Why “Train X”?

This three-page article promoting Pullman’s Train X appeared in 1948, eight years before the train itself was first inaugurated. The article is by Robert Young, known as “the daring young man of Wall Street” and as someone who embraced innovations as a way of reviving the declining post-war rail industry.

Click image to download a 1.3-MB PDF of this brochure.

Young’s article disparagingly referred to streamliners as “already out of date” when they had been introduced in the 1930s because they were not only unduly heavy but topheavy. Young further complained that vista-dome cars “only exaggerated the topheaviness.” Train X, he promised, “can take half the traffic off the highways which will quintuple rail travel and save billions of taxpayers’ money for highway repair and enlargement.”

Young had acquired control of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway in 1942. Not satisfied with that, he began a proxy battle to take over the powerful New York Central. To promote his cause, he conducted a publicity campaign aimed at showing that most railroads were poorly run. His most famous effort was an advertisement declaring, “a hog can cross the country without changing trains–but you can’t!” This ad has been listed as one of the 100 greatest advertisements.”

Life magazine reprinted Young’s classic ad in an article about Young in its February 24, 1947 issue. Click image to download an 11.7-MB PDF of the complete article.

Sadly, Young’s ambition to control the New York Central was as misplaced as his faith in the super lightweight Train X. We know today that coal carriers like Young’s C&O and Norfolk & Western, which became the nuclei of today’s CSX and Norfolk Southern, were the railroads of the future, while the seemingly indomitable Pennsylvania and New York Central were the railroads of the past. Suffering from depression, Young killed himself in 1958. No doubt the New York Central’s declining stock prices didn’t help, but it was probably a coincidence that the New York Central’s Train X had proved to be a failure just five months before.

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