Used to love our passenger trains ..not that long ago.

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Used to love our passenger trains ..not that long ago.
Posted by Miningman on Friday, July 3, 2020 12:30 AM

We built and celebrated our passenger trains not that long ago!

1) Inside the Talgo Train at Hartford Station July 1954

 

2)  The Train of Tomorrow... man that's a lot of room!

 

 

3) The next three pictures are from Japans 'Twilight Express' Mizukaze, Shiki-Shima 10 car sleeper train. 

It is what today's 20th Century ( 21st) Limited should have become, even expected. It didn't of course and now it's ... aww forget it. 

It does however exist, just not with us. Unacceptable really. 

 Now then let me tell you .. This IS a Bedroom on a train! 100% on my bucket list. This is GREAT and beautiful.

Oh boy .., where is the New York Central and why is this not here.

Can I buy you a drink?

 

Shall we go to the observation car at the rear.

 

Now then just because I'm a Classic guy, which means like a fine wine, I would like to see a nice smoking car where I can relax old style. 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Friday, July 3, 2020 2:24 AM

Thanks

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Posted by gmpullman on Friday, July 3, 2020 2:38 AM

Miningman
Now then let me tell you .. This IS a Bedroom on a train! 100% on my bucket list. This is GREAT and beautiful.

Here it is in motion:

 

T-o-T in color:

 GM_T-o-T by Edmund, on Flickr

 GM_T-o-T_0003 by Edmund, on Flickr

 GM_T-o-T_0004 by Edmund, on Flickr

 GM_T-o-T_0005 by Edmund, on Flickr

 GM_T-o-T_0001 by Edmund, on Flickr

 GM_T-o-T_0002 by Edmund, on Flickr

 

And for good measure, since you mentioned the Century

 creek interior by Edmund, on Flickr

Wherever people of means and influence congregate...

Cheers, Ed

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, July 3, 2020 8:56 AM

Miningman
Now then just because I'm a Classic guy, which means like a fine wine, I would like to see a nice smoking car where I can relax old style.   

Forget the high-tech futuristic stuff, THAT'S what a railcar SHOULD look like!

 

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Posted by Miningman on Friday, July 3, 2020 12:03 PM

gmpullman-- great post! Thanks for that video, what a passenger service!

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Posted by NKP guy on Friday, July 3, 2020 12:30 PM

   Great post & pictures.

   I'm trying to imagine train personnel passing out cardboard-boxed "meals" to passengers on these trains!

   Or visualize such a futuristic train stopping every 500 miles or so at a station restaurant and waiting for 45 minutes or more while passengers detrained, ate, and re-boarded (a la one of our contributors here) before the train resumed its journey to the future.

   Sometimes it almost hurts to glimpse how pleasant passenger train travel could be, because it's never going to be so again in my country in my lifetime.

   By the way, Miningman, 1954 was a very, very long time ago.  Even on this old-guy forum I bet nearly no one here would say it wasn't.

 

 

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Posted by Miningman on Friday, July 3, 2020 1:46 PM

1954 easily within memory of many here but ok point taken, it was a while ago, no doubt. I am used to thinking in Geological Time, either in Absolute or Relative. I have photos of the folks and moi 1954... and to think we had passenger trains we admired in service at the time. 

Equipment for the Canadian was just being put together and rolling out of the Budd shops and much of it is still with us, still in service!

Which proves in a way that passenger service development just stopped, at least as far as private companies go. You would think one would be a holdout and move forward but that did not happen. 

We have the Rocky Mountaineer and that pricey VIA service, but a huge gap for decades. Those are trains that appeal to an 'experience' as is the Shiki-Shima. 

But!... why no New York Central Bullet trains in 1960, 21st Century Ltd today catering to exclusive patrons. Heck, no New York Central. 

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Posted by SD70Dude on Friday, July 3, 2020 1:57 PM

The closest we got to a futuristic passenger service in this country was CN's Turbo.

If you haven't already, you should read Jason Schron's book about it.  Pretty eye opening, and I hadn't previously known that CN came very close to ordering more of them in the mid 1970s, by which time the CN fleet was running quite reliably. 

If only we had gotten some better track with fewer level crossings to run them on.

