Passenger Train Locomotive Utilization : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

Concering the operation of the through New York-Florida Passenger trains, did the Seaboard and ACL diesels operate through to Washington Union Station on a regular basis, or was it normal for the RF&P to operate their own locomotives for the trip between D.C. and Richmond? I've seen photographs showing both, but it seems to me that changing engines two times over a relatively short distance would be an operational and logistical "pain."

-- John V. Pasquariello (GRIZZLETOAD@AOL.COM), January 10, 2001


Mr. Toad-What drove passenger locomotive utilization on the RF&P was the presence of locomotives equipped with the proper cab signal apparatus.

RF&P had installed a continuous cab signal system on its line in the period 1923-26 as a result of an ICC order. ACL installed an intermittent automatic train stop system between Richmond and Florence in response to the same ICC order. These systems were incompatible and locomotives of one railroad could not operate on the lines of another without incurring penalties of restricted speed operations. When the SAL purchased its first diesels for use on the Orange Blossom Special, it entered into an agreement with the RF&P to permit runthroughs between Richmond and Washington. It equipped the passenger diesel units with RF&P train control systems. Subsequently, when ACL and FEC introduced their Champions, they did the same. The run through agreements with the RF&P gradually lapsed in 1942-43 due to SAL wrecking some of its units and ACL needing un its for its increased service. RF&P had enough steam locomotives to handle the requirements. Post war, the RF&P bough its own fleet of diesels and run throughs would occur only when RF&P units were in the lead. At the same time-postwar early 1950's, RF&P changed its cab signal system to a continuously coded system, which meant that any SAL or ACL units which still had the prewar system could no longer operate as the lead power in RF&P territory. Some runthroughs in emergencies did occur-namely the 1958 blizzrd which crippled the PRR, but that was an unusual condition, and the requirement was to keep the trains moving, even though they were limited to 30-40 mph and had to operate under absolute block rules.

In 1964, ACL and RF&P concluded a through running agreement, and units of both railroads were fitted with cab signal and train stop apparatus. SAL never did, and any time its units went to Washington, an RF&P unit had to lead.

There will be more on this in a future Lines South article. In the meanwhile, I wrote a lot on this in previous correspondence on this issue on this web site. Dig it up and read it when you get bored!

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak, January 11, 2001.

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