Saturday, November 7, 2009

PGE Piggybacks

Pacific Great Eastern Railway. Piggyback cars at Williams Lake, Mile 0.0, Prince George Subdivision, October 26, 1959. The family is migrating back to Seattle following three years living in Prince Rupert. We are running through some very cold country. The Cariboo is not user friendly in winter. As I recall, it was about 25 degrees.

We had made a pit stop in Williams Lake for food and gas. 4th Class #24 has made a pit stop to change train crew, who will advance her south over the Lillooet Subdivision.

Trainman takes up slack in trailer tie down turnbuckle

Wow! You cannot believe how excited I was to see these cars! I had seen pictures of “piggyback” cars in “Trains” magazine, but the technology was fairly new; Prince Rupert wasn’t even set up to receive such cars.

Few rail fans know that the Canadian Pacific Railway is recognized as being the first common carrier to embrace “piggyback” or Trailer on Flat Car (TOFC) technology. The first tentative service was inaugurated on December 1, 1952, running on the high-density traffic corridor between Toronto and Montreal.

Then in 1958, the Canadian Pacific Railway acquired Canada’s largest trucking company, Smith Transportation, heralding the beginning of what we refer to today as intermodal transportation. "Circus Train" loading platforms and protocols were developed into an efficient transport system.

Sunteck Transport Group out of Boca Raton Florida presents a brief but very concise history of Intermodal Transportation on their web site, which you may find of interest.

2 Comments - Click here:

Anonymous said...

I like the photo of the piggyback trailers. I believe the New Haven started piggyback service in 1937, and the Erie(?) and some others were trying it around that time too. The New Haven ran trailers on flat cars from Boston to New York City - a few hundred miles but a big time saver (overnight vs. a day or more by road).

Robert in Port Townsend said...

While it is true that as early as 1936, the Chicago & Great Western, and in 1937 the New Haven railroads published piggyback rates, they were more of a passenger oriented service, lacking significant long hauls to entice serious TOFC operations.

B&O, C&EI, and CNR also began tentative piggyback shipments in 1952.

But as written, it was the Canadian Pacific that aggressively pursued this transportation form beginning with the Montreal – Toronto corridor complete with dedicated “circus train” facilities for loading and unloading.

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