Passenger trains of the twentieth century modeled in HO
Chesapeake & Ohio's Pere Marquette
The Pere Marquette Railway was incorporated in 1900 and served the lower peninsula of Michigan and a small portion of southwest Ontario, Canada. It also established car ferry service from Ludington, Michigan to Kewaunee, Manitowoc, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1911 the company was purchased by J.P. Morgan, and in 1929 the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad acquired a controlling interest in the company. On August 10, 1946, The Pere Marquette streamliner was inaugurated between Grand Rapids and Detroit. With all new Pullman-Standard passenger cars, and two new EMD E-7 diesel locomotives, the Pere Marquette promoted itself as “the nation’s first all-new post-war streamlined passenger train.” Less than a year later, on June 6, 1947, the Pere Marquette Railway was no more, having been fully merged into the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad. The Chessie operated a variety of passenger trains which carried the Pere Marquette name during the 1950’s and 1960’s and in 1965 applied the name to its Grand Rapids to Chicago trains, as well as those serving Grand Rapids and Detroit. The video shows C&O train 9, The Pere Marquette, arriving at Chicago’s Central Station, on time at 11:55 am.
Milwaukee Road’s 1935 Twin Cities Hiawatha
During the 1930s three railroads fiercely competed for daytime passenger revenue on the Chicago to Minneapolis – St. Paul corridor: the Milwaukee Road, the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, and the Chicago and North Western Railway. Each managed the roughly 400 mile trip in 10 hours, at an average speed of 40 miles per hour. In 1934 each of the railroads committed to introducing new service which would reduce the travel time to approximately 6 ½ hours from Chicago to St. Paul. The Burlington introduced a new diesel powered trainset, the Twin Cities Zephyr, while the C&NW chose to use upgraded steam locomotives and conventional heavyweight passenger cars for the initial Twin Cities 400. The Milwaukee Road more or less split the difference, ordering new steam locomotives from the American Locomotive Company and constructing new lighter weight passenger cars in its own shops to outfit the Twin Cities Hiawatha. Remarkably, all three trains entered service in 1935.
The first Hiawatha ran between Chicago and the Twin Cities on May 29, 1935 on a daily schedule of 6 ½ hours to cover the 410 miles to St. Paul. The new class A 4-4-2 locomotives were oil fired to reduce servicing time en route, and were some of the fastest steam engines ever built, capable of sustained speeds of over 100 miles per hour. To maintain its aggressive schedule, the station stop in Milwaukee, including servicing, was scheduled for two minutes.
The Mainstreeter was an unusual long-distance ( Chicago to Seattle ) train in that it was not inaugurated until 1952. On the other hand, the North Coast Limited, the Northern Pacific’s flagship train, began operations in 1900. The Mainstreeter actually began service as a result of the NP choosing to shorten the schedule of the North Coast Limited ( which was in heavy competition with the Great Northern’s Empire Builder among others ) by eliminating several station stops. The new Mainstreeter serviced all the stops along the Northern Pacific’s line from St. Paul to Seattle. The train ran until the beginning of Amtrak, when it was discontinued.
Chicago & Northwestern's Twin Cities 400, circa 1941
Originally introduced in January of 1935 as a heavyweight train pulled by class E-2 Pacific locomotives, the train was known simply as The 400, signifying the train’s ability to cover the 400 miles from Chicago to Minneapolis in 400 minutes. ( Never mind that the actual distance was 419.2 miles and the original schedule showed an elapsed time of 450 minutes ). By April 28, the schedule had been shortened by 30 minutes, so the train really did achieve the “mile a minute” standard it had claimed. By 1939 the train had been streamlined with new E-3 locomotives from EMC in LaGrange and new streamlined passenger cars from Pullman. In 1941, new E-6 locomotives arrived from EMC and the train was renamed the Twin Cities 400, as the C&NWprepared to rename almost all of its passenger trains as part of the 400 fleet, including the Flambeau 400, Minnesota 400, Peninsula 400, Shoreland 400, Valley 400 and the later Kate Shelley 400. From 1950 to 1955 the Twin Cities 400 operated on a 6 hour and 15 minute schedule from Chicago to St. Paul, averaging just over 65 miles per hour.The model in the video was produced by Railway Classics. The E-6 units are numbered for the 5006-A and 5006-B which were delivered to the C&NW in 1941.
