Luxury, comfort, and class distinctions

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Luxury, comfort, and class distinctions
Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, September 15, 2016 2:14 PM

Did Pullman introduce class distinction in USA passenger trains, or were there cases earlier?  When were class distinctions introduced in England?

I believe the B&O and the AT&SF pioneered both reclining seats and air-condiditoning in coaches.  Am I correct?  Possubly also the C&O?

I understand that during WWII and up to discontiniuance, the D&RGW narrow gauge Alamosa - Durango San Juan's wood but vestibuled cars had 1 and 2 seating with relcining seats, plus the obs-parlor at the rear.

Other than a few pioneers, it was not until the introduction of ligihtweight cars, the New Haven 1934 "American Flyers" (8200's) that coaches got air-conditioning. With maybe a few exceptions, AT&SF, branch lines had to wait until the Budd RDC.

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Posted by M636C on Thursday, September 15, 2016 11:55 PM

In Britain, there were different classes of travel from the beginning of passenger service. Recent documentaries have suggested that the Stockton and Darlington Railway was taken by surprise that passengers wanted to pay to travel by train and were happy to travel in empty coal wagons in that direction. Of course some other provision had to be made in the loaded direction, presumably by including empty wagons in the loaded train.

When the Liverpool and Manchester railway opened five years later I think there were three classes of travel from the beginning, First Class that provided the sort of accommodation expected in a stage coach, Second that was more basic but enclosed, and Third Class was basically the open wagon, but with wooden benches to sit on.

The railways encouraged the higher classes of passenger, but the British Government decided that a minimum level of service was required for third class passengers, and passed a law requiring that an all stations train conveying third class passengers had to run on each line in each direction daily. These became known as "Parliamentary" trains and that name persisted well into the Twentieth Century for all stations trains.

By the Twentieth Century, however, third class had improved with enclosed and heated cars with upholstered seats, but carrying more passengers (generally ten in a full width compartment with side doors) while first class had larger compartments seating six or eight passengers. Second class had largely disappeared, except for trains carrying passengers to ferries to The Continent.

In Britain, from the late Nineteenth Century had Pullman parlour cars which provided a higher level of service including food and drink served at your seat. These cars generally had individual movable arm chairs, one each side of the aisle for first class, but being Britain, the same service was provided to third class passengers who had conventional seats in facing pairs two plus one across the aisle.

Pullman passengers paid a "Supplement" to travel in a Pullman above the fare in either class (as well as paying for food and any gratuity to the porter.)

British sleeping cars were run by the railways and were not associated with Pullman. Most of these were compartment cars, the concept of Pullman sections not having caught on in Europe.

So in Britain, the class of travel was independent of whether you used a Pullman car.

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Posted by erikem on Saturday, September 17, 2016 10:51 AM

According to White's book on the Ammerican RR passenger cars, the parlor and drawing room cars were making brief appearances in the 1840's and were starting to be establshed by the late 1850's.

B&O had a completely air conditioned train in either 1930 or '31, so air conditioned coaches predated the lightweight car era. The conversion of the heavyweight Pullmans in the mid to late 1930's to A/C was a combination of trying to keep a competitive edge for Pullman service and making use of the shop forces that otherwise would have been idle during the depression.

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Posted by K4sPRR on Saturday, September 17, 2016 3:31 PM

erikem

 

B&O had a completely air conditioned train in either 1930 or '31, so air conditioned coaches predated the lightweight car era.

 

Correct, a completely air conditioned train began on May 24, 1931 on the B&O train Columbian. 

 

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, September 17, 2016 10:25 PM

If my memory is correct, Pullman looked after its  Passengers in other ways, too.  On runs where the host railroad did not provide a dining car during meal hours, Pullman usually had a buffet parlor or sleeper-buffet car that served light meals for Pullman passengers.  I do not recall trying to use such service as a coach passenger.  Did any reader ever try?

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Posted by M636C on Monday, September 19, 2016 6:48 AM

I can't answer the main question, having only visted the USA since Amtrak ran the passenger service.

In Britain, I think Pullman meals required payment of the Pullman "supplement" to occupy the seat in a Pullman car.

Strangely, ordinary BR restaurant cars were often first class cars, but passengers in second class (the name third class disappeared during the 1950s) could travel in the higher class by taking (and paying for) a meal. I did this in 1991 while travelling on the "Hook Continental" to London. Breakfast took virtually the whole trip from Harwich to Liverpool Street and cost less than the first class fare differential.

Much earlier, in 1970, I travelled from Port Augusta to Port Pirie on the Trans Australian express. At this time no sitting passengers travelled on these trains although short distance passengers were allowed to travel in the second class lounge cars (as I did). Meals were included in the sleeping car fares but I was offered a meal for a nominal fee. Sadly, at the time I was a poor student and the meal charge was about a third of the student concession round trip fare I had paid for the trip from Sydney NSW to Adelaide (SA) and Melbourne (Victoria) and back to Sydney. Cheap snacks were available in the lounge car so I stuck with that.

