Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Saving Our More Recent Railway Past

When steam began to disappear from North American railways, a previous generation did what they could to preserve some of the old units. They didn’t save as many as they hoped, but they did a pretty good job, and we owe them a a deep sense of gratitude.

Today something similar is happening. This time it’s the diesels that we, the younger (boomer) generation, grew up with—locomotives like the venerable SD40-2 and others. It is becoming increasingly rare to see this once ubiquitous unit on a train in the U.S. or Canada. Who will save them, and units like them, for future generations?

One group that is trying to do its part to save North America's more recent railway history is the Toronto Railway Historical Association. The Association is trying to preserve a unique piece of Canadian railway history: LRC locomotive #6917.

Over the last six months the group has been negotiating with VIA Rail Canada to preserve the 6917, one of the last remaining LRC locomotives. They finally came to an agreement with VIA earlier this year, and placed a deposit to purchase the engine. But they need to find the balance of the purchase price by the beginning of August or they lose the deposit and the locomotive. And that's where my generation comes in.

The TRHA, a registered charity, is inviting people to make a donation to help save the 6917. If you want to help, go to the Save the LRC website at to read more about the campaign and make a donation. As a thank-you, the Association is offering a limited number of $100 gift cards from VIA (for every donation of $500 or more), and Rapido Trains is donating LRC models as further incentives.

If the Association is unable to save this locomotive, it will be scrapped along with all of the other LRCs on VIA property.

About the LRC: The LRC (Light, Rapid, Comfortable) was a higher-speed train developed by Bombardier (MLW) in the 1970s for passenger operation in North America. It was one of the last locomotives in North America built with an Alco 251 prime mover, and the LRC concept was the grandfather of Bombardier's high speed train program.

The model being offered by Rapido Trains
for donating to save the LRC.

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