Passeengers train cars
Nearly all of us know more about passenger train cars and passenger trains than we do about freight cars and freight trains, for we have all ridden on passenger trains, while a great many of us have never had anything to do with shipping goods on freight cars.
Many of us have taken a long ride on a train, spending a night in a sleeping car, going to bed on a moving train and waking up the next morning many miles from the place where we went to sleep.
There are many interesting things to learn about passenger cars—how they are built, how they are heated and how they are lighted. You should get your grandfather or your grandmother , or some other older person to tell you about the passenger trains of many years ago. The fine cars in which they ride today are not much like the cars our grandparents rode in when they were children.
Then all passenger car bodies were made of wood. In the first decade of the twentieth century the wooden passenger car found a successor in the carbon steel car. We still have wooden passenger cars on some railroads, but they were built long ago, and as they wear out and are scrapped, they are replaced with metal cars. No wooden cars are built now for American railroads , and on many of our larger railroads the wooden car has long since entirely vanished.
The steel cars which first replaced the wooden cars were much safer for travelers, they could be built to carry a larger number of passengers, and when properly cared for they lasted longer than the wooden cars. The carbon steel cars are still the most numerous of the cars that make up American passenger trains.
In recent years our railroads have been adopting lighter materials for the construction of their passenger cars. Metallurgical research in laboratories of car builders, steel mills, aluminum plants, and in our great colleges and universities has produced excellent grades of low-alloy high-tensile steel and numerous aluminum alloys, which have gone into the construction of many passenger cars. Stainless steel has likewise been used extensively. In addition to adopting and using new materials, car builders have greatly improved their methods of shaping parts and fabricating the completed cars. The welder has replaced the riveter in many car-building plants, just as in shipyards and factories.
Though carbon steel is cheaper than those newer materials, it is much heavier, and the added cost of the lighter metals is to some extent made up for by the saving in the cost of operating lighter trains. The saving in weight resulting from the use of aluminum, high-tensile steel and stainless steel is not so great, however, as might be supposed, since the lighter materials are employed almost entirely in making the shell or body of a passenger car, which accounts only for approximately one-fourth of the total weight of a car. Some saving in weight has been made, however, in the trucks, which, with the brake apparatus attached, account for as much as half the weight of carbon steel cars. The trucks of the older, heavier steel cars are chiefly of the six-wheel variety. The trucks of the newer cars seldom have more than four wheels, which are ample to sustain the weight of the lighter car bodies.
The cars of stainless steel are unpainted, and the bright, glistening metal gives them a striking appearance. Like the carbon steel cars, the cars of aluminum and high-tensile steel are painted, but many of the color schemes employed in their decoration give them an appearance no less striking than that of the stainless steel cars. Stainless steel in car bodies is usually fluted, while the cars of aluminum and high-tensile steel are ordinarily quite smooth, and with welded instead of riveted seams, they are perfectly streamlined, without the slightest protuberance appearing on their sleek sides.
The cars your grandparents rode in many years ago were all heated by coal-burning stoves. The stove was originally placed near the middle of the car. If the fire was hot enough to heat the whole car, the passengers near the stove were much too warm. If the fire was just hot enough to make the passengers near the stove comfortable, the passengers near the ends of the car were much too cold. Today nearly all our passenger cars are heated by steam, which comes from the boiler of the locomotive, through a pipe beneath the floor of the cars. When the cars are placed in a train, the steam pipes are connected by means of flexible metallic connections. Rubber hose connections are used on a few cars. The steam pipes which heat the cars run along the side-walls near the floor. Steam heat not only makes passenger cars more comfortable than the old coal burning stoves made them; it also makes the cars much safer for travel. When cars were made entirely of wood and were heated by stoves, they caught fire easily in case of a wreck. A train wreck is a terrible accident at any time, but years ago wrecks were much worse than they are now because of the danger of fire.
