Aerotrain (GM)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

An Aerotrain operating in suburban service in April 1965 as Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad No. 2 at Chicago's Englewood station.

The Aerotrain was a streamlined trainset that the General Motors (GM) Electro-Motive Division (EMD) introduced in 1955.[1][2][3] GM originally designated the light-weight consist as Train-Y (Pullman-Standard's Train-X project was already underway) before the company adopted the Aerotrain marketing name.[3]

Design and components[edit]

GM's Styling Section first brought the Aerotrain's trainset to life, as it did for all of GM's body designs of that mid-century era. Chuck Jordan was in charge of designing the Aerotrain as chief designer of special projects.[3] GM constructed two Aerotrains, each of which used one of the last two (serial numbers 21463 and 21464) of three experimental diesel–electric EMD LWT12 power cars[4] that the company built.[5]

GM based the EMD LWT12's power components on those in the EMD SW1200 switcher. Like the SW1200, the LWT12 used the company's model EMD 567C 12-cylinder prime mover that could produce 1,200 horsepower.[6] The power car featured a cab that mimicked an aircraft's cockpit. The locomotive's overall design resembled that of recent automobiles available for sale at the time.[3]

The company completed the Aerotrains by coupling each of the two locomotives to sets of ten modified GM Truck & Coach Division (GMC) 40-seat intercity highway bus bodies. Designed to resemble the new PD-4501 Scenicruiser buses that GMC was building for Greyhound, the Aerotrain's passenger cars had windows with slanted sides.[3][7] The finned back end of the train resembled the rear of a 1955 Chevrolet or Pontiac station wagon.[8] The cars each rode on two axles with an air suspension system that was intended to give a smooth ride, but had the opposite effect.[3][9]

GM returned to a concept first used at the start of the streamliner era, semi-permanently coupled trainsets. The cars were 40 feet long, half the length of standard designs, thereby reducing the weight by 50%. To further reduce weight, GM built the locomotive and cars of each train from aluminum.[3]

History[edit]

On August 22, 1955, Mrs. N.C. Dezendorf, the wife of GM vice-president and EMD general manager N.C. Dezendorf, christened the first Aerotrain trainset (GM-T1) during a press preview of the train that EMD held at its plant in McCook, Illinois (mailing address: La Grange, Illinois) near Chicago.[3][10] On January 5, 1956, one Aerotrain made a test run from Washington to Newark on the Pennsylvania Railroad while the other traveled in four hours from Chicago to Detroit on the New York Central Railroad.[8]

In late February 1956, the Pennsylvania Railroad rented the first trainset from GM and began operating it between New York City and Pittsburgh as the Pennsy (No. 1000).[3][8] In June, the Pennsylvania reduced its Aerotrain's route, whereupon the trainset traveled only between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.[8]

The New York Central Railroad's Aerotrain at the Buffalo Central Terminal in 1956.

After the second trainset's initial test run on January 5, General Motors demonstrated it on several railroads, including the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, where in April the train operated in California between Los Angeles and San Diego as a San Diegan.[3] In late April, the New York Central began to operate that trainset in revenue service as the Great Lakes Aerotrain between Chicago and Detroit during a trial period.[3][8][12] From July to October, the New York Central ran the train between Chicago and Cleveland while continuing the trial period, after which it returned the trainset to GM.[3][8][13]

In December 1956, the Union Pacific Railroad began to operate the second trainset between Los Angeles and Las Vegas as the City of Las Vegas (No. 1001).[8][14][15] The Pennsy continued to run between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh until June 1957, after which time the first trainset joined the second in the Union Pacific's City of Las Vegas service.[8][16] Unsatisfied with both, the Union Pacific stopped operating the trainsets in September and October 1957.[8][14]

In October, 1958, General Motors sold both trainsets at a discount to the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad (the Rock Island line), which designated their locomotives as numbers 2 and 3 while using both trainsets in commuter service between Chicago and Joliet.[8][17] Both trainsets ended service in 1966, ten years after they first ran. Although the Rock Island scrapped or re-used most of the trainsets' equipment, both locomotives and two pairs of coaches remain on display in museums.[8]

An EMD LWT12 locomotive pulling the Rock Island line's Jet Rocket.

