Friday, April 26

Whatever Happened to the C1's?

May of us, especially those of us (myself included) that live out in LIRR diesel land, have heard of the C3's—those cool looking bi-level coaches that get pulled all over the LIRR by the diesel engines.

But what many people do not know is that the C3's had a predecessor—the C1's. The C1's were prototype cars built by Kawasaki for the LIRR in the 90's so they can tour them around the railroad a bit and see if some of the systems and amenities of these newer type of cars would "work" on the LIRR.
Interior of a C1 prototype car
(Phot credit: user hotbike)
C1's in use in the Summer of 1997 seen through Minola. 
(Photo credit: user 9C1LT1)

Passengers boarding a C1 in Penn Station
(Phot credit: user hotbike)

The C1's were a more basic version of today's C3's. The LIRR and Kawasaki collected data and information from the cars and input from the passengers and eventually improved on the design to create the C3's of today. They were just for testing purposes and they had no real intention of keeping them for very long, so they didn't pour all that much money into simple prototype cars.

In fact, there were only 10 of these cars built for the LIRR, and none of them are still in use today.  Fun fact: down the line, the FRA changed some wording of some definition in their book of rules that technically made the way certain C1's were coupled together become designated as married pairs.  So technically, there are five sets of two-car C1's roaming around out there.  There were also no C1 cabcars.  So the train that had C1's always had to have two engines.

When the LIRR fianlly purchased the C3's it came time to do something with the C1's.  The C1's were the oddballs of the fleet.  They could only be pulled around by certain modified engines, and what's worse, they weren't compatible with the C3s's.  Why were they not made compatible with the C3's?  Who knows, this is the LIRR we're talking about. The C1's had different couplers than the C3's.  The C1's had couplers that were very similar to the couplers on the M1's and M3's.  They couldn't be coupled to the M1's/M3's because those were electric MU's and these were powerless coaches, and they couldn't be coupled to the C3's because the C3's had conventional couplers that were different. Also, the cables that would have connected theC1's and C3's were different too.  The C1's had 27-point jumpers, just like just about every other railroad in the world.  The C3's were delivered with 36-point jumpers, a boneheaded move on many accounts by the LIRR (more on that in a separate post).  So not only could the two cars not be coupled together, they couldn't even be wired together. Sources say that the C1's were also a nightmare maintenance wise.  Someone even said that a technician had to ride along on every journey in case something went wrong.

But in the end, modifying the C1's to be compatible with the C3's would have been more expensive than just buying another C3, so that's just what the LIRR did.  They got 10 extra C3's and dissolved their relationship with the C1's once and for all. But it is worth noting that the LIRR C1's were the first cars the LIRR used to start operating dual-mode service into Penn Station.  The LIRR borrowed a couple of FL-9AC's from Metro-North (that were dual mode) and tried operating one dual-mode train between Port Jefferson and Penn Station on weekdays.  Well, as you may have guessed, the people took a liking to the one seat rides, and the dual-mode one-seat-ride trains still exist today.  

But whatever happened to the C1's?
After the LIRR was through with the C1's they sat around someplace for a while collecting dust.  But, recently some LIRR C1's have been getting a new life on tourist or short line railroads. user DaveBarraza has posted some recent photos of LIRR C1's in thier second lives:
Photo of an ex-LIRR C1 on the Saratoga & North Creek Rail Road
(Photo credit: user DaveBarraza)
ex-LIRR C1's seen here on the Rio Grande Senic Railroad 
(Photo credit: user DaveBarraza)

So it just goes to show that "one man's trash is another man's treasure" even applies to railroads as well!

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