The methods of lighting passenger cars have changed greatly from what they were when railroads were new. The first passenger cars were lighted with candles. Candles were followed by oil lamps, and then came the gas lamp. A few cars are still lighted by gas, and some still use oil lamps. The best and now almost the only method of lighting cars, however, is lighting by electricity. Nearly all passenger cars today have only electric lights. The electricity for the lights in a passenger car is furnished by a small generator or dynamo suspended from the truck or from the underframe of the car. and run by a belt encircling the car axle. The next time you are standing near a sleeping car, look for the dynamo, and for the belt which runs it. Since the dynamo generates electric current only when the car is moving, it is necessary to have something which will keep a current of electricity going while the car is standing still, or the lights in a train would go out every time the train came to a stop. Each car which is fitted with electric lights has a storage battery beneath the floor of the car. This battery keeps the lights going when the train stops.
Specialists in illumination have brought their skill to the improvement of electrically lighted cars with results comparable to those achieved in homes, office, stores and other buildings . Fluorescent lighting is becoming as common on passenger cars as neon signs on streets, and with the fluorescent tubes concealed behind plastic shields, light is evenly diffused with no shadows or glare.
Regulation of light by day has not been wanting in the newest passenger cars. Windows are wider and fitted with sound-proof, shatter-proof layers of glass. A few cars have been equipped with circular, polaroid windows, by means of which the passenger can regulate the intensity of the light entering from outside the train, making the view more enjoyable and the eyes more comfortable. It is possible, with a polaroid window, to exclude virtually all outside light, if desired. Passenger cars have automatic couplers like those on freight cars. In addition, passenger cars are usually connected with safety chains, one on each side of the coupler. In recent years, so-called "tight-lock" couplers have been introduced for use on passenger cars. These hold cars more tightly together than ihe older types, and greatly reduce the jars and shocks which we feel when a train starts or stops.
The air brakes on a passenger train are more powerful, even, than the brakes on a freight train. On the finest of our passenger trains the movement of the brakes is controlled by electricity, and the engineer can "set" the brakes more quickly than the brakes on a freight train can be applied. For many years passenger trains have had high speed brakes, the pressure on which is automatically reduced as the speed of the train slackens, to prevent any sliding of car wheels. A new refinement has been added to the high speed brake, an automatic device that releases the pressure on any wheels that may start to slide because of snow or rain upon the rails. Sliding wheels soon become "flat," and must be taken to the shop for turning.
The trucks of a passenger car differ somewhat from the trucks of a freight car, though they are constructed on the same principles. The latest types of passenger cars all have wheels equipped with roller bearings. Helical springs have taken the
Supplies Current for Lights is Suspended from the Truck Frame place of elliptical springs. With rubber truck mountings and hydraulic shock absorbers added, the modern car has a riding quality superior to that of the old steel car. An important safety device has recently been added to passenger cars, an ingenious electric contrivance that flashes a warning to the engineer if the bearings of any car wheels become overheated. Several distressing accidents have occurred to passenger trains because undetected hot boxes have caused axles to break. With the hot bearing detector such accidents can be avoided. When you look at the truck of a passenger car you will notice chains extending from the truck frame to the outer floor sill of the car body. If a car is accidentally derailed, these chains keep the truck from swinging about crosswise beneath the car. With the trucks kept straight there is less danger that a derailed car will upset, or fall from its trucks, or run entirely off the track of the railroad.
One improvement which makes the best passenger car of today much better than the car our grandparents knew is the vestibuled platform at each end of the car. Some of the passenger cars now in use have open platforms. That is, the platforms are open at the sides and ends, and have only the protection of the projecting roofs of the cars. Not so many
years ago all passenger cars had open platforms. But on the better cars now used in our passenger trains the platforms are entirely closed. The vestibules of the cars fit closely together, and trainmen and passengers can walk through the train from car to car without being exposed to the weather, without having to pass through a cloud of flying dust, smoke and cinders, and without being in danger of falling off the platforms . The vestibule doors are closed while the train is in motion, and there is no strong draft to carry dust and smoke into the cars when the car doors are opened. The vestibuled platform is an important safety device, and it also adds greatly to the comfort and cleanliness of railroad travel.
