Fragmented Railroads, Variegated Passenger Trains

Copyright 1999 - 2021 by James B. Van Bokkelen . This document may be duplicated and distributed for non-commercial purposes only, all other rights reserved.

Just as New England is made up of states that are quite small by the standards of the rest of the USA, so it has been home to railroads that are smaller than the norm. Although substantial consolidation did take place between 1880 and 1900, it stopped before the New York, New Haven and Hartford was able to completely swallow the Boston and Maine or Maine Central, partly due to political and capital issues: The New Haven was a monopoly in Rhode Island and Connecticut, the B&M had its strength in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and Maine contained almost all of the MEC, as Vermont did with the Rutland. The Boston and Albany, Central Vermont, Grand Trunk and the Canadian Pacific operations in Maine and Vermont were all kept unconsolidated as the proxies of larger railroads based outside the region.

The upshot of this was that, in many cases, the route between an important city pair involved two or more railroads - even to the extent that only a couple of one-railroad sleeper routes operated within the six-state area. The usual pattern was two or more named trains assembled from a mixed pool of equipment from two or more roads, running through from end-point to end-point. In a number of instances power was pooled and ran through as well. Most of the multi-line routes supported at least a daytime coach/parlor train and a night coach/sleeper train. From the modeler's point of view, this offers both an interesting variety of equipment and a chance to duck difficult modeling issues by simply using a more easily achievable car or locomotive in "today's" edition of the Flyer.

Inter-line Services in New England

This list reflects mostly mid-'50s names and routings. The major exception passenger service over the Rutland, which diminished after World War II, and ceased entirely in 1953. My primary modeling focus is the Boston and Maine RR, which was involved with most of these services. I've also got a roster of B&M passenger equipment and HO scale modeling information available on the web. I'm including the non-B&M services to the extent that I know about them, but you will need to look elsewhere for details of the equipment:

Washington - Philadelphia - New York (Penn) - Providence - Boston
PRR - NY,NH&H Patriot, Colonial, Federal, Senator
Pittsburgh - Philadelphia - New York (Penn) - Providence - Boston
PRR - NY,NH&H Quaker
Washington - New York (Penn) - New Haven - Springfield - Montpelier - Montreal
PRR - NY,NH&H - B&M - CV Washingtonian, Montrealer
New York (GCT) - New Haven - Springfield - White River Jct. - Berlin/Fabyans
NY,NH&H - B&M Connecticut Yankee, Day White Mountains, Night White Mountains, Overnighter
New York (GCT) - Troy - Rutland - Burlington - Montreal
NYC - B&M - Rutland Green Mountain Flyer, Mount Royal
New York (GCT) - New Haven - Springfield - Worcester - Boston (South Station)
NY,NH&H - B&A (NYC) New York Express, Boston - New York Express, Twilight Express
Washington - Philadelphia - New York (Penn) - New Haven - Worcester - Portland - Bar Harbor
PRR - NY,NH&H - B&M - MEC Bar Harbor Express, East Wind
New York (GCT) - New Haven - Worcester - Portland
NY,NH&H - B&M State of Maine
Boston - Portland - Waterville - Bangor
B&M - MEC Flying Yankee, Pine Tree, Penobscot, Kennebec
Boston - Portland - Bangor - St. John - Halifax
B&M - MEC - CPR - CN Gull
Boston - Bangor - Houlton - Presque Isle
BAR Aroostook Flyer, Potatoland Special (coaches & sleepers carried in B&M/MEC trains from Boston)
Boston - Dover - North Conway - Whitefield
B&M - MEC - B&M Mountaineer
Boston - Concord - Wells River - Newport - Montreal
B&M - Canadian Pacific Alouette, Red Wing
Boston - Concord - White River Jct. - Montpelier - Montreal
B&M - Central Vermont New Englander, Ambassador
Boston - Keene - Rutland - Burlington - Montreal
B&M - Rutland Mount Royal, Green Mountain Flyer

Run-Through Passenger Consists

Under construction - I haven't typed all I know, and there's still a lot I don't know about these consists. Sources include Steam, Steel and Limiteds, various Official Guides and public timetables, and studying photos in the B&M Bulletin and other publications with a New England focus. I am working on hyper-linking car descriptions here into the B&M equipment roster, but things are still in flux - complaints to me, please.

