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highest top speed of the old nyc to chicago trains?


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#41 ehbowen

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Posted 03 April 2017 - 01:43 PM

 

I wasn't alive during their heyday, either. But I've collected a lot of literature from the period, mostly back issues of the Official Guide of the Railways.
 
The 20th Century did make stops for servicing and crew changes, but there were no passenger stops between Albany and Englewood (at least for most of its history). The New York Central, however, did operate a number of other trains which were targeted at specific markets, such as New York to Cleveland. So the cities and towns in "flyover country" were well served, and at much more convenient hours than you find today.


Since you seem to have put a lot of effort into this, do you mind if I ask some follow-up questions?

 

Were all those trains run on steam engines when they had their best timings? Or did any of the routes use diesel or electric locomotives?

 

Where were the service stops for 20th Century between Albany and Chicago?
 

 

 

The best timings, almost universally, would have been in the Diesel era...but before the ICC's 1947 edict restricting speeds to 79 mph or less on track not equipped with cab signals or Automatic Train Stop took effect in (IIRC) 1955. Diesel locomotives don't need water stops (or track pans....) which steam locomotives need every 50-80 miles, and they can generally go farther on a tank of fuel than steamers can go on a load of coal.

 

I don't know exactly where the Century's service stops were; perhaps a New York Central fan can chime in.


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#42 jis

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Posted 03 April 2017 - 07:25 PM

And I believe between all of those routes there were some 40-50 options daily. Which is quite impressive.

Today here is what the routes serve as.
DLW abandoned the cutoff in New Jersey to PA.

NKP active mainline.

Erie abandoned from a point in Ohio to Indiana.

NYC active mainline.
NYC-CS-MC abandoned between BUF and DET

B&O active mainline.

PRR half mainline half shortline.

DLW did not abandon the cutoff. Conrail did, and worked very hard to make sure that the right of way was destroyed and the fill material sold as aggregate. Intervention by NJDOT at the behest of rail advocates saved the ROW after a protracted legal battle and some forceful use of eminent domain. I know about this sorry saga because NJ-ARP was involved neck deep in getting NJDOT off its hiney.

#43 railiner

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Posted 03 April 2017 - 08:28 PM

The PRR first started using electric power with the opening of Pennsylvania Station in 1910 from New York to Manhattan Transfer, NJ ((Hudson Tower). In stages, electrification was extended as far west as Harrisburg. From there to Chicago, steam, and later Diesel power.

The NYC used electric power from Grand Central Terminal, to Croton-Harmon. From there to Chicago steam and later Diesel. Trains operating thru Cleveland Union Terminal (not the Century), also switched to electric power for a short stretch...
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#44 Seaboard92

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Posted 03 April 2017 - 11:31 PM

 

I wasn't alive during their heyday, either. But I've collected a lot of literature from the period, mostly back issues of the Official Guide of the Railways.
 
The 20th Century did make stops for servicing and crew changes, but there were no passenger stops between Albany and Englewood (at least for most of its history). The New York Central, however, did operate a number of other trains which were targeted at specific markets, such as New York to Cleveland. So the cities and towns in "flyover country" were well served, and at much more convenient hours than you find today.


Since you seem to have put a lot of effort into this, do you mind if I ask some follow-up questions?
 
Were all those trains run on steam engines when they had their best timings? Or did any of the routes use diesel or electric locomotives?
 
Where were the service stops for 20th Century between Albany and Chicago?
 
 
 
The best timings, almost universally, would have been in the Diesel era...but before the ICC's 1947 edict restricting speeds to 79 mph or less on track not equipped with cab signals or Automatic Train Stop took effect in (IIRC) 1955. Diesel locomotives don't need water stops (or track pans....) which steam locomotives need every 50-80 miles, and they can generally go farther on a tank of fuel than steamers can go on a load of coal.
 
I don't know exactly where the Century's service stops were; perhaps a New York Central fan can chime in.
I'm the resident Central fan here so I can comment to this. The train stopped for an engine change at Harmon, then Albany, Buffalo, Cleveland, Toledo, Elkhart/South Bend. For the longest time there was no stop between Harmon and Englewood to my knowledge.

Steam locomotives it really depends on the engine to what its coal and water consumption. Also what you are hauling and at what speed. In twenty car excursion service we have pushed 611 (northern) 295 miles without coaling and taking water. But we also have the use of an auxiliary water tender and are restricted to 45.

I can't speak for the J3A Hudson because none were preserved but likely you could get a good 150 between coal and with water pans probably wouldn't need to worry too much about that either. I know some trains back in the day used to change engine every so many miles. The Hudsons weren't all they were cracked up to be.

