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Classic Streamliners - TRAIN​CYCLOPEDIA

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Streamliner Railcars
The streamliners are a class of streamlined railway cars built in the 1940s through the 1950s for long distance passenger rail services in North America.

The first streamliner in the United States was the M-10000 in service with the Union Pacific Railroad in February 1934. The second was the Pioneer Zephyr in service with the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. Both were built as Diesel Multiple-Units; the M-10000 was made of aluminum and the Pioneer Zephyr of stainless steel.

In 1944 American Car and Foundry (ACF) was visited by the Spanish inventor Goicoechea looking for a manufacturer for his invention, the lightweight articulated streamlined Talgo. ACF and Goicoechea signed the contract on December 8, 1945 and ACF began fabricating three trainsets, two for Spain and one for demonstration and experimental purposes in the USA. ACF built the Talgo using a light-metal body like Budd's Pioneer Zephyr including the non-European observation cars at the rear. It wasn't until 1955 that ACF could sell the Talgo concept but ACF got familiar with the techniques needed. After the Second World War the railroad companies in the United States wanted to modernize their fleets of passenger cars. They chose the flexibility of individual cars instead of multiple-units or Talgo. However the design of the streamlined cars was derived from the Pioneer Zephyr, although the Pullman cars got a smooth body surface and the others the typical ribbed body surface. The streamliner cars were built by three manufacturers of railway stock, the Budd Company, the Pullman Company, and American Car and Foundry in ten different types:

Railway Post Office (RPO)
Baggage Car
Vista Dome
Observation Car
Dome Observation Car
Dome Car with Dormitory for Staff

In operation
The first post-war streamliner was the Pere Marquette in 1946, an all-reserved seat coach operating between Detroit and Grand Rapids, Michigan. One of the most notable trains equipped with Streamlined cars was the California Zephyr jointly operated by Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad (CB&Q), Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGW) and Western Pacific Railroad (WP). Other US railroads followed and by 1955 the Canadian National Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway also operated trains, e.g. The Canadian, with Streamlined cars.

Notable Streamliners

Operator: Atlantic Coast Line
Service: Champion
Year: 1939

Operator: Baltimore and Ohio 
Service: Columbian
Year: 1949

Operator: Burlington Route 
Service: California Zephyr
Year: 1949

Operator: Great Northern 
Service: Empire Builder
Year: 1943

Operator: L & N
Service: Gulf Wind
Year: 1949

Operator: Missouri Pacific 
Service: Eagle
Year: 1940

Operator: New York Central
Service: 20th Century Limited
Year: 1938

Operator: Northern Pacific
Service: North Coast Limited
Year: 1946

Operator: Pennsylvania Railroad
Service: Broadway Limited
Year:  1938

Operator: Denver & Rio Grande Western
Service: California Zephyr
Year: 1949

Operator: Santa Fe
Service: Super Chief
Year: 1937

Operator: Seaboard Air Line
Service: Silver Meteor
Year: 1939

Operator: Southern Pacific
Service: Coast Daylight
Year: 1937

Operator: Western Pacific
Service: California Zephyr
Year: 1949

Operator: Canadian National
Service: Super Continental
Year: 1955

Operator: Canadian Pacific
Service: The Canadian
Year: 1955

Operator: Pere Marquette
Service: Pere Marquette
Year: 1946

Operator: Chesapeake & Ohio
Service: Pere Marquette
Year: 1947

In 1971 Amtrak received 1,200 streamliner cars as heritage-fleet from the US railroads. After refurbishment the cars were used until the 1990s, with some cars, chiefly baggage and dining cars, still used today. The Canadian Via Rail still operates trains with streamlined cars.

See also:

Heritage Fleet

Named Passenger Trains

Rail Passenger Cars

Historic Rail - Shop Now!

The New York Central's streamlined 20th Century Limited leaving Chicago's LaSalle Street station on a trial run June 9, 1938. The train was put into service on June 15, 1938. Associated Press photo .

The New York Central's streamlined 20th Century Limited leaving Chicago's LaSalle Street station on a trial run June 9, 1938. The train was put into service on June 15, 1938. Associated Press photo .