Passenger Terminals and Trains by John A Droege  Hard cover with dust jacket

Passenger Terminals and Trains by John A Droege Hard cover with dust jacket

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Passenger Terminals and Trains by John A Droege Hard cover with dust jacket
Passenger Terminals and Trains by John A Droege  Hard cover with dust jacket 410 pages. Copyright 1916 republished by Kalmbach 1969.
  • I..General Principles
  • II..Construction and Maintenance Details
  • III..Interlocking and Approaches
  • IV..Through or Side Stations
  • V..Head or Stub Stations
  • VI..Water Front Terminals
  • VII..The Passenger Terminals of New York City . .
  • VIII..Trackage and Terminal Agreements ....... e
  • IX..Passenger Terminal Operation
  • X..The Station Master
  • XI..The Ticket Office
  • XII..Train Indicators
  • XIII..Baggage Handling and the Parcel Room
  • XIV..Car-cleaning Plants
  • XV..Small Stations
  • XVI..Passenger Trains and Terminals of Foreign Countries .
  • XVII..Electrification
  • XVIII..Time-tables and Train Schedules
  • XIX..Passenger Train Operation
  • XX..Accidents and Their Prevention
  • XXI..The Commissary
  • XXII..Statistics of Passenger Service

THE passenger train is moribund. The heart still beats, but the brain waves are still; and those of us who loved it gather about the deathbed, either to propose euthanasia, to advocate a peaceful natural end, or to seek a heart transplant (in the form of a subsidy) in one last desperate try to prolong life. The time for the obituary is not far off, probably no later than 1975, whatever the physicians may elect to do.
Obituaries are likely to be biased by emotional considerations. Memory will dwell on a fine rockfish dinner on the Chesapeake & Ohio in the New River Gorge, not on a Pennsylvania conductor shaking one awake at Altoona to check his ticket for Washington. One will think of arriving in Chicago on the minute on the Capitol Limited, not of almost being dispatched in a collision on the Erie Limited at Hornell. The cinder in the eye at North Platte will be forgotten, but the ferry ride into San Francisco will remain in memory for life.
The obituaries are sure to be written by the passengers. Far better it is to have a document of the passenger train from the years of its glory, and one written by a railroadman for the guidance of his fellows. And here we have it in the form of PASSENGER TERMINALS AND TRAINS by John A. Droege, published in 1916, almost exactly when the railroad industry reached its peak and began its long decline.
Droege was well qualified for his task. He was born in 1861, entered railroad service in 1880 with the Baltimore & Ohio, then moved on to (-AO, Norfolk & Western, and Southern, serving variously as stenographer, telegrapher, dispatcher, yardmaster, and trainmaster. In January 1899 he became trainmaster of the Lehigh Valley in charge of the line's terminals in New Jersey, an experience that manifested itself in the excellent chapter on waterfront terminals in this volume. The following year Droege became division superintendent at Sayre, Pa., but in December 1904 he moved on to the superintendency of the Providence Division of the New Haven, the railroad with which he was to serve out his long career. In 1912, while he was still a division superintendent, Droege produced Freight Terminals and Trains, the first of his two books. This was successful enough that McGraw-Hill commissioned him to do a companion volume on passengers, which he brought forth in 1916. Droege was then superintendent of the New Haven's lines west; in 1917 he became superintendent of the New York Division and of the company's New York terminals. In 1925, the same year he produced a much-expanded second edition of Freight Terminals and Trains, he was promoted to the general managership of the railroad. He remained the New Haven's chief operating officer-becoming vice-president of the company in 1929, and superintendent of the line's highway subsidiary in 1930-until his retirement in November 1931. Look not in Railway Age of the late 1930's for his obituary, however; Droege, adding longevity to success, died in Orlando, Fla., on March 5, 1961, just beyond his 100th birthday.
As a manual of how-they-did-it in passenger service, the book speaks for itself. Droege wrote from long experience, which is evident on every page. No academic writer he; nobody asked him, if he'd ever met a pay! The question arises, however, whether he recognized the economic forces at work on the passenger train as he wrote.
The passenger train, apart from its temporary resurgence during World War II, had a typical secular decline. It declined first relatively, then absolutely, and is now in the process of passing out of existence. The relative decline began in the mid-1890's with the building of the rural trolley lines in New England and the interurbans elsewhere in the United States. These attracted much of the local passenger traffic (which seems not to have interested Droege much, in any case) , but, the growth of long-distance traffic caused the aggregate figures on passenger volume to increase until 1921, when the decline turned from relative to absolute. Thereafter, except for the war years, passenger volume fell virtually monotonically to the present. According to the ICC's formula, passenger service as a whole remained profitable through the 1920's, but promptly plunged into the red in 1930, where it has remained ever since-save again for the war years.
One of Droege's most interesting observations in this volume is that passenger service was already unprofitable. He treats this as unquestion: "The passenger business of American railroads does not pay." If so, the ICC formula was then, as it. seems to be doing now on the basis of experience of railroads that are giving up passenger trains completely, understating the costs of passenger operations. If passenger trains were being operated at a loss even before the absolute decline began in 1921, railroadmen should have been able to foresee the eventual decline and extinction of the passenger train. Droege, whatever may be said for his descriptive talents, was no seer. He treated the passenger deficit merely as part of the public service obligations of railroads, and obviously saw no prospect of the public's turning to alternatives for intercity travel. He anticipated indefinite secular growth of passenger traffic, worried about the adequacy of existing stations to handle the crowds of 25 years hence, and defended facilities such as the unused loops at. South Station in Bos, built in anticipation of passengers who never came.
Droege's attitude toward the future undoubtedly was typical of passenger men of his era. Such attitudes explain in part why the decline of the passenger train was so lengthy. Railroadmen widely believed that passenger service was an obligation to the public, a source of professional pride, and an advertisement for the railroad. As in most declining activities, there existed a fairly universal article of faith that things might be bad, but they would get no worse: the limited would not go the way of the local. Such attitudes, together with the restrictions on exit posed by the regulatory authorities, and the irrecoverability of investment in many of the passenger facilities, combined to push rail passenger service more fully beyond the point of hopelessness than any other activity in recent economic history.
Droege, significantly, put "terminals" ahead of "trains" in his title. His background was such as to make him a thorough expert on stations, and what went on in them. Whether Droege intended it or not, the book is a volume in architectural criticism, as well as a manual of operations. Droege made no threat to Sir Banister Fletcher's reputation as an architectural historian. Like most who write on architecture, he expresses maximum enthusiasm for what is the height of fashion in his own day. In 1916, Daniel H. Burnham's concept of the "City Beautiful"-Roman buildings in spacious parklike settings-dominated the design of large buildings. The adaptation of this to railroad stations was particularly obvious; a Roman vault was ideal for a waiting room, and the Romans' taste for statuary incidental to architecture lent itself to memorializing Gen. William W. Atterbury as well as it did Julius Caesar. This period produced its masterpieces, notably the Kansas City and Washington union stations and the two New York terminals; but most of what seemed the highest flowering of railroad architecture to Droege now looks rather sterile. The typical Roman station came to look progressively more like a mausoleum as the passengers deserted it.
Again, Droege is typical of architectural writers in showing little interest in what immediately preceded the architectural fashion of his own day. The stations built just before the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 made Roman architecture fashionable are now looked upon as the best examples of the traditional and the functional that railroad architecture embodied; but Droege, apart from setting down some favorable observations on Broad Street and St. Louis Union stations, pays little attention to the Victorian stations. Typically, he praises North Western station in Chicago-today regarded as a. pedestrian classical building-as an ideal mixture of beauty and functionality, whereas the two Chicago stations currently considered to have genuine architectural merit, Central and Grand Central, he doesn't mention at all.
For pure architectural history, we turn to Carroll L. V. Meeks's The Railroad Station (Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn., 1956). Meeks had the advantage of thorough academic grounding in architectural history, and the catholicity in taste the job required. He was able, too, to include several major stations built since 1916 (notably the Chicago, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, and New Orleans union stations) , and he could see both beauty and genius in a. good trainshed. Droege characteristically liked the Bush slotted trainshed, then in fashion, and considered the balloon trainshed, now so much revered, as a Victorian abomination.
Thus, as an economic seer or as an architectural critic, Droege has little to be said for him. He purported to be neither, of course. He did purport to be a railroadman, and an expert on passengers, and none will gainsay him that. Let us finally give him his laurels as a social historian, too. As we read his pages, we walk the platforms, observing an institution we can never experience again. We see the thousand trains a day at Oakland Pier, the eight boats an hour in the Lackawanna's slips, the 2,387,545 pieces of baggage in 1904 at St. Louis Union Station, and the 38 million passengers in 1913 at South Station. The study of history is one of the most valuable pursuits of the intellect, partly to show us the origins of present problems, partly to preserve our cultural heritage, and partly to let us relive what is irretrievably vanished. On all grounds, Droege made his contribution, however unconsciously, and he richly deserves the honor of posthumous republication.