They were great engines for power at high speed but getting started they were horrible. They were even fitted with one diesel traction motor to help get them to speed. The Niagara's were far superior engines.

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#45 Metra Electric Rider

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 10:20 AM

So, sorry to revisit an old thread, but what was the actual highest top speed from NYC to Chicago?


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#46 ehbowen

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 08:09 PM

So, sorry to revisit an old thread, but what was the actual highest top speed from NYC to Chicago?


Some engineers probably ran the straightaways at the highest speed the engines were capable of. Steam locomotives are limited by their inherent dynamic imbalance...if you balance the back and forth motion of the siderods the wheels jump off the tracks at high speed; if you balance the rotating masses the engine noses side to side violently enough to damage the track structure and even derail. The best you can do is compromise and accept some of both. Most passenger steam locomotives top out a little over 100 mph...I believe the record was 127.

Diesel locomotives don't have the "hammer blow" and "nosing" problems, but you can design an electric motor with only so much flexibility. It has to be geared, and if you gear for very high speed you lose pulling power at the low end. The highest speed that passenger Diesels were normally geared for in the 1940s and 50s was 117 mph.


Edited by ehbowen, 26 April 2017 - 08:41 PM.

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#47 railiner

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 10:26 PM

Interesting....thanks for that explanation on the siderod steam locomotives. I imagine the DD-1 siderod electrics had similar balance limitations?
How about steam locomotives that had steam turbine's generating electric power for traction motors...there were very few of those, but they should have been able to match or even exceed a diesel-electric?
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#48 ehbowen

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 11:06 PM

Interesting....thanks for that explanation on the siderod steam locomotives. I imagine the DD-1 siderod electrics had similar balance limitations?
How about steam locomotives that had steam turbine's generating electric power for traction motors...there were very few of those, but they should have been able to match or even exceed a diesel-electric?

 

Match. They have the same limitations as the electric drive of a Diesel. Of the steam turbine locomotives I looked up, only the two pioneering units GE built for UP in 1938 ran over 100 MPH...they were tested to 125. Chessie's M-1 class of the late '40s might have been able to match that speed, but they were never operated to their full potential and the passenger train they were built for (The Chessie) was stillborn. Norfolk & Western's Jawn Henry, as best I recall, was geared for freight.


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#49 VentureForth

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 11:18 AM

I'm going to go off on a minor tangent here -

 

It is interesting, reading about the 20th Century Limited.  It was an all sleeper train for it's 6 PM - 9 AM, 958 mile run. (East to West) until 1935.  It looks like when they went Diesel, they added ONE coach.  I've brought this up before, and constantly ridiculed for it, but I've argued that the Autotrain should be an all sleeper train for it's 4 PM - 9 AM 855 mile run (16 hours on the 20th vs 17 hours for 100 fewer miles on the AT).

 

Yeah, I know, no equipment. 


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#50 ehbowen

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 08:26 PM

I'm going to go off on a minor tangent here -

 

It is interesting, reading about the 20th Century Limited.  It was an all sleeper train for it's 6 PM - 9 AM, 958 mile run. (East to West) until 1935.  It looks like when they went Diesel, they added ONE coach.  I've brought this up before, and constantly ridiculed for it, but I've argued that the Autotrain should be an all sleeper train for it's 4 PM - 9 AM 855 mile run (16 hours on the 20th vs 17 hours for 100 fewer miles on the AT).

 

Yeah, I know, no equipment. 

 

That, and also the fact that there is a substantial contingent of potential customers who would rather spend a night sitting up in coach than pay Amtrak's current going rate for a sleeper accommodation....


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#51 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 09:15 PM

 

 

 

That, and also the fact that there is a substantial contingent of potential customers who would rather spend a night sitting up in coach than pay Amtrak's current going rate for a sleeper accommodation....

 

 

Or just can't afford the sleeper.


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#52 Texan Eagle

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 11:43 PM

Or just can't afford the sleeper.


Bring back the sectionals! All I want for overnight Amtrak journeys is the ability to sleep on a flat surface, none of the shenanigans of included meals and coffee and juice and SCA making a bed for me and all that. A good simple sleeper berth like trains in Europe and Asia have will do just fine!



#53 Palmetto

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 03:23 PM

PRR's Broadway and the NYC's 20th Century used to literally have races to see which one could get to Chicago first.

Most times the Century would win!

The tracks came together and paralleled each other to Englewood, which was the first stop.  The two lines parted company in Whiting, IN I believe.






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