Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Big enough for the Beast?

Posted in America, Politics, Rolling stock by Chairman Pip on 19 September 2011

The idea of carrying cars by train is hardly new (and when I say carrying cars, I don’t mean transporting newly built ones; I mean passengers being able to take their cars with them on a train journey). The Motorail service on Britain’s railways lasted for 50 years between 1955 and 2005 when it was eventually phased out; Amtrak runs a single Auto Train service, while many countries in Europe run multiple car train routes. But these are all ordinary passenger trains, and not ones generally used by VIPs that require something this is both a bit more private and a bit less obvious. It was interesting then to read a story that the Kruikov Car Building Works in Ukraine have constructed a special railway vehicle that acts as a secure garage for road vehicles – one half has a folding ramp that allows the road vehicle entry and exit, and is used to store it, while the other half has a crew compartment with kitchen and dining facility. And, to avoid it being too obvious what is housed within the rail vehicle, it resembles an ordinary passenger coach from the outside. Brilliant. This got me thinking. In the days before air travel became commonplace, the President of the United States had to travel pretty much everywhere by train (if he travelled any great distance). Today we have an incumbent President who is (at least publically) an advocate for the expansion of rail travel. So, assuming the necessary precautions were put in place to ensure that the Secret Service could protect the President while en route (you know, from wackos exploding bombs on the track and such), why not, at least for short-medium range trips along the eastern seaboard and the easterns states of the MidWest, have a “presidential train”? There’s no reason that it couldn’t have armour thick enough to stop an anti-tank rocket, given how powerful some of the modern locomotives used in North America are, and it would likely still have a smaller carbon footprint than the Boeing VC-25 used by the 89th Airlift Wing for inter-state presidential transport. And it would have room on board for “The Beast”. Hell, it isn’t even as if an armoured Presidential train in the United States that could carry a car is a new idea…

“Rusting below Grand Central station, the armoured train that helped FDR keep his polio secret”
“Obama Takes Train Ride To History”
“Garage van offers discreet transport”

It may prove not to be practical for the President of the United States to regularly take a train - but shouldn't the onus be to investigate and prove this and, if it is found to be workable, come up with a way of doing it?

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