Central Vermont Railway Passenger Operations

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Central Vermont Railway Passenger Operations
Posted by pajrr on Tuesday, December 09, 2014 2:45 AM

Hi, Does anyone know about CV passenger trains? Specifically which trains carried dining cars and where those cars ran? Also, does anyone know how many dining cars the CV operated? Any information would be appreciated. Thank you in advance and a Happy Holiday Season to all!

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, December 09, 2014 3:39 AM

At one time the Ambassador carried a dining car between New York and Montreal, but I believe it was a New Haven railroad dining car, not CV.   The Montrealer-Washingtonian had a lounge car with buffet meal service, usually a PRR or New Haven car.  Possibly during and before WWII, the CV owned and operated its own dining cars, but there were none in my memory starting in the post WWII period.  If one was necessary, as for a special, it would be a borrowed CN diner, and I did see that on a railfan special.

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Posted by rcdrye on Tuesday, December 09, 2014 6:48 AM

Post WWII The Ambassador carried a club-diner, usually a New Haven car, sometimes a CN car.  The Montrealer/Washingtonian carried a buffet sleeper.  A recent "Trains" article about "Dover Harbor" says the car was assigned to the Montrealer/Washingtonian in the mid-1950s.  The Boston connecting trains usually didn't have any meal service.  Meal service was dropped around 1960.

CV's had one steel-sheathed wooden diner, but it wasn't used much after the 1930s.  CN cars were easily available to CV if it needed them.

New Haven had four 6DBR-Buffet Lounge cars built in 1955, two for assignment to the Montrealer/Washingtonian.  These cars (usually "Nutmeg State" and "Keystone State" if I remember right) provided light meal service to first class passengers on both ends of the run right up to the end of service.  Coach Passengers were welcome to patronise the all-night lunch counter at White River Jct Union Station.

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Posted by nyc#25 on Tuesday, December 09, 2014 7:21 AM

The New Haven 6DBR-Buffet-Lounge cars were leased to the Pullman Company,

as most sleepers were, and the food service was by the Pullman Company.

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Posted by wanswheel on Tuesday, December 09, 2014 12:31 PM

In the 1920s, CV had one dining car. Here’s a letter my father wrote to Robert A. LeMassena. 

September 15, 1974

Dear Mr. LeMassena:

Through the kind courtesy of Dave Morgan, I have only this weekend received a copy of Trains Magazine for May 1972. I had asked Dave for the copy, because I had seen, in the listing of available back issues, mention of an article, "The Bootlegger," and I felt sure that it could only refer to our beloved Montrealer and Washingtonian.

Sure enough. But more than just another article: it was an absolute pleasure to read your sensitive, accurate, and detailed story.

I had been, when I had just seen the listing "The Bootlegger," mildly indignant at such a name -- knowing full well that there were those who did call the Washingtonian that -- but the first paragraph of your story took away the sting: "whose southbound run was dubbed accurately, if not politely, the Bootlegger."

So long as you recognized the irreverent tone with which the name was applied down on the southend -- but never up on the CV!!!!

But let's not get away from the subject. Probably the most important thing to me was that you wrote of the train as she was when I also was a boy in St. Albans, and my father was a fireman (hand firing those 600's all right!) on nos. 20 and 21, while his two brothers with more senority were engineers, some of the time on these two trains.

I have placed the setting of your story as somewhere between 1928 and 1933 -- simply because the 600's came in April 1927, while the Pennsy was electrified to Washington by about 1933, I believe. Of course, your photograph of No. 21 with the 601 at East Swanton is dated July 1940, and the smoke deflectors and the higher coal bin on the tender were applied perhaps around that time.

To put my time into perspective, I was born 10/13/14. In late 1926, I started substituting as a messenger in "SA" telegraph office in St. Albans, adjacent to the Despatcher's office, and I worked part time and full time there until late 1931.

So I was there, too, during the great days when The Montrealer and The Washingtonian were our best trains, and we spared nothing to make and keep them exactly that. It went into the permanent record of any man who delayed those trains even one minute. (Except of course that the CV couldn't do anything about The New Haven, who were the villains in the old CV saying, "The New Haven will lose 20 minutes into Springfield, the B&M will hold their own, and we have to make up the 20 minutes into Montreal."

