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with the clerk utilizing railroaders' overnight accommoda-
tions.) Early in the morning, much mail is loaded on from
the big new Anchorage Post Office; and again the train leaves
at 8:30. It passes in succession magnificent snow-capped
mountains . . . glaciers gleaming in the sun . . . the Matanuska
resettlement colony . . , Curry, the lunch stop . . . scenic
McKinley Park ... a stop for supper at Healy . . . Nenana,
where the R.P.O. connected the Nenana &: St. Michael every
other trip . . . and into Fairbanks at 10:30 P.M. But no longer
does the clerk worry about balancing his registers, which were
the line's real mainstay in its closing years; nor has a pouch-
rack been already neatly re-hung for the return trip as before.
Until the close of R.P.O, service, Clerk Rowland would return
to Anchorage with the mail train the following morning
(Tuesday) then lay off until Friday, when he'd complete the
trek into Seward; he was relieved for occasional extra week.s
by a part-time clerk, and both men worked under a District
Superintendent at Anchorage.

W^ith the present increase in population and commerce,
C. P. -passenger trains on this route now operate daily iu the
Anchorage area and thrice weekly from there to Fairbanks.
It is to be earnestly hoped that the great benefits of both local
and through transit-distributed mail can be eventually re-
stored to Alaska, by means of (1) Flying Post Office service on
trunk air lines, (2) speeded-up local R.P.O. service every other
day on the Fairbanks & Seward (possibly also on the shorter
daily Palmer-Whittier and Skagway-Whitehorse runs); and
(3) modern H.P.O. service on the Alcan and connecting high-
ways. Both air and surface mails would be speeded more
than ever before, that way; the resulting encouragement to
Alaskan self-suffiiciency, commerce, and Statehood would be
well Avorth the investment in time-saving and efficient transit
distribution with local exchanges.

Puerto Rico had just one R.P.O.— the unusual narrow-gage
171.9-mile San Juan R: Ponce (Amer.RR.ofP.R.) which made
its last run on June 30, 1950. Here, too, the extreme slowness
of the carrier's trains was a factor in discontinuance; both mail
delay and costly clerical overtime (up to 10 hours!) were in-


volved. Tlie railroad was planning a reorganization, further-
more, and pulled off the two particular daylight trains in
which the Spanish-speaking clerks had daily traversed two-
thirds of the island's circumference for years. They worked
city mail for both termini, and served Areceibo, Mayaguez,
and other important towns on their 9-hour run; and until
1941, they connected the N.Y. &: San Juan S.P.O. (seapost)
which is still in a suspended status (it tised the steamers
America and Barinquen). Several C.P. and passenger trains
still operate on the ex-R.P.O. line, but most first-class mail
goes by star route; and the addition of an H.P.O. route or of
speeded-up R.P.O. service on the reorganized railway, or
both, would provide Puerto Rico with far faster mail service
th.-*n ever before and other benefits also. A standard general
scheme was issued for Puerto Rico, with all post offices routed
either to San Juan or Ponce "Dis," or to the R.P.O. ; the two
cities were schemed as "junctions," although only the one dis-
tributing line was shown (even omitting the N.Y. 8: S. Juan).
Oddly enough, both of our last two narrow gauge R.P.O.s
were associated with this word "San Juan"— the name of the
Ala. R: Durango's train (Chap. 10).

The one remaining R.P.O. route in a United States terri-
tory, however, is in the Canal Zone. The Panama Canal
R.P.O. (Panama RR) is not controlled by the P.T.S. or even
by otir Post Office Department, but is operated by the Bureau
of Posts of "The Panama Canal," an independent United
States Government bureau. This 47.6-mile international
route, running "from Coast to Coast in 85 minutes," is
the only R.P.O. in the Zone or in the Republic of Panama,
and has operated since canal construction in 1905. From
Panama, R.P., on the Pacific, the R.P.O. runs northwest via
Balboa Heights (Ancon's railroad station), Corozal, Pedro
Miguel, and Frijoles, C.Z., to the joint station for Cristobal,
C.Z,, and adjacent Colon, R.P., on the Atlantic. The daily
R.P.O. train largely parallels the canal and is staffed by "rail-
way mail clerks" (official title) who report for only thirty
minutes' advance time. The postmasters at Ancon and Cris-
tobal supervise the R.P.O. Since there are only about twenty-


