• Which Foreign Road Trains Routing into New York Penn Station by the FRA?

  • Discussion relating to the PRR, up to 1968. Visit the PRR Technical & Historical Society for more information.
Discussion relating to the PRR, up to 1968. Visit the PRR Technical & Historical Society for more information.
  by CLamb
Which foreign road passenger trains were routed into New York Pennsylvania Station by the Federal Railroad Administration during the First World War? The only one I know of was the Royal Blue.
  by urr304
It was the US Railroad Administration that ordered the B&O trains routed into Penn Station in 1918. IIRC they were there until 1928 when rate was raised prohibitively high and B&O returned to New Jersey. Lehigh Valley through trains were routed into Penn Station a short time after B&O, but LV stayed until the end of their passenger service, in meantime PRR obtained almost complete control of LV. New Haven came in also with trains for PRR to continue. Long Island was there too, but they became a PRR subsidiary until 1950s.
  by ExCon90
The entry of the LIRR and NH to Penn Station was not the result of USRA action; PRR acquired the Long Island to gain access to what became Sunnyside Yard, and the whole purpose of building the Hell Gate Bridge was to give the PRR access to New England and was planned before USRA existed -- I think it was part of the planning for Penn Station.

On a related matter, I've never seen any information about where and by whom the B&O steam locomotives were serviced: did the PRR do it for them under contract in the Meadows where they did their own? I'm trying to picture jockeying a B&O locomotive from Manhattan Transfer to Communipaw (where servicing was done when the B&O used the CNJ) and back -- not even sure how they would have done it.
  by ExCon90
I tried a few years ago in the B&O forum but got no response; anyone who would have direct knowledge is long gone, and it's not the sort of detail you normally find in historical accounts. I'll just assume that the PRR did it under contract and didn't lose money on it. (Or maybe there was a General Managers' Agreement covering routine locomotive servicing for a foreign railroad?
  by Allen Hazen
It's not surprising that Lehigh Valley passenger trains used Penn Station until LV got out of the passenger business: PRR had major stock holdings in LV, so LV could be considered a PRR subsidiary. It also served destinations not served by PRR's own passenger trains out of NYC, so there was no competition. (Apparently LV's trains were lighter than most of PRR's mainline trains, so didn't need as much power between Penn Station and the hand-over to LV's non-electric locomotives: they were often handled by PRR O-1 class (4-4-4) electrics, which were too light for PRR's own trains.)

The B&O, on the other hand... PRR controlled B&O for a time around the turn of the century, but I think that was over before the USRA. And B&O had passenger routes (NYC-Philadelphia-DC, and NYC to midwestern points like St. Louis). So B&O was an unrelated competitor: so it's no surprise PRR tried to get them out of Penn Station!
  by ExCon90
Yes, the LV trains were rarely (except for holiday periods) over 7 or 8 cars as I recall -- I didn't know about the O1's. In addition, the PRR at times used the LV, along with the LI and the Wabash, as training grounds for operating management, and sometimes as top management; it must have been useful to put someone in a top position who was familiar with PRR customs and practices.

Mr. Norman: was there supposed to be a link on your post of Dec. 2? It sounds interesting.
  by Gilbert B Norman
It still works as of this morning, Mr. Ex Con.

Oh, and my one and only ride on the "Leaky" Penn to Flemington Jc during '60, a G handled the train to Hunter, where Leaky's PA's took over. That Jct. remains active as the access for CNJ trains originating/terminating at Newark Penn.
  by ExCon90
Found it; thank you. During the 50's and 60's Penn Station was pretty grungy; when I see photos of it as it was then I can't help thinking what it would look like today if it had lasted long enough to somehow be given a rehab as Grand Central was later.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Hear, Hear, Mr. Ex Con.

Having "been there done that" Old Penn was a pathetic eyesore at the end. Walls were washed only 6ft high; the WWII blackout of the skylights were never removed but still deteriorated, the "flying saucer" ticket cage "landed in the middle of the Waiting Room", but be it assured did nothing to expedite the ticketing process (youngsters, you don't WANT to know what that was like pre-Amtrak).

While a GCT like renovation would have been best, it would have been nice if the redevelopment could have been a bit more "rail passenger friendly". Even if the mid-60's intercity product was then on its deathbed, commuter service certainly was not.
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Sat Dec 04, 2021 7:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by ExCon90
Not as simple as it may seem. The annual taxes on Penn Station equaled or exceeded the total revenue that passed across the ticket counters; the money to actually run the trains had to come out of freight revenue. This is dealt with in some posts going too far back to dig up, but briefly, the PRR sought some kind of tax abatement from the City of New York and was told that the property was taxed at the same rate as adjoining properties. Quite true, but when the PRR pointed out that those properties housed high-rise office buildings that generated enough income to pay the taxes, the City's response amounted to "well then, you know what you have to do." (This was reported in the New York Times at the time.). The result was Madison Square Garden and a high-rise office building. Also, the conventional wisdom at the time was that intercity passenger trains were soon to disappear; an ICC commissioner (name of Hosmer, as I recall) was on record around then as saying that if things continued as they were, passenger trains would disappear in 10 years, and had it not been for the Amtrak legislation of 1970 that's just what would have happened.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Howard Hosmer, Mr. ExCon.

While anyone who follows my material over at the Amtrak Forum knows I am highly skeptical about the existing Amtrak LD system (I'm personally "done riding it"; my last Jan '20 AT ride - NB #52 "the day Kobe Bryant was killed" - was simply a "meh" experience), had the roads collectively said, "thanks but no thanks" and operated the trains for the statutory five-year period, they would have quickly come off with the exception of those on "ward of the State" Penn Central. If any were left upon enactment of Staggers during '80, they'd be gone overnight.