Which brings up one of the very few things I could find fault with in your story -- your comments about the slower run over the CV. Not so, not at all! While I can't produce timetables going that far back to prove it, it is my recollection that the New Haven and the B&M both had 40MPH terminal to terminal schedules for the trains while we had 45 MPH on the CV. At one time the schedule White River Junction to St. Albans was down to 2 hours 28 minutes for the 117 miles, and there was a standing bulletin that nos. 20 and 21 were not to make up more than 20 minutes between White River Jct. and St. Albans. Of course, it was also the informal understanding that the engineer who couldn't make up 20 minutes wasn't qualified for the run!

The only other thing I could find wrong was a slight misidentification of track. You are right that Windsor-White River Jct., 14 miles, was CV track; but also, the 11 miles between East Northfield, Mass. and Brattleboro, Vt., were paired track -- southward on the CV west of the Connecticut River, northward on the B&M across the river.

But a little more significantly, north of St. Albans the CV track did not end at the Canadian border: St. Armand, Des Rivieres, Iberville, all were CV, all the way to St. Johns, which was total of 43 miles if my memory is right. At St. Johns northward, the CV joined the CN track running from Rouses Point and Cantic to St. Johns and Montreal. So the exchange of mileage on crews and engines was the 47 miles St. Johns to Montreal versus the 43 miles St. Albans to St. Johns.

In post-WWII years, the CN upgraded the Rouses Point Branch of the CV between Fonda Jct. and East Alburgh, where the old Canada Atlantic line diverged to Boteau, and tied to the connection to the Rouses Point-St. Johns line at Cantic, to create a new main line between St. Albans and St. Johns. For a few years, service was maintained between St. Albans and St. Johns via the original main line through East Swanton-Highgate Springs-St. Armand, through a pair of locals pulled by the old 219 and 220, then finally the old line was abandoned save for a section up to East Swanton only.

This changed the crew and engine mileage, of course, shortening the CV mileage to 25 miles St. Albans to Cantic. Initially, the CN tried to exercise their additional mileage; but the Brotherhoods went to Uncle Sam, who ruled that unless CN allowed the CV crews constructively their old 43 miles St. Albans-St. Johns, then Uncle Sam would require CN to take their engines and crew off at the border, thus requiring establishment of engine and crew terminals at Cantic, at prohibitive cost to CN. So CN yielded.

Another idiosyncracy of Nos. 20 and 21 was that, by special agreements with the Brotherhooods, these two trains, and these two only, were exclusively CV jobs all the way White River Jct. to Montreal. This came about because of a contract Grand Trunk Railway had signed with Rutland RR in 1919, under which GTR agreed never to operate a through passenger service Montreal-New York City except via Rutland RR. In order to operate the Montrealer and Washingtonian without violating that contract, it was necessary that the CN avoid all participation in the operation of the train; so it was set up as a CV operation, running into Montreal under CV trackage rights, rather than as a CN operation St. Johns-Montreal. Reservations on the train were all handled by St. Albans, and when I was working as a messenger on the second trick, the hottest thing I had to handle was to run out to the ticket office with the "space message", which handed back to St. Albans all the space not checked in at the gate when the train left Montreal. The St. Albans ticket agent then did all the filling of requests for space down the line.

The CV's only dining car was each morning put on the rear of No. 21 at St. Albans, to Montreal, and taken off each night.

The subterfuge was carried to the point that 5 CN 4-6-2's, the 234-238 inclusive, moved down to the CV in 1924 to cover the runs, were repainted and renumbered 234-238. After the CV got the new 600's, 4-8-2's, the 234-238 were sent back to CN, but were again repainted in St. Albans in their real owners livery and numbers before they went back.

Oh, we were mighty proud of our train. When the disastrous Flood (which all Vermonters know to be the big one of 1927) knocked out the CV between St. Albans and White River Jct., Nos 20 and 21 were run for an entire year over the D&H, who very kindly charged the CV $400 per day for the use of their track, meanwhile requiring CV to furnish engines and crews and fuel and pay for a D&H pilot, but refusing to let the trains handle a single passenger except Montreal-New York or beyond. Do you wonder at the strength of the feeling in Vermont in 1971-72, when we were waging the campaign to get Montreal service restored by Amtrak via the CV instead of the D&H? I am sure wars have been fought over lesser issues, than the determination of CV employees and the State of Vermont that this time we are going to get the trains back! (A Burlington Free Press signed editorial said, "What Vermonters must do is beat Governor Rockefeller to the punch"!!)

