RRHX - Michigan Railroad History
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Re: A musing about train travel in 1934
Indeed, some good points. But I remember well last year driving past the Amtrak station here in Cleveland in mid day and seeing one of the two eastbound Amtrak overnight trains parked there. What the heck? As I learned later, that train and others during that crazy period had been outrageously delayed due ... not to an accident on the line ... but heavy freight traffic. If I'd been a passenger on that train or the others, it would have been my last Amtrak experience .... ever ... and probably was for many during that period. The railroads business is and always has been about hauling freight. But back in 1934 the freight haulers also owned and ran the passenger trains that carried their most important customers ... their shippers. They ran on time or else. Freight trains then were indeed shorter and rated for much less tonnage than today due motive power.
But they also carried just about everything that trucks do today in addition to bulk cargo like coal and grain. Traffic on both main and branch lines was necessarily much more congested. Train orders governed much of it. Most of the 100 plus freight trains that run from and through Cleveland these days do so in the day light hours ... not at night. (a train watchers and photographers paradise). The Amtrak debacle of last year on both CSX and NS east of Cleveland remains a head shaker.