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All photos by Ron Goodenow. Reproduction without Ron's permission is prohibited.

It's summer and time for thoughts about exotic travel-- or, at least, enjoyable travel. Here are two shots which hint at both. The first was taken in Enugu, Nigeria, in early 1977. In the foreground is a Nigerian Railways steamer, River Sukato. In the background is the weekly train which ran from Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta, to Lagos, which was the capital at that time. The train, which consisted of about 30 passenger cars pulled by a very tired looking diesel, contained first-class, second-class and third-class cars, including sleepers and a diner, the fresh meat for which, according to my eyewitness, was cut from contributing beasts hung by their hoofs in the diner's toilets. It was packed, and from the looks of it I was quite happy to remain on the platform -- though the perils of using Nigeria Airways -- bribes and airport hijackings -- gave me second thoughts! The second photo was taken in Belgium in 1983, when I wandered about Europe on a Eurail Pass. On the left is an Intercity Express, on the right a workaday local. Both enticing. Happy travels!

Here are two shots of vintage New Haven Shoreline Boston-Grand Central expresses. The first was taken 33 years ago, in September 1966, from above the Canton/128 station in Massachusetts. The second shows another New York bound express passing a Stanford local in Rye, New York, two years later. My recollection of the New Haven in its last somewhat bankrupt days is a of a railroad that ran a lot of trains with far greater precision than Amtrak, and till it was gobbled into the Penn Central mess, managed to offer wonderful food in its diners and well-served drinks in its bars -- something Amtrak has never managed to get straight. Now that the Shoreline has been rebuilt for Acelas, which may or may not arrive within the next year, it's hard not to think of trains like the Merchants Limited, the Bankers and many others that were mainstays of the New England business community, and so many other expresses and locals that gave the region such good service and color.

Since Amtrak's inception its Boston-Chicago route has not enjoyed the quality and consistency of service one would expect between two of Amerca's great cities. It has been a political football, subject to constant delays, horrifically marketed and highly dependent upon its reluctant freight hosts and a Lake Shore Limited connection near Albany that itself has had many ups and downs. I took this [digital] photo of the Boston section of the Lake Shore heading to Chicago in Worcester on
September 9, 1999. Its consist included a lounge-cafe, two coaches, a Viewliner sleeper with dirty windows, and a half dozen mail/express cars on the rear. On the right is the New York Central's New England States, photographed in Newton, Mass., in 1966. The long consist, which is difficult to see in this picture, included sleepers, new economy Sleepercoaches, a full lounge, coaches and diner -- quite a contrast to Amtrak's reincarnation of the venerable 'mixed'.

In the 60s and 70s West Coast passenger railroading saw some hard times. SP's Coast Daylight, seen here [on the left] limping along near Santa Barbara in 1966, was reduced to a handful of extra-fare coaches, and, except during holidays, an infamous 'Automatic Buffet' [vending machine] car that didn't even offer a cold beer -- as many passengers complained without success. Nor were things much better on the San Diegan route in early Amtrak days. Seen on the right is one of three LA-San Diego daily trains, running late with a hodgepodge collection of coaches near Old Town in San Diego in the summer of 1975. Well, happy days are here again. There are now 11 gleaming Amtrak trains between LA and San Diego each day and the Coast Starlight offers far more than a beer to passengers on the route of the Coast Daylight. Click here for my trip report and lots of photos.


Page created by: Craig O'Connell
Changes last made on: June 30, 2002.



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