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by Deggesty on Friday, July 3, 2020 3:04 PM

1954--yes, that was quite a while back. I had my first revenue train trip that year--from Hendersonville to Asheville, as I was on my way to Bristol to begin my college course. I was hitchhiking; a man on his way to Hendersonville picked me up somewhere west of Charlotte, and we arrived at his destination in time for me to take Southern #10 to Asheville.

The year before, I had my first solo trip when I went from Baton Rouge to Charlotte (and hitchhiked the 50 miles to home from there). That was my fourth (and last) trip on a pass.

 

Johnny

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Posted by MidlandMike on Friday, July 3, 2020 9:19 PM

Miningman
We have the Rocky Mountaineer and that pricey VIA service, but a huge gap for decades. Those are trains that appeal to an 'experience' as is the Shiki-Shima.  But!... why no New York Central Bullet trains in 1960, 21st Century Ltd today catering to exclusive patrons. Heck, no New York Central. 

The Shiki-Shima train is a cruse train, while the 20th Century was a train for businessmen and others who needed and wanted the most comfortable means of travel between NY-CHI.  The vast majority of those people fly now.  The world moved on.

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Posted by Miningman on Friday, July 3, 2020 9:46 PM

Is that not what I state in your quoted clip? 

Except for ' the world moved on'... didn't realize that North America was the world. As far as I'm concerned we are the ones that regressed and sold a bill of goods.  Our monstrous loss. 

Yeah the world moved on all right... to TGV's , Bullet Trains, and their successors, far outstripping anything we have. 

A high class 21st Century today would be something where the best and biggest deals could be made and celebrities and such vying for seats and status. 

Not to mention all the hanky panky and gossip going on with all those bedrooms! 

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Posted by SD70Dude on Friday, July 3, 2020 10:04 PM

Even before the pandemic, if I were a porter I would definitely wear medical-grade gloves when changing the bedding......

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by Miningman on Saturday, July 4, 2020 12:05 AM

Maybe even the odd 'heart attack' or 'suicide' now and then... it's stressful at that level, dangerous too and 'things' happen.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Saturday, July 4, 2020 8:56 PM

Miningman

Is that not what I state in your quoted clip? 

Except for ' the world moved on'... didn't realize that North America was the world. As far as I'm concerned we are the ones that regressed and sold a bill of goods.  Our monstrous loss. 

Yeah the world moved on all right... to TGV's , Bullet Trains, and their successors, far outstripping anything we have. 

A high class 21st Century today would be something where the best and biggest deals could be made and celebrities and such vying for seats and status. 

Not to mention all the hanky panky and gossip going on with all those bedrooms! 

 

What you stated conflated the cruse trains with the 20th Century.  And I don't know any modern train that replicates the 20th Century, so yes the world has moved on.  The 20th Century an essential travel mode of the day.  Cruse trains are not how business is done.

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, July 5, 2020 8:21 AM

Having ridden both, the Super was just as good as the 20th.

And the CZ made up for its lesser polish by the still magnificent drmatific scenery (still but wih loss of Castle Gate).

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, July 5, 2020 8:23 AM

Some still don't understand the station restaurant scheme.

Not meal stops.

The on -board meals are from a very broad take-out menue and only a fraction of the take-out business which is a fraction of the top rewtauerant in town sit-down business.

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Posted by chutton01 on Sunday, July 5, 2020 4:20 PM

"Used to love our passenger trains ..not that long ago."
Well, ignoring the fact that that's well before my time, and I'm a middle age Gen-X f@rt, how about we check what the New York Central was up to 6 years later, in 1960

trains operating between Cincinnati and Chicago. NYC filed a petition for rehearing of the case, asking permission to discontinue the Sycamore and the Cincinnati Special two of the four remaining trains, as these two trains result in an "out-of-pocket" loss of $258,113 a year. A similar petition for rehearing will be filed with the Illinois Commerce Commission, which had concurred in the Indiana decision.
Example picked at random, this one from Page 2 of the April 1960 NY Central Headlight on the Canada Southern website

Interesting in-house magazine, also read the equivalent PRR in-house magazine "The Pennsy" - spoiler alert, as that fateful February 1968 approached, mood in the PRR mag was all "YES, this will be Great! Happy, Happy, Joy Joy!" and NYC mag was more like "yay? whatever..."

