A builder's photo of Pullman troop
In United States railroad
, a troop sleeper
was a railroad
which had been
constructed to serve as something of a mobile barracks
(essentially, a sleeping car
transporting troops over distances sufficient to require overnight
accommodations. This method allowed part of the trip to be made
overnight, reducing the amount of transit time required and
increasing travel efficiency.
Background and development
Between December, 1941 and June, 1945 U.S. railroads
carried almost 44 million
personnel. As there
were not enough cars and coaches
available to meet the massive need for troop transit created by
World War II
, in late 1943 the U.S.
Office of Defense Transportation contracted with the Pullman Company
to build 2,400 troop
sleepers, and with American Car
(ACF) to build 440 troop kitchen cars.
This new rolling stock was either converted from existing boxcars
or built from scratch based on Association of American
(AAR) standard 50'-6" single-sheathed steel boxcar
designs, and were constructed entirely out of steel with
heavily-reinforced ends. In some instances baggage cars
were converted into temporary
kitchen cars before ACF could complete its order. The cars were
painted the standard Pullman Green and affixed with gold lettering.
Along the Atchison, Topeka and Santa
(ATSF) "Surf Line
trains consisting of 10-12 former Southern Pacific
cars, owned by the U.S. Maritime Commission
bearing ATSF markings, were fitted with conventional knuckle
at each end of the
and pressed into service to handle
the additional passenger loads.
A 1943 builder's photo of ACF troop
Equipped with special Allied Full Cushion high-speed swing-motion
, Pullman troop sleepers were designed
to be fully-interchangeable with all other passenger equipment. The
units came equipped with end doors similar to those found on
standard railway cars, but had no vestibules
. Loading and unloading
of passengers was accomplished via wide doors positioned on each
side at the center of the cars with built-in trap doors and steps.
Light and ventilation was provided by ten window units mounted on
each side, each equipped with rolling black out shades and wire
Troop sleepers, generally intended for use by enlisted personnel
, were equipped with
bunks stacked 3-high, and slept 29 servicemen plus the Pullman porter
. Every passenger was provided
with a separate Pullman bed, complete with sheets and pillowcases
that were changed daily. The berths were laid out in a cross-wise
arrangement that placed the aisle along one side of the car, as
opposed to down the center. Though the upper berths were fixed, the
middle and lower sections could be reconfigured into seating during
the daytime. Weapon racks were provided for each group of berths.
Four washstands (two mounted at each end of the car) delivered hot
and cold running water. The cars also came outfitted with two
enclosed toilets and a drinking water
, rolling galleys
, also joined the trains to provide
meal service en route (the troops took their meals in their seats
or bunks). As the cooking was performed by regular U.S. Army
cooks, the cars
were outfitted with two Army-standard coal
ranges. The cars were also equipped with a pair of 200-gallon cold
water tanks and a 40-gallon hot water tank; supplies were stocked
on open shelves with marine-type railings, a bread locker, a large
, and a series of built-in
cabinets and drawers. The cars served approximately 250 men each,
and were typically placed in the middle of the train so that food
could be served from both ends.
Troop hospital cars
, also based on the troop
sleeper carbody, transported wounded servicemen and typically
travelled in solid strings on special trains averaging fifteen cars
each. Each had 38 berths for patients, 30 of which were arranged in
the central section of the car in three tiers on each side. There
was also a section with six berths which could be used for
isolation cases as well as private compartments for special cases.
Each unit was ice air-conditioned and came fitted with a shower
room along with a modern kitchen with the latest equipment.
Afterlife and preservation
Troop cars saw service though 1947, after which many were sold by
to the railroads and subsequently
converted into mail cars, express service boxcars, or refrigerator cars
, while others remained in
sleeper configuration for use in maintenance of way
(MOW) service as bunk
cars for the maintenance workers. Subsequent conflicts have not
created the need for such an arrangement, partially due to the much
smaller level of manpower involved but primarily due to the wider
use of aircraft
transportation of troops.
Today, preserved troop sleepers can be seen in several railroad museums
across the United
Image:OP-14522.jpg|Pullman Company troop
sleeper #8483 stands idle at Denver, Colorado on April 22, 1946.
refrigerator car #6687, a converted World War II troop
sleeper. Note the square panels along the sides that cover the
former window openings.Image:TP X2621.jpg|Texas and Pacific Railway
a former troop sleeper used in MOW service.Image:914130
and Ohio Railroad
#914130, a troop sleeper that has been
converted to a steam
Troop sleeper #7437 is on display at the B&O Railroad Museum in
Baltimore, MD. It was purchased as surplus by the Western Maryland
Railroad and used on work trains as crew quarters. The museum has
restored it to its original outside appearance. The inside has half
the beds put back and the other half has displays about the B&O
RR during the war.
References and notes
- Hediger, Jim. (2002). "Troop kitchen cars." Model
Railroader 69 (2) 80–82.
- McGuirk, Marty. (2001). "Troop sleepers." Model
Railroader 68 (12) 89–92.
- Pearce, Bill. (2005). "Express Reefer from troop sleeper in N."
Model Railroader 72 (12) 62–65.
- Signor, John R., ed. (2004). "Troop Sleepers." The
Warbonnet 10 (4) 31.
- Wider, Patrick C. (2001). "Troop cars." Classic Trains
2 (4) 84–87.