PENNSYRR.COM by Jerry Britton

20191001

Confronted by increasing competition from trucking companies for Less than Carload (LCL) freight during the late 1940s, railroads aggressively marketed expedited LCL services, advertising them on boxcars with colorful paint schemes. The Pennsy introduced "Merchandise Service" banners to many cars assigned to LCL service between September 1947 and November 1957.

Similar service was offered by other railroads, including New York Central's "Pacemaker Service", and the Baltimore & Ohio's "Sentinel Service".

As part of the upgrades, Pennsy launched a major rebuilding program for its signature X29 boxcars, resulting in a larger capacity car with a bigger body mounted on the original underframe, classified as the X29B. These rebuilt cars left the shops with a distinct paint and lettering scheme that prominently advertised the service. Although gradually folded into TrucTrain piggyback operations, many of the X29B wore their colorful paint schemes for years afterward, remaining in general freight service.

Freight Shipping Methods

Urgent! Has to be there overnight, or time dependent. Use Railway Express Agency - Ships on passenger trains,
Some time dependency, but not urgent. Less than carload. Use Less than Car Load service - Ships on dedicated high priority freight trains.
Bulk, no impending deadlines, full cars. Ship standard rail in regular freight trains.

 


Timeline

August 1947 -- "Merchandise Service" paint scheme number one ("MS1") introduced. Applied to 100 X40B, 300 X41B, an unknown number of X29B, and possibly three X26C. Featured a 23-1/4" wide aluminum band with two 4-1/4" white edges. Background for keystone monogram Toluidine Red versus Freight Car Color. "Merchandise Service" letters Toluidine Red with narrow white accent shadows. (Please reference the car class pages for information about model availability.)

X41B MS1X41B box car in MS1 scheme. kms

X29B MS1
X29B box car in MS1 scheme.

X29BinteriorX29B interior, showing LCL retaining racks.

 

January 1950 -- "Merchandise Service" paint scheme number two ("MS2") introduced. Featured plain white band and Circle Keystone. Applied to some X29.

 X29 MS2
X29  box car in MS2 scheme.
 

 

May 1954 -- "Merchandise Service" paint scheme number three ("MS3") introduced. Featured plain white band and Shadow Keystone. Applied to some X29 and X40B.

ad2 1954  

 

January 1, 1957 -- "Merchandise Service" Directory published.

MS Directory 1957

 


Freight Forwarding

LCL forwarding shares the same "hub and spoke" design as today's shippers -- USPS, UPS, or FedEx. Let's look at an example of a shipment from Burnham, Pa., to New Freedom, Pa., all on the Pennsy system.

Originating Local Station

The customer brings their shipment to the local freight station, at Burnham in this case. Some locations may offer pickup and delivery by truck. The shipment is processed and a waybill is created. The shipment is set aside for the next local freight train.

The local freight train arrives at the location. In addition to its other cars for customers along the route, it carries one (or more) box cars for LCL shipments. It (they) are usually located directly ahead of the cabin car (caboose) and are cut off at the station. Deliveries for Burnham are offloaded and any outbound freight is loaded. While this is going on, the engine is shuttling any other cars for delivery or pickup at Burnham. The local continues this process along its entire route, returning to its home location -- Lewistown Junction in this case -- at the end of its run. The LCL cars in this role are called "waycars" or "peddlers".

Some customers along the local route may ship enough LCL to warrant cars delivered to their own siding(s). The local picks up outbound cars and delivers inbound cars. One example is Standard Steel Works at Burnham/Yeagertown. The LCL cars in this role are called "trap" cars.

While this is going on, another local is working the main line eastward to Newport, another westward to Mount Union, and another on the Selinsgrove Secondary. So four locals return with LCL cars at the end of the day.

Lewistown Junction also has a scenario where a large LCL customer is adjacent to the yard and worked by the yard crew. This is another example of "trap" cars.

The yard also receives LCL cars from the hub sorting facilities, from the east and west in this case. These are "forwarder" cars.