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Posted by York1 on Sunday, July 5, 2020 4:30 PM

Dave, I know you've written extensively on this idea, but I'm one of the ones who doesn't understand.

Would the restaurant need to be at the train station?  If not, how do the meals that are ordered get from the restaurant to the train, and then to the customers?  It seems like a labor-intensive setup, and labor is the main cost in food service.

If the restaurant has to be close to the station, there is a real issue in many cities.  The stations often are not located in areas of cities that normal restaurant customers would visit.

York1 John       

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Posted by Enzoamps on Sunday, July 5, 2020 5:34 PM

As swell as it might be to have a fancy vacation train for people with excess money, it has been tried and failed more than once.  Remember the American Orient Express?  Neither does the marketplace.  Stand alone trains would never support themselves, so they require being towed behind existing Amtrak routes.  Is Amtrak even willing to do that anymore?

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Posted by Backshop on Sunday, July 5, 2020 5:43 PM

York1

Dave, I know you've written extensively on this idea, but I'm one of the ones who doesn't understand.

Would the restaurant need to be at the train station?  If not, how do the meals that are ordered get from the restaurant to the train, and then to the customers?  It seems like a labor-intensive setup, and labor is the main cost in food service.

If the restaurant has to be close to the station, there is a real issue in many cities.  The stations often are not located in areas of cities that normal restaurant customers would visit.

 

In addition, the only stations with enough LD trains to "maybe" make it worthwhile are New York City and Chicago, and I'm not sure about them.  Then you have the problem of the food having to be warmed up when it comes to meal time.

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, July 5, 2020 10:24 PM

York1
Dave, I know you've written extensively on this idea, but I'm one of the ones who doesn't understand.

Would the restaurant need to be at the train station?  If not, how do the meals that are ordered get from the restaurant to the train, and then to the customers?  It seems like a labor-intensive setup, and labor is the main cost in food service.

If the restaurant has to be close to the station, there is a real issue in many cities.  The stations often are not located in areas of cities that normal restaurant customers would visit.

Not only that trains would have to arrive these 'restaurant cities' in some semblance of traditional meal times - with LD trains leaving their end points at 'traditional' times that limits the locations where the restaurants could be located.  The second aspect of the restaurant business is that to be profitable, a larger clientele than just Amtrak customers would have to be served in the local population.

Fred Harvey was great for the 19th Century, not so much for the 21st Century. 

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Posted by Miningman on Sunday, July 5, 2020 11:55 PM

Have great respect and admiration for David but on this restaurant catering to Amtrak suggestion, well frankly not a stick of it makes sense.  Arrival times vary widely, meal times may not coincidence even within a decent range of where the train is and just who cleans up all the waste and such afterward. A small commisary offering simple pre made foods only will do just fine, offer the space free of charge to some budding entrepreneurs and stay out of it. 

Now back to my original premise. I'm not in any way saying the Century should be a cruise train but it would be an experience, just as it was back in the day. The amenities, qualities and high level of standards such as offered on the Shiki-Shima are an example of what should have occurred.  

Japans Bullet Trains debuted in 1960... how and why did a fine passenger oriented railroad such as the New York Central with its perfectly situated network of cities and rail at the right kind of distance, an absolute perfect answer and use of something like a bullet train not be developed?  The world moved on all right and left us with our cars and highways. That was the game!

The Century today would be a high speed uber exclusive extension of all that, not a cruise train. 

Dosen't matter, that was not our game. It could have been and today it's rather easy to see that it should have been. 

So you have Amtrak and we have VIA and that's a whole different game.

 

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Posted by Backshop on Monday, July 6, 2020 6:05 AM

Miningman

Japans Bullet Trains debuted in 1960... how and why did a fine passenger oriented railroad such as the New York Central with its perfectly situated network of cities and rail at the right kind of distance, an absolute perfect answer and use of something like a bullet train not be developed?  The world moved on all right and left us with our cars and highways. That was the game! 

Money and track conditions, which are sort interrelated?

