Market trains and extra coaches

As I dig through train schedules and stories about the PEIR it’s remarkable how many extra trains the railway ran: funeral trains, hockey trains, market trains and the list goes on. If I understand correctly these market trains were run as extras and operate in a similar manner as a mixed train or the “milk runs” that model railroaders so often include in their operating schemes: basically a train that stops frequently along the line picking up people and very light goods.

I mentioned reading A. Byron Burns’ The Narrow Gauge Steam Railroad on Prince Edward Island this evening. In his book, Burns relates the story of how the market train from Charlottetown to Murray Harbour operated. Apparently it left Charlottetown with two coaches. Picking up people it would find itself filling fast so the railway would add a third car at Vernon for the trip east. On the return trip it would drop that same third coach at the station to await the next trip east. This car would presumably reside in Vernon during the season. As I read this section of the book I thought about a picture I’ve seen in Allan Graham’s book showing Vernon station. This picture shows the back of the station and a coach parked in front sitting on the Vernon loop. I’ve always assumed that the coach belonged to a mixed train and was left at the station while local switching was completed. Now I’m wondering if that shot is actually capturing the memory Mr. Burns is relating in his book? If, like me, you don’t have a copy of Graham’s book you can see this photo on the National Museum of Science and Technology’s website:

For the modeller this is certainly one extra operational detail to consider adding to the operating scheme. It wouldn’t be too hard to leave a coach on a public siding at a small station to be added and removed from a passing train. In many ways this operation really isn’t that different from any train that had head-end cars to switch along it’s route. What makes this so unique is that we’re not talking about a busy mainline in Ontario but we’re talking about the Murray Harbour branch of the PEIR and really just adding and removing a coach from a single train: the same train and the same coach every day.

The more I learn about the PEIR and it’s operations the more excited and engrossed I become. I’m always discovering something new and fascinating and I enjoy that.

Categories: PEIR Murray Harbour Subdivision

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