Trailer Jet

Discussion relating to the B&O up to it's 1972 merger into Chessie System. Visit the B&O Railroad Historical Society for more information. Also discussion of the C&O up to 1972. Visit the C&O Historical Society for more information. Also includes the WM up to 1972. Visit the WM Historical Society for more information.

Trailer Jet

Postby MR77100 » Sun Nov 14, 2004 5:50 pm

The B&O used to run a pair of trains called the Trailer Jets. Where did these trains run and when were this discontinued? I know they lasted until the mid-80's.
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Postby WM 303 » Thu Nov 18, 2004 8:27 am

I believe that these two trains were remnants of the Western Maryland. In WM days they were called Alpha Jets due to their heritage on the Alphabet Route. They were high priority merchandise that were operated in conjunction with N&W between Ohio and Port Covington.

As a sidenote, there are still Western Maryland trains operated by CSX. The grain trains that Wheeling and Lake Erie run over CSX from Connellsville to Hagerstown via the Lurgan Sub are the result of concessions that Chessie/CSX made in order to win approval for the abandonment of WM From Big Pool to Connellsville.
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Postby chessie4155 » Thu Nov 18, 2004 11:57 pm

Back in the good old (B&O & Chessie) days, we had two trailer jets. Out
here on the St. Louis Division, Ill. and Ind. subs, there was an Eastbound Philladelphia Trailer Jet, PHTJ and a Westbound St. Louis Trailer Jet, SLTJ. These were both TOFC trains and were THE Hotshots. When CSX tookover they became R240/241 then Q240/241, then Q170/171 before they were taken off the line. The last ones I saw had SP/SSW units for power. This was in the mid 90s. Not sure if they were ran over another line or there just wasn't enough traffic for them anymore. I sure miss those good old days. :wink:

Postby MR77100 » Thu Nov 25, 2004 5:24 am

I think the Trailer Jets were rerouted in 1985 when the B&O's Parkersburg main was closed west of Grafton, WV. They were rerouted via Cincy and Deshler. Does anyone know how long they lasted after that?
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Trailer Jets

Postby Guest » Wed Dec 15, 2004 8:34 pm

Actually, the B&O Trailer Jets had nothing to do with the Western Maryland. The Alpha Jets on the WM operated from Lurgan to Connellsville which was the WM portion of the Alphabet Route.

If I remember right, the N&W was granted trackage rights from Connellsville to Hagerstown as a condition of one of the mergers but I don't think the N&W ever operated under these rights. Back in the 1970's the Western Maryland received a lot of export grain traffic from the N&W at Connellsville for Port Covington (often with run-through N&W power) but the grain the Wheeling runs over CSX to Hagerstown goes to NS destined for the Shenandoah valley.

Postby Passenger Extra » Thu Dec 16, 2004 3:32 pm

I think Trailer Jet was generic for what used to be the Timesavers (95 & 96) and even later known as Detroiter, Chicagoan, Baltimorean etc. as they carried most or all of the lcl/ltl TOFC traffic.
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Trailer Jets

Postby BaltOhio » Thu Dec 16, 2004 8:01 pm

My memory is that "Trailer Jet" was a generic name for sets of expedited all-TOFC trains in B&O's two main corridors -- NY/Phila-Chicago and NY/Phila.-St. Louis. The name dates to the early 1960s when B&O's president at that time, Jervis Langdon, created a new, separate department to manage the TOFC business and put an ex-trucker, Ernest W. Wright, in charge of it. Wright proceeded to go after the business aggressively, and the Trailer Jets (which, as I recall, he named) were his principal tools. The Jets continued in concept, if not name (I don't remember) until the mid-1970s, when Chessie's then-president, John Hanifin, questioned the profitability of TOFC and effectively gave up the business. It returned to full strength several years later, but by then the Jets designation was history.
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Re: Trailer Jet

Postby Caseyjim » Fri Jan 09, 2009 3:56 pm

There were several of these trains: The New York Trailer Jet, the Chicago Trailer Jet, both on the New York-Chicago run. On the St. Louis line were the St. Louis Trailer Jet, and the Baltimore Trailer Jet. There was also a Philadelphia Trailer Jet as well. As such, this was quite a family of high priority trains.

Re: Trailer Jet

Postby hutton_switch » Sat Jan 10, 2009 9:37 am

The B&O Museum in Baltimore has one of these Trailer Jets on display. The B&O RR Historical Society sells a high-quality reprint of a B&O-published pamphlet on the Trailer Jet and Tofcee service. Go to the below link for the B&ORRHS and go to its Company Store site if you're interested in obtaining a copy.
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Re: Trailer Jet

Postby QB 52.32 » Sat Jan 10, 2009 3:55 pm

I believe that BaltOhio's recollection is correct. By the 1980's the term "jet" was not used in symbolling these trains....they were instead known as "trailer trains" symbolled SLTT (Phil-StL); PHTT (StL-Phi); etc. etc., though the parlance in the field still referred to these trains as "jets".
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Postby mp142tol » Mon Nov 16, 2009 2:44 pm

Not long as the transit time was far to long to be competitive.

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MR77100 wrote:I think the Trailer Jets were rerouted in 1985 when the B&O's Parkersburg main was closed west of Grafton, WV. They were rerouted via Cincy and Deshler. Does anyone know how long they lasted after that?

Re: Trailer Jet

Postby craftsmaster » Thu Jul 22, 2010 1:36 am

I believe trailer jets didn't materialize until mid 80's. Trains of old times were commonly refereed to as Jets though insignificant in material as jets. I certainly agree with you QB 52.32 that "trailer trains" symbolled SLTT (Phil-StL); PHTT (StL-Phi); etc. etc.,
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Re: Trailer Jet

Postby Kevin.D » Sat Mar 19, 2011 12:11 pm

According to 1972 B&O schedules, there was


Chicago Trailer Jet (CHTJ) between Jersey and Chicago
Western Trailer Jet (WSJT) between Cumberland and Chicago
St Louis Trailer Jet (SLTJ) between Philly and St Louis (bypassed Cumberland via Patterson Creek Cutoff)
Cincinnati Trailer Jet (CNJT) between Cumberland and Cincinnati


Philly-New York Trailer Jet (PNJT) between Chicago and Jersey
Baltimore Trailer Jet (BLJT) between Baltimore and Chicago
Manhattan Trailer Jet (MHTJ) between St Louis and Jersey (bypassed Cumberland via Patterson Creek Cutoff)
Buffalo Trailer Jet (BUJT) between Pittsburgh and Buffalo

The schedule showed no dedicated jet trains running via the WM connection at Cherry Run into and out of New England (yet), as that traffic was still moving WM all the way to an N&W (P&WV) connection. Its a good bet that the jets that originated from Cumberland were from block swapping among other trains and any other intermodal that came into Cumberland on other symbols. No other terminal on the B&O system had as much originating or terminating traffic as Cumberland. The two jets listed above were the only traffic bypassing Cumberland via the cutoff in those days. The cutoff was single track then, and it was later abandoned altogether sometime around 1974.
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