VIA Rail Canada

Bombardier LRC (2 and 3)

Initially ordered by Canadian National, the LRC trainsets would be the first brand-new sets owned by Via Rail as delivery started in 1981. Developed by MLW (later Bombardier Transports), the LRC (Light, Rapid, Comfortable / Leger, Rapide et Comfortable) was meant to offer cost-effective and reliable service along the corridor. Inspired by UAC's Turbotrain and British Rail APT, the coaches featured active-tilt technology allowing for higher speed in curves, potentially allowing for speeds up to 201 km/h in service (if using power cars at either end). As with the Turbotrain, this means the LRC trainsets can be classified as high-speed trains, even though they never achieved the required speed in regular service as they were limited to 160 km/h due to track sharing with freight service, and as such often ran with a single locomotive. However, it was quite common to see trainsets with locomotives at either end allowing for push-pull operation. Alongside the TurboTrain, the LRC trainsets were the fastest in Via's fleet allowing for four-hour trips between Montreal and Toronto.

LRC was developed as a direct alternative to UAC's Turbotrain, by a consortium led by MLW, ultimately bought by Bombardier in 1975 who wanted to make their entry into the railway industry. Using lighter materials, more powerful engines and advanced technologies, it was able to achieve similar in-service speeds while using half the gas of Turbo and other locomotives in the Via / CN fleet. The monocoque Aluminum design was developed by Alcan to be considerably lighter than the existing train design. Being brand new units, LRC locomotives were the first to come equipped with HEP, replacing steam generators in the F-Units that composed most of the fleet at the time. Overall, LRC locomotives were smaller, lighter and faster than existing rolling stock for Via Rail, making them the ideal replacement for the Corridor. This was achieved by using a relatively old prime mover, the ALCO 16-251F, which was already being built by MLW at the time. Design and testing were mostly overseen by the Canadian Government and CN who contributed most of the development costs.

Following their formation in 1978, Via formalized their first order for 10 locomotives and 50 coaches. Additional orders were made by Via for a total of 31 locomotives and 100 coaches. The first unit was delivered on June 1st, 1981, at Montreal's Windsor Station. Commercial service started on September 4th, 1981, between Toronto and Sarnia, and was progressively extended to the entire corridor as trainsets were delivered. While they had some teething issues in the early years (mainly related to the tilting system which was ultimately disabled), they proved to be reliable and an essential part of the Via fleet over the next 20 years. The locomotives were "unique" in the sense that no other passenger rail service used them as Amtrak decided not to order units in favour of Turbo. LRC was, for the most part, a huge success for Via. LRC locomotives were also used during the testing of Renaissance coaches.

The last LRC locomotive operated in 2001 following the delivery of the GE P42DC. While the locomotives are not in service anymore and have all been retired, LRC coaches continue to serve along the Corridor and compose most of the fleet until the introduction of Siemens' Venture / Charger sets in 2022. Technologies developed for the LRC, such as the active-tilt control and passenger car design later served as the basis for the Acela trainsets and Super Voyager used in the UK. To many, it remains one of the most iconic locomotives operated by Via Rail Canada and is often cited as a favourite by many Canadian rail fans.

While most units were scrapped, a few remain: 6917 was acquired by the Toronto Railway Heritage Centre and 6921 is at the Canadian Railway Museum outside of Montreal. Both units were able to operate under their own power. Per the 2021 Google Maps imagery, it does seem another LRC locomotive remains at VIA Rail's Toronto Maintenance Centre, however, its status and condition are mostly unknown.

Per the 2021 Google Maps imagery, it does seem another LRC locomotive remains at VIA Rail's Toronto Maintenance Centre, however, its status and condition are mostly unknown.

Length

63 ft 8 in (19.41 m)

Height

12 ft 11 in (3.94 m)

Width

10 ft 5 1⁄2 in (3.19 m)

Prime Power (Power Rating)

ALCO 16-251F (3,750 hp)

Weight

250,000–256,000 lb (113,000–116,000 kg)

Entry in service

1981

Retirement

2001

Fleet size (Road Numbers)

LRC-2: 21 (6900–6920)

LRC-3: 10 (6921–6930)

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