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For other uses, see Speeder (disambiguation).
A privately owned Fairmont MT-14 speeder on display at a model railroad show in February 2004
A former Chessie System speeder at the Linden Railroad Museum, Linden, Indiana
Former Queensland Rail (Australia) speeders
An English Wickham trolley, a railway engineering personnel carrier, used on British Railways as the type No.27 Gang and Inspection trolley from 1946 until the 1990s. Seen at the Amberley Museum & Heritage Centre.

A speeder (also known as railway motor car, putt-putt, track-maintenance car, crew car, jigger, trike, quad, trolley or inspection car, and also known as a draisine (although that can also be unpowered) is a maintenance of way motorized vehicle formerly used on railroads around the world by track inspectors and work crews to move quickly to and from work sites.[1] Although it is slow compared to a train or car, it is called speeder because it is faster than a human-powered vehicle.

In the 1990s, speeders were replaced with trucks (usually pickup trucks or sport utility vehicles) using flanged wheels that could be lowered for on-rail (called road-rail vehicles or hi-rails for highway-railroad). Speeders are collected by hobbyists, who refurbish them for excursions organized by the North American Railcar Operators Association[2] in the U.S. and Canada and the Australian Society of Section Car Operators, Inc. in Australia.

In popular culture[edit]

Buster Keaton utilized a Fairmont M19/M19AA that speeder that transversed Canada in the 1965 film, The Railrodder. One also makes an appearance in Wristcutters: A Love Story.

A speeder also features in the Russian film Stalker, where it is used to transport the protagonists into the heart of a forbidden area called The Zone, created in the aftermath of an alien landing.

Speeders are also known as draisines (powered or unpowered) in many parts of the world

Motorcar manufacturers and models[edit]


  • Beavercar —
    • BMC-2
    • BMC-4
    • BMC-B
  • Buda Manufacturing
  • Casey Jones —
    • 531
  • Fairmont Railway Motors Inc
    • S2
    • S2-A
    • S9,
    • S9,
    • S9-A
    • S9-B
    • S9-C
    • S9-D
    • 1100
    • 2100
    • 3100
    • 4100
    • 5100
    • 6100
    • A2-A8 Series
    • M2
    • M9
    • M14
    • MT14
    • M15
    • M17
    • M19
    • MT19
    • S2
    • ST2
    • C7
    • CD7
    • CK7
    • CR7

Fairmont used three letters to designate car types. "S" was a Standard Series" section car; "A" was an "Advanced Series" section car and "M" was the "Master Series" section car. They also used a "category" name for motorcars. "Light Inspection" or 1-2 men, were car models: M9 nicknamed "Safe Easy", MM9, MR9, 59, M17, and MM17. "Inspection" or 1-4 men, were models "Roadmaster", M12, M16, M19 nicknamed the Safety Quick", MT19, and the 150. "Light Section" or 1-6 men, the M1, and M14 also called the "Light Section Car". "Section" or 1-8 men, were models "Dreadnaught", M2, 75, and S2. "Heavy Duty Section" or 1-8 men, the A2. "Gang" or 1-12 men, MT2, ST2, A2, AT2 and A3. "Extra Gang" or "B & B" 1-12 men, MX3, MX30G, MT2, A4, AF4, and A6. Final group, "Large Extra Gang" or "Hump" 1-12 men, models A6, A7, A8.

  • Kalamazoo
    • 23 Series B
    • 23 Series T
    • 27
    • 560N
  • Pacific ACE (AKA Tutt Bryant)[4]
  • Portec
  • Sheffield
    • 40-B


  • Sylvester Manufacturing Company[5]
    • H21B - Medium Gang Car
    • E21B - Light Inspection Car


  • Sylvester Steel Products
    • "21" section car with "120" engine (steel frame)
    • "21E" section car with "KP" engine (aluminum frame)
    • "K54" inspection car with "KP" engine (aluminum frame)
  • Tamper
    • TMC-2
    • TMC-6
    • TMC-8
    • TMC-12
  • Woodings
    • CBI
    • CBL
  • Railway Workshops

Various railways and their workshops also manufactured speeders. Often these were a copy of commercially available cars, such as Wickham and Fairmont.


Approximate dimensions of a common speeder car are given below. Due to the variety of base models and customization these are not fixed numbers. These values are from a Fairmont A4-D.

  • Rail Gauge: Standard gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) (56.5 inches)
  • Weight: 3,500 pounds (1,600 kg)
  • Width: 64 inches (1,600 mm)
  • Height: 60 inches (1,500 mm)
  • Length: 9 feet 2 inches (2,790 mm) (~110 inches)
  • Wheel Diameter: 14 inches (360 mm)
  • Floor Height: 80%-120% of the wheel diameter; 11 inches (280 mm)-17 inches (430 mm)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "FAQ's & Answers". NARCOA. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  2. ^ NARCOA website
  3. ^ For more information on Gemco, see Ken McHughs Section Car Shed
  4. ^ Assembled cars from components supplied by Fairmont Railway Motors, but also developed two of their own designs
  5. ^ Ken McHughs Section Car Shed
  6. ^ Gunner, K., Kennard, M. 2004 The Wickham Works List Dennis Duck Publishing
  7. ^ Brujita ref 1
  8. ^ Brujita ref 2
  9. ^ Brujita ref 3

External links[edit]