Friday, May 14, 2021

Passenger Operations

I was recently going through a number of documents that I have regarding passenger operations. It's not something I have dug into a lot, simply because on my layout it's just a station stop for every train that comes through. But when researching what I had on the Conductors' Reports for the freight operations, I found that I had the information regarding Forms 1591-1595 for the Conductors' Passenger Train Reports.

I have three different copies of General Manual of Instructions for Conductors and Ticket Collectors.

This one dated February 1, 1937 is incomplete and only contains pages 25-34, 69-72, 111-121-A plus an appendix with a map. It also has a second, slightly different, set of 113-121 and the map which is evident because of slight formatting differences.

I recently acquired one of these other two. They are undated and, I thought, identical. It turns out they weren't. The Traffic Manager and Auditor are different at the bottom of the cover. 

At the bottom of most pages are notations indicating when that page was published. For example:

3rd revised page 71 - Eff. 1-1-44

Correction No. 137

Not all of them have this notation, and some that have a revision notation don't have the correction notation. But after looking through it, it seemed clear that the Correction No. was sequential and indicated the number of changes that had been made in the booklet as a whole over time. I was unclear whether the Revision No. indicated is was the 3rd Revised page in that issue of the booklet, or the 3rd Revision of that specific page. While pondering this, I noticed that the two later books weren't identical, and had a number of different pages that are easy to identify because of this notation. Curious, I made a spreadsheet to identify the differences.

It became clear that the Revision number was probably referring to that specific page. The book confirmed this and also another practice that I had identified in numbering the forms, but had never seen in writing.


(c) This Manual supersedes all previous Passenger Traffic Department and Accounting Department circulars. The instructions are issued in loose leaf form and all additions, cancellations and amendments will be published in loose leaf revised pages with effective date shown thereon. When page is reprinted the first time, it will be designed "1st revised page." Each subsequent reprint of such a page will be numbered consecutively, i/e/ "2nd revised page," "3rd revised page," etc. When there is not enough space on a single page for additions, changes, etc. additional pages will be added as may be necessary, and to which the same page number will be given, but in addition thereto, a letter in alphabetical sequence will be shown as "page 10-A", etc. On revised pages the symbol "*" will be shown against items which have been added or amended, but not against items brought forward to revised pages without change.

This entry confirmed the way the railroad identifies revisions of a form:

(g) Suffix number shown on forms after regular form number refer merely to the number of times that form as been revised; for instances, form 346-13 is the thirteenth revision of form 346. For this reason form suffix numbers are not shown in these instructions.

The section I referred to before, regarding the Conductors' Reports, is inserted in the books prior to the Index, and numbered from page 1 to 5. The Index uses Roman numerals for the page numbers (I-VI), and then the book starts at page 1 again. I find it interesting that it is inserted in two different books since it's not contained within the Index. It's the same format (size and number of holes punched) so it appears it was designed to be added to it, but for whatever reason was not incorporated into it.

Oddly, page V of the Index has the same revision and correction number in both copies, but differ significantly in their content. It is primarily a list of corrections, in one book from Correction No. 277 to 476 and in the other book from 400 to 583. Both are 1st revisions, Correction No. 276 and dated 7-1-55.

I didn't notice such an error elsewhere, but it seems like this is a rather important page to get correct...

The book is primarily concerned with the processes of collecting tickets, payment, and verifying that every passenger has paid (including checking the saloons). For example, I didn't realize there was a $0.90 surcharge for the Hell Gate Bridge that had to be collected if the ticket didn't already include it. The map I mentioned shows various non-New Haven routes for which passage over Hell Gate Bridge is free. The second (almost identical) version of the map doesn't reference the Bridge Arbitary at all, and instead is referencing free transfer privileges in New York and Grand Central Station.

Once I started digging, I decided it would be easier to make a spreadsheet and found that only about a third of the pages are the same across all three books. Another third is the same in at least two of them, and the final third is different in all three. I even started compiling a comparison of all of the differences but, while interesting, I decided it was an exercise better left for later (or someone else) since the minutia of changes in collecting tickets on the NH wasn't very relevant for what I'm doing.

Model Operations

Something that is often forgotten when operating passenger trains on a model railroad is that the time listed in the time table is the departure of the train, not arrival. Sometimes it will list both the arrival and departure. So to run on schedule it's important to arrive several minutes early, but not leave the station until the time noted on the Time Table.

From a modeling standpoint, there is little here that is likely to be used, but there are options. At RPI we experimented with some simple paperwork to simulate the basic job, and make station stops a bit more interesting (and probably last a little longer. 

