My recent progress on the Berlin Branch prompted some discussion the last time the guys were over. I'd mentioned that adding the branch could provide some interesting work for the Air Line Local - crews would be able to operate from one corner of the basement (Air Line Staging) all the way to the opposite corner of the basement (E. Berlin) and in two different rooms. To refresh your memory of the track layout, click here.
Problem is, the Air Line Local didn't serve East Berlin - at least not during the year I model (1947). As JohnW pointed out, the Air Line Local's typical steam power - J-1 class Mikados and R-1 class Mountains - were timetable restricted from the Berlin Branch, and, in fact, could only operate on the old Berlin Main track in Middletown yard in order to drop off cars. Furthermore, the branch was Shoreline territory, not Midland territory like the Air Line.
John's recollection made perfect sense. From what little I know about the branch in the late 1940s, it was in very poor shape - speed restricted to 10mph in addition to being motive power restricted. Heh - no way could I even imagine a 2-8-2 going up that line, much less a 4-8-2!
But I knew I'd read somewhere that the Air Line Local served the Berlin Branch at some point. Then it hit me - I'd actually come across this information while doing a post last June, and mentioned it - albeit in passing - toward the end of that post.
So what's the story? The answer depends on what year you're talking about.
According to the Freight Symbol Book for April, 1949 (as well as the Package Car Schedules book), Hartford Division Local Service Train #12 (the Air Line Local) serviced E. Berlin on Tuesdays/Thursdays/Saturdays. Keep in mind that by April 1949, both the Air Line Local and Valley Local were dieselized. According to the NHRR Engine Assignment Book I have for April 24, 1949, the Valley Local had a DEY-3 (Alco S-1, probably #0947) and the Air Line Local had a DEY-5 (Alco S-2, probably #0606). (see this post for further information on the lines' motive power)
I don't have any information regarding what restrictions, if any, there were on the Berlin branch relative to diesel locomotives. But my guess is that an S-2 was a LOT less heavy and hard on track than either a J-1 or an R-1.
I still have some gaps in my Freight Symbol Book collection, so I can't figure out whether the Valley Local ever served E. Berlin again after 1949. But for what it's worth, it looks like by 1952 E. Berlin isn't served at all by either local, at least not according to the Symbol Book I have for that year.
So the bottom line is that I can plausibly - and most likely prototypically - have the Air Line Local serve East Berlin as I'd hoped. I'll just have to be sure my ops session is set in "1949" rather than 1947 and I'll need to change from steam locos to diesel.
Now if somebody would just come out with the proper New Haven-style Alco cab . . .
(special thanks to John Wallace for prompting this post)