four civilian post offices in the entire Zone (all served by the
R.P.O. directly or otherwise), the official "scheme" is merely
a section of the Canal Zone Postal Guide listing the offices
(and other localities, as in Alaska) with the station through
which served.

Like the former Alaska lines, the Panama Canal R.P.O. is
atuhorized to deliver mail for residents of no-office points, like
Frijoles, to "the railroad station agent or anyone accepting
mail for him." Even registered and insured mail, if made up
by the Ancon or Cristobal post offices in special form, can be
delivered by the clerks to addressees residing along the rail-
way. Clerks are required to pouch daily on Balboa, Balboa
Heights, Ancon, and Cristobal— plus international sealed
sacks for Panama and Colon, as well as "additional pouches
as necessary." Panamanian laborers employed by the Canal,
formerly "silver employees" (because of pay scale), are re-
quired to assist and obey the clerks during receipt and delivery
of mail at the car door; and pavmasters carrying pav rolls for
these and U. S. white-collar workers (formerly "gold employ-
ees") can ride in the postal car to safeguard the same. In nor-
mal times the R.P.O.s connection to the States is by the N.Y. Sc
Canal Zone S.P.O. out of Colon (formerly designated as an
R.P.O.; now inoperative). At one time the United States Rail-
way Mail Service may have operated the rail R.P.O., for it
uses a standard canceler with "RMS" in the killer. Clerks are
authorized to accept letters ^vith Panama and United States
stamps on them, but must forward them for canceling and for
rating with postage due; all such mails are considered
"foreis^n" and must be wavbilled when bagged. CP service,
only, is operated for Panama Republic postal movements.


Mexico's interesting R.P.O. network, like Canada's, is svn-
chronized with ours. Aiming to attain the highest modern
standards, the system operates mostly over the National Rail-
ways of Mexico— which actually claims to have R.P.O. service
over all its trackage. There are about 120 routes, supervised


by a "Chief of the Transportation Office, General Postal Ad-
ministration" assisted by his regional "Postal Inspectors."
Most routes are called O.P.A.s (Officina Postal Ambulanle),
but some are designated as Servicio Ambulantc, and they are
named in reverse order for the return trip. The clerks (and
hence the service) are popularly designated post Lren and
number about five hundred; olTicially agentes postal ambu-
lanle, they are exempt from loading storage mails and similar
"porter work."

Connecting with United States lines at El Paso, for ex-
ample, is the important "O.P.A. Juarez y Torreon" (NRM;
i.e., Juarez R: Torreon R. P.O.)— or, northbound, the Torreon
y Judrez. Its service continues on into Mexico via the O.P.A.'s
Torreon y Aguascalientes and Aguas. y Mexico, also on the
National Railways. Other lines include the heavy O.P.A.
Nuevo Laredo y San Luis Potosi (MP-NRM), likewise a
heavy Mexico City connection to Laredo, Texas: and the
O.P.A. Nogales y Navojoa (SP). Postmarkers are issued
separately to each clerk regardless of the different lines he
may run on, and hence show no titles; arbitrary numbers are
used. Some domestic Mexican mails are forwarded in part
over speedy connecting United States R.P.O.s for fastest dis-
patch to Mexican destinations. Mail receipts are given for
each bag of mail (nimibered and billed to correspond).

