Railway express agency (was LCL)


Since LCL is being discussed in another thread, I thought I'd ask a related question - can anyone summarize REA ops, or suggest some books or resources?

I have heard it described as "UPS by rail", but struggle to understand that. Between large cities, sure, or along the lines between them. Chicago to Mundelein or Deerfield IL, for example. And often as head end traffic on passenger trains.

But how did REA go about shipping, a few parcels to small towns on branch lines? They wouldn't have an REA car full, clearly. I imagine the REA parcels got loaded in with other LCL on the railroads own cars (or trucks), as being discussed in that thread? Would it have been handled by the local passenger train, or freight, or was it simply whatever came by next?

Or would it have likely been delivered by REA trucks? 

- Puzzled in Seattle

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