Great Northern's Empire Builder
The Great Northern Railroad, along with being a significant freight hauler, was a major player in developing long distance passenger train service to the west coast. The road’s premier passenger train, launched in June of 1929, was the Empire Builder. Like many of the other name trains of the era, the Empire Builder began service as an all heavyweight train, with conventional steam for power. There were no substantive changes to the equipment until shortly after World War II, when the Great Northern ordered new diesel locomotives from EMD and new streamlined passenger cars from the Pullman Company. This change reduced the Chicago to Seattle running time from 58.5 hours to 45 hours ! The model in the video represents a train which really never existed. The locomotives are from BLI, and are painted to represent the as-delivered scheme from 1947. Note that the E units have only a single headlight, and the Great Northern “goat” shield is displayed at each side of the nose. By the early 1950’s a second headlight was added and a single emblem displayed in the center of the nose. The consist is representative of the Empire Builder from the mid 1950’s, as the Great Domes were delivered and put in service during 1955. All the cars are from Walthers.
B&O's The Cincinnatian
The Cincinnatian was inaugurated in January, 1947, running between Baltimore, Maryland, and Cincinnati, Ohio, on essentially a truncated route of the B&O’s National Limited which ran from Jersey City, New Jersey to St. Louis, Missouri. The westbound Cincinnatian, Train 75, left Baltimore at 8:00 am daily and arrived in Cincinnati at 8:30 pm that evening. The eastbound Cincinnatian, Train 76, left Cincinnati at 8:45 am each morning and arrived in Baltimore at 9:15 pm.
The Cincinnatian’s original equipment was all created in the Baltimore and Ohio’s Mount Claire Shops, the oldest railroad manufacturing complex in the United States, and currently the home of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum. The design work was executed by Olive Dennis, a pioneering civil engineer employed by the railroad. Four P-7 “president” class pacific locomotives ( 5301 – 5304 ) were rebuilt and shrouded as class P-7d, with roller bearings on all axles and larger six-axle tenders. Twenty older passenger cars were stripped and completely rebuilt as streamliners, although they continued to ride on six wheel trucks.
The original route proved to be financially unsuccessful since it served very sparsely populated areas, and in June 1950 the route was radically changed to a Detroit to Cincinnati train. It continued on this route until Amtrak day, when all Baltimore and Ohio passenger service was discontinued.The locomotive and all the passenger cars are from Key Imports. The model of the P-7d is a nice representation of the prototype and the detailing on the passenger cars is nicely done and true to the prototype.
Perhaps second in fame only to the New York Central’s 20th Century Limited, the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Broadway Limited was the flagship of its fleet. The train was inaugurated on November 14, 1912 and ran, in some form, continuously until 1995. The original train was an extra-fare, all-Pullman, all-heavyweight train which covered the route from New York to Chicago in 20 hours. The running time was reduced over the years to the point that the Broadway made the 1935 trip in 16 hours and 30 minutes.
In 1938 ( the same year as the re-outfitting of the 20th Century Limited ) the Broadway received all new streamlined passenger cars designed by Raymond Loewy in what the railroad called the “Fleet of Modernism” scheme. This scheme served only a few of the Pennsylvania’s top trains and was phased out in 1947. The 5526 T1 duplex locomotive, also designed by Loewy, was built by the Baldwin locomotive works in late 1945. So, a FOM Broadway Limited pulled by this T1 was most likely a 1946 train.
The Grand Trunk introduced the Maple Leaf in May of 1927. It initially operated on an overnight schedule between Chicago and Montreal. Over the course of its life, it underwent several changes of schedule and itinerary, and by the mid 1950’s was a daytime train running between Chicago and Toronto. It regularly carried a Chicago to Montreal through sleeper, a Chicago to Detroit through coach, parlor cars, coaches, and a diner serving the section of the route between Chicago and Lansing, Michigan. Amtrak discontinued the services of all Grand Trunk trains when it began operations in 1971. Of course Amtrak reconstituted its version of the Maple Leaf in 1981 as a New York to Toronto train run in conjunction with VIA.The model represents the mid 1950’s version of the Maple Leaf run by the Grand Trunk and its parent, the Canadian National Railway.
1949 Norfolk & Western’s Powhatan Arrow
The Norfolk and Western was principally a freight carrier ( one of its nicknames was “King Coal” ) but ran a limited number of its own passenger trains as well as providing motive power for several inter-line passenger trains, with the Pennsylvania, Atlantic Coast Line and Southern Railroads. The flagship of the N&W’s own service was the Powhatan Arrow. The original Arrow was launched in 1946 using modified heavyweight cars, but the 1949 re-launch included all new streamlined cars from the Pullman Company, and more importantly, the J class 4-8-4 motive power built in the N&W’s own shops. Several of the original cars are still in periodic excursion service, and one of the J class locomotives, the 611, survives. The N&W is also well known for being the last major class I railroad to use steam locomotives, retiring the last of its Y-class 2-8-8-2 locomotives in 1965.The 611 is from BLI. The auxiliary water tender is from Bachmann, and all the passenger cars are from Key Imports. The cars have the correct brown roofs as delivered from Pullman.
