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"Who Killed The SUPER CHIEF?"
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SILVER METEOR 158-58
Former Member
"Who Killed The SUPER CHIEF?"
 
« on: Mar 8th, 2012, 12:18am »
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All:
 
Just came across the following article; thought it might be of interest.
 
"......but the Santa Fe did not kill the SUPER CHIEF. The blood is not on their hands. That train was killed by the company that never understood what the Grand Manner of service was all about in the first place....."
 
"SM"


« Last Edit: Mar 8th, 2012, 12:22am by NH_FL9_2017 » Logged
SILVER METEOR 158-58
Former Member
Re: "Who Killed The SUPER CHIEF?"
 
« Reply #1 on: Mar 8th, 2012, 12:20am »
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See:
 
http://archive.azrail.org/railroad/atsf/gl_chief.htm


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SILVER METEOR 158-58
Former Member
Re: "Who Killed The SUPER CHIEF?"
 
« Reply #2 on: Mar 8th, 2012, 12:40am »
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Also of interest.....
 
http://cruiselinehistory.com/?p=7085


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HwyHaulier
Historian
Posts: 3433
Re: "Who Killed The SUPER CHIEF?"
 
« Reply #3 on: Mar 8th, 2012, 11:27am »
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'158 - 58 -
 
And, you assign how much weight to jetliners, which did LAX - CGO in about four hours? Beside that, service in First Class  
superb with the airlines. ("Been There! Done That!)...
 
My, my! One could board an aircraft without going thru a "free feel", too!
 
........................Vern.........................
 


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ClydeDET
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Posts: 4783
Re: "Who Killed The SUPER CHIEF?"
 
« Reply #4 on: Mar 8th, 2012, 2:54pm »
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on Mar 8th, 2012, 11:27am, HwyHaulier wrote:       (Click here for original message)
'158 - 58 -
 
And, you assign how much weight to jetliners, which did LAX - CGO in about four hours? Beside that, service in First Class  
superb with the airlines. ("Been There! Done That!)...
 
My, my! One could board an aircraft without going thru a "free feel", too!
 
........................Vern.........................
 

 
 
Try that now.  
 
It is my opinion that AMTRAK Could have maintained first class service as such and without alienating coach passengers - and without killing their bottom line any worse than general conditions already did.
 
I look at the AMTRAK route map today and conclude that AMTRAK's biggest problem is that it isn't really a system, that it lacks the sort of inter-connection that once made travel from here to there practical.  
 
Not that it would have been possible to maintain the old system in its entirety - or to restore it. But better routing and connectivity would make AMTRAK a more succcessful component of the natioanl system. Unfortuantely, I don't see that as possible because of a lack of equipment, a lack of the ability to acquire new equipment in a timely and economical fashion and an inability to find trackage rights for a number of potentially useful routes.
 
I could say more.


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HwyHaulier
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Posts: 3433
Re: "Who Killed The SUPER CHIEF?"
 
« Reply #5 on: Mar 8th, 2012, 4:21pm »
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Clyde -  
 
The problem of "no system"? Yes, I tried to sort that out for an old friend! That is, one can't assume it is easy  
to go from "A" to "B" even if both points AMTK direct. It has everything to do with lack of reliable connections  
at key junction points.
 
SUPER CHIEF? No, IMHO, ATSF ahead of the game with its condition the name not part of any deal. We see  
statements in print where the AMTK Mission said to be something of a Frei Volks Bahn, a sort of egalitarian
mode. It is not easily reconciled with the big bucks, North East Expense Accounters, but why make tacky  
observations? <G> It isn't Grandpa's Pennsylvania RR anymore...
 
......................Vern........................


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photoman475
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Posts: 870
Re: "Who Killed The SUPER CHIEF?"
 
« Reply #6 on: Mar 8th, 2012, 9:47pm »
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I think the Super Chief died at the hands of an indifferent public and government subsidies of competing modes, amongst other reasons.
 
From what I've heard and read, the Santa Fe kept its standards up right to the bitter end.  
 
I don't blame them from not allowing the name to go to Amtrak.  
 
It would have been interesting to see what might have happened if they had elected to go the Southern route and not join Amtrak.  
 
