Pennsy Tubular Train

Ask Trains from the August 2011 issue

The Pennsylvania Railroad’s Keystone Tubular Train, built by The Budd Co. in 1956, was designed to hug the rails tighter and enable faster transit times.
Q What happened to the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Keystone Tubular Train? I heard it was in Michigan and derailed on its way to a new owner for dinner train service.
— David Rose, Austin, Texas

A The Pennsylvania Railroad bought the eight-car Tubular Train from The Budd Co. in 1956. Compared with conventional equipment, the experimental train’s center of gravity was nine inches lower; its profile, two feet shorter; and its weight 40 percent lighter, all to improve transit times about 15 percent. PRR successor Penn Central retired the train in 1968. It sat in Altoona until Amtrak sold it to SouthEastern Michigan Transportation Authority in 1976, although it never ran in its intended commuter service. Entrepreneur Jack Haley bought the trainset in the early 1980s and moved it from Michigan to Iowa (and yes, it derailed en route). In Iowa, arsonists damaged two of the cars before they could be converted for a planned dinner-train service. Two Keystone coaches and the Keystone’s head-end-power car returned to Michigan in 1985 and ran in the “Michigan Star Clipper” dinner train until that operation folded in 2009. Former Keystone coaches 9604 and 9605 were moved to Montreal in mid-April 2010. Michigan Air-Line Railway (Coe Rail) sold them via dealer Ozark Mountain Railcar to a Canadian mining operation. The other ex-Keystone cars remained out of service in Iowa, partially cannibalized, and were scrapped in 2003.
— Kevin Holland, passenger train historian and author

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