The Reading Company was principally a coal hauling railroad serving southern Pennsylvania, and a very profitable one for most of its existence. It also operated a limited number of passenger trains serving Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Bethlehem, and Jersey City, New Jersey, and an extensive commuter network serving the Philadelphia area. In order to more effectively compete with the Pennsylvania Railroad for the Philadelphia to New York ( Jersey City ) passenger business, the Reading introduced a streamlined luxury train in 1937, the Crusader. Built by the Budd Company of Philadelphia, this dedicated train consisted of five stainless steel streamlined cars pulled by a stainless steel shrouded streamlined Pacific class (4-6-2) steam locomotive. The five-car trainset consisted of a round-end observation car at each end, with a coach next to that, and a tavern-restaurant car in the middle. With this configuration, the railroad eliminated the need to turn the entire train around at the "stub end" terminals at both Jersey City and Philadelphia. I’ve included an interesting watercolor painting of the Crusader in the terminal at Philadelphia and a photo of one of two surviving round end observation cars. By the early 1950’s the two steam locomotives had been retired, and in 1962, the Reading Company sold the Crusader trainset to the Canadian National Railroad. The model in the video is a 2014 offering from GHB via Con-Cor.
The very first 20th Century Limited was launched by the NYC in June, 1902 and completed its run from New York to Chicago in 20 hours. It remained a steam hauled heavyweight train until 1938 when the famous industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss designed a new lightweight streamlined train for the Century. It ran in this configuration until dieselization in 1948.The locomotive is from MTH and has proven to be a good, reliable runner. The passenger cars are from E&B valley.
Amtrak’s idea of the once prestigious Capitol Limited. The original, of course, was inaugurated by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in 1923. For almost 48 years, it was the flagship train for the B&O, and provided all-pullman service from New York to Chicago via Washington, D.C. . Amtrak has maintained a modern version of the Capitol Limited since 1981.The F-40s and all the Superliner cars are from Kato. The F-40s are great runners and have reasonably good detail for their age. Similarly, the Superliner cars have nice detail and track well even when close-coupled. Rounding out the consist is a baggage car from Walthers. Everything is in Amtrak’s Phase III paint scheme.
The Southern Pacific Coast Daylight was certainly one of the more famous name trains during the heyday of passenger railroading. The Southern Pacific actually introduced the Daylight Limited in 1922. This was a standard heavyweight train, which interestingly made no stops ( except for servicing ) between San Francisco and Los Angeles, covering the distance in 13 hours. The train was streamlined in 1937 and initially powered by GS-2 locomotives, sadly none of which survive. This cut the running time to 9 hours and 45 minutes. Trains departed both terminus stations at 8:15 am and arrived at their destinations at 6:00 pm. By 1941 the Lima built GS-4 locomotives had been delivered to the SP and served as the motive power for most of the line’s major name trains. The model in the video is representative of the post-war Coast Daylight.
In April of 1933, representatives from Henschel and the coach firm of Wegmann & Company submitted a proposal for a high-speed steam train to the Deutsche-Reichsbahn. The concept included a lightweight 4-4-2 tank locomotive with two coaches. The entire train was to be streamlined and the two coaches each rounded at one end. Further discussions with the Deutsche-Reichsbahn resulted in a redesign with four coaches pulled by a 4-6-4 tank engine. By August of 1934 the Deutsche-Reichsbahn officially contracted with Henschel and Wegmann to build the train. Powering the train was a 4-6-4 streamlined tank locomotive with 90” drivers and a top speed of 175 km/hour. Next to the locomotive was a round-ended coach with 24 second class seats and 32 third class seats. Next were two center cars, each with 12 second class seats and 56 third class seats. Finally, a round-ended trailing car with a compartment for sorting post, a kitchen, and a dining area with 23 seats. During the summer of 1936 the Henschel-Wegmann trains worked the Berlin – Dresden line with two trains each day in each direction. The fastest service took one hour and forty minutes, a record which stands to the present day. The turnaround time in Dresden for one pair of trains was 32 minutes. With the outbreak of the second World War express service between Berlin and Dresden was discontinued. During the war, the coaches were used to transport wounded soldiers. The model in this video was produced and sold as a complete trainset by Rivarossi in 1983.
The New Haven Railroad operated in the New England region of the United States from 1872 until 1968. It was established by New York banker J.P. Morgan, who sought to monopolize transportation systems in New England beginning in the late 1890’s. By 1912, the New Haven operated more than 2,000 miles of track, with 120,000 employees, and practically monopolized traffic in a wide swath from Boston to New York City. The Yankee Clipper was launched in March of 1930 to join the Merchant’s Limited as one of the New Haven’s two premier passenger trains. Both were day trains, but ran with exclusive consists of parlor cars, diners, and observation parlor / lounge cars. The Yankee Clipper was originally pulled by traditional Pacific type locomotives, but the New Haven purchased ten new streamlined 4-6-4 locomotives from the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1937. The New Haven referred to these as “Shore Line” locomotives. These locomotives were typically assigned to the Yankee Clipper and Merchant’s Limited.The model is a representation of the Yankee Clipper from the early 1940’s. The locomotive is from BLI, and the passenger cars are from the Bachmann Spectrum line.
