Freight car fans have been enjoying our regular weekly features for over two years. Now, thanks to new releases of passenger cars and E8 and E9 diesels, passenger train lovers can enjoy the spotlight too for a while! Over the coming weeks, we’ll be looking at some of the famous trains soon to be released from Lionel. No doubt you’ll want to add some of these famous streamliners to your line as well.
Arriving and departing Washington D.C. in the shadow of the Capitol dome itself, the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Senator and its sister train the Congressional were the fastest way to travel between the capital, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Wilmington and New York City. Through a connection with the New Haven, the Senator continued on to Boston.
The trains’ history dates back to 1885. At that time steam locomotives and wood coaches were the norm for the “Congo”. The trains’ fast schedule and limited stops made it a popular choice for lawmakers and businessmen. The Senator was added in 1929, using all heavy-weight equipment and extending service to Boston.
In the 20th Century, wood cars gave way to steel and swift Atlantics and Pacifics took over as motive power until the great electrification project of the 1920s and 1930s. The most dramatic change in equipment would come in 1952.
With most of its “Blue Ribbon Fleet” already streamlined and powered by diesels, the Pennsy upgraded these stars of the Northeast Corridor as well. For these trains, the PRR broke from the norm. With 64 new stainless steel cars coming from Budd, the railroad kept the bare stainless steel look intact. Only the letter and name boards were painted in the trademark Tuscan Red with gold lettering.
This departure was continued with the locomotives. Six of the railroad’s famous GG-1 electrics traded in their dark Brunswick Green for Tuscan Red with the five gold pinstripes. The red locomotives and silver cars made quite the site as they streaked up and down the electrified raceway. In 1955 as the GG-1s traded their five stripes for one, two painted red with a single stripe and three silver with a red stripe. North of New York, New Haven power handled the train set, including the famous “Jets.”
In 1955, the Senator covered the more than 200 miles between New York and Washington in 3 hours and 45 minutes, with 5 stops en route. The New Haven clocked off the 200+ miles from Boston in 4 hours and 20 minutes with 6 stops. A connecting train from Springfield met the train in North Hartford.
The trains included coaches with generous leg room, as well as parlor and a full dining car. The full diner menu was a bit of a luxury for what was really a daytime express commuter train. The observation cars included the PRR’s standard squared-end configuration with the keystone-shaped drumhead on the rear door.
The trains continued to run into the Penn Central years. In name, the Senator even survived into early Amtrak days but the service was no longer as luxurious. Many of the trains’ cars were later sold to commuter agencies or private owners and some still ride the rails today.
The 18″ aluminum passenger cars will look great behind our new E8s, or a variety of other motive power, including of course GG-1s and even New Haven electrics. Likewise, those diesels will look right at home on a variety of other Pennsy passenger trains.
The new E8s include one powered and one non-powered locomotive. Both engines feature:
- Fan-driven smoke unit with adjustable output
- Directional lighting including LED headlights
- Front ElectroCouplers
- Working front Marker Lights
- Illuminated number boards
- Lighted and detailed cab interior
- Die-cast metal trucks, fuel tank and pilots
- High level of separately applied details including the Pennsy’s Trainphone antennae
- O-31 minimum curve
Powered locomotives also feature:
- LEGACY Control – also capable of running on TMCC or Conventional
- Odyssey II Speed Control
- LEGACY RailSounds including
- CrewTalk and TowerCom dialog
- 6 Railroad speeds
- 8 Diesel RPM levels
- LEGACY Quilling horn
- Single hit or continuous mechanical bell
- Sequence control provides sounds and dialog for an entire trip around your layout
- Current speed and fuel dialog and refueling sounds
- Dual motors with flywheels
- Refined Transformer Control with lower starting speeds
- Traction Tires
- Engineer and Fireman figures
Passenger cars feature:
- Die-cast sprung metal trucks with operating couplers featuring hidden uncoupling tabs
- Extruded aluminum bodies with flush-fitting windows
- Operating end vestibules with flexible diaphragms
- Separately applied metal roof vents and grab irons
- Interior lighting with on/off switch
- Detailed interiors with passenger and crew figures
- Operating marker and end lights on observation car
- Lighted drumhead on observation car
- Metal frame
- Metal underframe details
- O-54 minimum curve
The locomotives retail for $929.99 and the passenger car 4-packs for $639.99. Our Senate may not be setting any speed records lately, but the Senator is sure to move quickly. See your dealers today so this one doesn’t pass you by.