Product of the 1970s-1980s interest in building high speed trains, the LRC (Light, Rapid and Comfortable) was Canada's answer to the Class 43 of the UK and the TGV of France.

The intention was to transform the busy Toronto-Montreal corridor into a high-speed passenger link in the style of the 'BosNYWash' Northeast Corridor operated by Amtrak in the States. However, the attempt with the turbine-powered TurboTrain was a complete failure, and so a more conventional locomotive was needed.

32 LRC locomotives and passenger cars were built by Bombardier, with the original plan being to run them double headed, as is the style with high speed trains aroud the world. This consist was called the 'Metropolis Trainset, however, passenger numbers weren't sufficient to justify running two locomotives and a long train, and towards the end of the LRC's life the trains were cut to three or four passenger cars and a single locomotive.

Further, design flaws, reliability problems and lack of power saw the LRC units first overhauled in 1993, then gradually replaced by larger EMD F59 and F40 locomotives similar to the F40s operated by Amtrak until the Genesis P90 was introduced. The last seven LRCs have since been replaced in such a way. (It would be cool if VIA Rail bought some Genesis locomotives!)

As a child I thought the LRC was the coolest thing ever, and my dream came true when, at the age of 11, I got to ride it from Montreal to Toronto (the only trip which could possibly have surpassed, in my mind, the trip up in a CityExpress Dash 8). It was probably one of the last double-ended full length trains, and it was quite a journey - if only to see the 401 from the train tracks side for a change. The seats were quite comfortable, the food was terrible (I ate all the crackers and cheese though) and it took about five hours (compared to the eight plus it would take in a car). The irony was that the train was, like the Class 43, capable of and planned to run at 125mph, but was geared to only reach 100mph due to track restrictions.

About the only place you'll see a LRC nowadays is if you watch the National Anthem video at the close of TVOntario's broadcast every day. Another symbol of Canadian technological advancement vanishes.

Update: VIA Rail has in fact purchased some AMD 103 Genesis locomotives, although my father who recently took the train from Montreal to Toronto reports the train was still F59-hauled.

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