Pullman Company business model

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Pullman Company business model
Posted by Lithonia Operator on Sunday, December 29, 2019 9:44 PM

Could someone explain the Pullman Company business model to me?

Did Pullman pay the railroads to haul their cars? On one hand it seems like they would have, as they were running their own "hotels." But OTOH, the railroads benefited from having the Pullmans on the train; those passengers, I assume, had to buy a regular ticket as well as the Pullman one; so the sleepers helped the railroads sell regular tickets, plus provided customers for the dining car.

Briefly, how did the money flow?

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Monday, December 30, 2019 4:15 PM

I've now learned that the railroads paid the Pullman Co. (generally a mileage rate) to use the Pullman cars on their trains. This generated sales of first-class tickets sold by the railroads, and such tickets were required by anyone wishing to buy a Pullman berth. Having these people aboard also generated dining car business.

The Pullman Company, separately, sold Pullman tickets for the actual accomodations. So they got that revenue on top of what the railroads paid for using the cars. A Pullman conductor dealt with the Pullman tickets, not the railroad's regular conductor.

In some contracts, the Pullman Company would forgive some/all of the mileage charges once a certain level of revenue from Pullman tickets was reached on that particular train.

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Posted by divebardave on Monday, December 30, 2019 5:02 PM

and somehow they had a monopoly and got into Anti-Trust trouble?

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, December 30, 2019 6:22 PM

divebardave
and somehow they had a monopoly and got into Anti-Trust trouble?

Pullman Company's monopoly was that they insisted in being the only builders of the equipment that was operated in Pullman service within the USA.  In the late 30's the Budd Company built the streamlined Denver Zephyr with sleeping cars - Pullman Company and the CB&Q got into a level of warfare about this.  While they 'ironed things out' it set off the monopoly 'ear worm' that ended up in the Anti-Trust actions taken against the Pullman Company.  A number of legal precedents were set in the course of the case.

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Posted by rcdrye on Tuesday, December 31, 2019 9:54 PM

In general before the 1948 breakup Pullman owned the sleepers that were leased by the railroad companies, even the ones painted for the railroads.  This blurred a bit in the 1936-1948 timeframe, where many lightweight "Pullmans" were railroad owned and leased back to Pullman.  Post-breakup only "pool" cars were owned by Pullman.

In the postwar model Pullman operated both pool cars and leased railroad-owned sleepers (many formerly owned by Pullman and assigned in the breakup).  Cars not needed by the owning railroad at any given time could be temporarily re-assigned by Pullman, sometimes for extended periods. This gave a large measure of flexibility for seasonal and special operations, and for emergency replacements on regular assignments.

Regular Pullman cars were assigned to "lines", with a particular type of car assigned to the line.  Pullman eventually dropped the requirement for a Conductor on trains with only a single car, allowing the porter to collect the Pullman tickets.  Trains with multiple Pullmans had Pullman Conductors into the 1960s.

Some railroads operated their own sleepers but still had contracts with Pullman to get access to the pool.  Soo Line operated its own sleepers but used Pullman pool cars extensively on their popular summer trains operated with Canadian Pacific (not a Pullman customer). 

Some other railroads operated Pullman lines on specific trains to handle interline cars even after they had taken over operation of their own sleeping cars.  New York Central dropped its overall contract with Pullman in 1958, but carried Pullmans for the Southern and C&O into the mid-1960s.

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, February 10, 2020 10:22 PM

See if you can find 'Travel by Pullman - a century of service' by Joe Welsh & Bill Howes.

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Posted by Sunnyland on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 3:28 PM

very interesting, never quite sure how it all worked.  Only experience on a Pullman was when 2 friends and I took a sleeper bedroom to CA in 1965.  None of us wanted to ride alone in a seat on coach, so this was the solution. Dad booked our tickets thru UP sales office and there was an extra surcharge on the basic coach fare for the bedroom. My understanding was UP got the coach portion and Pullman the extra fare, never knew how they divided up cost of hauling the cars.  Dad always said regular conductor was still the boss or "brains" as Mom always called them. I saw that when our train backed into St. Louis Union Station and the N&W conductor came back to tweet the whistle as the Pullman conductor stood beside him.  N&W took us to KC where we were switched over to UP and then switch over at Ogden  to SP.  On return trip we were able to ride the all Pullman UP City of Los Angeles train to Ogden, had dome diner and fancy lounges, then back to reality when our cars were put on UP City of St. Louis. Glad I did get to experience it one time, other train trips were in coach with parents. Have taken Amtrak sleepers but all the same train not divided like it was with Pullman. 