Sealed sacks of international mails are regularly exchanged
by United States and Mexican R.P.O.s. and American clerks
distribute Mexican mails to lines by standpoint scheme, the
border-area O.P.A.s (like Western Canada lines) being listed
in United States schedules. Mexican R.P.O.s often deliver
mails direct to persons stationed at small railroad section
posts or way stations which have no post office; if no postal
representative is on hand, letters can be handed to addressees.
Mexican postal cars, which much like ours, have no tables
fitted to the newspaper racks. Hence reports have arisen that
"mail to be distributed is poured on the floor"; but Avhile this
was done on small lines years ago, the standard practice is to
work papers out of an opened sack or to improvise a table
from sacks piled up or spread on ilie rack. Sack mail is sealed


before dispatch. Many cars have no fans or electric lights, but
these are being installed.

The two to tour clerks assigned to each train usually bring
a small portable stove for heating coffee and food en route,
but modern food-heating devices are planned. Mexican
clerks are notably courteous, polite, and loyal to their govern-
ment—though they have the right to strike against it. They
are naturally paid much lower salaries than United States
clerks ($3.50 daily in 1948), but here again the low cost of
living helps to equalize things. Layoffs are not quite so long
as ours. Clerks often alternate in clerk-in-charge assignments,
in day and night runs, and so on. They are issued detailed
state schemes (with much postal-guide data included), as well
as one of Mexico itself, and are expected to memorize hun-
dreds of routings of the tiny no-office localities. No practice
cards are used except occasional homemade ones. Clerks be-
long to a general communications union (the S.N.T.S.C.
O.P.!) instead of to a postal or railway mail group, and joint
meetings and banquets have been held by this union and the
EI Paso Branch, N.P.T.A., which have been attended by
clerks and high officials as well— a laudable boon to interna-
tional friendship. The future of Mexico's system is bright.


(Including Burma and Pakistan)

Like the Canadian and Philippine systems (and like ours
up to 1949) the Railway Post Office system of India is
designated as "the Railway Mail Service," and the same
types of divisions, each headed by a superintendent, are used.
Furthermore, "catchers" for non-stop exchanges resemble the
United States type; layoffs are much like ours (clerks often
work four days, then are off three); and, finally, the R.M.S. is
"entrusted with almost the whole sorting (i.e., transit distri-
bution) of the Post Office," exactly as in this country.

W^orking conditions, efficiency of operation, and salaries
have all improved remarkably in recent years. Sorters on the
more than 450 lines now receive about 45 to 120 rupees a


month (about $36, a good salary in India). Cars are small,
often only fifteen feet in total length, and, like English
T.P.O.s, contain no pouch or sack racks. But they are fitted
with electric lights, and special resthouses have been provided
by the government at "changing stations" and termini for the
sorters, as they are called. An attendant and necessary uten-
sils are provided there for cooking meals; hence most lines
offer only a low travel allowance or none at all.

Runs often comprise a full week of varied dtuies, includ-
ing certain hours at a Mail Office (terminal R.P.O.) or Record
Office, and a deadhead journey or two to complete the cycle.
Mail Offices (with a postmark such as "POONA R.M.S.") also
employ many regular terminal clerks, who get only one day
off in ten; however, they usually work only six to seven and
three-quarter hours a day, depending on whether it is night
or day work. On the trains "FM" (foreign mail) sorters work
up to twenty-seven hours without rest, and special R.P.O.
trains for such mails are normally operated out of Bombay.

R.P.O.s are called R.M.S. Sections^ and a typical example
is the Darjeeling Mail, which is officially "Section E-ll" (1 1th
run in "E" Division) on the Ben. &: A. and D. H. Rys. Cars
on this line are painted "DARJEELING MAIL" in large
letters with a royal crest underneath, and have a "late fee" mail
slot; wino- cases, with boxes twice as big as ours, are found
inside. (This line operates from Parbatipur to Darjeeling,
up in the Mount Everest foothills.) A typical trunk line, on
the G.I. P. Railway from Bombay to Delhi, consists of Sections
B-19, F-1, and A-15. Trains are numbered, but "in" and
"out" designations are usually used.