Here is a second video of the same model train showing its arrival into its first station stop at Clarksville
Like almost all railroads of the day, the Illinois Central experienced a sharp decline in passenger revenue during the 1920’s and 1930’s. However, the introduction of the Green Diamond semi-articulated diesel powered train set in 1936 was a considerable success and the IC became sold on streamlining as the future of rail travel. With new equipment from Electro Motive and the Pullman Company, the IC successfully re-launched a new streamlined version of the luxury Panama Limited in 1942. World War II delayed any further improvements until 1947, when the IC introduced an all-coach daytime companion to the Panama, the City of New Orleans. The train managed to cover the 921 mile journey from Chicago to New Orleans in just under 16 hours, with an incredible 22 intermediate stops. The southbound City of New Orleans, Train 1, departed Chicago’s central station at 8:00 am and arrived in New Orleans at 11:55 pm. The northbound Train 2 ran on exactly the same schedule, departing New Orleans at 8:00 am each day. The model in the video is intended to represent the City of New Orleans during the late 1940’s. The actual train would have usually had E7s assigned as their motive power, but I’m a big fan of the E3/6 so I decided that E6 pool power had been assigned to my train. The E6s are from BLI. The baggage car and the diner are from Rapido, and the remainder of the cars are from Walthers. As the train pulls to a stop at my Union station, it is flanked by the GTW / Canadian National’s Maple Leaf on the left and the C&NW’s Twin Cities 400 on the right.
Union Pacific Railroad’s M-10000.5
The basis for the model is a somewhat loose combination of the M-10000 and the M-10001.
The M-10000 trainset was produced for the Union Pacific by the Pullman Company and delivered to the UP at the Pullman plant in Pullman, Illinois on February 11, 1934. The M-10000 was a fully-articulated three car trainset which consisted of a 600 horsepower motor car with an included baggage and mail compartment, a 56 seat coach, and a 52 seat buffet-coach tail car. The M-10000 was placed in revenue service between Kansas City, Missouri and Salina, Kansas as The City of Salina on January 31, 1935. It was retired from service in December of 1941.The M-10001 trainset was also produced by the Pullman Company and originally delivered to the Union Pacific on October 2, 1934. Following a coast to coast shakedown run and several weeks of testing, the trainset was returned to Pullman in December, 1934 for re-powering and other modifications. On May 23, 1935, the Union Pacific accepted the revised trainset from Pullman. It consisted of a 1200 horsepower motor car, a separate RPO / Baggage car, a kitchen / diner / lounge, three sleeping cars, and a 54 seat buffet-coach tail car. The sleepers were named Overland Trail, Oregon Trail, and Abraham Lincoln. In June 1935, the train was placed in revenue service as the City of Portland, running between Portland, Oregon and Chicago. It only lasted four years. In June 1939, the entire trainset was put in storage, and by August 1941, was sold for scrap.
The model is from Con-cor from the year 2008. Con-cor offered the set as the original M-10000 with two add-on sleepers, the Overland Trail and the Oregon Trail. Why they never offered the Abraham Lincoln can be added to the growing file of model railroading mysteries. The model in the video is a five-car train, including the two available sleepers. So prototypically, this is neither the M-10000 nor the M-10001. I’ve decided it therefore must be the M-10000.5. The prototypes were documented to have achieved top speeds of 120 miles per hour and I’ve recently clocked the model at a little over 130 miles per hour at digitrax speed notch 4.
The train in the video is a reasonable representation of a C&NW commuter train heading out from the downtown C&NW station to Oak Park in the early 1960’s. By 1970 the C&NW had assembled a fleet of 292 bi-level cars. Many of you probably already know this, but I found it to be an interesting discovery: the first 16 C&NW bi-level cars were built by the St. Louis Car Company. The remainder were all built by Pullman-Standard. 280 of the cars were used in Chicago commuter service, the others on regional C&NW trains including the Flambeau 400. These cars were assigned to several Chicago-to-Green Bay trains which my grandfather worked just a few years before his retirement. He hated them.
The locomotive is by Walthers from just a few years ago and is numbered and detailed to represent an F-7A built by EMD in late 1949, as modified for commuter service. It is pretty nicely detailed but apparently needs a wheel cleaning ( please blink at the 00:40 mark of the video ). I’ll put that on a growing list. I also need to change the CV value for the air horn. Also on the list. The gallery cars are all by Kato and represent both the four-window and six-window cars, as well as a trailing cab car. I’ve titled this an early 1960’s commuter train because the first bi-level cab car was delivered to the C&NW in 1960.
