CNR Lightweight Passenger Car Set

Builder:Canadian Car & Foundry
Built:1952 – 1954
Original Owner:Canadian National Railway
Capacity:52 – 76 Seats
Class:Lightweight Passenger Car

By 1952, the Canadian National Railway needed to modernize its passenger trains. Older coaches, dining cars and sleeper cars were worn out after heavy use during World War II. The automobile and airliner were ever-growing threats to CNR’s passenger business. Finally, post-war sensibilities were increasing the expectations of comfort and convenience in rail travel.

To answer these needs, CNR placed a massive order for an entire fleet of new lightweight passenger cars. Montreal’s Canadian Car and Foundry received the order for 218 new 80-seat coaches, while Chicago’s Pullman Standard was tasked with constructing accompanying dining cars, sleeping cars, and parlor cars. All were based on previously built Pullman “lightweight” designs, which used structural steel car bodies to save significant amounts of weight over previous body-on-frame “heavyweight” cars. All cars were delivered by July of 1954.

With a flourish of advertising, CNR put their new cars to work on their marquee trains, notably the Super Continental. Passengers responded, and ridership increased for a time. As the passenger rail business changed in the 1960’s, the coach fleet received modifications to better fit customer needs. Some had snack bars added for shorter runs where dining car service would no longer be offered. Cars keeping their coach-only status relinquished four seats in favor of end-of-car luggage racks, bringing total car seating to 76 people.

When CNR passenger trains were handed over to VIA Rail (Canada’s national intercity passenger, similar to Amtrak), the passenger car fleet was transferred as well. A handful of coaches received further modification, converting them into coach – baggage combination (“combines”) to handle baggage on secondary lines. VIA sold off the former CNR fleet in the early 1990’s, and many of the cars found their way to tourist train service. Age of Steam Roundhouse’s 10-car lightweight fleet is listed below:

Coach – Baggage 9300 seats 52 passengers and has a separate baggage area with sliding doors to carry passenger luggage.

Coach – Cafe 3208 seats 76 passengers and includes a small cafe counter for serving beverages and snacks.

Coaches 5443, 5444, 5499, 5582, 5583, 5584, 5595, and 6542 seat 76 passengers.