RF&P Passenger Service

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I've been reading with great interest about SAL and ACL's service going through the Carolinas into Virginia. However, I don't seem to have run across any information that details what passenger service the RF&P originated and ran through on their own home rails. I'm guessing there would have been some commuter service into Washington, DC like the Virginia Railway Express, but I'm not sure. From what I can tell this seems to be something that has not merited much discussion, so thanks for any insight that might be offered.

-- Dean Blakeley (dfthomer@gateway.net), July 01, 2000


TLC is listing Bill Griffin's new book on RF&P Passenger Serviice as being available later this summer. Based upon past performance, I think that the book will be out in the early fall.

The three smooth side sleepers Bob Venditti mentions were part of a 24 car order for PRR, N&W and RF&P. The cars were built to PRR specs and were used for joint New York-Norfolk and New York-Roanoke service on the PRR/RF&P/ACL/N&W and the PRR/N&W(Shenandoah Valley Line). The cars were built to Pullman Plan 4140 Lot 6792 and were originally apinted PRR Tuscan Red with Gold stripes. The RF&P cars were named King George, King William and King and Queen. The King and Queen is with the Ringling Brothers circus, while the other cars are probably razor blades by now. N&W had three cars which it used initially on the Shenandoah Valley line on a train known as "The New York Train", and then eventually system wide with its fleet of Budd built 10 and 6 cars. In 1964, when the N&W sold its Budd 10 and 6 cars to the PRR for rebuilding into coaches, the three N&W cars were then used on the Pocahontas.

The RF&P cars were used on the secondary trains in the early 1960's, still in Tuscan Red. I remember riding these cars several times on the Palmland and the Havana Special.

As for the cars built for the RF&P "Old Dominion" train-there were a total of five cars-one Diner/Parlor "Virginia Dare" and four 70 seat divided coaches. The cars were built by AC&F in 1947 as part of Lot 2894. The cars were painted gray, with blue striping. After the train was discontinued, the cars were repainted into the standard RF&P blue and gray scheme. The diner/parlor was rebuilt as a baggage dormintory car, while the four coaches were used in secondary train service. They were numbered 840-843 and sat 70 passengers in a divided car. The cars were built postwar, but had a spartan appearance, with incandescent lighting(at a time when all other cars being built featured the newer fluorescent lighting), closely spaced seating,etc. These cars ran on the secondary trains during the summers, and I did ride in trains with them in the consist-typically they would be either the Palmland or the Havana Special.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak @MNR.org), July 06, 2000.

Well, I checked out amazon.com, and it looks like there is an upcoming reprint/reissue on this very subject. The title of the book is called: Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad's Passenger Service 1937-1973 by William E Griffin, Jr. It is set to come out on August 15, 2000. I'm assuming it's from TLC Publishing, but amazon didn't say.

The editorial review goes something like this, 'The fascinating story of the 113-mile railroad that linked the Northeast to the Atlantic Coast Line and Seaboard Air Line in the South via the nation's capital. Archival photography depicts RF&P locomotives and cars that comprised local services in the Washington, D.C. area, as well as passenger cars which were part of a fleet pooled among the RF&P, ACL, and SAL to provide service between New York City and Florida. Also included are photographs of stations and operations along the way, car diagrams, and legendary RF&P locomotives like The General and The Statesman steam numbers and the great E8 diesels.'

-- Dean Blakeley (dfthomer@gateway.net), July 03, 2000.

Two fine books on the RF&P do mention passenger service in some detail: "RF&P- Linking North and South" by Bob Kaplan and Deane Mellander, 1990, Old Line Graphics includes some color photos of passenger equipment painted and lettered for the railroad with a chapter dedicated to all passenger service handled up through Amtrak.

"RF&P- The Capital Cities Route" by Willian E Griffin,1994 TLC Publishing, contains a great deal more about the line's passenger trains with separate chapters on passenger service and equipment (with a roster). An interesting item is the RF&P's three smooth-sided 10-6 sleepers, which were painted Tuscan red for pool service with the PRR and Norfolk & Western (presumably between Norfolk and New York???). I've seen photos of at least one of the cars later painted aluminum to match stainless cars on Florida train. I agree that information on this particular subject has been somewhat lacking prior to these publications, and more is always welcomed, especially regarding their commuter operations. The Old Dominion Chapter of the NRHS owns four ex-RF&P rebuilt heavyweight coaches- one in excursion service, the remaining 3 awaiting restoration. These cars were used in the line's cummuter services. Perhaps the chapter can provide more info. Hope this helps.

-- Bob Venditti (bobvend@bellsouth.net), July 03, 2000.

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