All passenger cars must be ventilated in some manner, just as crowded school rooms and theaters must be ventilated. You often see small metal domes on the roofs of passenger cars. These domes are ventilating devices which draw away the stale air of the cars and permit fresh air to enter. In some cars the ventilation is provided only by doors and windows . Many cars are built with "deck-windows" in order that they may be ventilated more easily. The central part of the roof is raised several inches, giving the roof an upper "deck," with a lower main "deck" on each side. On each side of the upper deck, extending between it and the main deck are a number of narrow windows, which may be opened to admit fresh air. A sleeping car has an electric fan at each end, and this fan helps in ventilating the car.
A few railroads still employ a device by which, during the hot summer weather, the air in sleeping cars can be cooled before the cars start on their journey. The "cooler" consists of a large icebox, an electric motor, a blower, and an air inlet duct, all mounted on a baggage truck. The machine is brought alongside one end of a sleeping car and the inlet duct inserted through an open window. At the other end of the car, on the opposite side, an exhaust fan is placed in another open window . As the exhaust fan draws air out of the car, the blower on the cooler forces into the car a supply of fresh air which has been chilled by passing through the icebox.
The latest and most elaborate contrivance for insuring good atmospheric conditions in passenger cars, however, is an air conditioning plant for individual cars, similar in some respects to the air conditioning plants found in many theatres, stores and office buildings, and even in private homes. The air conditioning equipment for passenger cars is primarily a device for cooling and for filtering the air in hot weather. The cooling apparatus is not used, of course, in cold weather, though the filtering apparatus may be, to clean the air which is warmed by the steam heating system of the car.
The air conditioning equipment which cools the air has three important parts: first, the actual air cooling device in which heat is withdrawn from the air and absorbed by some type of refrigerant; second, a refrigerating unit in which the refrigerant gives up the heat absorbed from the air and is cooled again; and third, some kind of circulating system
through which the refrigerant passes from the refrigerating unit to the air cooling unit and back again. There are at present three distinct types of air conditioning plants for passenger cars. One employs ice for cooling the refrigerant; another uses a mechanical compression system similar to that found in electric refrigerators. A third type is called the steam ejector system.
The ice system is the simplest of the three. A tank of ice cools the refrigerant, which is water. The cold water flows to the air conditioning unit where it circulates through a number of coils. As the air passes around these coils it gives up its heat to the water, and the water flows back to the ice chamber to be cooled again. It takes a large amount of ice to keep the air of the car at a desirable temperature on a
hot summer day, and on long runs, where this system is employed, there must be provision for frequent re-icing. The steam ejector system is perhaps the most interesting method of air conditioning. In this system too, water is the refrigerant, but instead of being cooled with ice, it is cooled by the action of hot steam from the boiler of the locomotive. This may sound a bit strange, but you can easily understand how it is done. The boiling point of water becomes much lower as the pressure of the air about it is reduced. Under normal conditions water boils at a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit. By creating a partial vacuum above* the water this boiling point may be brought much lower. The steam ejector is employed to create a partial vacuum above the water, bringing its boiling point down to about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If water introduced into the vacuum is warmer than 50 degrees it will boil from its own heat, giving up this heat until its temperature is lowered to 50 degrees. This cool water flows to the coils of the air conditioning unit, where it absorbs the heat of the air, and flows back to the vacuum chamber to be cooled again.
In the mechanical compression system the refrigerant used is a substance that can be changed from a gas to a liquid by compression and cooling. The substance most commonly used is called Freon, although its scientific chemical name is dichlorodifluoromethane. Can you pronounce it? A mechanical compressor receives the Freon as a gas at low pressure and compresses it. The compressed gas then passes through the coils of a condenser, over which passes a stream of cold water or cool air. The gas gives up most of its heat and assumes a liquid form. It then flows to the air conditioning unit, where it absorbs the heat of the air, turns into low pressure gas once more, and flows back to the compressor.
The first air conditioned passenger car was a Baltimore and Ohio Railroad dining car, the Martha Washington. Its equipment was installed in 1930 by the Carrier Engineering Corporation, which was one of the first engineering firms to urge that passenger cars be air conditioned. The results of the first experiment were highly satisfactory and the railroads soon found that there was a wide demand for more airconditioned cars. There are now more than thirteen thousand passenger cars on our railroads which have air conditioning equipment of one kind or another. Several factories manufacture the equipment, and a few railroads make their own.