Santa Fe Super Chief
The Super Chief was the first diesel-powered, all-Pullman sleeping car train in America, and it took over from the Chief as the standard bearer of the Santa Fe Railroad. It began scheduled service in May, 1937 and covered the 2,227 miles from Los Angeles to Chicago in 36 hours and 49 minutes, averaging just over 60 miles per hour and at times reaching 100 miles per hour. With only one set of equipment at the outset, the train operated only once a week from both Chicago and Los Angeles. Additional equipment allowed the train to run twice weekly beginning in 1938, and daily after 1948. The train quickly became known as “The train of the stars” because of its regular Hollywood clientele. The Super Chiefs of the early 1950’s typically had 12 to 13 car consists. Here is a video of several Santa Fe passenger trains in the Los Angeles area during the early 1950’s, all similar to the Super Chief model consist in the video below : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTslXXsktJI
The model is intended to represent the Super Chief in 1950. It may be a couple of sleeping cars short of a typical consist, but otherwise is pretty representative of the prototype. The motive power is a matched set of F7 ( Phase I early) A-B-B-A locomotives built by EMD, and delivered to the Santa Fe in September of 1949. The models are from Stewart Hobbies. As I’ve noted previously, there certainly are more detailed models of the F7 now available, but these Stewart units came with the Kato drives which are really hard to beat for performance and reliability. A few years ago my friends at Des Plaines hobbies installed the DCC sound system and upgraded led lighting. The consist you’ll see in the video includes a Budd Baggage Car, and Budd Railway Post Office, a Pullman-Standard Dormitory-Lounge, two Pullman-Standard 4-4-2 Sleepers, a Pullman-Standard Pleasure Dome-Lounge, a Pullman-Standard 36-seat Dining Car, a Budd 10-6 Sleeper, two Pullman-Standard 10-6 Sleepers, and a Pullman-Standard Sleeper-Lounge-Observation Car. All the passenger cars are from Walthers.
1952 California Zephyr
The California Zephyr officially entered service on March 20, 1949, when the first eastbound consist, train 18, departed Oakland, California for Chicago. From the outset, the California Zephyr was a co-operative effort between the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, and the Western Pacific Railroad. Each of the three railroads purchased matching pool cars to operate the train and provided the motive power and crews over their section of the route: the Burlington from Chicago to Denver, the D&RGW from Denver to Salt Lake City, and the WP from Salt Lake City to Oakland. Cars owned by the different railroads ran together; cars cycled in and out for service, repairs, and varying passenger loads with the seasons.
In summer 1954, the scheduled run for the 2,532 miles from Chicago to San Francisco was 50 hours 50 minutes. Knowing that they could not begin to compete with the faster and less rugged route used by the City of San Francisco, the Burlington Route, D&RGW and WP billed the California Zephyr as a scenic "rail cruise" through the Rockies.
The last westbound California Zephyr left Chicago on March 22, 1970 and arrived in Oakland two days later. The original California Zephyr had operated for 21 years and 2 days. East of Salt Lake City the train was reduced to a tri-weekly schedule, operating as California Service on the Burlington and as the Rio Grande Zephyr on the Rio Grande. The Rio Grande portion of the train was extended beyond Salt Lake to Ogden, Utah, allowing Nevada and California bound passengers to connect to the Southern Pacific Railroad's City of San Francisco. This continued until the creation of Amtrak on May 1, 1971.
1 Double Bedroom- Buffet-Lounge-Observation Car Silver Planet WP
*The Silver Rapids was transferred from the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Admiral to the California Zephyr in Chicago
Pennsylvania Railroad's Admiral
The prototype Admiral was considered a part of the Pennsy’s “Blue Ribbon Fleet” running from Chicago to New York. The eastbound Admiral, train #70, was inaugurated on April 27, 1941, and somewhat strangely, its westbound counterpart, train #71, not until a year later on April 26, 1942. The train offered reclining seat coaches, a diner, and sleepers in a wide range of accommodations. By the late 1940’s, in addition to its New York to Chicago sleepers, the train handled a transcontinental sleeper for the California Zephyr and the Overland Limited on alternating days.
Since, in my fantasy world, I was in charge of the Pennsy’s passenger service at the time, this represented my last ditch effort to establish transcontinental passenger service. The train consists of five transcontinental ( through ) sleepers, all of which were either originally 10-6 or 10-5 sleeping cars, a full diner, and a parlor-lounge-observation car. The sleepers have all been converted from their original configurations by eliminating one of the roomettes and converting the space to luggage storage for the passengers in that car ( notice there is no baggage car on this train ), and eliminating a second roomette and installing in that space a changing room and shower. Once in Chicago, the train would be broken down and the individual sleepers hooked up to their representative trains for departure to the West coast.