Connecticut River Valley Trains

The Washingtonian/Montrealer carried sleepers right up to its end in 1967. In 1950, the consist appeared to be all heavyweight: 5 compartment - buffet/lounge, 8 section 5 double bedroom, 14 single bedroom, 12 sections 1 drawing room. The 1952 consist was partially lightweight, and is given below. In 1957, it was several lightweight (presumably NH) 6-4-6s and a NH 6-double-bedroom buffet/lounge, but still with a heavyweight 8-5, whether NH, PRR or CN I can't tell. The B&M lightweight sleepers were employed elsewhere until they were leased to Pullman in 1959; I've seen few photos of them in the Connecticut Valley before then. The B&M supplied coaches: the usual mix of A/C equipped high window and American Flyer, depending on the era, until the rest of the railroad went all-RDC. CV and CN heavyweight coaches were replaced with CN 1954 P-S lightweights in the later days. Once in a while a PRR coach made the trip, as well.

Before the mid-1950s, the Ambassador name was used for a pair of Boston - Montreal B&M/CV day trains, but the consist actually split/merged in White River Junction, forwarding cars to and from the Connecticut Yankee for New York. By 1957, the Ambassador ran through to Grand Central Terminal, with a cross-platform transfer to an RDC for Boston in White River Jct. After 1960, both the day and night trains on the Conn. River line were a mix of NH and CN/CV equipment, with NH 8600-series lightweight coaches replacing NH American Flyer coaches.

Terminals and schedules for trains like the Day White Mountains, Night White Mountains, Overnighter and Connecticut Yankee varied over the years, but the basic purpose was connecting Grand Central with White Mountains points. Fabyans, NH on the MEC was a summer-only destination; In the winter the end point was more likely to be Berlin, NH or perhaps Newport, VT on the CPR. Equipment I see in photos is a mix of B&M and NH high-window coaches until the American Flyer cars arrived. Consists got changed and rearranged a lot at Springfield and White River Jct. Food and first class service on the day trains was likely to be limited to a broiler-buffet-lounge North of Springfield, but the New Haven often added full parlors and diners for the NYC - Springfield segment. Some of these trains also carried cars for Montreal via CV or CPR, and exchanged equipment with Boston trains at White River Jct. By 1957, everyone had to change at White River for the RDCs that served the North Country branches.

The only formal power pooling on these trains was done by the B&M and CV, and that only south of White River Jct. (at least post-WWII). The route from there to Brattleboro was shared track, and though the locomotive usually was B&M, it wasn't always, in either the steam or diesel eras.

Car assignments from the June 1952, Official Guide:

Night White Mountains


Boston - Montreal via Central Vermont

Boston to Montreal via the CV vanished quickly as traffic started to erode in the 1950s: the original named day train was the Ambassador, which by 1952 was being heavily switched at White River Junction, and carried quite a few New York cars north of that point - a few years later the name was applied to NYC - Montreal service only. B&M RDCs ran through to Montreal in 1958, just before the through operation was discontinued. Likewise, the overnight New Englander was running combined with the Red Wing as far as White River Jct., and didn't even warrant its own timetable in the Official Guide. The single sleeper it carried is documented under the Alouette (below).

Boston - Montreal via Canadian Pacific

The Alouette was the day train, though the name disappeared when the equipment was changed to pooled B&M and CPR RDCs in October 1956. In this form it survived until 1965, with CPR usually supplying RDC-2s rebuilt with lunch counters. The Red Wing remained a conventional train with sleepers until its discontinuance in October, 1959. During the 1950s, it appears that the B&M usually supplied coaches, the CPR providing sleepers, baggage-smokers and the Alouette's buffet-parlor-observation. The 1952 Red Wing was combined with the New Englander (the CV train) Boston to White River, and carried the following equipment:

Originally, the Alouette ran via Concord, Plymouth and Woodsville NH over the former Boston, Concord & Montreal line. The Red Wing sometimes took this route, but often was routed via White River Jct. so it could exchange cars with other trains. After the line between Plymouth and Woodsville was abandoned in the Fall of 1954, trains to and from the CPR were re-routed via the former Northern RR from Concord NH to White River Jct. and North along the Connecticut River. In the steam era, B&M and CPR 4-6-2s were pooled through from Boston to Montreal at times. Later the Canadian Pacific's only three E-8 passenger diesels were purchased in 1949 to pool with B&M E-7s through from Boston to Montreal.

Summer-Only Luxury Trains to Maine

The Bar Harbor Express name was applied to various heavyweight overnight schedules to Ellsworth and Bangor from before WWI to the end of service - Kratville's Steam, Steel and Limiteds is a good starting point for the pre-war versions. In some seasons it ran weekends only, sometimes Monday-Wednesday-Friday eastbound and Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday westbound, with an all-Pullman consist. The Bar Harbor Express last ran in the Summer of 1960, only as far as Bangor. Because it was a night train, I haven't seen enough photos to supplement the basic info from the Official Guide (July 1952 given here):

The diners North of Portland are a bit curious, as it appears that the Maine Central had sold its P-S lightweight diners in 1951, which I've associated with the end of all meal service on the MEC. Possibly these diners were rented from another railroad for this train only; traditionally the railroads serving Florida had an equipment surplus during the Bar Harbor Express season.

