ACL Passenger Service

nw-mailing-list at nw-mailing-list at
Sat Sep 10 12:35:19 EDT 2005

Wow! This must be the hottest topic I've ever seen on the list. A little
good-natured back and forth is great and a lot of fun (kind of like
Yankees-Red Sox) but it seems to me we're getting somewhat over the top.
Careful Bill, some of those slide rules are loaded with double-ought buck!

It has been enjoyable though!

Ed Svitil

>From: nw-mailing-list at

>Reply-To: NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at>

>To: nw-mailing-list at

>Subject: ACL Passenger Service

>Date: Fri, 09 Sep 2005 21:17:58 -0400


>Don't you just have to love it! I dropped that little tid-bit about the


>J class locomotive just to get a rise out of you N&W buffs, and you didn't


>me down. O.K. fellows, you can put aside your slide rules, etc. as I could

>care less how a J stacks up against an ACL 1800. The mechanical

>departments of the ACL and the RF&P were not all dummies. They knew

>what they wanted in the way of power for high-speed passenger service.

>Indeed, the preponderance of motive power on the RF&P was assigned to

>passenger service, and their 4-8-4's were carbon copies of the ACL R-1's.

>The ACL and the RF&P chose not to limit the speed of their passenger

>trains by using 70 inch drivers. I stand by my original statement that

>compared to the ACL, passenger business on the N&W was meager at

>best. The ACL was a speed merchant, along with the PRR, the RF&P,

>and the FEC whisking those snowbirds up north down to Florida, which was a

>1,000 mile trip covered in about 25 hours. When I was in passenger

>service on the ACL we routinely had a scheduled running time of two

>hours and 40 minutes to cover that 172 miles between South Rocky Mount

>and Florence, S.C. And many is the time we have covered it in two hours

>and 30 minutes flat. That's 172 miles in 150 minutes with a better than


>MPH average, including a stop in Fayetteville, N.C. , and possibly Wilson.

>About the only location on the entire N&W that permits over 60 MPH

>running is that flat tangent between Petersburg and Norfolk. And yes,

>Harry, there is more potential for fatalities on a road that carries ten


>the passenger traffic as does the N&W. While enumerating accidents on the

>ACL, you overlooked a little matter in July 1943 when No. 7 plowed into

>the rear of No. 1, the East Coast Champion, in Milan Yard in Fayetteville

>telescoping the rear car on No. 1 with about 12 fatalities. And where did

>you get your information about No. 8 hitting a broken rail in that incident

>at Buie, N.C. ? Yes, No. 91 derailed account of a broken rail, and a

>couple of sleeping cars were fouling the northbound mainline. The fireman


>No. 91 was Joe Batchelor, who followed me on the seniority roster. He

>failed to provide proper flagging per Rule 99, and No. 8 being run by

>engineer Frank Belknap was at a track speed of about 80 MPH when he

>plowed into the sleepers which is where the most of the fatalities occured.

>Joe couldn't live with the guilt, and later took hi own life. When my

>best friend fireman Charlie Hunt was killed in April 1953, he was on No.

>2 the East Coast Champion when they hit a cocked facing point switch at

>Maple Siding just south of Dillon, S.C. while running at a track speed of

>90 MPH. When it came to getting over the road on passenmger trains,

>don't even mention the N&W and the ACL in the same breath. Think about

>what the RF&P had to accomplish. Not only did they handle 6 or 8 ACL

>name trains in each direction and their extra sections which could amount

>to 3 or even 4 sections, they also had to handle all the trains of the


>between Richmond and Washington. Everything was not peaches and

>cream on the N&W either. I have a mental picture of a photo I saw

>somewhere of a J class locomotive being pulled out orf the Tug Fork River.

>Anyone with half a brain knows that comparing passenger service on the

>N&W and the ACL is comparing apples and oranges. Bill Sellers.



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