 

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Posted by rcdrye on Monday, September 19, 2016 10:08 AM

D&RGW's 2 and 1 coach seating on narrow-gauge cars was more a concession to the narrow carbodies than an attempt at luxury.

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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, September 19, 2016 10:52 AM

1.   They were reclining seats, an attempt at luxury.

2.   Other coaches, as on Cumbres and Toltec and Durango and Silverton, had two-and-two seating.  Some of these on Durango and Silverton, were originally open platform, then vestibuled (and were vestibuled still in 1960 on my first trip Alamosa - Silverton) and then returned to open-platform configuration.  When the San Juan was discontiniued, the recling seats were removed and replaced by the two-and-two straightback seats.  The conversion back to open-platform came later when demand, still under D&RGW operation, for more capacity on the Silverton "mixed" developed, and D&RGW thought open-platform cars more appropriate.

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Posted by erikem on Monday, September 19, 2016 11:23 PM

An update on the status of A/C at the start of the lightweight era. White's book states that there were 2,375 A/C equipped cars in service by the end of 1933, which implies a lot of A/C equipped coaches. The association of lightweights and A/C is that there probably very few LD lightweights that were built without A/C.

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Posted by M636C on Tuesday, September 20, 2016 8:25 AM

An interesting feature of the B&O was that they were a pioneer of lightweight trains with the Royal Blue and the Abraham Lincoln sets of 1934, both built by ACF, one Cor-Ten and the other aluminium alloy. I believe the parlour observation from one of these sets is preserved (in St Louis?).

However, these sets ended up on the Alton (the Abraham Lincoln always was) and these passed to the GM&O. In 1937 a later Royal Blue was built from air conditioned heavyweight cars modified to a streamlined appearance. I don't think B&O had any more lightweight cars until after WWII. So they must have continued to air condition heavyweight cars until then. But these were regarded as luxury trains, maybe more so than the lightweights and it was these that introduced the blue and grey scheme, the two lightweights being just blue during B&O days.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Tuesday, September 20, 2016 9:19 PM

erikem

An update on the status of A/C at the start of the lightweight era. White's book states that there were 2,375 A/C equipped cars in service by the end of 1933, which implies a lot of A/C equipped coaches. The association of lightweights and A/C is that there probably very few LD lightweights that were built without A/C.

 

Since lightweight cars always seemed to have sealed windows and no roof vents, A/C seemed to be a requirement.

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Posted by M636C on Tuesday, September 20, 2016 11:25 PM

I think it was a coincidence of time that workable air conditioning appeared at the same time as lightweight trains. As shown in another thread in the Trains forum, B&O were pioneers, but as I indicated above, they mainly air conditioned existing cars until the late 1940s

Lightweight trains, of course, often (but not always) had diesel electric power although power from the locomotive or power unit was not often used (it was in the Pioneer Zephyr and M-10000). The early "big" articulated Zephyrs hauled by the shovel nosed units had head end power, Cummins diesels mounted tranvserely in the lead car. The 1937 Cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco had a separate power car with Winton generator sets (not related to the 201A locomotive engines).

By 1940, this idea had gone and the E 3/6/7units and Alco DL 103/5/7/9 units had steam generators. I think Santa Fe never even tried HEP in any form ever...

But the B&O system with axle generators, batteries and steam heating lasted until Amtrak purchased the Amfleet cars, which I remember riding in in 1977 when they were still new.

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Posted by AgentKid on Wednesday, September 21, 2016 12:18 AM

M636C
I think Santa Fe never even tried HEP in any form ever...

But the B&O system with axle generators, batteries and steam heating lasted until Amtrak

As was pointed out on another thread the RR's didn't want to compound a bad situation by making it worse with even more capital investments when ridership was declining.

Except in the coldest climates steam heating still worked, and axle generators did the job they were required to do. I recall reading that HEP wasn't realy required until people started bringing consumer electronics with them. The first thing that got peoples attention, oddly enough, was in order to keep the business travel sector happy, power was needed for electric razors. No rechargeables yet.

Bruce

 

So shovel the coal, let this rattler roll.

"A Train is a Place Going Somewhere"  CP Rail Public Timetable

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, September 21, 2016 8:52 PM

Amtrak went to HEP when thy got tired of dealing with frozen steam heating lines.

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Posted by M636C on Thursday, September 22, 2016 8:25 PM

MidlandMike

Amtrak went to HEP when they got tired of dealing with frozen steam heating lines.

