Super C (freight train)
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The Super C was a high-speed intermodal freight train on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway from 1968 to 1976. Dubbed the "World's Fastest Freight Train," the all-TOFC (trailer-on-flatcar, or "piggyback") and container train ran about 2200 miles between Chicago, Illinois and Los Angeles, California on a 40-hour schedule.
The brainchild of company president John Shedd Reed, the Super C (led by a pair of EMD FP45s) made its first run on January 17, 1968, covering the distance in a record-breaking 37½ hours averaging 58.2 miles-per-hour (93,6 km/h). The second test train did the ride even faster in 34½ hours averaging 63.7 miles-per-hour (108.4 km/h). For an added fee of $1,400 per trailer shippers were guaranteed fast delivery.
Santa Fe tried high-speed freight operations on its Illinois Division in late 1966. By year's end, passenger-geared GE U28CG locomotives took 19 piggyback cars from L.A.'s Hobart Yard to Chicago in 61 hours. On June 8, 1967 a joint run using New York Central's Flexi-Van container cars traveled from New York City to Los Angeles in 54 hours, 21 minutes. The Super C carried high-priority items such as auto parts and electronic components; the United States Post Office soon became a consistent customer. It was allowed 79 mph.
Train length varied from one to 15 or 20 cars. In the end, too few shippers chose to pay for 40-hour delivery, especially considering that a standard TOFC load arrived in 15 hours more. The final blow came in 1976 when the Santa Fe lost its mail contract to a joint venture of the Chicago and North Western Railway and the Union Pacific Railroad that could deliver at lower cost on a 50-hour schedule.
The Super C completed its last trip on May 20, 1976.
- Bryant, Jr., Keith L. (1974). History of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Trans-Anglo Books, Glendale, CA. ISBN 0-8032-6066-0.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
- Duke, Donald (1997). Santa Fe: The Railroad Gateway to the American West, Volume Two. Golden West Books, San Marino, CA. ISBN 0-87095-110-6.
- ATSF FP45 90 — the history of the first locomotive to lead the Super C.
- Elwood, Jack. "Santa Fe's SUPER 'C' : The World's Fastest Freight Train". Archived from the original on 2009-03-01. At the Santa Fe Railway Historical & Modeling Society official website.