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, July 6, 2020 7:54 AM

Miningman
Japans Bullet Trains debuted in 1960.

Japan's kind of an interesting case.  Now I remember reading an article years back, it might have been in "Trains," that in 1960 the Japanese government was facing a demand for improved transportation facilities as the post-war economy was booming by that time.  They had a choice, they could build a superhighway system which would have been fantastically expensive considering the high real estate prices in the greater metropolitan areas, or they could build a high-speed rail system which would have been a lot cheaper. They also realized that traffic always  expands to fill available highway space which would have lead to a more-cars-more-roads-more-cars-more-roads spiral.  So they went with rail, basically forcing people off the roads and onto the trains since the convenient driving option wasn't going to be there.  It worked perfectly, and people love the trains.

Would the same approach have worked here in the 50's when the interstate highway system was proposed?  I don't know.  People nowadays can't imagine life without an interstate highway system but as the saying goes "You don't miss what you never had."  

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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, July 6, 2020 8:21 AM

Miningmn, I also have great respect for you.  But this "best restaurant in town" is open 24 hours a day, has a wide menue from economical to top gorumet, and has Take Out and possibly home delivary also 24 hours a day.  So unusual arrival and deparature times don't phase the maanagememt or staff one bit.  They are already used to catering a corporation board meeting that lasted until 23:40 with the Directors and Chairman wanting a seven-course gourmet extravegansa to follow the meeting.  And the economies of scale provide qualitiy, variety, and prices appropriate for the specific food served.

The restaurant - railroad caterer would be inside the train station to provide for passengers who's decision to travel was at the last minute.  Those buying tickets or making resservations in advance, usually via the Internet, would be specific aobut their meal selections from the several menues provided.  For example, someone going Chicago to LA could choose from the Chircago, Kansas City, Alberqueque, and possibly Barsow menues.  Food that retains quality when frozen and then microwaved would be eaten at times the passengers wish, while food that must be eaten fresh to preserve quality would be served immediately upon departure from the restaurant's statiion.  But a last-minute passnger could arrive with enoiugh minutes to spare and visit the restaurant to take to the train the food he wishes, or just be satsified with whatever the stand-by rations the train carries for such situations.

Diners wuuld have refrigerated and room-temperture storage, micrwaves, and hot platas, the latter for the serve-upon-departure meals.

Any really good hotel restaurant's kitchen provides such flexible service for room service for hotel guests, so finding the right people to run such a restaurant should be possible.  I'd really be happy to see Mariott as the overqll provider, since I believe they wuuld do a terrific job.

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Posted by Backshop on Monday, July 6, 2020 8:45 AM

The problem is that there is no restaurant chain with such a varied menu.  It couldn't survive because it would need to account for too many of whatever a SKU is called in the food industry.  All the way from burgers and tacos to prime rib and lobster.  Like others have mentioned, most train stations are in areas of town that monied people don't frequent on a regular basis.  Very few foods "travel" well.  Here's a local example--We have a higher end local restaurant called Rocky's of Northville.  It was started by a former head chef of the Chuck Muer's chain.  You may be familiar with them because they have the Gandy Dancer in the Ann Arbor station, the Grand Concourse in the P&LE station in Pittsburgh and the River Crab in St Clair, MI, right on the river to watch the freighters. Anyways, they make their living as a seafood/steak destination and are very good at it.  However, for their Covid carryout specials menu, it's mainly stuff like ribs, pastas, etc.  Why?  Because fish and steaks don't "travel" well.

PS--Yes, the ribs are better than many BBQ places, at least around here.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Monday, July 6, 2020 10:43 PM

Miningman

...

Now back to my original premise. I'm not in any way saying the Century should be a cruise train but it would be an experience, just as it was back in the day. The amenities, qualities and high level of standards such as offered on the Shiki-Shima are an example of what should have occurred.  

Japans Bullet Trains debuted in 1960... how and why did a fine passenger oriented railroad such as the New York Central with its perfectly situated network of cities and rail at the right kind of distance, an absolute perfect answer and use of something like a bullet train not be developed?  The world moved on all right and left us with our cars and highways. That was the game!

The Century today would be a high speed uber exclusive extension of all that, not a cruise train. 