The air of passenger cars, which is conditioned, is made to circulate about the cooling units by electric fans. A part of the air in the car is used over and over, but a quantity of fresh air is constantly being introduced from outside the car, and the same amount of stale air being driven from the car through the crevices of the windows and doors, or through ventilators. Both the air coming in from the outside and the re-used air are filtered to remove dust, and in some cars the reused air passes through a carbon filter to remove the odors of stale tobacco smoke or cooked food. The air conditioning equipment, like the heating apparatus of cars which are not air conditioned, is thermostatically controlled, in some cars by delicate electronic devices that respond to the slightest change in temperature or humidity. Some of the more recent air conditioning equipment, needing more power than can be obtained from the conventional generator run by a belt about the car axle, is operated by a small, self-contained gas or Diesel motor. Such air conditioning units continue to operate even when trains are stopped and do not have to rely at any time upon storage batteries. The conditioned air is delivered to the interior of the car through a series of ducts, usually placed overhead, and care is taken that there are no strong air currents to create an uncomfortable draft on the back of some passenger 's neck.
There are several kinds of passenger cars, just as there are several kinds of freight cars. The kind of car used most is the ordinary coach. It has a row of seats on each side, with an open aisle in the center. The seats, which are placed crosswise of the car, are each large enough for at least two persons. The cushions are covered with plush or leather, or with woven
cane or rattan. The backs of the seats are "reversible." Many of the coaches used on the railroads have double reclining chairs instead of double seats so common in older coaches. Passengers frequently must travel for long distances in coaches, and the reclining chairs are somewhat more comfortable than the ordinary car seats.
During the past few years the railroads of the United States have done much to make coach travel more comfortable. On the fast trains in particular there has been a great improvement in the coaches. This improvement has been caused in part by the fact that the railroads were losing much of their passenger business to buses and to the private automobile. Then too, fares charged on coaches have been much less than the fares on sleeping cars, and the difference has been so great that many people have preferred to spend the night in coaches in order to save money. To induce these travelers to continue to use the railroad it was necessary to provide better coaches. Many railroads have introduced fast, all-coach trains for long distance, overnight travel, for the benefit of passengers to whom the saving in transportation expense means more than the possible comfort of the sleeping car. The coaches on these trains are among the finest yet made.
The modern coaches are almost as great an improvement over the ordinary steel day coach in common use twenty years ago, as that coach was over the wooden coach of three-quarters of a century ago. They are air conditioned, and the passengers have an adequate supply of clean air which is maintained at a constant temperature both winter and summer. Better springs and better draft gears and buffers make the cars ride more easily, and soundproof construction keeps out the noise of clanking steel. New types of double seats, with soft springs, sponge rubber cushioning, covered with attractive upholstering fabrics, provide genuine comfort for the traveler. The seats have center arm rests, which can be folded away if desired , and they have reclining backs which make it possible for the passengers to sleep at night. They rotate in any direction , enabling the traveler to look out the window or face companions across the aisle. Some coaches have given more space to each passenger by having a row of double seats on one side of the aisle, and a row of single seats on the other, and other coaches, even finer, have two rows of single seats only.
Headrests of linen are found in many coaches. Porters look after baggage, run errands, and provide pillows for those who want them. The wash rooms for both men and women have porcelain wash basins, hot and cold running water, individual paper towels, full length mirrors, and are equipped with comfortable chairs and sofas. The walls of the cars are tastefully decorated, interior lighting gives sufficient illumination, with no disturbing glare, and a radio entertains the travelers and keeps them informed of the interesting events occurring in a busy world. Coach passengers on many trains are permitted to make use of the observation car, the tap room or bar, the barber shop, and shower bath, privileges once reserved for the passengers who occupied the sleeping cars or other cars, the occupants of which paid an extra fare.
