Model Railroad Passenger Cars

Model Railroad Passenger Sleepers Coach Articulated Dining and Lounge Cars are rolling stock that is designed to carry passengers.

A passenger car is a piece of railway rolling stock that is designed to carry passengers. Up until about the end of the 19th century, most passenger cars were constructed of wood. The first passenger trains did not travel very far. But they were able to haul many more passengers for a longer distance than any wagons pulled by horses. As railways were first constructed in England, so too were the first passenger cars. One of the early coach designs was the “Stanhope”. It featured a roof and small holes in the floor for drainage when it rained. It had separate compartments for different classes of travel. The only problem with this design is that the passengers were expected to stand for their entire trip. The first passenger cars in the United States resembled stagecoaches. They were short, often less than 10 ft (3.05 m) long, and had two axles.

The 1930’s Model Railroad Passenger Cars

Many American passenger trains, particularly the long-distance ones. They included a car at the end of the train called an observation car. Until about the 1930s, these had an open-air platform at the rear, the “observation platform”. These evolved into the closed-end car, usually with a rounded end which was still called an “observation car”. The interiors of observation cars varied. Many had special chairs and tables. The end platforms of all passenger cars changed around the turn of the 20th century. Older cars had open platforms between cars.

Passengers would enter and leave a car through a door at the end of the car which led to a narrow platform. Steps on either side of the platform were used for getting on or off the train. One might hope from one car platform to another. Later cars had enclosed platforms called vestibules which together with gangway connections allowed passengers not only to enter and exit the train protected from the elements. Also to move more easily between cars with the same protection.


Starting in the 1950s, the passenger travel market declined in North America, though there was growth in commuter rail. Private intercity passenger service in the U.S. mostly ended with the creation of Amtrak in 1971. Amtrak took over equipment and stations from most of the railroads in the U.S. with intercity service. Amtrak began to push the development of U.S.-designed passenger equipment even when the market demand didn’t support it. Ordering a number of new passenger locomotive and car types in the 1980s and 1990s. However, by the year 2000 Amtrak went to European manufacturers for the Amtrak Cascades (Talgo) and Acela Express trains, their premier services. These trains use new designs and are made to operate as coherent “trainsets”.


TYPES of Model Railroad Passenger Cars


The coach is the most basic type of passenger car, also sometimes referred to as “chair cars”. In one variant, an “open coach” has a central aisle; the car’s interior is often filled with row upon row of seats as in a passenger airliner. Other arrangements of the “open” type are also found, including seats around tables. Seats facing the aisle (often found on mass transit trains since they increase standing room for rush hour), and variations of all three.


Often called “sleepers” or “Pullman cars” (after the main American operator), these cars provide sleeping arrangements for passengers traveling at night. Early models were divided into sections, where coach seating converted at night into semi-private berths. More modern interiors are normally partitioned into separate bedroom compartments for passengers.

Articulated car

Articulated cars have a number of advantages. They save on the total number of wheels and trucks, reducing costs and maintenance expenses. Further, movement between cars is safer and easier than with traditional designs. Finally, it is possible to implement tilting schemes such as the Talgo design which allows the train to lean into curves.

Dining cars

A dining car (or diner) is used to serve meals to the passengers. Its interior may be split with a portion of the interior partitioned off for a galley, which is off-limits to passengers. A narrow hallway is left between the galley and one sidewall of the car for passengers to use. The remainder of the interior is laid out with tables and chairs to look like a long, narrow restaurant dining room. There is special personnel to perform waitstaff and kitchen duties.

Lounge Cars

Lounge cars carry a bar and public seating. They usually have benches, armchairs, or large swiveling chairs along the sides of the car. They often have small tables for drinks or maybe large enough to play cards. Some lounge cars include small pianos and are staffed by contracted musicians to entertain the passengers.

Self-propelled cars

These vehicles usually carry motive power in each individual unit. Trams, light rail vehicles, and subways have been widely constructed in urban areas throughout the world since the late 19th century.

Passenger Cars For Your Layout

Most of the cars may tell you they can go around 22-inch radius curves but experts recommend nothing less than 24 inches because the cars overhang the track by a little bit that the rails actually stick out beyond the edge of the car which creates clearance problems in your layout and also gives a ‘funny’ look to your layout. It will create conditions that you will never see on a track in the real world.

If you have a small layout with tight curves, running passenger cars can be difficult and therefore try to use the broadest curves possible especially if you are running long equipment such as long passenger or freight cars. Keep in mind that some of the long-distance trains can be 11 to 13 cars long plus they may have some the locomotives and therefore If you are running a small layout and you want passenger service, you may want to look into an RDC or run a mixed train with a combine.

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