At the end of the day, the yard crew assemble all of these LCL cars together in preparation for moving them to the regional transload facility.

The Regional Transload Facility

Very early in the morning, the yard crew sends their LCL cars to the regional sorting facility -- in this case, in downtown Lewistown. They are usually spotted in their assigned locations by 7 a.m. They have assigned locations so that local staff who are loading and unloading cars know where each car will be, day in and day out.

Such stations typcially have multiple tracks, with tight track centers, so plates can bridge the gap between open doors on parallel cars. In order to keep car doors aligned, typically all cars must be 40' in length.

All freight from the waycars and trap cars are offloaded. They are reloaded onto cars to be sent to the hub sorting facilities -- either east or west in the case of Lewistown. Our shipment needs to go east (to Harrisburg).

All freight from the inbound ferry cars are resorted into their appropriate waycars for delivery the next day by the locals, repeating the cycle.

All of this wraps up by late afternoon and the cars are sent back to the yard (Lewistown Junction).

The forwarder cars are classified for pickup by the appropriate eastbound or westbound trains. The waycars and trap cars are classified to go out on the appropriate locals the next day.

Our shipment gets picked up by train M-16 -- an Altoona to Enola intradivisional train -- the next afternoon. From Enola the cars are forwarded across the river to Harrisburg where a hub transload facility is located.

The Hub Transload Facility

At the Harrisburg facility, ferry cars are received from all directions -- Lewistown, Altoona, and Pittsburgh from the west; Philadelphia and New York City to the east; Baltimore to the south; and Hagarstown to the southwest.

A process similar to that of the regional transload facility takes place. Our shipment is placed onto a ferry car to go south to another regional facility at York, Pa. The car is sent back to Enola Yard and is on the next train to York.

 

 

Regional Transload Facility (#2)

The forwarder cars transit from Enola to York on the Northern Central Branch and arrive at the regional transload facility there. The same process repeats and shipments are shuffled from car to car. Our shipment goes onto a waycar for the next day's local to deliver to New Freedom, Pa.

 

  

 

Destination Local Station

The next day's local delivers our shipment, via waycar, to New Freedom. The customer is notified that it is ready for pickup, Again, some locations may offer delivery and pickup by truck.

 

When mutliple railroads are involved, at locations where interchange is conducted, each railroad will have a "transload" warehouse and ferry cars will be utilized in between the two. Cars dedicated to LCL typically remain on their home road and are not interchanged.

Dedicated LCL "Forwarder" Trains

1936

LCL-1

LCL-2

Harsimus Cove to Crestline

Pittsburgh to HarsimusCove

1950

LCL-1

LCL-2

LCL-3

LCL-4

New York (Harsimus Cove) to Chicago

Chicago to New York (Harsimus Cove)

New York (Harsimus Cove) to East St. Louis

East St.Louis to Pitcairn

1952

LCL-1

LCL-2

LCL-3

LCL-4

LCL-7

New York (Harsimus Cove) to Chicago

Chicago to New York (Harsimus Cove)

New York (Harsimus Cove) to East St. Louis

East St. Louis to New York

Philadelphia to Chicago

1954

LCL-1

LCL-2*

LCL-3*

LCL-4*

LCL-5

LCL-7

New York (Harsimus Cove) to Fort Wayne-Chicago

Chicago to Harsimus Cove

New York (Harsimus Cove) to East St. Louis

East St. Louis to Harsimus Cove

Baltimore to Enola

Philadelphia to Chicago

  * TrucTrain trailers initially ran on these "LCL" trains until they received their own "TT" symbol trains in 1955.
1960

LCL-1

LCL-2

LCL-3

LCL-5

LCL-7

LCL-9

Harsimus Cove to Chicago

Chicago to Pitcairn

Harsimus Cove to East St.Louis

Baltimore to Enola

Philadelphia to Crestline

Meadows, N. J. to Cincinnati, Oh.

 

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