An Israeli State Railways-operated Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) IC3 Flexliner was on loan to VIA and Amtrak, with the two three-car trainsets touring the country to promote commuter rail systems. Built by ADtranz in Randers, Denmark by a partnership of ABB and Daimler-Benz, the Flexliner trainset operated on diesel or overhead electrical power.
Both versions could operate together and uncouple 'on the fly' at junctions. Rubber 'donuts' improved the IC3's safety and aerodynamics, but not its looks! Top speed was 112 mph, though limited to 90 mph in VIA service. In a luxury configuration, 109 passengers in coach and 32 in first class could be accommodated. Total trainset length was 193 feet, and weight was 224,000 pounds.
A westbound Flexliner approaches Collins Bay in April. 1997 (top photo). The next six photos were scanned from prints shared by Kingston's Ron Barrett. Thanks, Ron! Ron snapped the Flexliner with VIA markings on the north track at Kingston's VIA station:
The demo consist in the morning sun (below) with a nice view of the Public Utilities Commission propane spur at right, served by CN's Aluminum Spur.
The units were stored until further testing took place in early October. Composite brake shoes were replaced by steel brake shoes. When not available, the IC3 schedules were covered by buses or other equipment, such as 6421-3322-8143 and 6401-3344-8141 on October 3, 1996. The trainsets operated on Toronto-Kingston train No 650 and morning Kingston-Toronto 651.
One of two rotations for the two sets was a Monday-Friday Kingston-Toronto, Toronto-Ottawa round trip, with a Saturday run from Kingston-Toronto, then one more Ottawa-Toronto-Kingston cycle over the weekend, in place again for Monday morning in Kingston. The second rotation was a Monday-Friday Stratford-Toronto, Toronto-London, Toronto-Kitchener, Saturday Stratford-Toronto and Toronto-Niagara Falls, Niagara Falls-Toronto-Stratford weekend operation, in place again for Monday morning in Stratford.
On April 2, 7001-7401-7201 left Canada on the tail end of VIA No 85, travelling to Missouri for further demonstration on Amtrak between St Louis and Kansas City, then on to Oregon. The other trainset continued operating east of Toronto until May 6, 1997 when it was reassumed by Adtranz. Amtrak's two IC3 Flexliners ran in multiple as train 330 in Milwaukee in June, 1997, operating between Milwaukee and Chicago. On June 30, 1997 Amtrak's Empire Builder delivered the IC3's to the Twin Cities, where the train ran at 79 mph over BNSF's main line between the Coon Rapids and Big Lake, MN area to St Cloud.
With the Flexliner's pitfalls and problems, VIA did not pursue the Flexliner after the demonstration period. A postscript with some more Flexliner photos here.
- intrepid Kingston-area railfan Rik Berryere posted video of the Flexliner in use at Kingston and Smiths Falls.
- or, watch the best $3 garage sale find ever found - Flexliner in HO scale!
- or, watch it in the Northeast Corridor - both sets on Boston's Fitchburg line
- or, watch it in Israel - too many sets MU'd and I frankly lost count!
- or, watch it alongside the Mediterranean - shaky but scenic!
- crashworthiness - does a herd of livestock count? Don't watch this if you're vegan.
- slide show - the Flexliner at the beginning of a VIA slide show, includes interior views.
- Malcolm Peakman shared this photo of a Flexliner at Napanee on April 23, 1997:
Running extra...most recent thoughts here.
Speaking of on track, a colleague shared a photo of the re-railing of an SRLX covered hopper at Kingston's Invista plant back in November (scroll a bit in this post to see non-crane rerailing efforts). The plant is shipping outbound product for the first time in recent memory, including new extra track being added on the lake side of the plant.