Inspiring progress

Sir - It is heartening to read (RG 3.00 p152) of the two daily Acela Regional trains between Boston and New York with ’timings cut by 1h to just under 4h largely by eliminating the loco change at New Haven.’

Sixty years ago, as little as 4min was allowed for the loco change, which then included connecting, charging and testing the air brakes; coupling and testing steam and communication lines; a coupler and drawbar pull-test; and wheel inspection. The 4min encompassed alighting and boarding of passengers, loading and unloading of mail and baggage, and washing of carriage windows. Coaching stock was often detached and/or attached at the front and/or rear of the train, and rear-end markers removed or placed as necessary, also within the 4min. Even then, yard and loco crews were often loth to use all the allotted time!

Five minutes was a more common allowance. Although a 10min stop - occasionally more - was allowed for trains handling large quantities of mail, baggage or newspapers, a quick loco change was carried out regardless of the amount of station work. In 1942, with wartime restrictions and greatly increased traffic, some trains between Boston and New York were scheduled in 4h 20min, and exacting on-time performance prevailed.

Today’s progress is truly inspiring!

Alan M Levitt

Fresh Meadows, NY, USA