The Indian R.M.S. dates from 1863, when the first sorting
section was established on the G.I. P. Railway from Allahabad
to Cawnpore. After heated arguments over railroad mail pay,
the Post Office was able to expand the services over the coun-
try. Old postmarks reveal that both the terms "R.P.O." and
"T.P.O." were used at first, but later dropped in favor of
R.M.S.; "Mail Guards" and "Mail Agents," each with their
own R.M.S. cancelers, appeared. Today R.P.O. trains use
postmarkers showing simply the number of the section, as


"B-2," and of the crew or set on duty, such as "SET 1 ." Sorters
must turn in detailed trip reports with every irregularity
recorded. There is only one "Schedule of R.P.O. Trains" for
all of India, and this is published as a fifty-page appendix to
the Postal Guide or List of Indian Post Offices; called the List
of R.M.S. Sections, this appendix includes all necessary time-
table data (including junction connections) for every section
operated. Compiled in tabulated list form, with section titles
all in one left-hand column, it appears thoroughly complicated
to our eyes— in fact, almost as remarkably complex as our
P.T.S. brochures appear to Indian R.M.S. men! India's
schemes or sortiji^ lists seem to be even more hopelessly con-
fused; issued separately from each large postal center, thev
consist of non-alphabetical regional standpoint schemes with
the post offices listed in arbitrary order.

India had one of the world's first planned training pro-
grams for new R.M.S. men. Some interesting excerpts are
given here from a significant report by Nilkanth D. Purandare,
retired R.M.S. inspector at Poona who has conducted many
such courses between 1928 and 1943. Mr. Purandare (whose
father founded the Foreign Mail Sections') thus describes the
wartime revival of the classes in September 1943:

Seventeen such classes were opened at the Head-
quarters stations of the R.M.S. Divisions . . . Taking into
consideration the costly living in Bombay . . . the Gov-
ernment decided to pay regular pay and other allow-
ances to the twenty trainees to be deputed to the R.M.S.
Training Center, Bombay G.P.O. . . . The Sorting Office
of the Bombay R.M.S. is the biggest in the whole of
India ... As the number of post offices to be learned by
heart by a trainee in the Bombay R.M.S. is much larger,
I got the period extended to three months . . . For prac-
tical work they used to be deputed for actual sorting to
the R.M.S. Mail Office.

The number of post offices to be learned by heart . . .
was about four thousand durine the course of about
twelve weeks. I had, therefore, fixed a quota of three
hundred to three hundred and fifty per week, or about
sixty per day. I had about four or five copies of the List


of Indian P.O.s, and introduced the system of dictating
the names of the P.O.'s in the class. . . . Notebooks were
introduced . . , This copying work in two places had a
good result, as the trainees had a good practice in
spelling . . .

We had map reading, and explaining of train connec-
tions of the R.M.S. sorting sections in India, for which
bags are closed by the Bombay R.M.S.; . . . the beats of
R.M.S. sections and the situation of postoffices on the
several railway lines etc. ... I introduced the system
of a written test ... A monthly report on the progress
of each trainee was sent to the Division Superintendent
. . . about one hundred and sixty boys received train-
ing ... It was a pleasure to teach others what you know,
and be of use to the community at large. It was a duty
after my own heart.

R. P.O.s in Pakistan and Burma closely resemble those in
India proper. Pakistan has adopted some new postmarkers for
use on air mail and registers sorted on the lines, the cancel
indicating one or both functions. Burma's Rangoon-Manda-
lay Mail and Moulmein Night Mail are well known; newer
postmarks, like that of the Minhla-Thayetmo R.P.O., show the
route title.


Costa Rica.—K.P.O.s. called Ambulantes or Ferrocnrril,
from San Jose to Ramal, to Limon, et cetera; two or three
routes, one reported as early as 1907.

