On the side of the road in rural Indiana is an odd sight: a dilapidated, yet futuristic train engine poking out of a forest, along with a few rusting train cars. The name on the side of the train even sounds futuristic – “Turboliner.”
In the early 1970’s, Amtrak – America’s national passenger rail company – struggled with an aging, slow fleet of trains compared to European operators. As part of an effort to bring high speed rail to America, Amtrak bought six gas turbine trains from the French National Railway Company.
In 1973 Amtrak began receiving the first of ultimately six trainsets of the RTG model Turboliner, so named since it had been built by ANF, which equipped the units with the common European coupler design featuring buffers and turnbuckles. Capable of reaching speeds up to 125 mph, the RTGs were first introduced on the Chicago-St. Louis route in late 1973.
The Turboliner had a fixed capacity of 296, so some passengers were left standing during peak travel periods. Although much was made of the capability of the Turboliner to run more than 125 mph, the fastest it could sprint between Chicago and St. Louis was 80 mph due to poor track conditions.
The sets came equipped with five cars; two power cars, two coaches, and a basic bar/grill cafe car. These trains are very rare design. They for one thing, had the business class section in the back half of the engine cab.
Turboliners were withdrawn from service in 1981 due to high operating costs. Train 59 entered service in 1975. The train and two turbocoaches were moved from an Amtrak maintenance yard near Indianapolis in 1992 to a junk yard in Dugger, Indiana, where they have been sitting since.