Meanwhile, the first EMD LWT12 locomotive (serial number 20826), began to travel on the Rock Island line between Chicago and Peoria in February 1956 when pulling the line's Jet Rocket train, which bore a strong resemblance to an Aerotrain.[5][18][19] The Rock Island later designated the power car as locomotive number 1.[20]

The American Car and Foundry Company constructed the Jet Rocket's coaches, most of which were similar, but not identical, to those of the Talgo II.[18] The last car resembled that of the future Talgo III.[18]

Unlike the slanted sides of the windows on the Aerotrain's ten coaches,[3] the windows on the Jet Rocket's twelve coaches had vertical sides.[18][21] In addition, the Jet Rocket's Talgo-like coaches had one axle,[22] whereas the Aerotrain's coaches had two.[9]

After less than two years, the Rock Island shortened the Jet Rocket's route. The train then traveled only between Chicago and Joliet, as did the railroad's two Aerotrains. The railroad scrapped the train several years later.[18]

GM's "lightweight with a heavyweight future" was introduced at a time when passenger train revenues were declining due to competition from airlines and private automobiles. Although they featured a streamlined design, the Aerotrains failed to capture the public's imagination. Their cars, based on GM's bus designs and using an air cushioning system, were rough riding and uncomfortable. The design of the locomotive section made routine maintenance difficult and it was underpowered.[23]

Originally intended to reach speeds of up to 100 mph (161 km/h) and to travel between New York City and Chicago in 10.5 hours,[1] modifications reduced the Aerotrain's maximum speed to 80 mph (129 km/h).[24][25] The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe needed a helper locomotive to enable the 1,200 horsepower LWT-12 power car to climb the Sorrento grade outside of San Diego when pulling the Aerotrain's ten coaches as a San Diegan. A Union Pacific LWT-12 later required the assistance of a 1,750 horsepower EMD GP9 switcher locomotive to transport the cars of the City of Las Vegas up Southern California's Cajon Pass.[8][24] Uncomfortable riding conditions associated with the Aerotrain's higher speeds later prompted the Rock Island line to restrict its two cheaply-purchased Aerotrains to low-speed commuter service in and near Chicago.[24]

Preserved Aerotrains[edit]

The Rock Island line's repainted Aerotrain No. 2 on display in the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin (September 2010).
The Rock Island line's repainted Aerotrain No. 3 on display in the Museum of Transportation in Kirkwood, Missouri (May 2006).

The EMD LWT12 locomotives and two passenger cars of each of the two Aerotrains that GM constructed are now on display.[23] The National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin, exhibits the Rock Island line's repainted Aerotrain locomotive number 2 and two of its coaches (parts of trainset number 2).[3][23][26] The Museum of Transportation in Kirkwood, Missouri (near St. Louis) exhibits the Rock Island's similarly repainted Aerotrain locomotive number 3 and two coaches (parts of trainset number 1).[3][8][23][27] The designs on the repainted locomotives do not resemble those that the power cars bore when last serving the Rock Island line.

Aerotrain legacy[edit]

Disneyland operated a scale version of the Aerotrain known as the Viewliner from 1957 to 1959.[23][28] The Washington Park and Zoo Railway in Portland, Oregon, has operated a scale, diesel-powered replica of the Aerotrain (dubbed the Zooliner) to transport zoo visitors since 1958.[23] Idlewild Park in Reno, Nevada, operates a small train whose locomotive is fashioned after that of the Aerotrain.[23][29]

The Viewliner[edit]

Viewliner Train of Tomorrow in Disneyland (1957).

On June 26, 1957, the narrow-gauge Santa Fe and Disneyland Viewliner (billed by Disneyland as "the fastest miniature train in the world") commenced operation. Two separate trains, designed and built as scale replicas of the futuristic Aerotrain, traveled a figure-eight track through parts of Tomorrowland and Fantasyland parallel to a portion of the Disneyland Railroad (DRR) main line. The Tomorrowland train featured cars that were named for the planets while the cars of the Fantasyland train were named after various Disney characters.[28]

The modern, streamlined trains were placed in service to represent the future of rail travel in contrast to the steam-powered DRR which represented its past. Motive power for each train consisted of an integral head-end unit driven by an Oldsmobile "Rocket" V8 gasoline engine. Oldsmobile also furnished the windscreen, doors and instrument console for each of the two 5,000 lb (2,300 kg) locomotives. The attraction operated until September 15, 1958, when construction began on the Matterhorn and Submarine Voyage; the Disneyland Monorail System took the place of the Viewliner in June of the following year.[28]

The Zooliner[edit]

