Saturday, October 15, 2011

CN's Car-Go-Rail and Auto-With-You Services

One of the most confusing HO scale cars ever produced was Bachmann's Auto Transporter in CN's black & white scheme. This was a total foobie. Were such cars really used on CN passenger trains? When, how and why were they used? Are there photos of the cars in use? In an attempt to clear up the confusion, I humbly submit this post, and another post to come about the cars themselves.

Car-Go-Rail, introduced by CN in 1963, was a service that allowed a passenger's auto to travel between the same two cities as the passenger, but on a slightly different schedule, aboard a freight train. Auto-With-You, introduced by CN in 1972 (timetable artistic rendering -below), was an extension of Car-Go-Rail. Auto-With-You allowed a passenger's auto to travel on the same train - the daily Super Continental, train Nos 3 and 4 between Toronto and Edmonton. Handling the auto transporter on the tail end of the Super facilitated switching en route. Advance reservations were required for passengers and autos. Unlike the Bachmann auto transporter, CN's shorter 57-foot cars were actually used for both services (75-foot cars were only hauled on freight trains).

Car-Go-Rail recovered all transportation costs through freight tariffs, whether the passenger travelled by train or not. Purchase of a passenger ticket was necessary for both services. Car-Go-Rail operated between Halifax, Moncton, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton and Vancouver. Avis Rent-a-Car operated an over-the-road pickup and delivery service, linking Calgary, Regina, Prince Albert, Brandon, Ottawa, Kingston, London and Quebec City with CN's Car-Go-Rail loading points.

Passengers' autos were driven carefully (very carefully) on and off the double-deck auto transporters, as shown in this early CN publicity photograph showing new car deliveries on a 57-foot car (CSTM photo - above). CN publicized service improvements to Car-Go-Rail in 1966 (below). In 1969, Car-Go-Rail service between Moncton and Calgary cost $168. In 1974, service between Toronto and Edmonton cost $303 (excluding passenger fare). Rate reductions were offered for compact autos and shared passenger sleeping accommodations.
Auto-With-You was an attempt by CN to not only grow passenger traffic, as passenger operations became a costly millstone around the railways' necks, but to recoup some of the cost of the service by generating additional revenue. VIA Rail terminated the service in 1976.

Rental companies such as Tilden and Avis provided Car-Go-Rail terminal handling in cities between customer drop-off points and railway loading facilities. Halifax' facility was at Fairview yard, at the foot of Chisholm St. Toronto's facility was located north of Parkdale station, off Lansdown Ave., and in 1975 near GO Transit's Bathurst yard. Winnipeg's was in East Yard, adjacent to Union Station.

The following publications include photos of Auto-With-You cars in use:
-The Canadian National Railways' Story (Patrick Dorin) p.56
-CN Lines Vol 8 No 4 p.28
-National Passenger Chronicle Premiere (Dale Wilson) p.59
-Canadian National Through Passenger Service (Kevin Holland) p.122-123
-VIA Rail (Christopher Greenlaw) p.49

and the following publications include photos of Car-Go-Rail and Auto-With-You cars:
-Canadian Rail Car Pictorial Vol 4 (Richard Yaremko) p.5-8
-Canadian National Color Guide Vol 2 (John Riddell) p.36-37

In the next post, I'll discuss the similarities and differences between the CN car series used in these unique services. CN provided details of Auto-With-You in 1972:
Running extra...

A recent trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina included sightings of a couple of Carolina Southern Geeps at Conway, SC; an NS train in the Selma, NC yard; northbound Amtrak near Emporia, VA; and no CSX or Amtrak trains but one awesome location at Harpers Ferry WV.

It was good to meet blog partner Adam Walker during his railfan trip east to Belleville, Kingston, Brockville, Smiths Falls and Ottawa. Kingston didn't disappoint, with 6 trains in a couple of hours. Try Adam's idea of photographing CN's yellow labels on crossing signal bungalows to place your ensuing digital photos.

Occupy This...democracy is alive and well. Down with corporate greed, and up with masses of people meeting in parks and other public areas voting on stuff. Sure, I feel like part of the 99%, but 1% of me wishes I was really, really rich like the 1%. See also: lottery ticket.


Zartok-35 said...

Interesting operations, to be sure. The Car-go-railsounds like a really good deal that doesn't overy disrupt passenger schedules.

Eric said...

You're right, Elijah. It seems the Auto-With-You sounded simple, yet would've required careful integration of switching the auto transporter while resupplying the rest of the train.

In theory, Car-Go-Rail autos were to depart one day ahead of the departure of the passenger, and arrive within one day after their arrival.

Thanks for your comment,

Anne said...

We did this in 1973. We were married in Toronto and lived there for a year, with house prices escalating rapidly in Toronto, we decided to move to my native Alberta. We shipped our car by CN from Toronto to Edmonton. It was the dead of winter and we did not want to drive west. The car arrived in Edmonton, as did we, to 30 below weather...something my husband had never seen. We then drove to Calgary. It was so convenient.

Eric said...

Nice to hear from you, Anne. Someone who used and remembers this CN service! Why face the howling teeth of a western Canadian winter when CN provided a safe, comfortable and sceneramic way to wend your way west.

Be sure to check out my posts on the Calgary-Edmonton RDC service at your convenience!

Thanks for your recollections,

Wayne said...

As I recall, the Bachmann car had a few minor discrepancies, but wasn't really done all that badly. I got a couple of them at a really good price...I don't think they were all that popular, especially for folks with smaller layouts.
I re-detailed them, then stripped off the original paint and re-did them in the green maple-leaf scheme, using C-D-S dry transfers, giving one to a friend. He also got the second one when I backdated my layout to the late '30s era.

Apparently I'm unable (or not allowed) to include a photo of the modelled car, despite several attempts.

Recently, VIA had an open discussion where those of us with VIA accounts could submit a question or suggestion, and they would select and answer a limited number of them.
Being interested in visiting a friend in BC, but not wanting to make the drive again, I asked about the possibility of a revival of such a service. Mine, understandably, I suppose, was not one of those selected.
My plan was to spend a week or so with my friend, then travel, in my own car, down the west coast to visit acquaintances in California, Arizona,and Texas, then travel up through either the Midwest or along the East coast, visiting a few other acquaintances along the way, before returning to southern Ontario.


Eric said...

Good to hear from you, Wayne!

Yes, the Bachmann car seems to get generally good reviews. I also used this C-D-S set to provide lettering for other projects!

It's not surprising that VIA selectively edited out your question. Gee, they have a hard enough time getting the Canadian across the country on time, I can't imagine them vectoring loaded auto carriers and drivers into the mix!

It's tough to share much on Blogger, a link to a webpage is your best bet. Hence, Facebook!

Thanks for your comment,