Many trains still carry "parlor cars" in addition to coaches, but usually only those trains which still have the old-fashioned day coaches. Parlor cars have comfortable, individual, reclining chairs, and the furnishings are more luxurious than those of the ordinary coach. Passengers who ride in these cars must pay a small sum of money in addition to the regular fare. The parlor car is no better equipped, however, than the best modern coach, and as more of the new coaches are added to our trains, fewer parlor cars will be needed. One thing that seems to indicate parlor cars may eventually disappear is the fact that they now all belong to the various railroad companies. Formerly, parlor cars, just like sleeping cars, belonged to and were operated by the Pullman Company. This company sold its entire fleet of parlor cars to the railroads in 1945. One of the most important railroad inventions of the United States was the sleeping car. Our earliest trains had no sleeping cars. There was really no need for them, for the early railroads were short, no journey lasted more than a few hours, and the trains nearly all went in the daytime. As railroads increased in number, it became possible to make longer and longer journeys, and night travel became common. Long journeys by night were very tiresome and uncomfortable, because it was almost impossible for passengers to sleep in the car seats. Steamboats and sailing vessels had good sleeping rooms, and even canal boats used for passenger transportation had bunks in which travelers could rest at night. It can easily be seen
that there was a real need for sleeping cars on the railroads, and especially upon the railroads of the United States, where the distance which one might travel was so great.
The earliest sleeping cars had a row of double bunks on each side. While these cars were more comfortable for night travel than the ordinary coach, they had one great defect. They could not be used for day travel. They were sleeping cars and nothing else. What was needed was a convertible car, a car in which the seats used during the day could be converted into beds at night. George M. Pullman of Chicago invented the modern sleeping car. He built his first one in 1859, remodeling a coach of the Chicago and Alton railroad. This car was much simpler in design than the sleeping cars of today, but it was so much more suitable for long distance travel than any other kind of car in use at the time, that passengers on the Chicago and
Alton Railroad gladly paid the extra money charged for riding in it. Encouraged by the success of his first car, Mr. Pullman built a much larger sleeping car a few years later, a car which was a great improvement over his first remodeled coach. When this car was taken from the workshop, it was found to be too wide and too high for many of the bridges and station platforms of the railroads. The officers of the Chicago and Alton Railroad were so greatly pleased with the car, however,
and so sure that its use would bring to the road many additional passengers, that they rebuilt their bridges and platforms , and asked Mr. Pullman to make more cars of the same kind. Other railroads soon followed the example of the Chicago and Alton, and Mr. Pullman received many orders for sleeping cars. In 1879 he bought a large tract of land near Chicago. On this tract of land the city of Pullman was built, and there the Pullman-Standard Car Manufacturing Company still has its great manufacturing plant, which can turn out more than a thousand passenger cars a year.
The sleeping cars on our railroads are operated for the most part by the Pullman Company. For many years this company was closely related to the Pullman-Standard Car Manufacturing Company, both companies being owned by the same holding corporation. This common ownership has now been ended, and the ownership of the Pullman Company, which operates Pullman cars, transferred to 57 leading American railroads, which are joint owners, though the company is still operated as a separate organization. Some railroads buy and operate their own sleeping cars, but most of them rent cars from the Pullman Company. When you ride in a Pullman sleeper you pay your railroad fare to the railroad, but the extra amount charged for your berth or room goes to the Pullman Company, though whatever profit it makes is now distributed among the owning railroads. The porters and Pullman conductors are employees of the Pullman Company and not of the railroads. There are several kinds of sleeping cars. The most common type—the standard sleeping car—has twelve "sections," six on each side of the center aisle. Each section has two berths, an upper and a lower. When the berths are "made up," they are shut off from the center aisle by curtains; and a thin movable partition of wood separates one section from another. The upper berth is hinged, and in daytime, this berth is folded upward to form a part of the car ceiling. The space between the closed upper berth and the car roof holds the mattresses, pillows, curtains, and the thin partitions used in making up both berths of the section.