And to think, "free feels" and they haven't even asked for date first!  
 
Alan
 


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HwyHaulier
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Posts: 3433
Re: "Who Killed The SUPER CHIEF?"
 
« Reply #7 on: Mar 9th, 2012, 7:26am »
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on Mar 8th, 2012, 9:47pm, photoman475 wrote:       (Click here for original message)
...government subsidies of competing modes, amongst other reasons...  

Alan -  
 
Great to see you around the Station here! Recent months, I've been sparing with messages up here...
 
Quote, above? Oh, please! "Rip and read" from the rail industry PR machine? The "logic box" problem here?  
Whatever to think of the massive movements of long haul Mail on the old ATSF? Certainly went a long way,  
too, for distribution of costs within Passenger Dept. operations.
 
Once the Mail volumes capriciously and arbitrarily diverted from rail, it caused quick collapse of all else. It was  
not a "market forces" diversion; it was done by government fiat...
 
...........................Vern........................
 


« Last Edit: Mar 9th, 2012, 7:27am by HwyHaulier » Logged

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Walt_C
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Posts: 2934
Re: "Who Killed The SUPER CHIEF?"
 
« Reply #8 on: Mar 9th, 2012, 1:27pm »
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I suspect that what killed the Super Chief was the same thing that killed most of the other Chicago-West Coast LD trains----- the advent of the Jetliner coupled with the cultural change that air travel created. Prior to the 707, the upscale passenger ( who was the primary "consumer" of  the enhanced Super Chief service) was more than willing to take the two or three day trip involved ( if they were riding the entire route)-- there simply was no other choice. And the "Chief" made that trip more than just tolerable. However once it became possible to routinely make that trip in hours, rather than days, threre was no amenity the Chief could offer that could induce most potential  passengers to take three days rather than four hours to make the trip. There may have been things that Amtrak ( or a willing private operator)  could have done differently, but I doubt whether, in the final analysis, it would have made much difference.

« Last Edit: Mar 9th, 2012, 1:33pm by Walt_C » Logged

Please move to the rear and speed your ride-Regards, Walt
ClydeDET
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Re: "Who Killed The SUPER CHIEF?"
 
« Reply #9 on: Mar 9th, 2012, 10:53pm »
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The Super as such, was indeed doomed by the loss of its prestige passengers - look at Stan Repp's THE SUPER CHIEF and consider the impact of the loss of the "name passenfers for the name train", Not the money from theor fares, but the image projected.
 
But that was all gone by the time AMTRAK arrived and the Santa Fe had maintained the train as a public face for the railroad. "This is how it is done, and we treat our other customers this way, too". There was a reason all those Santa Fe box cars had "Route of the El Capitan" and "Route of the Chief" and "Route of the Super Chief" painted on them - it meant something, and it wasn't passenger tickets sold because somebody saw them rolling by at a crossing.
 
I rode the Texas Chief to Chicago and Pennsy east (wish I'd arranged to go Capitol Limited instead) in 1966. The Santa Fe leg wsa great. Cars clean. Service impeccable. Everything worked, even the radio in the roomette. Pennsy - ech!
 
A few years later (1975) rode AMTRAK from Temple to Chicago, on the old Texas Chief route. i think the train had been renamed by themn, to Lone Star, but only one piece of eqipment on it wasn't Santa Fe - ex-Cal Zephyr sleeper-dom-obs Silver Penthouse. And i have some reason to suspect the majority of the crew was ex-Santa Fe as well. Excellent trip, even four years into AMTRAK.
 
Other AMTRAK trips in more recent years haven't been bad at all - but they aren't what Chico delivered, either. AMTRAK could do worse than somehow instill the attitude Santa Fe delivered, even without all the amenities.


« Last Edit: Mar 9th, 2012, 10:55pm by ClydeDET » Logged
HwyHaulier
Historian
Posts: 3433
Re: "Who Killed The SUPER CHIEF?"
 
« Reply #10 on: Mar 10th, 2012, 7:30am »
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Clyde - Walt C - Alan - All -
 
Some quick notes: Yes, it was a traveling public "attitude shift" which moved the creme de la creme off the Transcon trains,  
and into First Class on the new, latest greatest jet liners. One of my old friends actually sold tix at MILW ROAD in Seattle.  
He reported every season was going great until WESTERN and UNITED received its jets.
 
