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Penn Central RPO routes

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Penn Central RPO routes
Posted by Christopher D on Tuesday, April 16, 2024 9:29 PM

I recently read that Penn Central opperated the following RPO trains. 

An NY and Chicago RPO via the former NYC which was discontinued between NY and Buffalo in Nov. 1969 and discontinued between Buffalo and Chicago in June 1970.

A NY and Springfield RPO via the former New Haven which was discontinued in Dec. 1969.

A Pittsburgh and Chicago RPO via the former PRR which was discontinued in June 1970. 

A NY and Pittsburgh RPO via the former PRR which was discontinued in April 1971. 

My question is does anyone know the numbers of the trains that carried the RPOs on these routes durring the Penn Central era? Thanks. 

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 8:53 AM

Except for NYCity - Springfield, most were down to one train each way each day, so the answers should beceasy to find.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 12:13 PM

The East-West routes of Penn Central prior to May 1, 1971 usually had two or three trains in each direction so it might not be that easy.

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 timz on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 5:21 PM
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Posted by Christopher D on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 6:51 PM

That is the difficulty that I am having. There are multiple trains serving each route so you cant really tell which one would have carried the RPO. The PRR Technical and Historical Society website lists the RPO routes and when they where discontinued but not specific train numbers. 

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, April 18, 2024 5:51 AM

If you study the timetsble, you will see that there is onlyb none through Newe York - Chicago train each way via Cleveland.

There are two via Pittsburgh and Fort Waynem but one closer to 12971 ewill show only one.

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Posted by rcdrye on Thursday, April 18, 2024 6:46 AM

The Manhattan Limited carried storage mail and the New York and Ptittsburgh RPO until it was discontinued on 4/30/1971.  After that, the New York & Washington RPO remained as a Penn Central train (also carrying storage mail), even surviving a year into Conrail.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Thursday, April 18, 2024 10:11 AM

rcdrye

The Manhattan Limited carried storage mail and the New York and Ptittsburgh RPO until it was discontinued on 4/30/1971.  After that, the New York & Washington RPO remained as a Penn Central train (also carrying storage mail), even surviving a year into Conrail.

 
I'm pretty sure that Amtrak took over operation of that train on April 1, 1976.
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 Overmod on Thursday, April 18, 2024 5:47 PM

The New York and Washington RPO ran as a 'rider' cut, I believe in what seemed like a very long train of M&E cars, as a Conrail train after end-of-PC day (midnight 4-1-76).  I think I watched it a couple of times through Princeton Junction in the middle of the night (strangely enough, I only ever saw the northbound); it was one of the fastest trains I saw behind GG1s.  Amtrak noted (in the issue of their employee newsletter celebrating the 75th anniversary of the train that became the Broadway Limited, that the train had four RPO cars for the last runs in 1977.

Trains published the last cancellation which was dated June 30, 1977.  I grew up with the magazine printing a different RPO mark every month... after that they had to print 'historical' ones and it wasn't the same.

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Posted by rcdrye on Thursday, April 18, 2024 5:54 PM

Amtrak supplied GG1 4935 and a rider car for the last run, but it was never an Amtrak train.  It was a Conrail train, down to the RPOs which were still mostly lettered for PRR, though one was freshly painted for Penn Central.

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Posted by Christopher D on Thursday, April 18, 2024 6:59 PM

Did the Manhattan Limited also carry the Pittsburgh and Chicago RPO when it ran? Because there was also the Pennsylvania Limited and the Admiral between Pittsburgh and Chicago. As for NY to Chicago via Cleveland, I see that train 63 was the only thru train but I know that train 61 conveyed cars to train 27 in Buffalo so it would appear that it could have been either one of them.  

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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, April 18, 2024 7:17 PM

I remember seeing a mail train on the ex-NH part of the NEC in the late 1980s.  Would this just been storage mail, ie., not a RPO train?

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Posted by rcdrye on Thursday, April 18, 2024 8:57 PM

The Fast Mail (eastbound 12 Washington Boston, 412 New Haven-Springfield,  westbound 13 Springfield Washington) carried storage mail in baggage and MHC (Material Handling Cars) until 2004, when Amtrak discontinued its mail and express initiative.  Springfield MA was (and is) a large mail sorting center, with cars handled at the Spring loading area just south of the B&A/Conrail Boston Line.  Passengers were handled on 12 and 412, but not 13.

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, April 19, 2024 7:29 AM

I understood that the major thing that killed the last RPOs was the use of OCR for sorting, and the establishment of the sorting center or whatever it was called near Harrison in 1973.  It became quicker and more cost-effective to sort and ship as storage mail, with trains like Mail 8 terminating near there instead of going in to the container lifts under the Farley post office (which is now the Moynihan Train Hall).

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, April 19, 2024 10:12 AM

Another primarily mail-and-express train was the "Pennsylvanian", which operated on a (mostly) daylight schedule between Chicago and Philadelphia.  It usually consisted of 2 F40PH's, a baagege car, 2 coaches, a snack bar, 3-5 express box cars and 10-15 Roadrailers.

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 Overmod on Saturday, April 20, 2024 3:01 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH
Another primarily mail-and-express train was the "Pennsylvanian", which operated on a (mostly) daylight schedule between Chicago and Philadelphia.  It usually consisted of 2 F40PH's, a baagege car, 2 coaches, a snack bar, 3-5 express box cars and 10-15 Roadrailers.

That was only for a little over 4 years, IIRC, between late 1998 and when Amtrak was "induced" to leave the MHC/RoadRailer 'express' business.  It went briefly back to being a New York-Chicago train briefly by merging with the old Three Rivers, but by March of 2005 we were back to essentially what we have now.

Would have been a glorious thing to see at its M&E height, but perhaps not so much fun to ride, especially terminating in Philadelphia to permit rapid equipment turnaround... 

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Posted by rcdrye on Sunday, April 21, 2024 6:54 AM

Then-president David Gunn and the Amtrak board looked at the numbers - mail wasn't coming close to being self-supportig. Some mail-heavy trains like the Southwest Chief had better financial performance AFTER the mail was removed, along with costly, performance-killing switching that made the train uncomfortable for passengers.

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Posted by gmpullman on Saturday, May 11, 2024 4:20 PM

 RPO_NY-Wash, 1977 by Edmund, on Flickr


 

 RPO Last Run Train 3 1977 by Edmund, on Flickr

I thought I had a cancellation from #4 last run but maybe I haven't scanned it yet.

I recall watching Nos. 5 and 6 through Cleveland but by the early '70s it was all mail storage and a rider car. Sometimes it had four or five E7s and 8s! THAT was music to my ears as she worked up out of the Cuyahoga riverbed.

Cheers, Ed

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