The train name East Wind was first used in 1940 for a new day-coach service from Washington DC to Portland (with some cars through to Bangor). The 700 mile trip took about 14 hours each way, with minimal stops, and used the New Haven's Norwich & Worcester line throughout its existence to save time (by 1952 the State of Maine had been re-routed via Providence).

For the summer seasons of 1940, 1941 and 1942 two dedicated consists were specially painted with lemon yellow sides and a silver window band and pinstripes. The IHC HO scale East Wind consist has the right paint on the wrong cars, but most of the correct consist is now achievable with some effort: NH arch-roof baggage, PRR modernized P-70s, NH American Flyer grill car, and NH (skirted) and B&M (unskirted) American Flyer coaches. The leased ACL diners require kitbashing skills, and I have seen very little information on the PRR lounge cars. An article on the East Wind appeared in the Summer 1978 B&M Bulletin and various of the color photo books have pictures of the consist.

The East Wind was suspended from 1943 till 1946, and then ran most years until 1955. The post-war consists varied from year to year, but usually looked like other run-through trains on similar routings: varying proportions of PRR, NH and B&M deluxe cars. A 1946 photo shows a NH baggage, two PRR streamlined coaches, an ACL diner, etc. Several 1950s photos shows a B&M heavyweight diner and the remainder NH post-war lightweight coaches. Another pair, taken in August 1953, show an NH LW parlor, NH HW diner in silver paint, and three LW coaches (two B&M in one train, one B&M in the other).

State of Maine

The State of Maine provided overnight service between Grand Central in New York and Portland, ME via Worcester, MA, Lowell and Dover, NH. When service began in 1913, it ran NH to Springfield, B&A to Worcester and then via Lowell and Lawrence. By the mid-1920s it had been re-routed to run via New London and Putnam on the old Norwich & Worcester. By 1952, it reached Worcester via Providence, RI, which continued until service ended in October 1960. It always carried GCT - Portland sleepers, and through 1958, a GCT - Concord or Plymouth NH car as well. At times, one of the sleepers continued on to Bangor, ME.

The July 1952 consist was:

After the arrival of the last lightweight sleepers in 1955, the consist looked like this: the B&M supplied a 6-section, 4-double-bedroom, 6-roomette sleeper NYC - Concord via Lowell, and another for NYC - Portland, but the NY,NH&H handled the other side of those trips, and added its own 6-4-6s, 14-4s, and a 6db-buffet-lounge to the NYC - Portland service. Pictures from 1959 and 1960 show the NH supplying the coaches (from the 8600 stainless-sheathed lightweight series), and that most of the head-end equipment was also likely to be NH. The March 1985 Bulletin says that NH steam locomotives ran through to Portland, but the only photographic evidence I've seen dates to the early 1930s. However, MEC steam and diesel power often ran into Worcester, MA.

Boston - Bangor Trains

In 1931 the B&M and MEC split an order for eight single-window A/C coaches (B&M 4581 - 4584) for these trains, supplementing older steel cars including B&M high-window coaches and baggage-smokers. The B&M's American Flyer coaches were often used after they arrived in 1934. From 1947 until they were sold in 1958, the base service was covered by stainless-sheathed coaches, combines and diners from the joint B&M/MEC 1947 Pullman-Standard order. For some trains, the combine provided all the head-end space necessary. Food service was provided by either full diners (heavyweight before 1947, lightweight after) or the various parlor-buffet cars the B&M and MEC owned. Power was pooled quite freely in both the steam and diesel eras.

Before the old Eastern RR between Portsmouth and Berwick was abandoned in September 1952, some trains ran via Newburyport. This route was slightly shorter than via Dover, but never got the rock ballast or strengthened bridges required for the P-4 Pacifics or 70 MPH speeds. Aside from serving on-line communities, it was sometimes used to keep overnight through passenger trains out of the way of freights on the Western Division. In 1950, only the Penobscot and nameless #21 used the Eastern, but in earlier years the Gull and the Pine Tree had followed the coast. On the MEC, the "Lower Road" via Augusta was a few miles shorter and a few minutes faster, but in 1950 the Flying Yankee went via Lewiston.

The Budd articulated streamliner Flying Yankee was purchased for Boston-Bangor service, but passenger loads soon outgrew the fixed 3-car consist, and by 1945 it was no longer running on the MEC. RDCs went into Boston - Portland mid-day service almost as soon as they arrived in 1952, but never ran regularly beyond Portland on the MEC due to signal and mileage rate issues.