In addition to the sections, many standard sleeping cars have one or two drawing rooms. The drawing room is a small private sleeping compartment near the end of the car. It has an upper and a lower berth, and a sofa which may be used as a bed. It also has a small private washroom. Each sleeping car has wash rooms for men and women. These rooms on some cars are made large enough to be used as smoking compartments. Some sleeping cars of a finer and more expensive kind, instead of having berths along each side, have only staterooms or compartments. A narrow corridor runs the length of the car on one side, and the doors of the compartments open from this corridor. Each compartment has an upper and a lower berth and each has a washroom.
Many sleeping cars have single or double bedrooms, with beds, which fold into the wall during the day. Master bedrooms have two double beds and an enclosed toilet compartment with a shower bath. On many cars the walls between adjoining bedrooms can be folded back to make a room which is large enough, when the beds are disposed of, to accommodate a dozen persons on spacious chairs and sofas. The sleep ing and living room accommodations on the best American trains differ but little from those of a first class hotel, except that there is not quite as much space. Another recent innovation in American sleeping cars is the roomette car. A roomette is a small but thoroughly complete private bedroom which occupies only a little more space than the section of a standard Pullman car. There may be as many as 18 roomettes in a single car. Each roomette has its own washroom and toilet facilities and is equipped with a folding bed which disappears in the wall in the daytime, leaving a small but comfortable private sitting room.
Duplex roomette cars have been built that give passengers more space and comfort than the single roomette. The chambrette, not so large as a compartment, is not so small as a roomette, and though it has a folding bed, like the roomette, when the bed is down it is still possible for the occupant to use the wash basin and other toilet facilities as in the compartment or bedroom. For day service the chambrette has a collapsible arm chair, like those in a drawing room.
A duplex sleeper, which is one of the most popular types of new sleeping cars, is constructed much like a compartmem car, with a side corridor. An ingenious arrangement provides two separate sleeping rooms in a space occupied in the ordinary compartment car by a single compartment. The rooms are placed on two levels, the bed space in the upper room
being directly above the bed space in the lower room, with the beds extending crosswise instead of lengthwise in the car. Three broad steps lead to the upper room. The bed in each room turns into a comfortable sofa by day. Each room has a folding table upon which meals may be served. On the railroads in the western part of the United States there are many "tourist" sleeping cars. These cars are for the most part older standard sleeping cars, though formerly many
of them had seats covered with cane or leather instead of plush. The Pullman fare charged for traveling in tourist sleeping cars is about half the fare charged for riding in a standard sleeper. After solving the problem of providing suitable sleeping quarters for passengers making long journeys, George M. Pullman turned his attention to the almost equally important problem of providing passengers with food. He designed and built the first dining car or "hotel-car," as it was called. All the long distance trains on our railroads now carry din
ing cars. At one end of the dining car is a kitchen, small and compact, but completely furnished with all that is needed for preparing and serving food. The dining room usually has a double row of tables, those on one side of the aisle each seating four persons and those on the other side seating two, though on the newer dining cars one finds a variety of seating arrange ments that offer a marked contrast to the older conventional
arrangement. Settees and benches take the place of chairs. Diagonal seating makes it possible for waiters to give better service.
The use of dining cars is one thing which makes the vestibuled platforms of passenger cars such an important aid to railroad travel. To reach the dining car a passenger must walk from the car in which he is riding, and perhaps through several intervening cars. Without enclosed platforms the walk to and from the dining car would be full of danger. Some trains have buffet cars instead of dining cars. A buffet car is a parlor car or sleeping car with a small kitchenette at one end. The porter of such a car can serve simple
meals, the passengers eating from small detachable tables placed in front of their seats. On some railroads the trains which carry many passengers lo and from their work in large cities, and trains which make short runs near the hours for meals, have lunch counter cars or coffee shop cars in which passengers may obtain a quick meal, just as at a lunch counter in a restaurant. Another interesting type of car found on our railroads is the observation car. The fast express trains which pass through those parts of the country having attractive scenery usually have observation cars. One half of an observation car is usually equipped as an ordinary parlor car or sleeping car. The other half is the observation compartment. It has large windows, and is furnished with comfortable movable chairs, in which passengers may sit and enjoy the scenery as they fly along.
