United Aircraft Turbotrain

Discussion in 'The Real Thing- North America' started by uacturbo, Sep 26, 2001.

  1. uacturbo

    uacturbo New Member

    I've been a United Aircraft Turbotrain fanatic for the past 33 years. I collect all kinds of Turbo stuff but I've had trouble finding any engineers who worked on the Turbo. Just wondering if any of the members on this site (I guess they'd be retired CN employees now) had the chance to work on the train and have any memories they'd like to share. Especially about the unique subway-style control in the cab.
  2. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    UAC thingy.

    United Aircraft Turbotrain. Sounds wonderful. Ummm....... what is one????:eek:
  3. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Turbo trains

    I think it was back in the 60s or early 70s that CN ran the turbo train between Toronto and Montreal. I used to see it at Union Station in Toronto while waiting for the GO train. It provided high speed travel but I remember the MOW crews had to spike the switches to avoid derailments. I also saw the crew boarding but never took the opportunity to talk to them. That so often happens where we take things for granted until they aren't there anymore.
    I will be interested in any information that CN folks put up here.
  4. uacturbo

    uacturbo New Member

    Woodie....Here's a link on the Turbo.


    I used to watch it day and night and got to ride it about a dozen times between Toronto-Kingston-Montreal. VIA Rail ran them until Oct. 31, 1982 and they were scrapped a year or two later. Amtrak also ran them, primarily between Boston-New York, but retired them a few years before VIA. It was unique in that each dome car - also known as the Power Dome Car - had a glass partition. You could actually sit behind the enginemen and watch them, the speedometer and the road ahead. :D
  5. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member


    Why were they scrapped after little more than 10 - 12 years? Lack of patronage? Breakdowns? Replaced with better stock? Boy, if they chucked trains away here, after 10 years, there would be an outcry!
  6. uacturbo

    uacturbo New Member

    As you can guess by the name of the train, it was basically aircraft technology applied to the rails and was considered somewhat radical at the time, though it employed several technologies previously built into other trains, like the single radial axle between cars, turbines, etc. In Canada, it was in and out of service for modifications repeatedly over the first five years, but after that it ran quite reliably, save for the odd fire (the last one blamed on high sulphur content in the fuel that corroded a fuel line and caused a blaze in the engine compartment underneath the power dome car). Canadian National started out with five seven-car Turbos, its successor VIA Rail, a Crown corporation ended up with three nine-car sets and after the one burned, finished off with two nine-car sets that were taken out of service in October 1982. They had run six million (I believe) miles at that point, but maintenance had become more costly. When VIA took delivery of its LRC trainsets, the Turbos were retired. The Turbo still holds the Canadian rail speed record of 140.6 mph (or 139.4 according to some) and the USA speed record of 170.1 mph. I consider it one of the great shames of Canadian railroading that a Turbo set was not preserved. :)
  7. Flow

    Flow New Member

    Interesting tidbit

    On a recent trip to Ghana, West Africa, I happened upon an old semi-crash landed helicopter and being a Turbo train fan myself, I noticed a strong resemblence in the nose of the chopper and as it turned out, when I got in the cab, one of the footpedals read "Sikorsky" as in the manufacturers of the Turbo train!!!
  8. Flow

    Flow New Member


    I bought some pictures of a wrecked Turbo train off somebody at a railshow.
  9. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I've always suspected that the problem with the Turbos was that the were unit trains. There were no big doors or partitions for the length of the train. But the were no couplings either. If anything went wrong, the whole set had to be taken out of service.
    When something caught fire, there were no natural fire breaks either. The last one that went burned from end to end like an aeroplane.
    They were nice to ride on when they worked.

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