clear the signal until the last car had passed beyond the end of the overlap. An adequate braking distance would then exist between the danger signal and the end of the lead train.

http://www.nycsubway.org/articles/haer-design-electrical.html

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Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, June 17, 2009 7:27 PM

daveklepper

Amtrak did operate some NY - Boston service via Hartford and Springfield.   For a while this was New Haven - Boston service using the Budd Hotrod Roger Wiliiams equipment with regular RD's occaisonally mixed in as well.   I am pretty sure some pre-Amtrak service did survive on this route into Penn Central days.

Dave, I'm sorry, but timetable evidence is that the B&A/NH through service ended before 1968. I do have most of the issues of the Guide from September, 1962, to the end, but I am at present unable to search for the last date showing the through service (I may have to lift more than 25 pounds in making such a search). The January, 1968, issue shows two B&A trains between Boston and Albany--what was left of the New England States and an RDC round trip--with no through service with the NH.

As to the Amtrak service, I recall hearing while traveling in October of 1971, that some agent who had never before issued a ticket via Springfield was amazed that the fare was the same for both routes; he thought that the longer route should have a higher fare. Apparently, he had never heard of competitive routings.

This route even had on-again,off-again, on-again, off-again under Amtrak operation. My wife and I rode Boston-Springfield-NYC in April of 1997; the southern terminus of this run was Richmond. We rode another Boston-Richmond train from NYC to Washington this spring; it, of course, followed the Shore Line.

Johnny

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Posted by henry6 on Wednesday, June 17, 2009 7:46 PM

I was in Springfield, MA Oct '66 thru Sept 68 and don't remember anything but the New England States connection.  RDC's were on the B&M weekends through Feb '68 (rode the last one round trip to Greenfield one Sunday night).  NH did regular equipment to NYP or GCT.   NYC/B&A and NH did over the years offer different through or connecting services and Amtrak did try a through service.

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Posted by erikem on Wednesday, June 17, 2009 10:29 PM
Mike, The answer I was looking for was not the New York Central - though it looks like I may have been wrong with my intended answer. The RR I was thinking of was the first to use impedance bonds and an AC supply for the track circuit - which was pretty much the standard for signaling on any heavy RR electrification for years. A couple of clues - electric operation was passenger only and that service ended before WW2 - Erik P.S. Always interesting o see an unexpected answer.
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Posted by wanswheel on Thursday, June 18, 2009 8:23 AM

Erik, your clues put in sight the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway.

Mike

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, June 18, 2009 2:09 PM

Does your last guide before 1968, 1962, show the service?   I recall a streetcar fantrip in Boston around 1962 or later, while the Park St. - Brighton-Newton- Watertown line was still running.   We were using a Type 5.   Two of the riders left at Newton to catch a Bosaton - NY train via Springfield.

 

I gather no service via this route is current.

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