• Why did the Soo run mixed trains as late as the 1980s?

  • General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.
General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

Moderators: mtuandrew, gprimr1

  by SouthernRailway
 
I understand (perhaps I am wrong) that the Soo Line ran mixed trains as late as the 1980s in the Midwest, with limited ridership: a passenger here and there in a caboose.

Why would it bother?

Wouldn’t the hassle and expense outweigh any ticket sales?
  by TomNelligan
 
Probably a state regulatory requirement or a charter provision that required the railroad to provide passenger service on those routes, although it was a stretch to call accommodating one or two riders at a time in a caboose "passenger service". The Soo Line certainly didn't do it for the money, and basically no one but railfans rode those trains..
  by CHTT1
 
That was a good story. It answered the question why the Soo continued to run a mixed train long after Amtrak, it was required by the state legislature. It also answers the question "Who would ride such a train?" Only railfans, of course.
  by Pensyfan19
 
CHTT1 wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 8:03 pm That was a good story. It answered the question why the Soo continued to run a mixed train long after Amtrak, it was required by the state legislature. It also answers the question "Who would ride such a train?" Only railfans, of course.
I would agree. I would usually support or be interested in riding a mixed train, similar to the ones which nearly every railroad had at one point before A-Day (Union Pacific ran mixed trains in Nebraska right up to A-Day), but I wouldn't feel the same about a mixed train which leaves at midnight and 2 a.m. and can only hold ONE PASSENGER!!! So having mixed trains in a caboose is probably not the best idea. Use a combine car, doodlebug or a coach at a desirable time of the day (not midnight or 2 a.m.) in order to have a good mixed train in my opinion. Yet, I feel that Soo Line probably had these arrangements on purpose in order to finally get rid of it and to discourage people from supporting these mixed trains at the time, which makes sense since Soo Line mainly wanted to deal with freight. That, and they discontinues their last regularly scheduled passenger train in 1961.
  by CHTT1
 
It doesn't make any difference what time the train leaves. Nobody but railfans would ride it. The only reason any of these mixed trains existed (beyond say 1950) is by legislative edict or a requirement in the railroad's original charter. No one in their right mind (which, of course, excludes railfans) would ride a train that may leave hours late, spend hours along the way switching and arrive no where near the scheduled time.
  by Tadman
 
Seems the service died when WC took over. If I were the state, I would've done lots to work with WC to add a real coach or something. But 1988 was when "passenger trains are going to die" and nobody cared.
  by mtuandrew
 
Tadman wrote: Wed May 27, 2020 12:21 pm Seems the service died when WC took over. If I were the state, I would've done lots to work with WC to add a real coach or something. But 1988 was when "passenger trains are going to die" and nobody cared.
I could see Milwaukee to Green Bay. From Neenah to the Soo though? That’s a lonely, lonely road, especially on the old MStP&SSM route that avoids Green Bay and barely skirts Escanaba. Scenery isn’t that exceptional, the highways were (and are) getting better by the year, and there’s no big tourist destinations at either end. Unless you like paper mills.

Don’t get me wrong, I would have gladly paid the $12 for a ticket, but there’s no real market today. At least the Algoma Central has great scenery.
  by MACTRAXX
 
SouthernRailway wrote: Sun May 24, 2020 5:34 pm I understand (perhaps I am wrong) that the Soo Line ran mixed trains as late as the 1980s in the Midwest, with limited ridership: a passenger here and there in a caboose.
SR and Everyone:

After a two week absence from the Forums I noticed topics that I could
respond to such as this interesting one:

I recall a Passenger Train Journal article about these so-called "mixed"
train services operated by the Soo Line - I did a search and found a 1986
Chicago Tribune article about service operated between Neenah, WI and
Sault St. Marie, MI - 371 miles - Fare $11.95 - riding in a caboose.
The Soo Line "train numbers" were 912 north and 911 south.

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct- ... story.html

The PTJ story mentioned the slow pace of the ride along and interaction
with the train crew. The train terminated at Sault St. Marie overnight and
it turned out that the writer was offered to stay in the caboose - but it was
a good thing the offer was declined since the caboose ended up crossing
the US-Canada Border to S.S.M, Ontario on a freight transfer run.

For the Soo Line Technical and Historical Society:
http://www.sooline.org

This is the type of "adventure" that once existed for rail enthusiasts.
This is something the likes of we may never see again...MACTRAXX
Last edited by MACTRAXX on Thu May 28, 2020 2:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by Jeff Smith
 
Fair-use quote:
America`s last regularly scheduled mixed train, an archaic blend of passenger and freight service, is still operating in Northern Wisconsin and Michigan.

For $11.95, you can ride from Neenah, Wis., to Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., while enjoying a panoramic view of rolling farmland and virgin forests from a private right-of-way aboard a caboose.

For 371 miles, the train follows a lonely course away from major highways, meandering through tiny hamlets and often disappearing in a swirl of snow between low hills.

The train`s operator, the Soo Line Railroad, attaches no special significance to the service in its timetables. The northbound run is listed as No. 912 and the southbound run as No. 911.
...
  by R36 Combine Coach
 
Seems Soo Line holds the historic distinction for last mixed service in U.S., running to 1988 (probably after the WC takeover). Georgia Railroad and Black River were among the last in the 70s.

So which was the last Canadian mixed train by a major carrier? (not including local and regional carriers including Ontario Northland and Keewatin)
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Off passenger trains, but what a "fliperroo" occurred with railroads in Wisconsin.

"The SOO became the Wisconsin Central while the MILW became the SOO. WC became the Grand Trunk marketing itself as the Canadian National and the SOO marketed itself as the Canadian Pacific". :-D :-D

How's that for an Abbott and Costello skit.
  by NS VIA FAN
 
R36 Combine Coach wrote: Sat May 30, 2020 1:17 am So which was the last Canadian mixed train by a major carrier? (not including local and regional carriers including Ontario Northland and Keewatin)

CN operated a Narrow-Gauge Mixed Train in Newfoundland up until the railway was abandoned in October 1988.

Trains 203-204 operated between Bishops Falls and Corner Brook through an area with little road access away from the Trans Canada Highway.


Image

Image


CN's Bus and Mixed Trains were shown in the VIA Rail Timetable


Image
  by ohioriverrailway
 
B&O ran a mixed between Parkersburg and Huntington 3 days a week right up to A Day. The coach was replaced with two cabooses for the paying passengers. My recollection was that it had a noon departure....or at least according to the schedule. I rode it in 1963, maybe.