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Model Conrail passenger trains: There’s a prototype for everything

By Steve Sweeney, Trains.com Digital Editor | March 31, 2022

Conrail passenger trains? Yep! There's a prototype for everything.

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Conrail passenger trains: A streamline electric locomotive hauls a passenger train through a stone tunnel.

Model Conrail passenger trains.

You read that right. Yes, you can model Conrail passenger trains prototypically. You are limited to the area roughly between Chicago and Connecticut, north to Detroit south to Philadelphia with highlights in and around New York City, New Jersey, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh. But oh, what a big box to dabble in.

Conrail passenger trains: A streamline electric locomotive hauls a passenger train through a stone tunnel.
Ex-Pennsylvania Railroad GG1, now Conrail No. 4800, Bicentennial-painted locomotive hauls a passenger train through Wildcat Tunnel, Maryland, in September 1976. An example of Conrail leading an Amtrak train. F.H. Abendschein photograph

Old-timers who were of-age when Conrail was getting its start, and historians, might recall that intercity passenger services, such as the famed Broadway Limited, went to Amtrak in 1971. Amtrak was not a commuter railroad operation, so those freight railroads still in operation kept operating commuter trains too.

Erie Lackawanna, Reading, PennCentral, Central of New Jersey – just a few of the names in commuter service by the mid-1970s. When these railroads tied up with Conrail, their commuter services went with it.

Conrail passenger trains: Locomotive with passenger train.
Conrail’s Chicago commuter “dummy” trains, entangled in train-off efforts, still run. Since most P70 coaches there are out of service, on train has a mix of Amtrak and ex-Erie-Lackawanna cars and P70s, the other (above) ex-Chicago & North Western bilevels leased from Amtrak. Since Valparaiso, Indiana, has no turning facility, it’s “pull-pull” with Amtrak F40 and CR Geep at the ends. J. David Ingles photograph

It is the reason you could have seen a blue Conrail engine leading old Chicago & North Western bilevels in Chicago, or see a GG1 leading Reading MU cars next to a Metroliner near Philadelphia.

Yes, for a brief time, there were two rainbow fleets in the country, Amtrak’s and Conrail’s. Reasons you might want to model this period are plenty: Thumbing your nose at “purists,” is one; you might also like a good reason to mix and match mis-matched locomotives and equipment; you might just also like a challenge.

Regardless of your reason for modeling a Conrail passenger train (or rolling your eyes at the thought) do remember: There’s a prototype for everything!

Conrail passenger trains: An unusual meet between a GG1 and a Metroliner.
Conrail GG1 No. 4800 and a train of nine former Reading Company multiple-unit cars leaves Torresdale, Pennsylvania, on April 20, 1977 as a 30th Street Station to Trenton, New Jersey, extra train. R. Stacy photograph

 

One thought on “Model Conrail passenger trains: There’s a prototype for everything

  1. Great Article! As Gen X reaches near retirement, There has been a drive to model more of early Conrail era than ever before. Hope to see more modeling and stories about the old days.

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