ATSF Freight Equipment? Tell me about it! Back in another life, at a large shipper, I was the one who made the phone calls,  
and brought in empty box cars. ATSF always there for my call, and always sent in the very best of sharp looking, newer units.  
The "Company Pride" displayed everywhere! This anecdote from a Buffalo, NY setting!
 
Side note ref. diversion of US P O from the rail. I never favored this. It was all a demonic idea of a huge shipper, working out  
a self serving goal of always chiseling with its transportation rates. Once I knew of the US P O policy change, I knew Rail  
Passenger services, as well as REA, were in "dead man walking" class. Very, very bad Federal policy!
 
BTW. Mail off the Rail? Had one not guessed by now, some serious "campaign contributions", strategically placed, assured  
successful "hit" results!
 
...........................Vern......................


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ClydeDET
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Re: "Who Killed The SUPER CHIEF?"
 
« Reply #11 on: Mar 10th, 2012, 4:29pm »
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on Mar 10th, 2012, 7:30am, HwyHaulier wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Clyde - Walt C - Alan - All -
 
Some quick notes: Yes, it was a traveling public "attitude shift" which moved the creme de la creme off the Transcon trains,  
and into First Class on the new, latest greatest jet liners. One of my old friends actually sold tix at MILW ROAD in Seattle.  
He reported every season was going great until WESTERN and UNITED received its jets.
 
ATSF Freight Equipment? Tell me about it! Back in another life, at a large shipper, I was the one who made the phone calls,  
and brought in empty box cars. ATSF always there for my call, and always sent in the very best of sharp looking, newer units.  
The "Company Pride" displayed everywhere! This anecdote from a Buffalo, NY setting!
 
Side note ref. diversion of US P O from the rail. I never favored this. It was all a demonic idea of a huge shipper, working out  
a self serving goal of always chiseling with its transportation rates. Once I knew of the US P O policy change, I knew Rail  
Passenger services, as well as REA, were in "dead man walking" class. Very, very bad Federal policy!
 
BTW. Mail off the Rail? Had one not guessed by now, some serious "campaign contributions", strategically placed, assured  
successful "hit" results
!
 
 
...........................Vern......................

 
Yeah, I knew that.


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SILVER METEOR 158-58
Former Member
Re: "Who Killed The SUPER CHIEF?"
 
« Reply #12 on: Mar 11th, 2012, 12:59pm »
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All:
 
Even though AMTRAK has been, how shall we say, less than stellar from Day One (I'm trying to be polite, here!), even if it had never existed, the SUPER CHIEF, like so many other once-prestigious trains, would have been axed anyway. most especially with tremendous advantages of jet airliner travel by the 60's.
 
Recall, too, that the long-haul passenger trade took a near fatal hit in the late 60's, when the the government yanked most of the mail from the rails.
 
Without that head-end revenue, it was just a matter of time before the coup de grace was finally delivered........
 
"SM"


« Last Edit: Mar 11th, 2012, 1:02pm by NH_FL9_2017 » Logged
SILVER METEOR 158-58
Former Member
Re: "Who Killed The SUPER CHIEF?"
 
« Reply #13 on: Mar 11th, 2012, 3:55pm »
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Indeed a labor of love (and PATIENCE!).....replicating the SUPER CHIEF in LEGO!
 
A most interesting page.......
 
http://carneycastle.com/Trains/index.htm


« Last Edit: Mar 11th, 2012, 3:57pm by NH_FL9_2017 » Logged
HwyHaulier
Historian
Posts: 3433
Re: "Who Killed The SUPER CHIEF?"
 
« Reply #14 on: Mar 11th, 2012, 4:30pm »
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on Mar 11th, 2012, 12:59pm, SILVER METEOR 158-58 wrote:       (Click here for original message)
...Recall, too, that the long-haul passenger trade took a near fatal hit in the late 60's, when the the government yanked most of the mail from the rails.
 
Without that head-end revenue, it was just a matter of time before the coup de grace was finally delivered...  