In 1938, unnamed #21 and #22 carried the Boston - Bangor 12-1 and ran via the Eastern Route. Through cars to Halifax, NS (10-1-2), St. John NB (10-1-2), Calais ME (12-1) and Van Buren on the Bangor & Aroostook (10-1-2) were carried in the Gull. In 1943, #21 lost the eastbound cars, but not long afterwards #22 was named Penobscot and usually got the westbound sleepers from Maine points thereafter - the Gull's post-rush-hour arrival in Boston was a bit late for business purposes.

In July 1952 the Penobscot ran daily except Saturday and carried:

Way Down East - The Gull to St. John and Halifax

The Gull took almost 24 hours to travel between Boston and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Its routing was B&M to Portland, MEC to Vanceboro, ME, CPR from Mc Adam, NB (30 minutes for breakfast eastbound) to St. John, NB. A sleeper line (but no through coaches) continued via CNR to Moncton, NB, Truro, NS and Halifax. The Canadian Pacific also offered a ferry connection to Digby NS, from which passengers could use the Dominion Atlantic to reach Halifax. The Gull used the B&M's Western route via Dover, but ran eastbound on the "lower road" via Augusta, and westbound on the "upper road" via Lewiston for most of its existence. It ran six days per week, skipping the Saturday departure from Boston and the Sunday departure from St. John.

It was the only through train on the route, and so carried a lot of mail and express. Sleepers carried in July 1952 included:

The Gull soldiered on long enough to be the last non-RDC train to serve Boston's North Station. It had always been the longest run and the most exotic destination reachable via the B&M, and my father took time off from work to take me to see the last Gull arrive in the Fall of 1960.

Bangor & Aroostook Through Cars to Boston

At least in the streamline era, the BAR provided the cars that ran through in B&M - MEC trains from Aroostook County points to Boston. The BAR's American Flyer coaches made the day trip many a time, until their postwar stainless-sheathed lightweights (different window arrangement from the B&M/MEC cars) took over most of the work. I haven't been able to identify specific heavyweight Pullman sleepers used in this service: the 1952 Official Guide lists a 10-1-2 Boston to/from Van Buren, ME, probably using B&M-owned cars. From 1955 to the end of service the BAR's two lightweight 6-4-6s ( North Twin Lake and South Twin Lake , from the same order as the B&M and NH 6-4-6s) came and went nightly on the Penobscot and the Gull . I've only seen a couple of photos of B&M or MEC equipment on the BAR, and car assignment lists indicate this wasn't regular practice.

B&M Mountaineer on MEC Tracks

The Mountaineer was a 1940s summer-only service improvement for travelers to the White Mountains: It used a joint routing, B&M to Intervale, New Hampshire via Dover, then the MEC Mountain Division through Crawford Notch to Whitefield to reduce travel times between Boston and Littleton/Bethlehem, NH. It also had the side benefit of attracting passengers interested in scenery: Crawford Notch is about as good as mountain railroading gets in New England. The train was all B&M equipment, as far as I know, at times the Budd articulated streamliner 6000, at times conventional coaches. But it would still liven up the passenger operations on a model of the MEC Mountain Division quite a bit.

Rutland Joint Services to Boston and New York

The Rutland used a single train name, the Green Mountain Flyer for its day train south from Montreal, Quebec to Burlington. Depending on the era, it split into Boston and New York sections either there or in Rutland. The Boston section often included B&M equipment: high-window and American Flyer coaches frequently appear in photos, and the RPO/Baggage was usually B&M as well. The train even used B&M 4-4-2 and 4-6-2 steam locomotives between Bellows Falls and Rutland on occasion. I've never seen any photos showing Rutland steam on the B&M, or any indication diesels were pooled. The New York section was heavy with New York Central equipment. It used B&M steam locomotives between Troy, Bennington and Rutland for part of the year, to equalize mileage.

The Rutland's night train to/from Montreal was called the Mount Royal , and it also split into Boston and New York sections. The Boston section lost its sleeper in 1947, but otherwise the equipment was divided much the same as the Green Mountain Flyer . As of 1952, the New York section carried a GCT - Montreal 8-5 and a Fri/Sun GCT - Rutland 12-1. There was a good article with information on both the day and night trains in the Summer 1982 B&M Bulletin . Shaugnessy's The Rutland Route has good photos, Nimke's The Rutland; 50 Years of Trying series has some also, but the text reflects his interest in freight operations.

Boston and Albany - New Haven Joint Service via Springfield

Through trains from South Station in Boston to Grand Central Terminal in New York via Springfield and New Haven date from before the turn of the century. Photos from the 1940s indicate that while cars ran through, steam locomotives did not. The train names I give were found in R.W. Jones' Boston & Albany, as of 1935. In 1949, at least the Boston - New York Express was still operating, with a mostly NH consist, including both heavyweight parlor cars and American Flyer coaches. All through cars were gone by 1957.

James VanBokkelen