Empire Belt RR ALcos

Empire Belt RR ALcos
Custom Painted FA / FB Units

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Perlman Was Right!

Greetings Blog Followers,

Inspiration for today's blog entry and title come from fellow modeler Mark C. who I am acquainted with through TrainLife.com. Mark is an excellent modeler and like me a NYC and Flexi Van Service fan. Mark recently read an article in a 1994 issue of trains with the title "Perlman was Right" and was kind enough to share some of that with me including information that a picture associated with the article showed New York Central FAs on the point of a Flexi Van Train. NYC, Flexi Vans Alco FAs! Count me in!

So who's this guy Perlman anyway? Alfred E Perlman started as president of the New York Central Railroad under Chairman Robert R. Young. After Young's death in 1958 Mr. Perlman ascended to Chairman. He remained in that post until the Penn Central merger in 1968. Mr Perlman was innovative to say the least and achieved many accomplishments on the NYC. For more on Alfred E Perlman follow this link;
One of Mr Perlman's brain child's was Flexi Van Service which continued to be profitable for the New York Central right up to the Penn Central merger even though few other railroads particpated.

One of the 50 daily high speed Flexi Van Trains dubbed SuperVan Trains on the New York Central System heads for Empire City behind a pair of Alco FAs

The train heads down grade to Empire City Station. Note the low profile of the Flexi Van trailers on the flatcar. This reduced wind resistance, reduced fuel costs and provided a lower center of gravity which allowed increased speeds.

The train exits the West Tunnel as it approaches Empire City Station. Another advantage of the the Flexi Van design was the lowering of the trailer / container allowed the Flexi Van Service to operate in the low clearance areas of New York City, Boston and of course Empire City. 

A great advertisement for the New York Central's Flexi Van Service that was introduced in 1957 and hit the rails rolling in 1958. 

A New York Central Mark III Flexi Van flat with two  40' trailers

Lightning Striped Alco FAs roll under the pedestrian overpass 

One of Flexi Vans biggest customers was the US Post Office. Here are two 40' trailers of bulk mail on a MarkIII Flexi Van flat

The Milwaukee Road saw the innovative light of the Flexi Vans and was an early partner along with the Illinois Central. 

Two 40' P&LE containers on a Mark III flat

For some more reading on New York Central's Flexi Van Service check out these links


http://coastdaylight.com/sb/san_berdoo_64.html    Flexi Vans in California in 1965




  1. Perlman started out in the engineering department of the D&RGW before he went to NYC. After he was forced out of PC, he went to WP. My uncle worked for him there. He has a great deal of regard for Perlman, although Perlman was very old-line -- everyone had to call him Mr Perlman, and he had a temper.

  2. Hi John, Thanks for the additional info on Mr Perlman. He led a fascinating railroading life. I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about him. Funny thing I called him Mr Perlman throughout the blog entry without really knowing why. Now I know!
    Take care, John

  3. Thanks for the history lesson guys! I've seen a couple of clips of Mr. Perlman on some NYC DVDs I have. Looked like a no nonsense fellow! Interesting to learn about some of his innovations. Those FAs are fine looking locomotives and I admire your flexi van collection!

    1. Thanks Ralph! I uncovered some real interesting information about Mr Perlman's railroad career. He was the only one of the big 3 at PC (Saunders, Bevin, Perlman) to continue on in railroading. The Flexi Vans with the FAs are one of my favorite trains!