In the bill box there were "waybills" for people and baggage. Each one had a train number, and either the number of people or pieces of baggage that got on or off. A simple table was used to track the number on the run and, if I recall, we experimented with either picking up or leaving the cards there for the next session. 

It would be easy to go a step further if one was more interested in passenger operations by using the actual Conductors' Reports, and replicas of the tickets and baggage check tags instead.

Model passenger trains are often run with just an engineer, even when the layout has two-person crews for freights. But with a passenger conductor, they could handle the tickets and complete the conductor's report. 

It would be educational, and interesting to me anyway, for a layout with long passenger runs. Particularly on our shorter-than-prototype runs, and makes the process more than just run-stop-wait and repeat.

At RPI, one of the few layouts I've run with very long (and frequent) passenger runs, there were often long waits after arriving at the station since the short runs (even with a fast clock) made it difficult to replicate travel time between stations. The paperwork helped fill these longer waits, and also drew attention away from them.

Completing such paperwork certainly won't be for everybody. But if your layout is particularly focused on passenger operations it seems like it could be an interesting addition.

Here's a variety of tickets, each of which is mentioned in the manual and serve different purposes. There are many others that I don't have copies of yet.

Exch 23
A ticket for cash fares beyond conductor's run to stations on:
B&A, B&M, and PRR. Also used for stop-over.

To New York and return.
This is noted as a change effective 7-1-55. It isn't present in the 7-1-61 update.

A one-way ticket for all stations except Cape Cod Points.
Since there is text on the back of this one, here it is:

A round-trip ticket for all stations except Cape Cod points.

Fu 2-X and LB-PSX
Neither of these are listed in any of the three books.
The first form looks like it is for furloughed military personnel. It's not dated, perhaps during WWII?
The second is for Pullman travel, which I think was needed in addition to regular ticket.

PA-861-2, -3, -9, and -10.

While the number after the dash is usually a revision, these all have different info on the front. They aren't listed in the books, at least under the forms, but the instructions indicate they are to be used to account for tickets that are not lifted (taken from the passenger). A physical ticket or form appears to be required to correspond with the report submitted by the conductor at the end of the run.

They had specific envelopes to return the reports/completed forms. Sleeping cars and club cars had separate envelopes from the tickets. I don't have any of these specific envelopes listed, but they can be recognized because they also have form numbers. This one is listed in the book as a plain envelope, small.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

New Haven Videos

In a recent discussion on the NHRHTA Forum, I remembered a video I had seen a while ago that was relevant to the discussion. Of course, I couldn't remember the name of the video. I realized I hadn't collected those links here, which would have made it easier to find...

So here's some fun things to watch.

Capture of a video by Paul Wales, since released by A&R Productions
(Preview linked below)

Others (including better quality versions of a couple of these) are available from NHRHTA here.

New Haven Railroad: A Great Railroad at Work - A classic and comprehensive promotional film made in the early '40s about the railroad.

Southern New England - a fantastic promotional film focused on the new Alco FA-1/FB-1 locomotives. In color. Available in better quality from NHRHTA as Riding the Maybrook Line.

Memories of Steam in New England - as you might expect, it covers other New England roads as well.

New Haven 1950s Preview - Greg Scholl video, including scenes on the Highland Line.

New Haven Mainlines Preview - Greg Scholl video.

NH1 Clip - Preview of A&R Productions video New Haven Railroad Volume 1.

NH2 Clip - Preview of A&R Productions New Haven Railroad Volume 2 video featuring color films taken by Paul Wales, including some taken in New Britain in the 1940s and '50s. We had a preview of these films at my house before A&R received them to produce their DVD.

16mm Silent Films - Later than my era for the most part, but still interesting.

NHRR and LIRR - Also later than my era.

NHRR Around Providence and Boston - also McGinnis era and later.

1950s New Haven Action - more color films.

When Steam was King - Another color film, only the first train is New Haven. It's a baggage/mail train, and was relevant to the discussion. But since it was also the only New Haven train in the film, I hadn't remembered what it was called.

I'm sure there are some I missed, and there might be a duplicate or two in the list above. A Great Railroad at Work shows up frequently on YouTube under different titles.

The Greg Scholl and A&R Productions videos are available from many online (and train show) resources, so I didn't link any specific ones. I highly recommend New Haven Railroad Volume 2 by A&R of course, since it has a whole bunch of Highland/New Britain shots.

