The Long Island Rail Road, “The Route of the Dashing Commuter,” was originally built to connect New York City with Boston. In the 1830s and ‘40s, when an all-overland route was considered impractical, LIRR trains brought travelers to the eastern tip of Long Island, where they boarded a ferry for Connecticut and then finished their journey on a train to Boston. The New Haven Railroad put an end to that in 1850, with its new all-rail route following the New England coastline.
Forced to look for other business, the Long Island evolved as its home territory changed from farmland into a commuter suburb of New York. In 1900, the Pennsylvania Railroad, the self-proclaimed “Standard Railroad of the World,” bought a controlling interest in the Long Island, so it could feed commuters into the grand new terminal it was building in Manhattan. For more than half a century, Long Island engines and rolling stock were basically Pennsy equipment with different paint schemes. In the late 1950s and early ‘60s, the LIRR’s introduced Dashing Dan and Dashing Dottie logos to publicize its services as “The Route of the Dashing Commuter.”
Unprofitable though it turned out to be, the commuter business was viewed as essential by the State of New York, and it purchased the LIRR from the Pennsy in 1966. Today the Long Island is the busiest commuter railroad in North America, serving more than 330,000 passengers daily, as well as the oldest U.S. railroad still operating under its original name and charter.
Less well-known is the fact that the Long Island has operated freight service throughout its history — including one of the earliest examples of what would later be called intermodal shipping. From 1885-1893, Long Island farmers could ship their loaded wagons to Manhattan markets on Long Island Rail Road flatcars. Teamsters rode in their own coach on the farmers' specials, while their horses traveled in stable cars.
Since 1997, freight service on the LIRR has been operated under contract by the New York & Atlantic Railway, connecting to the mainland via CSX’s ex-New Haven tracks over the famed Hell Gate Bridge. Our Long Island version of the ES44AC allows you to model an alternate universe, in which the Route of the Dashing Commuter still operates its own freight service, running 21st century locomotives painted in its classic “Goodfellow colors” first introduced in the mid-1950s.
At the heart of the Evolution Series is a brand new prime mover, the four-cycle, 12-cylinder GEVO-12. While producing the same 4400 horsepower as its 16-cylinder FDL-series predecessor, the GEVO-12 uses less fuel and spits out 40% fewer emissions. GE claims the EVOs are “the most fuel-efficient, most environmentally friendly diesel locomotives in history.” Everything about these locomotives has been examined, questioned, and re-thought, generating 25 new U.S. patents in the process. And every Big Six railroad has ponied up to buy them, with the BNSF currently rostering the largest EVO fleet.
Like our debut RailKing Imperial diesel, the SD70ACe, the ES44AC comes accurately decorated in modern motive power paint schemes. Our near-scale model is a full 17" in length, yet operates comfortably on O-31 curves. Under the hood of the Proto-Sound 3.0 version is the same sound and control system found in our more expensive Premier model of this locomotive this locomotive, with sounds recorded from the actual prototype. Additional Imperial features include operating diesel exhaust smoke and flashing ditch lights. If you're looking for realism and a lot of fun at a RailKing price, it doesn't get any better than this!
Did You Know?
Fully loaded, an Evolution Series diesel carries 5000 gallons of diesel fuel, 450 gallons of lube oil, and 400 gallons of cooling water.