The Zooliner arriving at Washington Park station in September 2010

The Zooliner, one of three trains on the Washington Park and Zoo Railway operating in the Oregon Zoo in Portland, is a 5/8-scale replica of the Aerotrain. The Zooliner entered service in 1958.[30] On June 14, 2008, the zoo held a "50th Birthday" celebration for the locomotive.[31] The Zooliner remains the primary train for the zoo.[32]

Train-X[edit]

The New York Central Railroad's Ohio Xplorer in June 1956

Train-X was a lightweight set of nine short all-aluminum coaches articulated together that Pullman-Standard built and that two 1,000–horsepower Baldwin RP-210 diesel-hydraulic locomotives (one on each end) transported. The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad (the New Haven Railroad) operated as the Dan'l Webster the consist that the coaches and locomotives formed.[33] The train traveled between New York City's Grand Central Terminal and Boston's South Station from 1957 to 1958.[34]

A nearly identical train having only one locomotive ran between Cleveland and Cincinnati as the New York Central Railroad's Ohio Xplorer from 1956 to 1957.[34][35] Timetables show that the Ohio Xplorer ran in 1956 during a time that the railroad was running the second Aerotrain trainset (the Great Lakes Aerotrain) between Cleveland and Chicago. The two left Cleveland at 6:45 and 6:35 a.m. respectively and returned during the evening.[36]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Press Release: New Passenger Train: Expected To Revolutionize Railroading". Automotive Hollywood: The Battle for Body Beautiful. carofthecentury.com. June 13, 1955. Archived from the original on July 28, 2005. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  2. ^ "Here Comes Tomorrow --- Fast". Advertisement by General Motors Electro-Motive Division. Saturday Evening Post. December 10, 1955. p. 89. Archived from the original on July 17, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "GM's "Aerotrain": History And Operation". American-Rails.com. Archived from the original on May 13, 2020. Retrieved May 13, 2020..
  4. ^ U.S. Patent D177814
  5. ^ a b (1) Bradley, William H. (May 24, 2014). LWT12. DCC Dictionary 1.0. Morrisville, North Carolina: Lulu Press. ISBN 1304905748. Retrieved May 15, 2020 – via Google Books. Only three LWT12 units were built. First one, EMD serial number 20826, entered service with the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad to pull the "Talgo Jet Rocket" train between Chicago and Peoria. Second and third units, EMD serial numbers 21463 and 21464, became integrated into the Aerotrain. Two of the three LWT12 locomotives are now in the care of museums.
    (2) Marre, Louis A. (1982). Rock Island diesel locomotives, 1930-1980. Cincinnati, Ohio: Railfax. p. 20. ISBN 0942192001. LCCN 82003744. OCLC 565027875. Retrieved May 15, 2020 – via Google Books.
    (3) Bachand, Jean-Denis (February 15, 2008). "EMD LWT-12". thedieselshop.us. Archived from the original on May 15, 2020. Retrieved May 15, 2020..
  6. ^ (1) Bradley, William H. (May 24, 2014). LWT12. DCC Dictionary 1.0. Morrisville, North Carolina: Lulu Press. ISBN 1304905748. Retrieved May 15, 2020 – via Google Books.
    (2) Bachand, Jean-Denis (February 15, 2008). "EMD LWT-12". thedieselshop.us. Archived from the original on May 15, 2020. Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  7. ^ (1) "Look magazine: The train that rides on air". Automotive Hollywood: The Battle for Body Beautiful. carofthecentury.com. June 1955. Archived from the original on July 28, 2005. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
    (2) U.S. Patent D179006
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Train Lover (February 28, 2013). "The Aerotrain". Streamliner Memories. Archived from the original on May 13, 2020. Retrieved May 12, 2020.
  9. ^ a b O'Clair, Jim. "The GM Aerotrain: Stylistically successful but a financial boondoggle". Hemmings Feature (from February 2010 issue of Hemmings Motor News). Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  10. ^ "Automotive Hollywood: The Battle for Body Beautiful". carofthecentury.com. Archived from the original on July 28, 2005. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  11. ^ Timetable Treasury. New York: Wayner Publications. 1979. p. 141.
