A musical about toy trains would naturally have enough railroad information to flesh out the show and add a few plot points. How much information hidden within the show may in fact surprise some fans. (Note: since Starlight Express is supposed to take place in America, much of this is related to the U.S. However, the show features several things that is primarily British, such as referring to freight cars as "trucks", and thus information from either country is relavent.) This page also contains trivia that is related to Starlight rolling stock in general without necessarily relating to what appears in the show.
During "Crazy" the coaches form a train twice. In some productions the order for the first time is Pearl, Ashley, Dinah, and Buffy; the second time the girls are in the same order, but reversed. The second formation is actually how passenger cars were ordered on some trains (depending upon the railroad). First-class cars were at the back of the train while lower class was closer to the engine: Pearl and Ashley are behind Dinah while Buffy is in the front. Also, Pearl, as an observation car, is at the back of the train. Dining cars were used to separate the classes on the trains. http://espee.railfan.net/pass-makeup.html
C.B. the Red CabooseEdit
Conductors on freight trains stayed in the caboose and were considered the "brains" of the trains. As a result cabooses were known as "brain boxes". Engineers naturally were in the locomotive, which was known as a "hog", and so the engineers were called "hoggers" or "hogheads", implying that they were not as intelligent. C.B. is portrayed as being the most intelligent in the show, able to doop over three different engines.
Cabooses can whistle. This was important for the conductor to signal to the engineer if a truck was uncoupled or some other problem. However, there were some difficulties as sometimes whistles were misunderstood (which could be dangerous). The caboose lost its whistle with the advent of two-way radios. A caboose whistle can be heard here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmILu-WihN8Red Caboose's hat has holes on the side. These are supposed to be the windows on his cupola (where the conductor would sit and watch the freight cars). Cabooses with cupolas came in two styles: Eastern cabooses had their cupolas in the center, whereas Western cabooses had them on one side. Of course, having the cupola in the center of Caboose's costume is the obvious choice, but the costumes designers took it a step further. Just about every railroad represented on Caboose's costume were actual Eastern companies who used center-cupola cabooses (with the exceptions of the Great Northern Railway, the Canadian Pacific Railway, and the Northern Pacific Railway, which is that logo featured on his cap).
The logos featured on Caboose's costume are rail organizations no longer operating (known as "fallen flags" in the railroad community). Companies include Pennsylvania Railroad, Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, Chessie System, Northern Pacific Railway, Great Northern Railway, Central Railroad of New Jersey, Penn Central Transportation Company, and Canadian Pacific Railway, which is the only one still in use.
Caboose's Bochum costume also features the logo of American Flyer Lines - the mark of the American Flyer line of toy trains manufactured by the A.C. Gilbert Company.
The original C.B. costume was styled to resemble a trucker. In the US the railroad freight industry has been largely undermined by highway services. Refrigerator cars are mostly no longer seen because of the refrigerator compartments on semi-trucks. It is fitting then that the most formidable villain in StEx dresses like a trucker.
Greaseball the Diesel EngineEdit
"Diesel" is slang for muscular.
Pearl the Observation CarEdit
Observation cars were generally first-class cars on passenger trains. They were usually the last car in a consist, and they were often the preferred car for travelling politicians and other notable people. President Abraham Lincoln was known to travel the United States in an observation car. As Pearl is the show's counterpart for the prince from Cinderella, she was likely made an observation car in relation to her role.
Volta, Electra's Freezer TruckEdit
Freezers (technically called "refrigerator cars" and nicknamed "reefers") are diesel-powered. Fans may be curious as to why Volta is thus Electra's original race partner that Pearl replaced, but he could quite reasonably make an exception for a freezer. Volta is more than likely an "express reefer". Refrigerator cars carried perishable goods, and express reefers were designed to ride the high speeds of a passenger train. Volta would thus be able to handle the speed needed in a race.Volta's (non-London) costume says "SHIP AND TRAVEL SANTA FE" on her left shoulder box and right leg. This is part of the slogan used by the Atchision, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (ATSF). The full slogan is "Ship and travel Santa Fe all the way". http://www.sdrm.org/roster/freight/ref21335/r21335-1.jpg It is possible they took it off the last part due to limited space. The Santa Fe Railway (now merged with the Burlington Norther to form the BNSF) was one of the most successful railroads in the United States, gaining a song that was sung by Judy Garland in the film The Harvey Girls and covered by well-known artists such as Bing Crosby and John Denver. The Santa Fe was one of the chief competitors with the Union Pacific, which may have accounted for the costume designer's decision to have Greaseball's chief rival, Electra, have a Santa Fe freezer (as well as a Santa Fe repair truck). However, unfortunate contradictions arise with this decision. Volta's outfit is black to match with Electra's color scheme, but ATSF refrigerator cars were often yellow or another bright color. Furthermore, the ATSF was located in the Western States whereas electric engines were almost exclusively used by eastern railroads. However, Volta is a toy rail car, and train model designs are not always accurate.
Wrench, Electra's Repair TruckEdit
In the Bochum and Broadway versions, Wrench is shown to be a crane car. Like refrigerator cars, cranes are diesel-powered. Understandably, Electra would still include her in his train.
Crane cars are sometimes known as "big hooks" by railroaders.