SAL &ACL Trains to New York : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

When did the SAL and ACL start running their passenger trains through to New York and how did they get the PRR and the RF&P to agree to forward them there from Richmond?

-- John V. Pasquariello (GRIZZLETOAD@AOL.COM), August 08, 2000


Good information on the early days of ACL, SAL and RF&P service is to be found in the two Prince books on ACL and SAL, as well as several books written by Griffin on the RF&P. I believe the Prince books are available from the Society.

Through coach service is, as Tom Underwood stated, a product of the mid thirties. After all three roads upgraded their coaches starting in 1933, they began to advertise them as equal to or better than competing bus service. The SAL purchased 6 American Flyer coaches and 4 American Flyer combines in 1936 and started running them through to New York as part of the OBS and other trains. ACL did the same starting in 1938 when it received the last of its new heavyweight coaches in the 1116-1130 series. These cars were placed in service on the Vacationer, along with rebuilt coaches.

A big part of the problem with running through coaches to New York lay with the Pennsylvania Railroad. The electrification of the line north of Washington DC was completed in the period 1933-1934. Initially, PRR envisioned that the locomotive of choice was to be the P-5 electric. Unfortunately, this locomotive was a disappointment and the PRR had to limit the number of cars it could run on its trains until a replacement for the P-5 could be developed. The PRR tested several different locomotives until it settled on the GG-1 in late 1934-early 1935. Production of the GG-1 commenced that year, but it wass not until 1943 that all of the PRR's 139 GG-1's were placed in service. Thus, the PRR had capacity problems and had to limit the number of trains it could operate as well as the number of cars on each train. It did not have the capacity to operate the SAL and ACL trains as seperate consists. These trains ran combined with PRR consists, even when the trains were streamlined, in the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's. With limited capacity, the number of through coaches was strictly limited.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak, August 09, 2000.

Further input to my previous posting... The Pullman Co. was running through sleeping cars from New York to Tampa over the SAL in December 1901, soon after the SAL reached Richmond. There is very little to indicate through coach service between New York and Florida until the advent of the lightweight trains around 1940. The ACL shows a through coach New York to Jacksonville on the PALMETTO LIMITED in November 1924, but this doesn't show up later. The SAL added through coaches to the ORANGE BLOSSOM SPECIAL in the mid-1930's, probably on account of the Depression times. Timetables all through the 1920's and 1930's indicate coach passengers had to change trains in Washington DC, nortbound or southbound. It took the advent of the dedicated lightweight trains to give coach passengers one seat from the Big Apple to the Sunshine State.

-- Tom Underwood (, August 09, 2000.

Several facts should be understood in finding an answer to your questions. First, the final stretch of track to be opened in the New York to Florida rail line was that between Alexandria and Quantico, Va., in July 1872. Obviously, there were no through trains prior to that date. Three weeks after the lines completion, through sleeping cars began running between Baltimore and Weldon, NC. The first train to run through from New York to Florida, the NEW YORK & FLORIDA SPECIAL, later the FLORIDA SPECIAL, an all Pullman train, began running January 10, 1888. A year later, the sleepers were running through to Boston. This is all on the ACL side south of Richmond. While the railroads south of Richmond were being advertised as the "Atlantic Coast Line", there was no ACL company until c.1900. Next, the Seaboard Air Line RR was not completed into Richmond until May 1900. I do not have a date as to when sleepers began running from the SAL to NY, but would suspect it was soon after connection was made with the RF&P. Note that all this through running is by Pullman sleeping cars. It would appear that through running of coaches did not start until after World War I, unless someone has better information than I've found. As to agreement of through running, initially this was done by the Pullman Co. who petitioned each railroad to run through cars. Also, until circa 1906, the RF&P was controlled by the same money that controlled the "ACL" line of railroads. It was PRR money that completed the line from Alexandria to Quantico to secure the freight business from the south. Thus, with Pullman and PRR, through running was just good business sense.

-- Tom Underwood (, August 09, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