Bombardier LRC

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Bombardier LRC
VIA Rail Canada 6917-a.jpg
VIA Rail Canada 3333-a.jpg

LRC is a bilingual acronym for Light, Rapid, Comfortable or Léger, Rapide, et Confortable, the name of a series of lightweight diesel-powered passenger trains that are currently used on short- to medium-distance inter-city service in the Canadian Provinces of Ontario and Quebec. The LRC family includes both locomotives and passenger carriages designed to work together, though the two can be, and now are, used separately.

The trains were intended to increase the speed of passenger train service over conventional non-high-speed railway tracks. They do this using active-tilt technology to reduce the forces acting on passengers when a train travels at higher speeds around a curve in the railway tracks, and thus increase passenger comfort without the need to build new, straighter tracks as is required for high-speed trains such as France's TGV and Germany's ICE. The LRC is the oldest tilting train still in service.

Initially, the LRCs were plagued with teething problems. One common problem was that the cars would ‘lock’ in the tilted positioned even after the track had straightened out from a curve, or alternately the hydraulic tilting system would fail to operate entirely. In 1984, all coaches were pulled from service after it was discovered that a mistake in manufacturing replacement axles resulted in fatigue cracks that could (and in two cases, did) result in a broken axle. The locomotives were never designed to tilt.

LRCs have reached speeds as high as 208 km/h on test runs, but signalling limitations generally restricted them to more conventional speeds in practical operation. The fastest operating speed today, in the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor is about 160 km/h, making them the fastest trains in Canada. Many sections of the corridor are signed for a special, higher speed when the LRC's tilting system is activated.

Developed initially by Montreal Locomotive Works, Alcan, Dominion Foundries, and Canadian National Railway with the assistance of the Government of Canada, they were commercialized in the 1980s after Bombardier acquired Montreal Locomotive Works.

LRC trains have been operated by the continent's two major present-day passenger railways, VIA Rail Canada and Amtrak in the United States. Amtrak returned their leased trains after extensive testing and experimental service between Boston, Massachusetts and New York, New York and on routes radiating out of Chicago, but VIA Rail pressed the trains into service. While the locomotives were all retired from service by the end of 2001 (and many long before then), the vast majority of the carriages remain in service in 2007 and indeed form the backbone of VIA's Corridor services, though pulled by newer locomotives. A new capital programme announced by the Canadian government in October 2007 includes funding for the refurbishment of VIA's existing LRC carriages.

Bombardier have since used the LRC tilting technology as the basis for their Acela Express electric-powered high-speed trains they developed for Amtrak in the late 1990s, and in the experimental turbine-powered JetTrain marketed for several corridors in Canada and the United States.

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