C?/6<2.— About seventy routes, called Ambulates (or S.P.C),
except for immediately following the Spanish-American W^ar.
Then our R.M.S. took over and renamed them accordingly—
thus the "Cardenas y Santa Clara Ambulate" became the
"Cardenas R: Santa Clara R.P.O." from 1899 to 1902. A main
line is the Habana y Camaguey Ambulate (URH-CubRR).
Two boat R. P.O.s (called Topor) and three H. P.O.s {Camioyi)
operate, including the Camion Habana y Managua.

Guatemala.— Ti\e current routes operate, with twelve nms
f hereon (numbered in order), from Guatemala City to San


Jose and other points. Clerks postmark and sort loose letters
handed in, but otherwise are said to handle closed pouches
only; lines are designated Correos Nalionales—Ambulante,
says specialist George K. Clough.

Jamaica.— Two routes, evidently operated as one, and called
simply the "T. P.O.— Jamaica"; the government's narrow-
gauge railway, starting at Kingston, diverges into two long
branches to Montego Bay and to Port Antonio. Established
in 1901. (For Puerto Rico, Panama, see "U. S. Territories.")


Austria.— Ahout. seven hundred R.P.O. runs, numbered in
order, on some forty "first-class" and seventy "second-class"
routes. Designated as Fahrendes Postamt, the R.P.O.s are
typified by the Wien-Innsbruck (14) and Innsbruck-Lindau
(61,62) east-west trunk line. Established about 1852, the sys-
tem uses postal cars, each known as a postambulance. Austria
has, or did have, our only known cable-incline R.P.O. —the
St. Anton-am-Arlberg, operated with special cancel for a
winter mountain-sports event.

Belgium .—Ahoni fifty short runs, wdth such titles as Nord I
and Nord II (i.e., North route, No. 1 and 2), Brussells-Anvers;
Midi IV (Namur-Brussells), et cetera. First run was about
1849 (Liege-\'erviers); supervised by Office of Travelling
Posts. One seapost to England, the Oostende-Dover.

Bulgaria.— Ahoul one hundred and fifteen runs, such as the
Amb. Gyveshevo-Sofia, Varna-Sofia, et cetera.

Cyprus.— This island's various "R.P.O." postmarks actually
originate at small "railway (i.e., trackside) post offices"; no
postal cars are operated at all!

Czechoslovakia.— Ahonl three hundred routes, wdth no less
than 996 runs, all numbered, with up to four clerks per thirty-
foot car. Large boxes for newspapers and parcels, Avell padded,
are typical of the sorting cases. "Praha-Plzen" and "Praha-
Cheb" are two heavy routes. Depots have terminal R.P.O.s.


Denmark.— About three hundred modern R.P.O.s, called
Dansk Bureauer, manned by lour hundred and fifty clerks;
the first one was operated 1852. A great trunk R.P.O.,
Bureauer 2085 between Copenhagen and Frederikshavn (600
kilometers), consists of an all-postal train of two or three
postal cars with fifteen clerks; it connects many other routes,
all designated by train number only. R.P.O. cars are divided
by partition into "ofiice" (letter and newspaper) and "parcel"
sections (all other traffic). Clerks, carefully trained, are select-
ed from the post ofiices and work a straight six-day week.

Eire {Ireland}.-Y)uh\in & Cork T.P.O. and Dublin R: Gal-
way T.P.O., Day and Night,' were only runs operating in Eire
at last report, due to the coal shortage. Normally, the
Portadown & Derry and Belfast R: Northern Counties (to
Coleraine) T.P.O.s operate in British North Ireland, and
others in Eire; but the two lines are isolated from Eire's and
from each other (the Dublin R; Belfast formerly connected
to both). Dating from 1855, Irish services are on the English
pattern; however, labeled cases and decorative interior trim
are found. (Carrier: Amalgamated Transport of Eire.)

Finland.— Ahoui thirty-three R.P.O.s (184 runs), including
Helsinki-Turku, Vaasa-Seinajoki.