  12. ^ "Cover; Table No. 8: Chicago (Central Station) and Detroit to Niagara Falls and Buffalo and Table No. 16: Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Detroit to (Central Station) Chicago (see Great Lakes Aerotrain)" (PDF). Timetable: New York Central Railroad. New York Central Railroad. April 29, 1956. pp. cover, 19, 29. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 19, 2019. Retrieved April 20, 2021 – via canadasouthern.com.
  13. ^ "Cover; Table No. 7: Chicago (La Salle St. Station), Elkhart, Toledo and Cleveland to Buffalo and Table No. 15: Buffalo, Cleveland, Toledo and Elkhart to (La Salle St. Station (see Great Lakes Aerotrain) Chicago" (PDF). Timetable: New York Central Railroad. New York Central Railroad. July 15, 1956. pp. cover, 18, 28. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 27, 2021. Retrieved April 20, 2021 – via canadasouthern.com.
  14. ^ a b Solomon, Brian (2000). "Chapter 5: Riding the Rails of Union Pacific". Union Pacific Railroad. Osceola, Wisconsin: MBI Publishing Company. p. 87. ISBN 0760307563. LCCN 00042165. OCLC 44406086 – via Google Books. The Aerotrain ran on the UP from December 18, 1956, until September 14, 1957, when it was replaced by conventional service.
  15. ^ (1) Klein, Fred (2016). "Union Pacific City of Las Vegas Aerotrain, December 1956-September 1957". TrainWeb. Archived from the original on February 18, 2020.
    (2) "Union Pacific Railroad Aerotrain operating as the "City of Las Vegas"" (photograph). Retrieved July 19, 2020 – via Pinterest.
    (3) "The Aerotrain "City of Las Vegas" at Union Station, Los Angeles". 1957 – via Pinterest.
  16. ^ "Front of Union Pacific Railroad Aerotrain operating as "City of Las Vegas" Number 116" (photograph). 1957. Retrieved October 28, 2020 – via Pinterest.
  17. ^ (1) Marvel, Bill (2013). The Rock Island Line. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. pp. 122, 126–129. ISBN 978-0-253-01127-5. LCCN 2009036056. OCLC 854521704. Retrieved July 20, 2020 – via Google Books.
    (2) "The Rock Island line's Aerotrain No. 2 leaving Chicago rail yard in 1962" (photograph). Archived from the original on July 20, 2020. Retrieved July 20, 2020 – via Blogspot.com.
    (3) "The Rock Island line's Aerotrain No. 3 leaving Chicago rail yard" (photograph). Retrieved July 19, 2020 – via Pinterest.
  18. ^ a b c d e Train Lover (March 1, 2013). "The Jet Rocket". Streamliner Memories. Archived from the original on May 13, 2020. Retrieved May 12, 2020.
  19. ^ Longmire, Steve (February 1956). "Peoria's Jet Rocket Train" (7 photographs). Archived from the original on June 6, 2020. Retrieved June 6, 2020 – via Flickr.
  20. ^ "EMD LWT12 locomotive No. 1 (serial number 20826) pulling the Jet Rocket on the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad" (photograph). Archived from the original on May 4, 2020. Retrieved May 4, 2020 – via Flickr.
  21. ^ (1) "Rock Island "Jet Rocket" articulated coaches" (photograph). RR Pictures Archive.net. Archived from the original on October 28, 2020. Retrieved October 28, 2020.
    (2) "Pictures of Rock Island Jet Rocket tail car" (photographs). RR Pictures Archives.net. Archived from the original on October 28, 2020. Retrieved October 28, 2020.
  22. ^ Guillén, Mauro F. (2001). The Limits of Convergence. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. p. 104. ISBN 0-691-05705-2. Retrieved May 4, 2020 – via Internet Archive. In addition, the cars would ... have only one axle with two wheels at the rear end, while the front end would be mounted on the next car's axle.
  23. ^ a b c d e f g Knight, Nick (May 4, 2016). "When Streamliners died! Aerotrain failed to capture the imagination of the American public". The Vintage News. Archived from the original on May 8, 2016. Retrieved May 9, 2020..
  24. ^ a b c Sherlock, Joseph M. "The Failure of the Aerotrain" (Blog). The View Through The Windshield. Archived from the original on September 11, 2019. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  25. ^ GUSTAVTIME (December 6, 2018). "High Speed Aerotrain!" (video). Retrieved May 18, 2020 – via YouTube.
  26. ^ (1) "The General Motors Aerotrain". Green Bay, Wisconsin: National Railroad Museum (nationalrailroadmuseum.org). Archived from the original on April 6, 2020. Retrieved May 4, 2020. Note: Page contains a description of the Aerotrain and an image of the front of Aerotrain locomotive number 2.
    (2) "Aerotrain No. 2" (photograph). August 1970. Archived from the original on May 14, 2020 – via Flickr}. Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific RR ... "Aerotrain No. 2" at the National Railroad Museum, Green Bay, 8/70