NHRHTA used to have a video containing Kent Cochrane videos. I have an extended cut of that, and hopefully NHRHTA will be releasing that in the future since it also features the Highland line and a little of New Britain.

Monday, May 10, 2021

RI Flat Car with Lumber Load


This is an undated photo, in an unknown location on the New Haven. In addition to the good view of the lumber load, there are a lot of chalk marks. With a reweigh date of 11-42, it places it in late '42 or sometime in '43, perhaps early '44. Looking very closely at the photo, I can see that the car was built in 4-30.

Researching the Car

Unfortunately, only the last two digits of the road number are visible. I don't have any Rock Island specific data or books, so how do I figure out what series of cars this is, and whether there are any appropriate models?

Checking the 1943 ORER, what options are there for an RI flat car with a 100,000 capacity?

  • 90000-90199 (53' 6")
  • 90200-91099 (new in this edition, page dated Jan 1943)(53' 6")
  • 92050-92999 (43')
  • 93250-93499 (46')
  • 93500-93749 (46')
  • 94000-94199 (46')

The best collection of flat car photos I have is Railway Prototype Cyclopedia Volume 20, which has an excellent 85 page article on flat car loading practices. Pg 40 has a photo of 90913. This car has a large splice plate in the center, similar to but not the same as the plates used on the cars represented by Sunshine kit 45.9. In addition, the ORER notes this series is new in January 1943, so it wouldn't have a reweigh date, much less one in '42. (The Sunshine model is a prototype in the middle of this series). 

Next up, check the Car Builders' Cyclopedias, the American Car & Foundry and Magor Car Company books...nothing.

OK, no luck there. Of course, I have to search the internet, and I found this thread:

Large Scale Central - Article Profile - Prototypical flatcar loads

It's an excellent collection of flat cars with loads, but the second photo is the one of interest to this post. It's car 91932. It looks very similar, with a trust plate in the same general location (the lettering is different), the number and placement of stake pockets, etc. Unfortunately, it's not a number that is listed in the 1943 ORER.

Based on the prototype information from the Sunshine kit, the RI had a number of 43' flats built in 1923-4 that were quite similar to the USRA flat car design. That's interesting and points me in the direction of a January, 1997 issue of Railmodel Journal has an article starting on pg. 53 by Richard Hendrickson on the Red Caboose model and similar cars.

Red Caboose Flat Car

The Red Caboose 42' flat car was based on a NYC prototype (Lot 598-F) that was built in 1930, but is very similar to the USRA design. The most common modification to make is the location of the stake pockets, along with substituting Tichy or Grandt Line cast stake pockets for the pressed steel ones that come in the kit.

The RI cars were in the 91750-91999 series, and the car in the thread above is one of those cars, along with the 93000-93249 series built in 1927. But these are all off the roster by 1943 (probably earlier) because they were being extended in the program that produced the cars modeled by Sunshine.

But overall, the Red Caboose model has the right look. This car does resemble the USRA design, but longer, and based on all of the RI flats I have seen in photos it appears this is the design they favored. It would be nice to get a photo of an end sill in addition to potentially confirming the series of cars.

The Red Caboose model is also reasonably easy to modify, especially since it has separate stake pockets, I will probably give that a try. Looking at the 1953 ORER, there are still 147 cars left in the 94000-94199, so for now I'll plan on making a 46' car with a number of 94096.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Mocking up Trackwork

I have a few things to complete in terms of trackwork on the layout. 

Bulk Tracks

With the swing bridge in place, I need to install the bulk tracks. This is Microengineering Code 55 track, and I really should have used it a lot more on the layout.

This looks like it will be a good fit. The ME turnouts will be Code 70, and all the track 55. I don't know if that's prototypical for this specific application, but it's not unheard of for switches to be heavier rail.

 As you can see there is a pair of bulk tracks, plus a third track that represents the track to Stanley Rule & Level across Whiting St. There will be a concrete unloading ramp and a crane as well.

I also plan to use this as a test bed for refining my ground cover, ballast, and static grass applications before moving onto the rest of the layout.

Turnout to Track No. 5

The second thing I started mocking up is the turnout from Track No. 1 to Track No. 5 at East Main St. I picked up a No. 10 Central Valley Model Works tie strip to test, so I can order some supplies from Proto:87 Stores. I had originally used a Walthers turnout in this location, but I wanted to replace it with something that was a better match for the rest of the trackwork. Central Valley Model Works tie strips are a near perfect match for Microengineering flex track.

I first filled the space with a piece of flex track and marked a piece of paper with graphite to get the location of the railheads, particularly the entrance and exit of the main track.

