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GM Aerotrain

GM Aerotrain




The GM Aerotrain was a fantastically stylish and iconic train built in the mid-1950s. The GM Aerotrain was typical of industrial design of the time, with lots of chrome, and plenty of curves which were designed to improve aerodynamics, but had the added bonus of looking drop-dead gorgeous. It was penned by renowned car designer Chuck Jordan.

The main reason behind the GM Aerotrain was to offer rail companies a lightweight, inexpensive locomotive which was cheap to maintain and with reduced fuel costs. A secondary mission for the Aerotrain was to try and inject some excitement back in to the public regarding train travel, as more and more were turning to other forms of transport, including cars, buses and airplanes.

GM built two examples of the Aerotrain, each complete with their own custom-built passenger coaches. The locomotives were based on GM's EMD LWT12 engines, while the cars were modified GM-built 40-seat intercity units. Each car features two axles and an air suspension system. The caboose featured a rear-end design which was similar to GM automobiles of the time.

GM Aerotrain

The two demonstrator versions of the GM Aerotrain were trialed by several rail companies starting in 1956. They ran regular routes on both the east and west coasts of the United States.

Unfortunately for GM and the Aerotrain, it failed in both its objectives. The locomotives proved to be underpowered, and the air suspension of the passenger cars was ineffective, resulting in a bumpy and uncomfortable ride. Added to that, the streamlined all-encasing bodywork made maintenance more complicated and time consuming. After a decade of carrying commuters, both trains were retired in 1966, and no rail company placed any orders for additional units.

What was once thought to be the answer to the declining popularity of the train was quietly stubbed out. Thankfully both trains were saved from the scrap heap, one now sits in the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis, Missouri, while the other is held at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Interestingly, Oregon Zoo still operates a 5/8th scale version of the Aerotrain (called the Zooliner) for carrying visitors around the park.



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GM Aerotrain

GM Aerotrain

GM Aerotrain

GM Aerotrain

GM Aerotrain

GM Aerotrain

GM Aerotrain



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