Dosen't matter, that was not our game. It could have been and today it's rather easy to see that it should have been. 

So you have Amtrak and we have VIA and that's a whole different game.

 

 

A corporate exec going to Chicago could hire a private jet for any experience he wanted.  The are just not going to take a train that far.

The metroliner was the US answer to a bullet train.  Acela gets the business class for an acceptable length trip.

The interstate highway system was considered essential for defense, following the example of Germany autobahns.

 

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, July 6, 2020 11:31 PM

Backshop
The problem is that there is no restaurant chain with such a varied menu.  It couldn't survive because it would need to account for too many of whatever a SKU is called in the food industry.  All the way from burgers and tacos to prime rib and lobster.  Like others have mentioned, most train stations are in areas of town that monied people don't frequent on a regular basis.  Very few foods "travel" well.  Here's a local example--We have a higher end local restaurant called Rocky's of Northville.  It was started by a former head chef of the Chuck Muer's chain.  You may be familiar with them because they have the Gandy Dancer in the Ann Arbor station, the Grand Concourse in the P&LE station in Pittsburgh and the River Crab in St Clair, MI, right on the river to watch the freighters. Anyways, they make their living as a seafood/steak destination and are very good at it.  However, for their Covid carryout specials menu, it's mainly stuff like ribs, pastas, etc.  Why?  Because fish and steaks don't "travel" well.

PS--Yes, the ribs are better than many BBQ places, at least around here.

Closest is Waffle House!  Of course I haven't seen many located close to the railroad, let alone Amtrak operated railroad.

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, July 7, 2020 4:47 AM

Seafood doesn't travel well?  Since I am older than 80 years, the Israeli government is concerned about my health.  So I have signed up for a program, where every Monday about Noon, seven refrigorated meals show up for immediate placement in the frig to be microwaved just before eating.  This supplements what others in the Yeshiva provide on invitations and the food I buy myself for myself and to avoid showing up empty-handed as a guest.  All seven meals are fish, since I am a vegetarian and also require lots of protein.  And they are good meals.  White fish, fish cakes, fried fish, suaully with French Fries, boiled potatoes, various vegitables, carrots.

The meals that a traveler would want that don't travel well would go directly to hot plates and be served right away, with the passenger going directly to the diner after storing his or her carryones in the room or above the coach seat assigned.  These meals would be a minority and sold any when conditions are appropriate, usually at the trains originating station leavig between an hour before to an hour later of the usual meal-time for the  secific meal.

The best model for the restaurant, for me, is a restaurant in a typical Marriot hotel.  But take-out and home delivery plus the minior role of on-board train service replaces room service.

Incidently, to answer the question, the cost to me of the Govesrnment-provided meals is about $2.80 per.  Equivalent at the Hebrew U. Frank Sinatra Cafe is about $5.70.  A Jaffa Road or French Hill upscale restauarant could be as high as $40.00 with much better presentation, but not much different food.

Buying the food in markets and prepairing nyself would not save much over the $2.80 if at all.  Might cost more.

Confession:  You know I have thought a lot and for a long time about this problem, certainly beginning to move here.  I wondered why Amtrak did not adopt the same menue given 1st-Class then Metroliner now Acela passengers for long-distance trains.  This would seem to preserve some quality while reducing costs and not paying cooks to travel and live away from home.  What changed my thinking was the recent history of Israel Railways and a review of past USA railroad meal history, where onlyl the AT&SF and NYNH&H ever actually earned money with food and beverage service.  Israel Railways elminated cafe cars and replaced them with traveling carts.  This did not work well with double-deckers, so now no meals or food or drink is sold on trains.   But each pair of facing seats has a table with indents as cup holders, a plastic bag underneath each table on the wall for garbage, and cold drinking water available.  And every important station has at leaat one good take-out and sit-down restaurant with many having two or more, good enough for the local clients who may just be chaninging buses or moving beween bus and light riil at the station or buying something in the shops  in the station or nearby or working in the area.

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Posted by scilover on Tuesday, July 7, 2020 10:06 PM
Wow....the interior of the train sure looks spectacular! It's basically a 5 star hotel in a train. I never sat in a train that can even come close to that!

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