In reality, none of these car conversions were ever made, and there was normally only one transcontinental sleeper on a Pennsy train running from New York to Chicago. Since I wanted to collect and highlight as many of the through sleepers as I could, I just decided to make up an entire train of them.
Here is some further detail on the train in the video. The prototype E-7A locomotives were built by EMD in August of 1947. The models are from BLI, painted DGLE.
The first sleeper is the Pennsy’s Silver Rapids, purchased to run as a through sleeper on the California Zephyr. The prototype was built by the Budd Company in 1948, and ran as a transcontinental sleeper until 1957. This car is still in service today, available for private charters. The model is from BLI. Note the California Zephyr name on the letterboard at 2:19 of the video. It is difficult to see, but on small plates at either end of the car ( one is next to the top of the vestibule door ) are the letters: PRR.
The second sleeper is the Pennsy’s Blue Rapids, painted to run as a through sleeper on the Overland Limited. The prototype was built as a 10-6 sleeper by ACF. The model is from Rivarossi, which I modified by changing the wheelsets and adding IHC diaphragms. For the Union Pacific exchange cars, you’ll notice at 2:28 of the video that the letterboard says PENNSYLVANIA.
The third sleeper is the Tippecanoe Rapids, painted to run as a through sleeper on the Union Pacific’s City of Los Angeles. The prototype was built as a 10-6 sleeper by Pullman-Standard. Short backstory: A model of this car is what introduced me to the Pennsy’s through sleepers of the early 1950’s. Thirty plus years ago, I spotted a Rivarossi model of this car at a railroad show and thought I’d stumbled onto the model railroading equivalent of finding an old airmail stamp with the plane flying upside down. Imagine seeing a car lettered for the Pennsylvania Railroad and painted Armour Yellow and Harbormist Gray. My bubble was soon burst by the dealer however, who gave me a helpful introduction to the through sleeper days. The model in the video is from Walthers. ( 2:35 )
The next car represents a Budd built dining car from the early 1950’s. The model is again from Walthers.
The fourth sleeper is the Pennsy’s Cascade Ravine, painted to run as a through sleeper on the Saint Louis – San Francisco Railway’s Meteor. This is a car which almost certainly was never seen in Chicago. The Cascade Ravine was carried from New York to St. Louis on the Pennsy’s Penn-Texas, then transferred to the SLSF’s Meteor from St. Louis to Oklahoma City. The car was built as a 10-5 smooth side sleeper by Pullman-Standard in 1948. To visually match the corrugated sided cars of the SLSF, the Cascade Ravine was painted with silver sides and shadow lines were added. The model is a nice representation from Walthers, shadow lining and all. ( 2:52 )
The last sleeper is the Pennsy’s Cascade Hollow, painted to run as a through sleeper on the Missouri Pacific Railroad’s Eagle. Again, it is very unlikely that this car ever saw Chicago. The Cascade Hollow was also carried from New York to St. Louis on the Pennsy’s Penn-Texas, then transferred to the MoPac’s Texas Eagle from St. Louis to Houston. This car was also built as a 10-5 smooth side sleeper by Pullman-Standard. The model is again from Walthers. ( 2:59 )
Bringing up the markers is the Pennsy’s George Washington, a parlor-lounge-observation car built by Pullman-Standard. The prototype is a squared-off rear end car with a diaphragm and striker plate glued on. You know what I mean. It normally saw service on the east coast, usually on the Congressional. The model is a compromise. I wanted an early 1950’s Pennsy observation car, and one that would match visually with the diner on this train. The best I could find was an offering from Con-cor. I had to change out the trucks, add a front end diaphragm, and create an interior, which at least turned out to be a fun project.
1933 Simplon Orient Express
On June 5, 1883 the first Orient Express left Paris for Vienna. The original route was extended later that year and ran from Paris to Munich to Vienna to Giurgiu, Romania. At Giurgiu, passengers were ferried across the Danube River to Ruse, Bulgaria to pick up another train to Varna, Bulgaria. From there passengers could complete their journey to Constantinople by ship. By June of 1889 the first direct through train to Constantinople left Paris, a route maintained until 1977.
The onset of World War I resulted in the suspension of all Orient Express services, and they were not resumed until after the armistice in 1918. With the opening of the Simplon tunnel connecting Switzerland and Italy, a more southerly route was established via Lausanne, Milan, Venice, Belgrade, and Sofia in 1919. The service on this route was known as the Simplon Orient Express and it ran in addition to continuing services on the old route. The Simplon Orient Express quickly became the most important rail route between Paris and Istanbul.