Not so many years ago many observation cars, carried at the ends of the trains, had a rear platform large enough to permit several passengers to sit outside in the open air. In fine weather riding on this platform on a swiftly moving train was an interesting experience. Very few cars are to be found now with these rear end observation platforms, but some of them seem to have been saved for the use of presidential candidates on campaign tours.
But if the open observation platform is disappearing, it has been succeeded by something that many persons think is ever so much more pleasant and attractive—a glass-enclosed observation dome, placed in the center of the car, and extending a trifle more than two feet above the rest of the car roof. It might seem that it took railroad managers a long time to think of such a dome for passenger cars, which resembles, more than anything else, the cupola of a caboose that has been a familiar sight on freight trains for many, many years. Of course the new observation dome has much more glass, is more spacious, and gives a wider view of the passing landscape than can be obtained from a caboose.
The first modern suggestion for a passenger car with an observation dome came from an official of the General Motors Corporation. His idea was seized upon by officers of the Chicago , Burlington and Quincy Railroad, in whose shops the first dome car—it was given the name "Vista Dome"—was constructed . The car was in fact one of the Burlington's stainless steel coaches, redesigned and rebuilt. It was put into service in 1945 and operated over several routes of the Burlington system, attracting so much attention and winning such favorable comment that the Burlington ordered a large number of coaches built on similar lines.
Each end of a Vista Dome car is fitted like any other coach. A short stairway leads from the rear coach compartment to the dome, which has seats for 24 passengers. The floor of that part of the car beneath the dome is lower than the floor beneath the coach compartments, providing enough room for men's and women's rest rooms and a luggage compartment. The glass windows of the dome, curved on the top and on the sides, are made of a special type of glass, shatter-proof, glareresistant , and fitted with breather units to prevent excessive fogging.
So the improvement in passenger cars continues. Comfort, convenience, luxury, safety—these have been the watchwords of the men who design and plan modern passenger train equipment . The last word has not yet been said. Almost daily one hears of further improvements and refinements. More comfortable diners, roomier and better fitted lounge cars, better sleepers, finer coaches. Recreation cars are now found on many railroad trains, cars in which seats and tables can be stowed away, and the floor cleared for dancing or other entertainment. There are even cars now with play rooms for children, like the play rooms on some of our best ocean liners.
Many of the new plastics and synthetic materials, which have become so common in recent years, have found their way into the construction of passenger cars. Where wood and metal were once used we now find wall panels, wainscoting, floor covering, lighting fixtures and decorations made of products developed in the laboratories of our chemical engineers. Formica, nylon, saran, lucite and many other new synthetic products are used by all car manufacturers.
There have been numerous gadgets introduced on passenger cars, just as on steam locomotives. Electro-pneumatic door openers which cause doors to open with the touch of a finger brings words of appreciation from travelers who in the past have struggled with stubborn car doors as they made their way to and from the dining car. Another interesting gadget consists of a radio speaker embedded in a sponge rubber pad. Plugged in by the seat in a lounge car, it is used as a pillow, permitting only the person against whose head it rests to hear what the sound waves are saying.
Car designers have not neglected the appearance of modern passenger cars and have made them much more attractive in appearance, both inside and outside, than the somewhat drab coaches in which your grandparents once rode. Though per haps a trifle slow to learn, railroad managers finally came to the realization that color has a pronounced psychological effect on the individual, just as sound or taste. The artist, with his scientifically developed knowledge of the impressions and the effects of different colors and color combinations, has become an important factor in designing passenger cars of today. On many cars the passenger finds interesting murals that tell the story of historical events important in the development of transportation, or related closely to the story of the railroad on which he is traveling.
There are several types of passenger cars of which we have not yet spoken. Some of them are combinations of two or more different kinds of cars. A cafe observation car has a kitchen in the center or at the end, and two other compartments , one an observation compartment and the other a dining room. A dining and parlor car is half diner and kitchen and half parlor car.
