Showing posts from May, 2012

A Tribute to North America's Standard Commuter Railroad

The post this week is dedicated to the Government of Ontario Transit, better known as GO Transit, for their 45 years of ever improving commuter rail service in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. This story of this standard setting railroad began as a trial on May 23, 1967 alongshore the great Lake Ontario.

Akita Shinkansen E3 Komachi

The Series E3 on the Akita Shinkansen Line is one EMU I hold dear to my heart. Nick named Komachi, after a famous poet from the region whose name is also synonymous with “belle” or “beauty” in Japanese, the E3 was the first high-speed EMU I became familiar with after playing the railroad simulation game while I was in my grade school days for the PlayStation, Densha de Go! (Let’s Go by Train).

The E3 is classified as a “mini-shinkansen” train, as she operates at relatively low speed (80 mph) on rail lines converted from cape gage (42 in.) to standard gage (56 1/2 in.) outside of dedicated high-speed lines. The car body of the mini-shinkansen trains needs to be narrower than trains operated only on dedicated high-speed lines due to the smaller loading gage on the converted lines (9 ft. 8 in. for mini-shinkansen trains compared to 11 ft. for standard trains). The E3 features one of the most simplistic nose shape designs of all Japanese high-speed trains but still looks quite good. Three…


The GP40TC (TC stands for Toronto Commuter) is one of the more unique locomotives EMD has produced over the years. It was a GP40 built on a SD40 frame. Using the Canadian National classification system, these units were classed as GCE-430a (General Motors, Commuter, Electric (as opposed to steam heat), 4-axle, 3,000 hp). The longer hood was needed to accommodate a head-end power generator.

Eight of these locomotives were built in 1967 for the trial of a new commuter train service provided by the Government of Ontario Transit in the Greater Toronto Area, a metropolitan area where 6 of the 33.5 million Canadians reside in today. The GP40 was chosen for the ease of resale should the trial commuter service fail. Fortunately, no such thing had happened and the GP40TC served Toronto commuters until 1988. Today, the famous, industry standard setting, GO Train system carries 200,000 riders daily.

NTV Italo

I saw this company in the news a lot lately (since their high-speed rail finally went into service) and thought I might as well write about it on my blog. NTV (Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori) is a joint-stock passenger rail operator founded in 2006 in Italy (20% owned by SNCF, the French National Railway). Regulation changes in recent years in the European Union saw the separation of government owned railroad infrastructure owners and train operators to allow open access (for a fee) for third parties to the railroad infrastructure. NTV is the first of such companies to obtain trackage rights from RFI (Rete Ferroviaria Itliana) to rival the state owned rail operator Trenitalia.

NTV currently serves Milan-Naples line and more routes will be introduced in the near future (find out on NTV's website). NTV is also the launch customer of the Alstom AGV (hope you remember this one) and the only user of this 220 mph very-high-speed train so far. The name of this service is, of course as the …