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Experimental Trains


In the depths of the Depression, railroading lifted travelers' spirits with a bevy of pocket streamliners-fast, flashy, undersized, articulated trainsets like Burlington's Zephyr and Union Pacific's Streamliner.

Twenty years later, in the mid-1950s, another flurry of futuristic, high-speed, undersized, articulated trains arrived on the scene. These came and went without significant impact, victims of unreliability and cramped accommodations.

"Train-X" had been unveiled as far back as the Chicago Railroad Fair in 1948, where-at the behest of gadfly Robert Young-a full-sized model of a coach had been displayed by Chesapeake & Ohio. By 1956, when the first Train-X (built by Pullman-Standard, with a locomotive by Baldwin) was delivered, Young was at New York Central, so the train went there too. New Haven's Patrick McGinnis, a Young crony, also bought a set.

In addition, McGinnis ordered a "Talgo," one of three trainsets for U. S. railroads built by American Car & Foundry in cooperation with Patentes Talgo S.A. of Spain. ACF built a Talgo demonstator in 1949, plus trainsets that went to Spain to launch a fleet very much alive today.

The third of the 1950s experimentals was the General Motors "Aerotrain," two train-sets of modified GM bus bodies powered by automotive-looking EMD diesel locomotives. After a year or so of touring and testing-with long-term stints on the Pennsylvania, New York Central, and Union Pacific-the Aerotrains were sold to the Rock Island, where they ran for some eight years in suburban service before being given to museums.

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