Nearly all fast express trains have equipment for the use of traveling business men. They have cars with tables and desks,
and they carry one or more stenographers who take dictation and type letters for passengers who desire to employ their services. The higher railroad officials have official cars to use in traveling from place to place on the railway systems which they direct. These cars have sleeping rooms, dining rooms and kitchens, and comfortable offices fitted with desks, tables and other office furniture. Some wealthy people own private cars which they use when traveling for pleasure or upon long business trips. The private pleasure cars are furnished in a luxurious manner. A few of the larger railroads own private cars which are rented to public officials, or to wealthy passengers .
So far we have been speaking only of cars used to carry passengers. Most of our passenger trains carry baggage, express and mail, and there are special types of cars for this service.
The baggage cars have large sliding side doors through which trunks, baby carriages, bicycles, and other articles of baggage may be loaded and unloaded. A few carry automobiles .
More than a century ago, on July 7, 1838, to be exact, the Congress of the United States enacted a law declaring every railroad in the United States to be a post route. Since that time nearly all the railroads of the country have helped to carry the letters, papers, magazines, books and parcels which
our government permits us to send by mail. Steamships, motor vehicles and airplanes also carry mail, but it is on the swift moving passenger trains of our railroads that most of the mail is transported. Some mail is carried in closed, locked pouches from place to place, but much of it is carried in storage cars and in railway post office cars, and is sorted en route on the post office cars. Before the post office car came into use all mail was sorted in post offices, and transported in locked pouches. The practice of sorting mail on the train made it possible to get mail to its destination in a much shorter time.
The railway post office cars are fitted with racks which hold the heavy canvas bags into which the railway mail clerks put the letters and other articles as they sort them according to destination. These post office cars have steel safes in which valuable registered mail is transported. All post office cars have mail catchers across their doors. Trains which carry the mail usually travel rapidly, and do not stop at small towns
and villages. At a station where no stop is made the incoming mail bag is thrown from the car, and the outgoing bag is snatched by the mail-catcher from a crane standing alongside the track. Have you ever seen a mail-bag grabbed by the catcher of a rapidly moving post office car? The express business of the United States was founded in 1839. Until that time if a person wanted to send money or jewelry or valuable papers and parcels to somebody in another city he had to carry them himself or employ a special messenger . William F. Harnden of Boston conceived the idea of offering a regular parcel service between Boston and New York. His business was small at first, a couple of valises being sufficient to carry all the packets that were offered. But the business grew very rapidly. Soon he was using trunks instead of valises, and he began to employ messengers to carry packages
In 1875 Express Messengers Wore Whiskers and Drove Horses on other railroads. Thus the express business was born. Other individuals soon entered the field and a number of express companies were organized offering service by railroad, by steamboat, and by stagecoach. Some of you may have read stories or seen moving pictures telling about the exciting lives led by the express messengers who carried the gold pro duced in the mines of California and other western states.
Bandits seemed to take a peculiar delight in holding up stagecoaches and robbing express messengers. The business of the express companies came to include not only valuable articles but all kinds of merchandise which required better care and more speedy transportation than railroads could give in their freight trains. Eventually the different companies were all combined into a single organization known as the Railway Express Agency which, like the Pullman Company, is owned jointly by the railroads, though still maintained as a separate organization. You have doubtless seen its motor trucks delivering and receiving parcels, and you have seen its cars in passenger trains.
The ordinary express cars are very much like baggage cars, with wide side doors. Some express cars which transport fresh fish, milk, fruit or vegetables are fitted with ice bunkers, much like the refrigerator cars used in the freight service. Racehorses are frequently shipped by express, the cars which carry them being fitted with stalls and with quarters for the men in charge of the horses.
Mail, express and baggage are frequently all carried on the same car, the car being divided into three separate compartments . Very often you will see combination baggage and passenger cars or combination express and passenger cars. The passenger compartment of such a combination car is usually a smoking compartment. The passenger compartment of some of these cars is provided with chairs instead of ordinary coach seats, and some of them are equipped with a buffet-broiler, making it possible for the passengers to obtain light meals or refreshments.
In this chapter we have talked only about the cars of various kinds which go to make up our passenger trains, and have said little about the trains themselves. In the next chapter we shall tell something of the passenger trains on American railroads , and especially of the fine new, modern trains that have made their appearance well within the memory of most of us.