By the 1930’s the Orient Express had established three parallel routes: the original Orient Express, the Simplon Orient Express, and the Arlberg Orient Express, which ran via Zurich and Innsbruck to Budapest, with additional connecting services to both Bucharest and Athens. It was during this time that the Orient Express established its reputation for comfort and luxury. The second World War again interrupted service from 1939 until late 1945. Post-war political problems resulted in the discontinuation of service to Athens, and during 1951 and 1952, service to Istanbul.
By 1962 the original Orient Express and the Arlberg Orient Express were discontinued, leaving only the Simplon Orient Express in operation. This continued in some form until May 19, 1977.
In 1982, the Venice-Simplon Orient Express Company was established as a private venture, and refurbished several 1920s and 1930s carriages to provide a tourist service from London to Venice. The Belmond Orient Express continues to operate a variety of three to seven day tourist excursion trips across Europe to this day.
I could not find any historical footage of the Orient Express trains in action, but did find a YouTube video of a preserved French steam locomotive very similar to the model in the video from my layout. Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HzRrmn_ZUc
When Marklin / Trix announced the production of their 1933 Simplon Orient Express train, I couldn’t resist. The locomotive is a model of a French 4-8-2 steam locomotive from the mid 1930’s. The passenger cars are modeled after the cars which ran on the Simplon Orient Express in 1933. Included are two baggage cars, five sleeping cars, and a diner.
The Rocky Mountain Rocket
The Rocky Mountain Rocket began service on November 12, 1939. By 1942 it was running a 19 ½ hour schedule between Chicago and Denver. At Limon, Colorado the westbound train was split, with the majority of the train continuing northwest to Denver and a smaller section continuing southwest to Colorado Springs. The Eastbound train similarly split at Belleville, Kansas, with the majority of the train continuing on to Chicago, and a smaller section going to Kansas City, Missouri.
Both the Budd Company and Pullman-Standard provided cars for the original consists of the Rocky Mountain Rocket. The 1940’s equipment sets included a baggage car, a 44-seat post office-coach, a 52 seat coach, a diner-lounge car, an 8-2-2 sleeper, a 10-4 sleeper, and 5 bedroom-lounge observation car. The motive power for the train was quite unusual. The lead unit was typically an EMC E6A, with an EMC AB6 trailing. The AB6 was unique to the Rock Island and to this route, and was essentially an E6 B unit with a flat-front cab built into one end. It could operate behind the A unit without disturbing the streamlined appearance of the train, and then pull the Colorado Springs section of the train after it split at Limon.
The train in the video represents the Rocky Mountain Rocket circa 1950. Unfortunately, I haven’t found an AB6 for sale, so my motive power is a pair of E6A units from BLI. The prototype 628 was built in June of 1940, and the 630 in October of 1941. The 630 survives, and may or may not be undergoing restoration. The balance of the model consist are all Walthers cars, the closest I could come to matching the prototypes. The set includes a baggage car, two 46 seat coaches, a grill-diner, and three 10-6 sleepers. By this time the train had lost its round-end observation car.
The Santa Fe El Capitan
The Santa Fe’s El Capitan debuted on February 22, 1938 on a twice-weekly schedule between Chicago and Los Angeles. It was the only all-coach train to operate on the Santa Fe over this route and on the same fast schedule as the railroad’s all-Pullman Super Chief. It advertised “low-cost passage with high-speed convenience.” The fare from Chicago to Los Angeles was a five dollar premium over the standard $39.50 coach fare of the day. Originally conceived as the Economy Chief, the name El Capitan was chosen instead to commemorate the Spanish conquistadors. During its first year and a half of service the El Capitan ran at 80% capacity and reservations for the train often had to be made weeks in advance. I was surprised to find that the original train consists were only five cars long. They were manufactured by the Budd Company and included a baggage-dormitory-coach, a 52 seat coach, a lunch counter-dining car, a second 52 seat coach, and a 50 seat coach-observation car.
By 1942 the typical consist had expanded to 12 cars and in 1946 the train began running every other day, departing both Los Angeles and Chicago on odd-numbered days, except the 31st. At the same time, the Super Chief schedule was modified to depart both Los Angeles and Chicago on even-numbered days. This formed what the Santa Fe promoted as “the first and only daily 39 ¾ hour service between Chicago and California.” If you wanted to travel on the 31st, I guess you were out of luck.
Of course the major change to the El Capitan occurred in 1956 when the train was re-outfitted with all new bi-level cars developed by the Budd Company. This advance was short-lived however, and by early 1958 declining passenger revenues forced the Santa Fe to combine the Super Chief and El Capitan, which continued as trains 17 and 18 until the formation of Amtrak.
The model is a reasonable representation of the El Capitan from 1938, and features a model of the locomotive which actually led the train, EMC E1-A number 5L, built in La Grange in January of 1938. The model is from BLI, and came out of its box to make its inaugural run just for this video. The passenger cars, I must admit, are just stand-ins for the prototypes. The diner and the observation car are reasonably prototypically correct, but the other three cars are actually models of various types of sleepers for the Super Chief.