I cut this section out just outside of the rail to use as a template. I tape this to a piece of homasote as a guide. 

Because this will be a curved turnout, I cut the webbing between the ties on the outside of the tie strip, then tape it in place over the template.

The fit won't match the curve exactly because like the prototype I maintain straight sections through the points and the frog. This is on a section that is nominally 24" radius, so I use a piece of 24" sectional track as a check to make sure I am not making any curved portion tighter than that radius.

When satisfied with the geometry, I thoroughly tape down the entire tie strip. You have to do this on the outside of the ties, because we'll be using the molded on tie plate as a jig to keep everything in gauge.

Using push pins, I test fit a piece of rail to the outer curve and it looks good.

Time to order some parts, and I'll come back to show my entire process when they arrive.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Train Length

Thanks to Dick's suggestion, I've recently had Virtual Railfan running while working on other things on the computer, and it's amazing on how long the trains have gotten. One in Tucson was 3 locomotives, two more mid-train, and I counted 277 cars. All double-stacks. 

While I wouldn't expect anybody to model a train that long, it did remind me of some conversations we've had over train length over the years. The gist is usually that once a model train gets to about 20 cars or more, it "feels" longer. We've got evidence that local freights in my era could be 20 cars fairly regularly, and on many models that's a through freight.

Not all of the trains I'm seeing are that long of course, but there are a few other factors that I think come into play when trying to determine how long of a train on the model is "good enough."

L-1 3206 westbound with AO-3 at signal 89.8 in Newington c1946 (Kent Cochrane).

In my case, some of my trains will be limited by the layout itself. For example, the Holyoke freights from Cedar Hill have to deal with a 19-car (if I recall) staging track. As it turns out, the train is NY-4, and later in the day has to receive YN-3, both of which are actually the local for the Canal Line and north. It usually services Meriden and Berlin before reaching New Britain. As I've been researching, it appears photos seem to indicate that a 12 to 20 car train is appropriate in my era. As a symbol (through) freight, I originally thought these would be much longer, but it really functions as a local freight.

Going back to the steam era, AO-3 is the usual daytime Maybrook freight. This train is the longest train that will run on the layout. I can build a very long train in staging, even 116 cars as at least one train was noted by Tom McNamara on the back of a Cochrane photo. The limitation, though, will be how many cars I can get up the helix.

That 116 car train with an L-1 did have an R-1-b a cut in a dozen cars back, so that will help. But I probably still won't get 116 cars. The DER-2 (Alco FA-1/FB-1) locomotives were delivered in 1947, though. Which means that I won't need steam for very long on this run, even though I have pictures as late as 1947 using an L-1, they were assigned the DER-2s.

Watching the Videos

When watching the train go by, it wasn't so much the length that caught my attention, but how long it took to pass. While a 20 car train on most model railroads might look like a long it doesn't feel like one. Fortunately, for the years I model, the DER-2 (FA-1/FB-1) locomotives were in use and a set of three or four will definitely handle a very long train up the helix. I'll also have the advantage of using a fast clock. If I decide to run, say, a 40-car train at 15 mph, not only will it take a long time to pass in front of us, but it will take 4 times longer by the clock. So that helps.


The most visible factor may be the consist. In the modern era it's actually easier to shorten a train and still look prototypical, provided the train is all double-stacks, or covered hoppers, or a unit coal train, etc.

The issue I've always had is trying to match photos from my era. Through freights often have a cut of reefers at the front. If this is substantial, perhaps 10-12 cars, a 20 car freight no longer looks right. But if you cut a train by 80% and cut the number of reefers by the same amount, then you get one or two at most, and you lose the feel of a block of reefers.

The picture above is much more workable, as there are only four reefers at the front. In the visible portion of the train after that it's a flat car,  5 house cars (mostly box, but one looks like a reefer), then two gondolas, three more box cars, maybe another gondola, then more box cars.

The trick is trying to maintain what looks like a good mix, within the limits of what's possible on your layout. But I'm coming to the conclusion that for the Maybrook freights I am now leaning toward much longer trains than I originally considered. It will take some experimentation, but I'll see what I can do.

I did do a test ten years ago (!) with a 30 car train that you can see on YouTube. Look at the old mockup for the east side industries entirely inside the top level of the helix. There's a video in the helix as well.

That's a 30 car train and definitely wasn't the maximum that the FAs could handle up the helix, so I think once I get the decoders in those locomotives I'll test a 50 car train and see how that looks going through the center of town.