But here I'm getting into another subject, which someday will be the subject of that book I've promised people to write -- as you may know, I was the originator of the proposal (literally a 29-page business Proposal dated July 26, 1971) to get the Montrealer and Washingtonian restored. It took 13 months out of my life, but we won. Which is the reason that in May 1972 I didn't get a copy of Trains Magazine -- I was just to inundated in fighting the campaign to take time to pick up the magazine!

Now I have the May 1972 issue, and belatedly I've enjoyed more than I can say, your fine article, which in almost every paragraph took me back some 40 years in a heady return to those days when life was so much simpler for all of us -- or so it seems.

In return, I had promised Dave Morgan to send him a copy of the original Proposal for the Montrealer's restoration, which I shall... Xerox at the office.... I'll run two copies...and send you one too; had Amtrak known as much as you do of the importance of the old Montrealer, it wouldn't have taken us 13 months to teach them. (Their position was, no train has run for 5 years, therefore no train should ever run there.)

Of course, now that the train is back, it is most gratifying to find it is the absolutely best performing train financially on the entire Amtrak System.

I hoped I haven't bored you with these extended comments, but I put a lot of my life and soul into that train, both when I was a boy and in 1971-72. I don't think there could possibly be anyone who appreciated your article more than I.

Sincerely,
Joseph V. MacDonald 

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Posted by rcdrye on Tuesday, December 09, 2014 3:54 PM

Thanks again to Wanswheel for a fantastic find.  While I never rode the CV-operated trains, I have ridden the Montrealer(/Washingtonian) and Vermonter regularly since 1973, and am always amazed at the ferocity with which the service is protected by local supporters.  The recent and continuing upgrades give us hope that, even if we don't get the Montrealer itself back, we will get service to Montreal and perhaps a second train.

Equally fascinating is the discussion about the flop over from the St. Armand Sub to the Rouses Point sub after WWII.  The Ambassador was classified as a CV/B&M train to Boston, with the through cars to New York via the B&M/NYNH&H ignored for the purpose of calling it a  "Through train".  After 1953, the Rutland didn't care anymore, so  the Ambassador name was carried through to New York.

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Posted by wanswheel on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 1:17 AM
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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 3:54 AM

The four buffet-sleeper cars owned by the New Haven, two for the Montrealer, and two for the State of Maine.  There may have been one similar car for the B&M.   A Pennsy buffet-sleeper could be used as back-up, with one of the Montrealer cars shifted to the State of Maine if necessary.  

On the State of Maine there was an informal arrangement, at least some of the time, probably dependents on Pullman man in charge of the operation, permitting coach passengers to obtain food, either to return to their coach or to use the space if business was slow.  The Montrealler-Washingtonian carried a regular lounge car, usable by coach and sleeper passengers, in addition to the Pullman buffet-sleeper.  At least for a time, it also carried a full Pennsy dining car between Washington and New York, at least northbound, and  I would guess Southbound. 

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Posted by rcdrye on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 6:47 AM

Back to the books again...  Of the four 6DBR buffet sleepers, two (Keystone State and Bay State) were actually built for the "Federal" beteen Boston and Washington.  Pine Tree State and Nutmeg State were assigned to the Montrealer/Washingtonian, at least initially.  Since the cars were Pullman operated, the replacement cars came from the Pullman Pool, cars like "Dover Harbor".

1957 OG does list Pennsy meal service northbound only. Only lounge listed was on PRR south of New York.

The St. Armand sub replacement trains got CV's EMC railcars most of the time after 1948.  The branch was eventually cut back to the junction with the St. J. and L.C. (Lake Champlain, later Lamoille County).  Sometime in the mid 1970s StJ&LC successor Lamoille Valley leased it from the CV, and abandoned its own line to Swanton.  LVRC then ran its trains into Italy Yard in St. Albans.