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Posted by Sunnyland on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 3:47 PM

very interesting, never quite sure how it all worked.  Only experience on a Pullman was when 2 friends and I took a sleeper bedroom to CA in 1965.  None of us wanted to ride alone in a seat on coach, so this was the solution. Dad booked our tickets thru UP sales office and there was an extra surcharge on the basic coach fare for the bedroom. My understanding was UP got the coach portion and Pullman the extra fare, never knew how they divided up cost of hauling the cars.  Dad always said regular conductor was still the boss or "brains" as Mom always called them. I saw that when our train backed into St. Louis Union Station and the N&W conductor came back to tweet the whistle as the Pullman conductor stood beside him.  N&W took us to KC where we were switched over to UP and then switch over at Ogden  to SP.  On return trip we were able to ride the all Pullman UP City of Los Angeles train to Ogden, had dome diner and fancy lounges, then back to reality when our cars were put on UP City of St. Louis. Glad I did get to experience it one time, other train trips were in coach with parents. Have taken Amtrak sleepers but all the same train not divided like it was with Pullman. 

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Posted by Deggesty on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 8:42 PM

Sunnyland

very interesting, never quite sure how it all worked.  Only experience on a Pullman was when 2 friends and I took a sleeper bedroom to CA in 1965.  None of us wanted to ride alone in a seat on coach, so this was the solution. Dad booked our tickets thru UP sales office and there was an extra surcharge on the basic coach fare for the bedroom. My understanding was UP got the coach portion and Pullman the extra fare, never knew how they divided up cost of hauling the cars.  Dad always said regular conductor was still the boss or "brains" as Mom always called them. I saw that when our train backed into St. Louis Union Station and the N&W conductor came back to tweet the whistle as the Pullman conductor stood beside him.  N&W took us to KC where we were switched over to UP and then switch over at Ogden  to SP.  On return trip we were able to ride the all Pullman UP City of Los Angeles train to Ogden, had dome diner and fancy lounges, then back to reality when our cars were put on UP City of St. Louis. Glad I did get to experience it one time, other train trips were in coach with parents. Have taken Amtrak sleepers but all the same train not divided like it was with Pullman. 

 

Yes, so far as the operation of the train was concerned, the railroad conductor was in charge--and the Pullman conductor (or porter in charge if there were only one Pullman in the train) was in charge of the service rendered in the Pullmans. The two conductors would come through the Pullmans together, and the railroad conductor would take the "transportation" and the Pullman conductor would take the "space."

I really do not recall how it was, if the porter took my two tickets or if the conductor was with him, when I had a roomette in the only Pullman when I rode from New Orleans to Kansas City in September, 1968.  I do remember boarding a passenger at one stop because the porter was eating lunch in the diner-obeservation car, and telling the porter which roomette his passenger was in when he came up from the rear. I think the conductor rebuked him for not being on the ground at a station stop, for he was unhappy when he came back up..

Johnny

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Posted by woody9 on Thursday, February 27, 2020 12:29 AM

My late father was a Pullman conductor for 25 years right up to the day in 1971 that Amtrak took his job so the reference to conductors ending in the 60's is not correct. The Pullman conductor had to be up and around at every stop to board ticketed passangers and or sell space.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Thursday, February 27, 2020 10:07 AM

I believe that the Pullman Company ceased operations on December 31, 1967.  The remaining Pullman routes were taken over by the various railroads and porters and in some cases Pullman conductors were picked up by the railroads.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by Deggesty on Friday, February 28, 2020 7:38 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH

I believe that the Pullman Company ceased operations on December 31, 1967.  The remaining Pullman routes were taken over by the various railroads and porters and in some cases Pullman conductors were picked up by the railroads.

 

Pullman carried on through 1968. My last trip with a Pullman conductor was in late November that year.

Johnny

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Friday, February 28, 2020 9:36 PM

Johnny, how long were you a passenger train conductor? And on what road?

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