    Note: Photograph shows a train apparently consisting of Rock Island Aerotrain locomotive number 2, two Aerotrain coaches and additional non-Aerotrain coaches.
  27. ^ (1) "1955: Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific "Aerotrain" #3". Rail. St. Louis, Missouri: The National Museum of Transportation. Archived from the original on October 27, 2019. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
    (2) "KETC - Living St. Louis - Aerotrain" (video). St. Louis, Missouri: KETC. Retrieved May 15, 2020 – via YouTube. From KETC, Living St. Louis. Producer Jim Kirchherr visits the Museum of Transportation where the GM Aerotrain is on display. Video: 9:12 minutes.
    (3) "Science Matters - Episode 126 - Aerotrain" (video). October 1, 2015. Retrieved May 15, 2020 – via YouTube. The Aerotrain on display at the Museum of Transportation did not live up to its billing as "the train of the future" despite its modern styling and engineering innovations. Video: 8:06 minutes.
  28. ^ a b c Broggie, Michael (2006). "Viewliner Train of Tomorrow". Walt Disney's Railroad Story: The Small-Scale Fascination That Led to a Full-Scale Kingdom (2nd ed.). Virginia Beach, Virginia: The Donning Company Publishers. pp. 293–296. ISBN 9781578643097. OCLC 756842761 – via Google Books.
  29. ^ (1) "The Little Engine That Could (in Idlewild Park!)". Ol' Reno Guy. April 15, 2013. Archived from the original on October 21, 2014. Retrieved May 17, 2020 – via WordPress. Aldo opted for another engine the brothers had built, this one a gasoline/propane powered replica of a 1957 General Motors passenger diesel ... .
    (2) City of Reno Parks, Recreation & Community Services (2015). "Ride the Idlewild Park Train". NewToReno.com. Archived from the original on March 13, 2015. Retrieved May 17, 2020. In 2015, the train will run daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. beginning Saturday, March 28 through Sunday, April 12.
  30. ^ (1) "Washington Park and Zoo Railway". Portland, Oregon: Oregon Zoo. Archived from the original on May 15, 2020. Retrieved May 15, 2020.
    (2) "Washington Park & Zoo". TrainWeb.org. Archived from the original on September 19, 2019. Retrieved May 10, 2020.
  31. ^ (1) Cathcart, Faith (June 13, 2008). "Fabulous at 50". The Oregonian. Portland, Oregon. p. F1. Archived from the original on October 5, 2012. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
    (2) "Zooliner 50th Anniversary". Washington Park & Zoo Railway, Oregon Zoo, Portland, Oregon. Bob Harbison Photography (bobharbison.com). October 14, 2008. Archived from the original (photographs) on July 8, 2011. Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  32. ^ "History of the railway". Washington Park and Zoo Railway. Oregon Zoo. Archived from the original on August 1, 2012. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
  33. ^ (1) "Railroads: The Devil & Dan'l Webster". Time. January 21, 1957. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
    (2) wlankenau (March 10, 2008). "Re: Train X". Nostalgia & History. Trainorders.com. Archived from the original on April 22, 2021. Retrieved April 22, 2021.
    (3) Kelsey, Morley J. (March 1981). "Fire on the Dan'l Webster". Kelsey Publishing Company. Archived from the original on August 7, 2008. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
    (4) "A story of George Alpert, the last president of the New Haven Railroad". George Alpert WebSite. Archived from the original on May 20, 2009. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
  34. ^ a b Train Lover (March 4, 2013). "Dan'l Webster and the Xplorer". Streamliner Memories. Archived from the original on January 6, 2020. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
  35. ^ Doughty, Geoffrey H. (July 1997). New York Central and the Trains of the Future. Motorbooks International. ISBN 1-883089-28-X. LCCN 97060352. OCLC 37728618.
  36. ^ "Cover; Table No. 23: Cincinnati to Dayton, Columbus and Cleveland / Cleveland to Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati (see Ohio Xplorer); Table No. 7: Chicago (La Salle St. Station), Elkhart, Toledo and Cleveland to Buffalo and Table No. 15: Buffalo, Cleveland, Toledo and Elkhart to (La Salle St. Station) Chicago (see Great Lakes Aerotrain)" (PDF). Timetable: New York Central Railroad. New York Central Railroad. July 15, 1956. pp. cover, 18, 28, 33. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 27, 2021. Retrieved April 20, 2021 – via canadasouthern.com.

External links[edit]