A mixed train
is a train
A train is a connected series of vehicles for rail transport that move along a track to transport cargo or passengers from one place to another place. The track usually consists of two rails, but might also be a monorail or maglev guideway.Propulsion for the train is provided by a separate...
that hauls both passenger
A passenger is a term broadly used to describe any person who travels in a vehicle, but bears little or no responsibility for the tasks required for that vehicle to arrive at its destination....
and freight cars or wagons. In the early days of railways they were quite common, but by the 20th century they were largely confined to branch line
A branch line is a secondary railway line which branches off a more important through route, usually a main line. A very short branch line may be called a spur line...
s with little traffic. As the trains provided passengers with very slow service, mixed trains have largely disappeared today. Their use is also at variance today with the usual separation of passenger and goods services into different subsidiaries by most modern railway administrations.
Africa and Asia
In parts of Asia and Africa, mixed trains are still the norm on routes with little traffic.
In Australia, mixed trains could also be called "Car Goods", "Goods train with car attached" or "mixed goods". This last term could cause confusion, as "mixed goods" in some other countries can refer to a freight train carrying multiple types of freight rather than just one commodity such as coal. In a number of cases, railmotors/railcars might haul a one or two goods wagons or a goods brake van
Brake van and guard's van are terms used mainly in the UK, Australia and India for a railway vehicle equipped with a hand brake which can be applied by the guard...
in yet another form of mixed train.
Austria, Germany and Switzerland
In German-speaking countries, two main types of mixed train (Gemischter Zug
) were distinguished: the GmP
and the PmG
was a "goods train with passenger service" (Güterzug mit Personenbeförderung
); in other words a goods train that also had one or more coaches for the transportation of railway passengers. These were not an uncommon sight on branch lines and were run for the following reasons:
- Low numbers of passengers that did not warrant the use of dedicated passenger trains.
- Insufficient vehicles and/or railway staff to operate separate goods and passenger trains.
- High levels of traffic, which meant that goods and passenger services had to be combined.
The passenger coaches were located either in the centre or at the end of the train, so that passengers did not have to travel immediately behind the locomotive
A locomotive is a railway vehicle that provides the motive power for a train. The word originates from the Latin loco – "from a place", ablative of locus, "place" + Medieval Latin motivus, "causing motion", and is a shortened form of the term locomotive engine, first used in the early 19th...
. However at times of the year when coaches required heating, the coaches had to run immediately behind the locomotive, because goods wagons usually had no heating pipes. One disadvantage for passengers was the slow speeds of a GmP
, because it often had to wait a long time at stations en route whilst goods wagons were detached and added. This was one of the major reasons for the eventual disappearance of this type of train.
The Deutsche Bundesbahn
The Deutsche Bundesbahn or DB was formed as the state railway of the newly established Federal Republic of Germany on September 7, 1949 as a successor of the Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft '...
continued to run GmP
trains occasionally right into the 1980s. Today they are no longer to be found in Germany, Austria or Switzerland.
The other type of mixed train in German-speaking countries was the PmG
or "passenger train with goods service" (Personenzug mit Güterbeförderung
). The Deutsche Reichsbahn in East Germany continued to operate some of these trains until the early 1990s. In essence they comprised one or more goods wagons running behind the passenger coaches. Towards the end, no shunting of goods wagons took place at the intermediate stations. Even private railways used to run PmG
trains, but they are rarely found today. Exceptions include e.g. ski trains in places like Interlaken
Interlaken is a municipality in the Interlaken-Oberhasli administrative district in the Canton of Bern in Switzerland, a well-known tourist destination in the Bernese Oberland.-History:...
which have an open wagon for ski equipment behind or ahead of the passenger coaches.
Mixed trains were once prolific in New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...
. Although express train
Express trains are a form of rail service. Express trains make only a small number of stops, instead of stopping at every single station...
s operated on the main lines, it was often not profitable to run dedicated passenger services on rural branch lines and they were served solely by mixed trains. On the more significant provincial routes, it was not unusual for a dedicated passenger express to operate during seasons of peak traffic volume and for mixed trains to provide service during off-peak periods, such as in the case of the Rotorua Express
The Rotorua Express was a passenger express train operated by the New Zealand Railways Department between Auckland and Rotorua. It operated from 1894 until 1959 and was known as the Rotorua Limited between 1930 and 1937....
in the late 19th century, or for the provincial express to operate twice or thrice weekly while mixed services ran daily, as in the case of the Taneatua Express
The Taneatua Express was an express passenger train operated by the New Zealand Railways Department that ran between Auckland and Taneatua in the Bay of Plenty, serving centres such as Tauranga and Te Puke...