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 8:45 AM

The northbound Montrealer usually had several coaches that went only as far as New York and were cut off in the station.  The diner was placed ahead of these coaches, except when they were at the head-end.  Sometimes as many as six or seven.  All probably moved to Sunnyside as a transfer move.  I do recall a lounge north of New York, but that may have been as early as 1950.  Posslbly a parlor-lounge.  Unless the New Haven had buffet cars of a different configuration, I do recall the use of State cars on the State of Maine, specifically in the last years when it was combined with the Owl south of Providence.  I used the light meal service southbound on more than one occasion on my weekly Boston-NY commute. 

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 9:08 AM

And if someone knows where to find a photo of the CV diner, or better yet posts it!

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Posted by rcdrye on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 9:48 AM

Here's the "as-built" of CV 600 before it got steel-sheathed...

Built in 1912 - late for a wood car

http://cdm15323.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15323coll6/id/1143

 

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Posted by wanswheel on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 11:45 AM

600 was a beautiful car! (and that’s a great photo website, thanks.) Interior lacks a doorway?

http://cdm15323.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/p15323coll6/id/1142

http://cdm15323.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/p15323coll6/id/1140

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 1:14 PM

southbound from ny to washington, i think the washingtonian was often combined with another train, one of the regular every hour slightly-under-four-hour expresses, which would have had parlors, coaches, and a diner.  much would depend on how on time, late, or early the train was in reaching ny.  does the 1957 timetable have a note that the train might be early?

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Posted by rfpjohn on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 4:08 PM
It would appear that the passageway goes to the left, behind the partition. You can sort of derive that by looking at the floor in the second photo.
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Posted by rcdrye on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 8:52 PM

That's the Steward's desk in the middle of the car.  To the left is the kitchen, to the right, the corridor.

Breakdown for the Montrealer/Washingtonian in August 1957.  As a "corridor" train it fit into PRR's hourly schedule.  The Montrealer got passed by the Afternoon Congressional between Washington and New York.

Equipment list compiled by cross-checking OG pages.

PRR 168/NH 168/B&M 71/CV 21/CN 21

1688 6DBR Lounge (NH "State")  Was-MTL (Bar service to New York, Buffet beyond)

1687 8 sec 5DBR Was-MTL

1685, 1686 6 Sec, 6 Rmt 4DBR (two cars) (NH "Beach") NYP-MTL

1684 6 sec 6 rmt 4 DBR NYP- St. Albans (in CV 303 north of White River Jct)

1683 Parlor Was-SPG xSat

Dining Car Was-NYP

Coaches Was-MTL (Reclining Seats.)

CN 20/CV 20/B&M 70/NH 169/PRR 169

2008 6DBR Lounge MTL-WAS (Buffet Service to New York, Bar beyond)

2007 8 sec 5 DBR MTL-WAS

2005, 2006 6 Sec, 6 Rmt 4DBR (two cars) (NH "Beach") MTL-NYP

3044 6 sec 6 Rmt 4 DBR St Albans-NYP (From CV 304 at White River Jct.)

Dining Car NYP-WAS

Coaches MTL-WAS (Reclining Seats.)

New Haven carried a Friday-only Washington-Hyannis car that was not listed in other RRs' schedules.

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, December 11, 2014 1:55 PM

I do remember some extra coaches Wash - NY.   This need not have been shown in the timetable.

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Posted by rcdrye on Thursday, December 11, 2014 5:10 PM

Based on their slots in the PRR timetable, 168 and 169 did duty as mormal corridor trains. 

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Posted by daveklepper on Friday, December 12, 2014 2:31 AM

and this would indeed require extra coaches and a diner except in light traffic periods, then just the diner.  i note the parlor through to springfield  also  normal for a corridor train.  But are you certain there is no parlor, not springfield - washington or ny = washington, southbound, in the prr timetable?

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Posted by rcdrye on Friday, December 12, 2014 8:32 AM

I left out the PRR Parlor.  Only ran NYP-WAS.  The southbound Springfield Parlor was carried in a different train.

As a side note PRR-NYNH&H parlors were the last interline Pullman-operated parlors.  Only PRR, NYNH&H and Wabash had Pullman Parlor contracts after 1957.