Penn Central Turbo Train
The United Aircraft Corporation Turbo Train was an early high-speed gas turbine powered train designed by the United Aircraft Corporation which operated in Canada between 1968 and 1982, and in the United States between 1969 and 1976.
The train had its origins with a series of design studies done by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway in the early 1950s, using second generation Talgo designs for the car suspensions. Since each car shared a common truck between them that meant that a special car would be required at each end. The C&O concept was to solve this problem by including a power car at each end, which also eliminated the need to turn either the train or its power unit for point-to-point operations. The C&O’s early work went undeveloped until the mid-1960s when two major interventions caused the concept to be revived and ultimately developed. The first was the High Speed Ground Transportation Act of 1965 in the United States, and the other was CN rail’s desire to update their passenger service with the termination of pooled service ( with the Canadian Pacific ) between Montreal and Toronto.
UAC purchased the C&O patents to enter the Department of Transportation’s Northeast Corridor Demonstration Project. The train was designed by UAC personnel at Farmington, Connecticut. The design was similar to the original C&O concept, but used turbine power instead of diesel engines. The resulting power dome cars were 73 feet 3 inches long and the intermediate cars were 56 feet 10 inches long. A seven car train set had a capacity of 322 passengers.
For US service, two Turbo Trains (DOT1 and DOT2 ) were built at the Pullman works in Chicago. When construction was completed, the trainsets were sent to Providence, Rhode Island, at regular track speed and without passengers, so that UAC systems engineers could study them further and conduct high-speed testing on a specially built section of track between Trenton and New Brunswick, New Jersey. In competition with a GE powered Metroliner on the Penn Central mainline on December 20, 1967, one of the Turbo Trains reached a speed of 170.8 mph. This remains the world speed record for gas turbine powered rail vehicles. After further testing, the Penn Central placed the original three-car train sets into service on April 8, 1969, running between Boston and New York City. In their first year of service the trains’ on-time performance was nearly 90%. Amtrak took over Penn Central’s operations on May 1, 1971 and continued Turbo Train service until September 1976. Amtrak attempted to sell the train sets to the Illinois Central Railroad, but the poor mechanical condition of the equipment caused the deal to fall through.
Here is some interesting footage of the prototype in action:
The model is by Rapido and represents a Penn Central five unit Turbo Train from 1970. The model, like the prototype, consists of two power-dome cars and three intermediate cars. The power-dome cars are both powered. The detailing is very nice, with crisp painting and lettering, interior details, interior lighting and a decent DCC sound system. Sadly, these units leave a lot to be desired mechanically. The original drive units were such a disaster that Rapido offered a replacement drive unit to anyone who had purchased an original three-car set. The replacement gear units may be better, but they are not good. A large part of the problem is that the model rides on prototypically correct 30” scale drive wheels and the gearing makes slow speed control just about impossible. The runby is at Digitrax notch 2, but this thing will fly.
1950’s General Motors Aerotrain
The GM Aerotrain represented one of the last major efforts to make passenger trains profitable in the United States. There were two ten-car trainsets produced, each of which utilized an EMD 567C 12-cylinder prime mover, capable of delivering 1200 horsepower. All of the power components were similar to those used in the EMD SW1200 switch engines. The Aerotrain’s locomotive design showed the influence of GM’s design team and resembled the design of many automobiles of the period. The passenger cars for the Aerotrains consisted of slightly modified GMC 40-seat intercity highway bus bodies. They were stylistically designed to resemble the new at the time Scenicruiser buses which GMC was building for Greyhound, and had similar slanted side windows. The finned tail car resembled the rear of a 1955 Pontiac station wagon. The cars rode on single-axel trucks with a new, proprietary air suspension system, designed to provide a smooth ride. Sadly, it had the opposite effect and the trains were notoriously rough riding.
The first test run of the Aerotrain was on January 5, 1956. Several railroads leased one or both of the trainsets from GM during the next two years, including the Pennsyvania, the New York Central, the Santa Fe, and the Union Pacific. All of them found them to be less than satisfactory. In October of 1958 GM sold the two trainsets at a deep discount to the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad, which used them in commuter service between Chicago and Joliet until they were retired in 1966. Interestingly, both locomotives along with four of the coaches survive today, one abbreviated set at the National Train Museum in Green Bay and the other at the National Museum of Transportation in St. Louis. Here is a video which includes the only historical footage I could find of the Aerotrain in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euMsBNe0n1E&t=150s.
The model in this video is another one of those quirky offerings from Con-cor, which has a nice habit of producing models of the unusual. These were initially sold in the spring of 2008, and are actually very nicely executed models. The cars have full interior details, interior lighting, separately applied grab irons and stirrup steps, and a unique coupling and flexible diaphragm system.