• History/Amenities on "Coach-Only" trains

  • Tell us where you were and what you saw!
Tell us where you were and what you saw!

Moderator: David Benton

  by Gilbert B Norman
Although we have several extensive and surely authoritative recitations of train consists that included dining facilities for the primary use of Coach passengers, I have yet to see any discussion of the service and fare offered within.

Many of the premier trains had 'catchy' names for their Coach dining-lounge car. The Great Northern called theirs assigned to the Empire Builder the Ranch Car and it had an appropriate ranch house decor. The Northern Pacific named theirs the Travelers Rest with the car decorated in a motiff depicting the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Both cars were exceptionally attractive in their decor, but in essence, they were simply a lunch counter lounge.

The CB&Q had the Cable Car Lounge on the CZ and the Chuck Wagon on the Denver Zephys. Both cars had domes for the exclusive use of Sleeper passengers, but I never saw much evidence of that being enforced if in fact it was even enforceable.

The Golden State had some sets assinged a Fiesta Lounge. Since these cars came from the two sets for the stillborn Golden Rocket, there were obviously not enough cars to go around.

The Santa Fe and Union Pacific simply called their cars Cafe Lounges. Neither were exactly inspirational with their decor (lest we note for those visiting here from the Amtrak Forum armed with knowledge of the 'exemplary" service provided to Amtrak by the contemporary UP, that same comment hardly applies to predominately Pullman Diners and exclusively Pullman Lounges on either road).

The fare offered was cooked on board - there were no microwaves back then. As I recall, hamburgers and hot dogs were offered, but steaks were out of the price range for most patrons (the Diner was "on limits' for Coach passengers; but very few used such). Labor intensive cold sandwiches were offered, all prepared on board. The plate meal selections simply were casseroles that could be prepared in bulk and made from leftover items (wonder why I have always been "leery' of anything labeled "chef's special'; even at land based restaurants).

So "that's ther way it was' back in the days of two levels of sit down food service. Obviously, the microwave, more reliable refrigeration, and food preservatives I don't even want to think about, has rendered the second diner obsolete in the Amtrak era. Then as now, most Coach passengers if they did not "bring their own', simply wanted to be fed without having to spond an 'arm and a leg' in the process.
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Wed Dec 08, 2004 7:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.

  by LI Loco
crazy_nip wrote:Silver Meteor, PRR/RF&P/SAL, NY-MIA
Champion, PRR/RF&P/ACL, NY-MIA
South Wind, PRR/L&N/ACL, CHI-MIA
City of Miami, IC/CofG/ACL, CHI-MIA

these trains were most definetly NOT coach only...

Neither was the Southerner, although I am not 100% positive about that...
They were coach-only when they began in the late 1930s/early 1940s. Sleepers came later.

  by John_Perkowski
LI Loco is right about several of the early streamliners being coach only before getting Pullmans sometime after WWII. Read Wayner's Names Numbers and Consists.

Another baseline volume is Wayner's Passenger Train Consists 1923-1973.

Both are available now and again on eBay.

OTOH, the Challengers moved to being coach only from combination coach and Tourist Pullman cars. Ditto the Santa Fe Scout. Both were Depression era creations to get traffic moving. ATSF sent its tourist Pullmans to the shops for repainting and such. See Dubin, Pullman Painting and Lettering (Kalmbach) for details. UP certainly bought LW twin-unit diners for the Challengers. At least one set re-rolled into the City of San Francisco after the 1939 Harney NV wreck.

Hope all this helps.
  by bill haithcoat
The Dixie Flagler, the City of Miami and the South Wind were all coach only(plus diner and lounge, of course) trains from inception about 1940 to about 1949. The Southerner was all coach from inception in 1941 until about 1950 or so.

The Champion was also all coach at the start. It, too acquired pullmans later on.

The railroads at first thought streamlining the coach serivce was good enough---since sleepers were inherently more comfortable than coach anyway, they were slower to get into the idea of streamlining pullman service. But the public made it clear to them they wanted streamlined sleepers too. WW22 interferred with the production of any new cars of any kind for several years, of course.

ALso many of the above trains(except the Southerner) actually had heavyweight pullmans for the first few years after they got pullmans, not getting streamlined until later. Such trains---with lightweight coaches, diner and lounges but heavywieght sleepers were advertsied as "streamliners" all along.
  by bill haithcoat
Also the Georgian and Humming Bird, coach only streamliners, built in 1946. In 1949 they received heavyweight pullmans. In 1953 they, and some other trains on the L&N, recieved the order for 29 streamlined 6-6-4 pine sleepers. Those Pine sleepers are referred to in the "Fallen Flags" portion of this forum.

Both trains were considered to be streamliners, and advertised as such, during those years when they had heavyweight pullmans, as noted in my previous post.

  by LI Loco
When the Georgian was begun, it operated on a daylight schedule between Atlanta and St. Louis. When the train added a Chicago section (handled via the Chicago & Eastern Illinois north of Evansville, IN), it switched to an overnight run and added sleeping cars.
  by bill haithcoat
That is right. And also it retained a through St. Louis to Atlanta sleeper(heavweight ) and coach(lightweight).

When those 29 pine sleepers were delivered to the Georgian, Humming Bird and other trains in 1953, that pretty nearly made all their pullmans streamlined, though for awhile a northbound Georgian Nashville to Chicago pullman(which went southbound on the non-streamlined Dixie flyer) was heavyweight. But it was eventually replaced by a lightweight red PRR car.

  by LI Loco
But it was eventually replaced by a lightweight red PRR car.
Bill - are you referring to an actual PRR sleeping car or an L&N car painted and lettered in the Pennsy style? L&N had a few such cars that originally operated in through service between New York and Nashville via the Cincinnati Limited and Pan American.
  by eddiebear
I think the reason the GEORGIAN became an overnighter and was reinvented as a Chicago-Atlanta train, with a few through cars from St. Louis, was that it was far from a resounding success in its original incarnation.
The mainstay of full price and premium service rail travel were expense account business people. They worked by day and traveled by night until fast comfortable air travel came along with jets in the late 1950s or they covered shorter distances in their own automobiles.
When the GEORGIAN was in its daytime coach format it had very little appeal to this type traveler, schedulewise especially. They'd waste a whole business day except if traveling on a weekend.
The GEORGIAN lasted about a year as a daytime coach train between St. Louis and Atlanta and close to 20 as an overnighter with sleepers on the Chicago-Atlanta route.
  by bill haithcoat
Yes to all. I concde l.j. loco's point that some such sleepers were L&N cars painted in pennsy red....and yes the Nashville CHicago pullman was part of the pool which also served NY to Nashville. I guess I was getting at the "red" more than I was getting at the "PRR".

I fully concur with eddiebear's statement about the Georgian. It was a highly successful business person's train after being a lousy money earner in the daytime StL-ATl market.
  by bill haithcoat
Much of this discussion has centered around all coach name trains and streamliners. Do not forget that there were plenty of trains on all roads all across the country that were coach only just because, for example, they were largely mail trains.

Not uncommon for a train to have 10 or 15 cars mail cars of various types and just one or two coaches. No sleeper, diner or lounge.

Nothing uncommon about that.

Those trains were not, probably, as interesting to most fans as the ones already discussed but they were there. Please note, many of them did not even have names.All trains have to have numbers, of course, but they do not have to have names.

  by Tadman
I noticed in the consist listings, the daylites had 12-14 cars - were they pulled by one GS-4? Or were those doublehead? That's a heavy consist, especially just north of LA in the mountains.

  by LI Loco
I've seen photos of the San Joaquin Daylight with helpers in the Tehachapis but not GS-4 class locomotives.