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, December 13, 2014 12:55 PM

The northbound Montrealer may also have had on occasion Washington - Springfield coaches, but I was asleep at Springfield.   And in 1959 or 1960, with the discontinuance of the NY-GCT - Berlin, NH, overnight train, a Washington - White River Jc. set-out sleeper was added, usually the B&M's Dartmouth College I and Dartmouth College II.     And picked up southbound.   Used it.

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Posted by NDG on Saturday, December 20, 2014 3:55 AM

FWIW.

The following film shows a CV train leaving Montreal under the wire behind a CV Torpedo Geep @ time 6:38 in 1965.

Note RPO

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjVXz5BphQM

Thank You.

 

 

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Posted by rcdrye on Saturday, December 20, 2014 7:51 AM

NDG
The following film shows a CV train leaving Montreal under the wire behind a CV Torpedo Geep @ time 6:38 in 1965.

That's the Ambassador.  The RPO would have been a CN car with "United States Mail Railway Post Office" lettered on the side.  The coaches look like CN CCF cars - one each in the "wet noodle" and classic schemes.  CV had at least one coach of its own in the "wet noodle" scheme - a rebuilt heavyweight.

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, December 20, 2014 9:09 PM

I find it interesting that in 1912 the CV would have a wood dining car built for an otherwise all-steel train.  The other equipment on the Montrealer-Washingtonian had to be steel to go through Penn Sta., NYCity, even in 1912.  This precluded the CV diner ever going through to NYCity or WAshington.

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Posted by rcdrye on Sunday, December 21, 2014 12:32 PM
The CV diner operated between Montreal and White River Jct, with about a 4 hour turn time. No meal service was necessary between WRJ and Penn Sta, where the PRR added a diner. Since the St. Albans sleeper had to be cut in or out at the same time, there was already a crew on duty. CV and B&M split 2nd and third trick passenger switching operations right up to mid 1960s.
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Posted by Fr.Al on Tuesday, March 07, 2017 6:47 PM

Anybody know just when the B&M/ CV through Vermont to Montreal was discontinued? I have the Spring 2014 CT before me with Jim Shaughnessy's article. The year according to him was 1966, but anyone know WHEN in 1966?

    In '66, I was a 13 year old kid living in Bennington , VT. I had wanted to go east to Brattleboro to take the train north to Burlington on my way to summer camp. This didn't occur, and it may be the passenger service was already gone by that summer.

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Posted by Fr.Al on Tuesday, March 07, 2017 8:25 PM

My bad, Shaughnessy states that "Boston and Maine eliminated all locomotive hauled passenger operation in September 1966, relying exclusively on Budd RDC's."

   Then in the next paragraph,"The cessation of B & M intercity passenger service in 1966 ended CV's passenger business as well, what little was left, including the Montreal-Washinton trains."

   I presume at this point, only RDC commuter runs remained on the B&M.

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 12:28 AM

I believe the Boton - Portland Budd-car service lasted one more year.  I know I used it after the Washingtonian-Montrealer had been discontiniued, to go from Boston to Montreal, by using the Sunday-evening GT-CN Portland - Montreal train as a connection.  There were two other passengers making the connection, and we shared a taxi in Portland.

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Posted by rcdrye on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 7:13 AM

The Ambassador (day train) and Montrealer/Washingtonian (night train) ended Sept 3, 1966.  Amtrak's Montrealer/Washingtonian debuted Sept 29, 1972.

CV trip-leased B&M RDCs on the Ambassador for a while in the early 1960s, running them in through service to Boston, connecting at White River Jct with either a conventional train or an RDC. In the end, the train consisted of a CV boiler GP9, a baggage/RPO (often a Canadian National car lettered "United States Mail Railway Post Office" and a rebuilt heavyweight coach.  At least one of the coaches got CV's version of CN's "Wet Noodle" before the train ended.

The Montrealer/Washingtonian usually carried a CV or CN RPO, NYNH&H and/or B&M coaches, an NYNH&H buffet-sleeper, and B&M or NYNH&H sleepers including the White River Jct. setout cars, the nomally assigned cars being B&M's "Dartmouth College I" and "Dartmouth College II".  CV power was boiler GP9s, B&M was F3s with an occasional boiler GP7 or RS3.

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