Washington, D. C.
July 21, 1968
Following the publication and kindly reception of "Freight Terminals and Trains" (1912), suggestions were made that the whole field of terminal and train operation should be covered by the compilation of a companion work treating similarly of the passenger service. The author's efforts to cover a field heretofore not specifically treated, have resulted in the following pages.
The general plan of "Freight Terminals and Trains" has been followed. While there must be some interlocking of allied branches, duplication has been avoided wherever practicable, and the work arranged with a view to producing two companion volumes covering the operation of freight- and passenger-train service, the design, construction and maintenance of terminals and accessories, with a discussion of the plans of organization and operating methods co-incident thereto.
To describe all existing passenger terminals was, of course, out of the question. It has been the aim, therefore, to include only such descriptions, views and plans as embody typical or unique features, possessing educational value. Consequently, some of the larger and more important terminals have been omitted while others of seemingly less importance have been included.
In a field where there is such a diversity of opinion and practice, and where "standard practice" is yet to be established, it has seemed advisable to include all possible information and to quote freely from the published views of experts, both those in confirmation of and those conflicting with the views of the author. In most instances acknowledgment is made in the text. The author's appreciative gratitude is due particularly to the Railway Age Gazette; and also to Engineering News; the EngiRecord; the Railway Review; Railway and Locomotive Engineering, and other railroad and technical periodicals. He is indebted also to many railroad officers and specialists for information, assistance and helpful criticism. For unusual and specific constructive aid and review, he is obligated to Samuel 0. Dunn, editor of the Railway Age Gazette; William J. Cunningham, professor of transportation, Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration; C. B. Breed, associate professor of civil engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and B. B. Adams, associate editor of the Railway Age Gazette. He also wishes to express appreciation for assistance lent him by Charles W. Foss, associate editor of the Railway Age Gazette, and by J. E. Slater, of the accounting department of the New York, New Haven & Hartford.
NEW HAVEN, CONN.July, 1916.

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