 
Part of the problem was the age of the cars.
Amtrak inherited cars that generally dated back to 1946 to 1950, so these were 31 to 27 years old when the Amfleet and later the Superliner cars arrived.
 
The railroads had rarely operated cars that old in main line service.
 
Heavyweight cars dated from 1910 only, so most of those were between 20 and 10 years old when Lightweight cars arrived in the mid 1930s. Many of the prewar Lightweights were moved to lesser services in 1946 -1950 as new trains were built.
 
So Amtrak were trying to run services with older cars than the Railroads had been using, except possibly towards the end of private operation where less investment had been made.
 
Now the 1970s built Amtrak cars are getting to the age of the cars Amtrak inherited and maintenance is again a major problem.
 
The only sure new equipment is the replacement for Acela trains.
 
Maybe the Acela cars can be simplified (removing the tilt equipment) and added to the NEC Regional pool....
 
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Posted by daveklepper on Friday, September 23, 2016 12:11 AM

I think we can expect that.

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Posted by aricat on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 5:35 PM

In 1950's Britain, there were Pullman trains that operated on and by British Railways. Some were named trains such as the Brighton Belle or the Bournmouth Belle. One was called the Statesman which carried passengers of the SS United States from Southampton to Waterloo. The passengers had to be First Class passengers aboard the SS United States to purchase space aboard. Cabin and Tourist class passengers rode ordinary boat trains. Tourist Class passengers were sold only second class tickets. The Pullman trains were true luxury, beyond the usual First Class accomodations. The Bournmouth Belle offered a meal at the passengers seat. These trains catered to business travelers and tourists. These were most compareable to what we call in America parlor car seats.

First Class seats in Britain was comfortable three abreast seating in a compartment designated First Class. I would honestly compare them on a luxury level to coach seats aboard long distance streamliners(Sleepy Hollow seats) but not coach seats aboard most short to medium distance coach trains. They were not up to the standards of luxury that you would find aboard Pullman trains that BR operated or First Class in Continnetal Europe.

BR Second Class was better than most of the second class seats that you would find elsewhere in Europe. It offered eight abreast seating in a compartment. The seats were fabric, not wood or Naugahyde like you found on the Continnent. It was very utilitarian, however, compared to First Class. Passengers who occupied First Class compartments could be fined if they held only Second Class tickets

British dining cars(restaurant cars) served the same food to both First and Second Class passengers. Ther was usually only one entree for all meals. Prices were reasonable, the food was good.

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, September 29, 2016 8:35 AM

I rode the Bournmouth Bell from London as far as Southhampton in the summer of 1960, behind a Bulleid Pacific, shortly before the electrification, one of the last in the UK using dc third rail intercity, was implemented.  Later, I rode the Brighton Bell to visit the Bluebell Railroad, and remember it used deluxe Pullman mus. Much later, I rode one of diesel Blue Pullmans.  Sevice and comfort and food (only tea and bisuits on the Brighton Bell) was certainly comparable to the best in the USA.

I also rode the Scottish overnight service twice.  Not called Pullman but comparible, including drinks in the pub car.

I never felt like a stranger or visitor, really, in the UK, last visit around 1988.  I am not sure how it would be now if I let it known that I live in Jerusalem, especually now living in a neighborhood where people of my ethnicity were excluded 1948-1967.  On my first visit, in 1960, I immediately concluded that despite differences, our North American culture is really derived from that in the UK  I had grown up with Christopher Robin, Alice in Wonderland and Thru the Looking Glass, Gilbert and Sullivan, Conan Doyal, Charles Dickens, etc.  

Dostoyefski and Tolstoi and Thomas Mann and Schindler had to wait until MIT.  These were in translation.

I hear from friends that service in generally pretty good still in the UK, not suffering the degredation that has been reported in Germany.  I lasr rtide a German train in 1994, Berlin - Frankfort and itwas excellent in every respect.  Rode regular 1st-Class.

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Posted by M636C on Thursday, September 29, 2016 8:19 PM

I visited the UK last in 2013 and went to see the display of the six A$ Pacifics in York on the 75th anniversary of Mallard's record.

I travelled extensively in "standard" class and found it generally comfortable.

One thing that annoyed me was the airline style boarding of the Virgin Pendolino trains at their terminal stations, in my case Liverpool. By checking the timetable, I found that I could catch a London Midland service (basically an outer suburban electric multiple unit) a few minutes after the Pendolino by just stepping onto the nearly empty train a minute or so before departure. The LM set ran at 100 mph, but stopped at major stations to allow the Pendolinos to pass.

The seats weren't as comfortable but the car interiors were roomier with vertical sides unlike the angled sides of the Pendolinos and the windows were much bigger, and both trains were air-conditioned.