SM -  
 
Agree up to a point, but... "...near fatal..." understates it! With it, the REA system suddenly unglued. The latter couldn't do  
the footwork fast enough to convert to a successful, primarily via highway carrier.
 
Recall (and see period schedules) there remained a reasonably good base of "core" ridership. Perhaps better characterized  
as regional and intermediate length ridership. Note the Burlington Zephyr System went down account President Lou Menk saw  
the new Boeing 727, capable of Denver service, and he went quite skittish. Overkill? Burlington had a great deal of shorter  
trip riders. (Ex.: Chicago - La Crosse, WI comes to mind.)
 
Also, see period schedules for A C L and S A L services between East and South. Well patronized! In some of his TRAINS  
writings, Ed Ellis reminded trains require a "...mix of business..." if to have good earnings. The loss of U S Mail, and REA  
caused a sudden change in Passenger Operating results.
 
Now, it is all speculative conjecture and "what if" games. I still cite the Mail Contracts as very bad policy decision making...
 
..........................Vern.....................


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SILVER METEOR 158-58
Former Member
Re: "Who Killed The SUPER CHIEF?"
 
« Reply #15 on: Mar 11th, 2012, 10:10pm »
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Vern.....
 
Yes, the downfall of the vast REA empire, coupled with he pulling of most of the mail from the trains, wreaked havoc with many long haul and suburban trains alike; recall, back in those days, many suburban runs (such as on the E-L and the CNJ) were still carring REA and other head-end traffic, through the 60's.
 
For the big "name trains" like the SUPER CHIEF, this "double whammy" dealt the final blow.......this, coupled with the loss of so much traffic to both the airlines and private autos, one did not have to be a rocket scientist to see what the near future held for the American passenger train.....and it wasn't very pretty at all.....
 
"SM"
 


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SILVER METEOR 158-58
Former Member
Re: "Who Killed The SUPER CHIEF?"
 
« Reply #16 on: Mar 11th, 2012, 10:18pm »
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Section on "DECLINE AND WITHDRAWL" (of mail by rail) is of interest......
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railway_post_office


« Last Edit: Mar 11th, 2012, 10:18pm by NH_FL9_2017 » Logged
SILVER METEOR 158-58
Former Member
Re: "Who Killed The SUPER CHIEF?"
 
« Reply #17 on: Mar 11th, 2012, 10:25pm »
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See also:
 
http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2005/fall/fast-mail-2.html


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SILVER METEOR 158-58
Former Member
Re: "Who Killed The SUPER CHIEF?"
 
« Reply #18 on: Mar 11th, 2012, 10:31pm »
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SUPER CHEIF/EL CAPITAN schedules, June, 1967 (also includes equipment listings, etc.).....
 
http://www.streamlinerschedules.com/concourse/track5/superchief196706.html


« Last Edit: Mar 11th, 2012, 10:33pm by NH_FL9_2017 » Logged
SILVER METEOR 158-58
Former Member
Re: "Who Killed The SUPER CHIEF?"
 
« Reply #19 on: Mar 12th, 2012, 12:05pm »
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From Steve Glischinski's, "SANTA FE RAILWAY".....
 
".......but even these efforts coudn't stave off the red ink on Santa Fe's balance sheets, caused by increased highway and air competition, much of it federally funded. In  1966, the railroad incurred a deficit of $31.9 million on passenger operations......"
 
"......the bottom dropped out in September 1967, when the United States Postal Service informed the Santa Fe (and most other passenger-carrying railroads) that, as a result of the new Zip Code sorting system, it was discontinuing all but two of the RPO's operating on Santa Fe routes, and it was switching non-first class mail to freight trains, to take advantage of the lower rates....."
 
"......Santa Fe President John S. Reed called the action a 'sudden, devastating blow', and, combined with a big decline in passenger rfevenues that year, he was forced to take drastic action......out of the 39 trains operated by the Santa Fe in 1967, the railroad wanted to cancel 33 of them....."
 
"......among Reed's comments were, 'Santa Fe has not abandoned the traveling public----travelers show an increased preference to fly or drive', which was certainly true......."
 
"SM"


« Last Edit: Mar 12th, 2012, 12:07pm by NH_FL9_2017 » Logged
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