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So I happened to speak with someone I haven’t seen, these many years and the conversation came round to a trip we made across the US in the 1970s. I confess her memory of this trip is more detailed than mine. 

We flew LGW to New York on Laker Skytrain, the first of the budget airlines, so that places the year as 1977 or maybe, 1978. We travelled onwards to San Francisco by train. She appears to believe that we were on the train for four days, and slept in either a couchette type bunk or a Pullman style “section” car. That’s not my recollection, I recall the trip as taking best part of a week, not travelling every day, involving more than one change of train. We certainly changed in Chicago (the only time I’ve ever been there) and in Denver, where I visited family. 

I have recollections of sleeping at least one night in “coach” in a reclining chair, and having a room for at least one night. I don’t recall an observation car or dome car. 

I’d be interested in anyone with a more detailed knowledge of long distance rail in the US around that time, who might shed some light in this? 

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This has turned into an interesting wander down memory lane.. I don’t have any records or mementoes of this trip, for obvious reasons.

From my best recollection, we had double bedrooms with en-suite for the NY-Chicago and Denver-SF legs, and slept in Coach from Chicago to Denver. This was probably because we booked as we went (no on-Line booking in 1978!) and being British, would have asked for “bedrooms” because that’s the British word, no roomettes etc over here.

Ya a "section" was open; the upper berth (bed) folded down from the roof and the seats (which faced each other) were converted into the lower berth. The berths were only separated from the center aisle by a curtain. If you've ever seen the movie "Some Like It Hot", that shows open sections in use in the 1920's.

@Rick Wright posted:

I crossed the North American continent on VIA Rail in March 2018. Both the "Canadian," Vancouver to Toronto, and the "Ocean," Montreal to Halifax, offered upper and lower berths in several sleeping cars.

Including the express I took from Toronto to Montreal, it was Budd equipment from the 50s all the way. What a way to go!

I took the Canadian from Jasper to Toronto in about 2010.  My wife and I had a bedroom with a wash basin and a toilet.  The car had several open sections at its end.  It was a refurbished Budd car from the 1950s.

I was told that the sections were used by economy minded Canadians and some government employees. 

The best part of the trip was riding in the wonderful Budd domes and the great full service dinning car.  All the food was freshly cooked on board and the table was set with table clothes, stainless silverware, and nice china.  

Riding the Canadian is a great trip back in time to era of elegant train travel.  NH Joe

I took the Canadian Pacific train east from Vancouver to Regina—I flew the rest of the way home to NY from there—in 1975. Had a coach seat, because I couldn't afford anything more. I did have a Canadian Pacific credit card back then, which confused everyone (an American with a CP credit card? Huh?) because I originally got it when I used to often take trips to Toronto, and stayed a lot at the Royal York Hotel.

Here's a photo I took when the train stopped in the mountains, en route:



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  • 75-TrainCanada3
@geysergazer posted:

According to my 1960 Santa Fe timetable there were no sections on the San Fransisco Chief.

Well, it's true, not all the way from Richmond to Chicago.  

However, there was a grey Valley series car (which included 6 sections) that ran from Houston to Los Angeles via Temple, Brownwood, Sweetwater and Lubbock, and was picked up at Clovis by the San Francisco Chief and set out at Barstow, for the Grand Canyon to finish the trip to Los Angeles.  On the eastward trip, the car was set out by the Grand Canyon and switched onto the San Francisco Chief at Barstow and set out at Clovis for the California Special to forward to Houston.  This lasted until the end of sleeping car service on the Clovis-Houston train in 1967.

Ya, Tom. I should have specified no Pullman sections to Richmond on the San Fransisco Chief (because the OP was remembering a trip from Chicago to San Fransisco). There is certainly a rich history of Pullman pickups and set-outs a la the example you gave. Alcoa headquarters was in Pittsburgh but because heavily international a lot of business was necessarily conducted in NYC. For many years Alcoa guys would walk from the Alcoa Building over to the PRR station after work and climb aboard a Pullman car that was parked there on a stub track. They'd settle down and a night train would pick up their car and they'd step off in NYC in time for morning business meetings. Dad talked about how much those guys hated the switch to air travel because it was hectic with no rest.

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