The undesirability of mixed trains for passengers led the New Zealand Railways Department
The New Zealand Railways Department, NZR or NZGR and often known as the "Railways", was a government department charged with owning and maintaining New Zealand's railway infrastructure and operating the railway system. The Department was created in 1880 and was reformed in 1981 into the New...
to investigate railcar
A railcar, in British English and Australian English, is a self-propelled railway vehicle designed to transport passengers. The term "railcar" is usually used in reference to a train consisting of a single coach , with a driver's cab at one or both ends. Some railways, e.g., the Great Western...
technology in the early 20th century; overseas designs could not be directly introduced to New Zealand due to its rugged conditions, narrow gauge track, and small loading gauge
A loading gauge defines the maximum height and width for railway vehicles and their loads to ensure safe passage through bridges, tunnels and other structures...
. Trials of railcars such as the RM class
The RM class is the classification used by the New Zealand Railways Department and its successors given to most railcars and railbuses that have operated on New Zealand's national rail network. As NZR and its successors has operated many diverse types of railcars, alternate names have been given...
Model T Ford railbuses
The NZR RM class Model T Ford railcar was a type of railcar that operated on New Zealand's national rail network. Only two were built, classified as RM 4 and RM 5, and they were experimental railcars designed in an attempt to offer improved passenger services on quiet country branch lines that...
proved unsatisfactory and railcars rarely replaced mixed trains. When railcars became successful in the 1930s, they primarily replaced unprofitable provincial carriage trains, although some mixed services in regions including the West Coast
The West Coast is one of the administrative regions of New Zealand, located on the west coast of the South Island, and is one of the more remote and most sparsely populated areas of the country. It is made up of three districts: Buller, Grey and Westland...
and Taranaki were replaced by railcars.
Mixed trains were more prolific in the South Island
The South Island is the larger of the two major islands of New Zealand, the other being the more populous North Island. It is bordered to the north by Cook Strait, to the west by the Tasman Sea, to the south and east by the Pacific Ocean...
as it had the majority of New Zealand's rural branch lines, but as private car ownership increased, passenger figures decreased and many rural trains ceased to cater for passengers in the 1930s, although some mixed services lasted into the 1960s in isolated regions with poor roads. In the North Island
The North Island is one of the two main islands of New Zealand, separated from the much less populous South Island by Cook Strait. The island is in area, making it the world's 14th-largest island...
, the last mixed trains operated into the 1970s, such as the service provided on the North Auckland Line
that ran until 1976. Mixed trains in a sense returned to the South Island for a few years in the 1990s, when a few wagons of express containerised freight were attached to the TranzCoastal
express that operates between Christchurch
Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and the country's second-largest urban area after Auckland. It lies one third of the way down the South Island's east coast, just north of Banks Peninsula which itself, since 2006, lies within the formal limits of...
Picton is a town in the Marlborough region of New Zealand. It is close to the head of Queen Charlotte Sound near the north-east corner of the South Island. The population was 2928 in the 2006 Census, a decrease of 72 from 2001...
. However, this was much unlike the mixed trains of previous decades that performed lots of shunting en route and operated slowly; the TranzCoastal did not perform shunting as it was expected to maintain its passenger timetable and convey its time-sensitive freight swiftly between Picton's port and Christchurch.
In North America most branch lines were worked by mixed trains. These were goods trains, that usually ran with a combined passenger, mail and baggage car, rarely did they have several passenger cars. This type of train disappeared with the closure of passenger services on the branch lines. The one remaining mixed train in North America is Keewatin Railway
The Keewatin Railway Company is a First Nations-owned rail line that operates in Northern Manitoba, between The Pas, and Pukatawagan. The railway company currently operates a line formerly owned by Hudson Bay Railway, and used by Via Rail passenger trains....
's service between The Pas and Pukatawagan using passenger cars leased from Via Rail
Via Rail Canada is an independent crown corporation offering intercity passenger rail services in Canada. It is headquartered near Montreal Central Station at 3 Place Ville-Marie in Montreal, Quebec....