The Aerotrain was a streamlined trainset introduced by General Motors Electro-Motive Division in the mid-1950s. Like all of GM's great body designs of this mid-century era, this futuristic train was first brought to life in GM's Styling Section. Chuck Jordan was in charge of designing the Aero Train as Chief Designer of Special Projects.
GM advertisement from a December 1955 issue of the Saturday Evening Post.
GM's "lightweight with a heavyweight future" was introduced at a time when U.S. passenger train revenues were steadily declining due to competition from airlines and private automobile travel. Although it featured an eye-catching, streamlined design, the Aerotrain failed to capture the imagination of the American public.
The cars, based on GM bus designs and using an air cushioning system, were rough riding and not very comfortable for the passengers. The design of the underpowered experimental EMD LWT12 locomotive section rendered even routine maintenance extremely difficult and time-consuming. Eventually the three trainsets that were manufactured were retired after only a decade's use in 1966.
1956 New York Central Railroad "Aerotrain" advertisement.
GM's Electro-Motive LWT12 locomotive pulling the Rock Island Line Talgo Jet Rocket train in 1956.
New York Central, NYC 1001 Aerotrain in Elkhart, Indiana - April 8, 1957.
GM's Aerotrain, in service as the "City of Las Vegas", makes a station stop enroute to LA in 1957.
GM's Aerotrain, the "City of Las Vegas" at LA Union Station in 1957.
Pictured in 2005 the preserved Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific (Rock Island Line), GM Aerotrain at the National Transportation Museum in St Louis, Missouri.
And of course this post would not be complete if we did not show a picture of the Disneyland Viewliner as it prepares to depart the Tommorowland Station in 1957, with Walt Disney at the controls. As you can see, the Viewliner's design was inspired by the Aerotrain.