France.SomQ IGO Bureaux Ambulants (regular R.P.O.s),
Courriers-Convoyeurs (local branch lines), and Wagons-
Postes (Fast Mails) on the Rapides or express trains traverse
the country. Main lines, showing railways traversed, include
the Ambulants Paris a Marseille (Sud-Est) and Marseille a
Lyon Rapide (Mediterranee). The best French postal cars
contain sorting cases Avith holes of all sizes, \vide case tables
with drawers and cupboards, and even nicely cushioned chairs
(at least before the war). But other clerks ^vork only in danger-
ous old Avooden cars or in tiny compartments in second-class
passenger or baggage \ans. A fe^v runs operated even through-
out World War II. Many brigades (crews) used characteristic
wavy-circle postmarkers, reports Dr. Carroll Chase (leading

^Actual place names and postmarks are in Gaelic.


United States authority). Operated since 1844, the centenary
of the ajnbulants was marked in 1944 by a special stamp, only
one of its kind on record. There are day (1 °) and night (2°)
runs. (Army R.P.O.s: See Chapter 11.) The C. -Convoy eur
Mulhouse-Ensisheim, 15 km., is a real trolley R.P.O. on the
Mulhouse Tramways,

Germany .—In 1937 Germany had over five thousand BaJin-
posts (R.P.O. runs) over probably about five hundred routes,
and most have been restored to service. Trunk lines include
the Berlin-Hannover and Koln-Hannover Bahnposts (all
German State Raihvays). Like our P.T.S., the Bahnposts are
a separate service, divided into numbered districts, and clerks
are assigned to districts only (detailed to any or all rims as
directed). After special training (case examinations are not
used), clerks are assigned to duties on an eight-hour day basis,
under supervision of the Military Governments' commimica-
tion branch. Since 1890, Bahnpost clerks have had travel al-
lowances and higher pay than post-office clerks; night differ-
ential, annual and sick leave are granted. The Reichpost suc-
ceeded in operating some routes even throughout World War
II, though others were annihilated by bombs. W'hen the mili-
tary governments took over in 1945 some prew^ar cars still had
skylights and prettily decorated interiors, in conformance
with Reichsfiihrer Mitler's "beauty of Tvork" edicts; the new-
est cars are all steel, aboiu 21.6 meters long, with a special
bag-opening compartment in the center— encircled by extra-
large pigeonholes to accommodate contents (in lieu of pouch
rack). Ingenious dust-eliminating devices and revolving cases
are found. The Bahnposts have operated since 1841, the vari-
ous states having differing types at first (e.g., "K.WURTT.
BAHNPOST" in Wurttemberg). While the Strassenhahn-
briefkasten (streetcar ^viih letter box) in Hamburg is not a
trolley R.P.O. as reported, there may be electric-car Bahnposts
at Frankfurt-am-Main. There is an international line into
Belgium (Herbesthal-Cologne) which pouches on offices in
three countries. Postmarks show "BAHNPOST," and train
number as "ZUG."


Greece.— Severn] routes, as Larissa-Piraeus, and another in-
to Alliens, have been restored since the war.

Hungary— In 1939 there were over fourteen hundred
R.P.O. runs on 297 routes, but by 1947 only 111 postal cars
had been salvaged following war damage. The first run, to
Vienna, was established 1868; later ones were Budapest-Oder-
berg, Pest-Kassa, et cetera.

Itnly.-Ahout 250 R.P.O.s, including Torino-Roma (Turin
& Rome), and (earlier) the Amb. Firenze-Massa, Bologna-
Milan, et cetera. Fifty-seven runs operated by 1889. The
routes traverse the Italian State Railways. (See Sardinia.)

Luxemburg.— Both ambulanls and Bahnposts recorded;
Luxemburg-Trier, Luxembourg-Echternach, 3 other lines.

Netherlands.— Tw'^nty -{our rail and boat R.P.O.s now op-
erated, such as Amsterdam-Einhoven and Rotterdam-Utrecht.

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