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Mixed Passenger & freight trains. How were they sorted?

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Mixed Passenger & freight trains. How were they sorted?
Posted by gdelmoro on Monday, June 04, 2018 10:20 AM

I don’t know if railroads still mix passenger service and freight service but I do see that in years past there sometimes was freight cars before passenger cars and vice versa.

Under what conditions were the two mixed?

Is there a protocol ? Freight first? Passenger first?

How did/does it work?

Gary

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  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
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Posted by dknelson on Monday, June 04, 2018 10:43 AM

As a rule (you remember rules, the things meant to be broken? Devil ) the passenger car, often a combine, would be the last car on a true mixed train.  Often a portion of the car would be reserved for the conductor with a seat replaced with a desk so he could do his paper work.  This had the advantage that the paying passengers were not being buffeted about during local switching as they would if the passenger car was nearer to or right behind the loco.  And I suspect it was pretty common on mixed trains for there to be no paying customers whatever, so in essence the coach or combine was just functioning as a large and comfortable caboose anyway.  Since stock cars were typically near the locomotive to minimize slack action, the other adavantage was to keep the paying passengers as far away from the animal odors as possible.  But there would be considerble slack action on a mixed train to contend with.      

I said "true" mixed trains above, because there were also trains shown in the timetable as a mixed trains but which were ordinary freight trains in which paying passengers were permitted (but not encouraged) to ride in the actual caboose.  One such mixed train was on the Soo Line until surprisingly recently, maybe the 1980s.  The Soo had agreed to provide the service decades earlier perhaps in return for free land for a depot, and since their own true passenger service ended in the 1960s they had not joined Amtrak.  Only those in the know knew that by paying a very modest fare you could ride along in the caboose (thereby making the crew and conductor rather unhappy I understand).  I do not know whether paying customers were permitted to use the dry hopper "facility" or not.

Having said all this I am sure someone can produce a photo of a mixed train where the passenger car or combine is right behind the engine.   

Dave Nelson

 

 

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Posted by NVSRR on Monday, June 04, 2018 11:41 AM

Strasburg still runs these type.  They do have freight service.  It depends on which way the train is going as to where the passenger cars are.  

A pessimist sees a dark tunnel

An optimist sees the light at the end of the tunnel

A realist sees a frieght train

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, June 04, 2018 12:15 PM

Where the passenger car was in the mixed train depended on the time of year and how the car was heated.

Modern passenger cars, as used by Amtrak, use Head End Power (HEP). The engines generate electricity that is sent back to the cars for heating, air conditioning, lights etc. But for much of the 20th century, the cars were heated by steam heat from a steam locomotive, or a diesel with a steam generator in it. Lighting was from batteries under the car. In the 19th century, cars generally had their own coal-burning stoves for heat, and burned oil lamps for light.

If a mixed-train used a car needing steam for heat, and the weather was cold, the passenger car would be put directly behind the engine so it could be connected up to the steam line. Freight cars would not have steam line connections to allow the steam go back to a passenger car on the end. In that situation, there would usually be a caboose at the end of the train, behind the freight cars.

If however the mixed train used an older car with a stove, it could run it at the end of the train since the car could heat itself. That's part of the reason why even into the 1940's you could find old wood passenger cars from the 1800's still in service, since they could used at the end of a mixed train (thereby not requiring a caboose.)

Stix
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Posted by j. c. on Monday, June 04, 2018 5:12 PM

you might see if you can get your hands on the book   Mixed trains daily  or Riding mixed trains in the soulthwest.  

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, June 04, 2018 5:42 PM

 I rode a mixed train just a couple of years ago on the OC&T. Like Strasburg, moostly a tourist line but they do haul some freight, and they had a couple of cars that needed to get to the end of the line so they tacked them on our train on the way out. We then set them off before returning to Titusville. In this case, the freight cars were at the end of the train for easy setoff. So there was the loco, a couple of coaches, an open car, and then a pair of covered hoppers. Loco ran around the train, plucked the hoppers off the end, and then returned and coupled to the open car for the return trip. Nice ride in the open car right behind an Alco, even if it was a Canadian-built one.

                              --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

PED
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Posted by PED on Monday, June 04, 2018 7:25 PM

Seems like I remember (some years ago) when I was on an Amtrak, they had a bunch of boxcars (Amtrack silver) on the tail end. I was told that the cars were express cargo (mail?). When we got to the end of the line (LAX), the train stopped and the tail end boxcars were cut off before we got to the station.

Not a true mixed freight but had some of that flavor.

Paul

Washita and Santa Fe Railroad
Circa 1970's in south central Oklahoma

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, June 04, 2018 7:43 PM

 A lot of those cars were mothballed in the yard right outside the Harrisburg passenger station. I haven't been over that way for a while so I'm not sure if they are still parked there or not.

                                 --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by NHTX on Tuesday, June 05, 2018 6:48 AM

     Most railroads preferred to put the freight behind the power because most mixed trains switched industries along their route and having a car carrying passengers tagging along on every shove and pull was downright dangerous due to coupling impacts and slack action.  Thus, cars used in mixed train service had their own heat source.  A lot of mixed trains were handled by yard switcher type locomotives or, regular freight locomotives that did not have boilers. An oil or propane fired heater was installed in one corner of the car, sometimes in a vestibule.  When you did see the passenger carrying cars right behind the engine, the train would not be engaged in setting out and picking up freight cars.  Southern Railway quite often tacked cars of high priority freight (piggyback, auto racks, and boxcars) onto its secondary passenger trains such as the Peach Queen in the later years.  If you had the freight and the horsepower was available, why not?  Southern also used these secondary trains for power balancing so, a consist of up to a half dozen RS-3s ahead of a couple of FP-7s trailing, 7 or 8 headend and passenger cars topped of by up to a dozen regular freight cars with a red flag in the knuckle of the last coupler was nothing to cause alarm.  In the 1960s Railway Express Agency and some railroads had piggyback flat and, Flexi-Van cars with steam lines and connections that were operated on the head end of some passenger trains that handled a lot of mail and express, giving them the appearance of being mixed trains which they were not. Some railroads would also couple express reefers or boxcars on the rear of regular passenger trains for setoff along its route, especially at points where switchers were on duty.  Two factors are at play here.  If you've got a switcher and crew on duty and available, simply cut of the car or cars at the station stop and depart leaving them for the switch crew to spot.  It avoids the bump of a coupling which is very important to sleeping passengers and you don't have to pay the road crew extra for switching.    Some of the best known and longest lasting mixed trains were those of the Georgia Railroad.  In their later years they operated with Budd stainless steel coaches that at one time graced Southern's "Crescent".  As expected, they sometimes trailed a freight consist of 50 or more cars, so they were self-sufficient in heat.  The Georgia mixeds lasted until at least the late 1970s due to provisions in their charter concerning taxes.  The most impressive mixed I saw was on the Santa Fe leaving Amarillo TX, heading up the Boise City branch.  An EMD F unit leading four B units, followed by 96 covered hoppers and one mineral red, heavyweight combine.  I imagine the cost difference in running the combine vs. a regular caboose wasn't worth the legal wrangling to drop the accommodation requirement.  

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Posted by BRAKIE on Thursday, June 07, 2018 7:59 AM

When the REA traffic and ridership completely died some states insisted the railroads keep the mixed train on its schedule.

So,if a passenger did show up he bought his ticket and rode in the caboose on one of the seats..

Larry

SSRy

Conductor

“Shut one’s eyes tight or open one’s arms wide, either way, one’s a fool.” Flemeth-the witch of the Wilds.

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