I was using a Britrailpass, so the fare was the same (prepaid). In my estimation, on a journey in this case to Crewe it was more comfortable in the LM train. I caught the Pendolino back since there was no herding of cats at intermediate stations, but didn't think I'd missed anything in the opposite direction.

In theory, the Pendolino was more "luxurious" but in my estimation the London Midland train was more comfortable as an overall experience.

I did also travel on Cross Country "Voyager" trains which are designed to tilt and are very similar inside to the Pendolino. They were originally owned by Virgin, so that isn't surprising.

The Cross Country trains make through journeys and a good for one seat trips from say Exeter to York.

I was heading back to Exeter and picked up a Voyager around midday at Bristol Temple Meads. As we departed, the conductor announced the train as the "0750 from Glasgow to Penzance" so Scotland to Cornwall.

These are reasonably comfortable but provide a range of through journeys not available otherwise. They are also fast.

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Posted by daveklepper on Friday, September 30, 2016 12:42 AM

DBypass London or go through London and stop or some of each?

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Posted by M636C on Wednesday, October 05, 2016 4:56 AM

daveklepper

Did you bypass London or go through London and stop or some of each?

Firstly I should apologize for not replying sooner.

This is my excuse, on topic for this forum.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYAQ4mebwrQ

(In fact I just saw the setting up and the last couple of hours...)

Back in 2013 I flew into and out of London Heathrow and stayed overnight adjacent to London Paddington station. I visited a friend in Exeter in Devon, then headed directly north to York avoiding London. I stopped off in London on my way back to Exeter, and spent my last night in the Paddington area.

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, October 05, 2016 9:10 AM

Thanks.   Glad to know that it is still possible to go from Devon to the north without going through London.

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Posted by BLS53 on Thursday, October 06, 2016 7:33 PM

I've never been to Europe, but one interesting thing I've always noted with trains in movies, was that each compartment had it's own door to board or exit the train. A good idea from the passenger point of view, but seems like an operational nightmare for a variety of reasons. 

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Posted by Dragoman on Thursday, October 06, 2016 10:08 PM
I believe that only Britain had that door-at-every-compartment arrangement -- convenient for minimal station dwell times! Trains on the Continent generally only had doors at vestibules fore and aft.
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Posted by erikem on Thursday, October 06, 2016 11:45 PM

My understanding is that Britain has a tighter loading gauge than Continental Europe. This would seem to be a good incentive to eliminate the side corridor to give more usable space.

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Posted by daveklepper on Friday, October 07, 2016 12:13 AM

I recall the "slam-door" non-corridor coaches.  I think they were last used in suburban services, including mus.  Are any still in operation outside museum and heritage operations?

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Posted by aricat on Friday, October 07, 2016 6:02 AM

British Railways at least until the Beeching Plan of 1963 operated non corridor coaches all over the country. They were both in suburban and branch line service. The typical consist was often a tank locomotive and two coaches. They were called all stations and halts locals. Believe it or not, even these coaches had first class compartments. It was very rare to have a train with only second class coaches. These non corridor coaches disappeared when steam locomotives did. Britain built DMU's in the beginning in the late 1950's; all of them had first class compartments. Some designed for suburban service carried only one first class compartment for the entire trainset.

Service between Devon, Bristol, and the Noth of England has always been an intregal part of British rail service. These trains from Bristol to Yorkshire were operated by the Midland Railway, who considered passenger comfort important, and later the LMS before nationalization. In the 1970's HST trainsets began operating on this route via Birmingham New Street. The HST trainsets were as fine as any train BR operated. Britain now calls second class standard class. Inter City service both before and after privatization operate at a higher standard than does regular train service.

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Posted by wjstix on Friday, October 07, 2016 10:26 AM

Regarding air conditioning, we have to be sure we're talking about the same thing. Quite a few heavyweight cars were built with, or converted to, ice-cooled air conditioning during the 1920's. Ice bunkers were filed by hatches at the ends of the car roofs, and electric fans circulated the air through the car.

What we today think of as air conditioning (electrical, not ice) was first developed for homes around 1900 (but only used in theaters, some large public buildings, or homes of rich folks for many decades thereafter) and was adapted for railroad use in the 1930's.

Heavyweight cars with clerestory roofs normally had ductwork added to the roof, so that one side of the clerestory might be 'filled in' and look different than the other side.

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Posted by timz on Friday, October 07, 2016 12:18 PM

wjstix
Quite a few heavyweight cars were built with, or converted to, ice-cooled air conditioning during the 1920's.

Anybody know of a train that claimed to have air-conditioning in the 1920s?

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Posted by BLS53 on Friday, October 07, 2016 2:57 PM

Another question, did the old heavy weights that were still around in the 1960's, always have sealed windows, or were they originally built before air conditioning with openable windows?

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