The 20th Century Limited was an express passenger service operated between New York City and Chicago by the New York Central Railroad. First launched in 1902, the service ran for more than 60 years, before being canceled upon the New York Central’s merger with the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1967. Initially devised to compete with the Pennsylvania Railroad’s service to Chicago, the all-Pullman 20th Century Limited quickly developed a reputation for luxury and status. Advertised as “the Most Famous Train in the World” the Limited was in many ways the eastern equivalent of the Santa Fe Super Chief, gaining similar reverence for being frequented by movie stars and the rich and famous. With high prices and premium onboard services, the railroad made a point to treat all passengers as if they too were stars, rolling out a signature red carpet at Grand Central Station to guide travelers along the platform, and greeting all onboard with a gift of either carnations (for men) or flowers and perfume (for women).
Taking roughly 15 hours to traverse the 958 mile route at it’s peak, the train made just two intermediate stops – at Croton-Harmon for suburban New Yorkers, and Englewood for suburban Chicagoans. The consist itself was best known for it’s art deco styling and sophisticated decor, which first appeared with the arrival of new lightweight train sets in 1938. At this time the service was still operated by steam, utilizing several strikingly clad Dreyfuss Hudsons. It was only a few years later though, that the Limited would receive diesel locomotives, and in 1948, the final and most iconic iteration of the train was rolled into service, inaugurated by Dwight D. Eisenhower. Today the legacy of the 20th Century Limited lives on aboard Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited, which follows close to the original routing of the iconic service.
Scheduled to arrive in late 2020, the N Scale Kato 20th Century Limited pays tribute to the luxury train as it appeared at it’s peak in the early 1950s, with streamlined diesel power and sleek lightweight passenger cars. The set is made up of three separately available components; a locomotive pack, main consist pack, and an add-on pack featuring four additional cars.
The locomotive pack features two individually powered EMD E7A diesels, newly tooled, and finished in typical sharp Kato quality. Both locomotives are optimized for performance, featuring appropriate weighting, all-wheel drive, and a precision motor for both smooth, quiet operation, and perfect speed synchronization for multi-unit operation. Additionally both units feature functioning warm-glowing LED headlights. Three variations of the pack will be made available, with a choice of either standard DC examples, Digitrax DCC equipped examples, or ESU Loksound equipped examples featuring both DCC and sound.
Complimenting the locomotives, the 20th Century Limited train pack consists of 9 prototypical cars from a typical 1950s consist. These include a Baggage/Railway Post Office, three 4-4-2 Pullman Sleepers, a Club/Lounge Car, Kitchen-Dormitory, Dining Car, 12 Bedroom Sleeper, and the iconic 5-bedroom Lounge/Observation Hickory Creek. Additional items featured in the box include several segments of Kato Unitrack to display your consist on, a Unitrack Bumper, and a Rerailer painted to resemble the red carpet which greeted passengers at Grand Central.
To complete a more authentically sized consist, four additional cars are available in the add-on pack. These include two 10-6 Sleepers and two additional 12 Bedroom Sleepers, all uniquely named and numbered from those featured in the 9-car set.
All cars in both sets feature free-rolling metal wheels, flush, clear plastic windows, knuckle couplers, and full interiors, furnished according to the car type, and completed in molded plastic. Additional details include rooftop radio antennas on both the Club/Lounge and Lounge/Observation, lighted rear-markers on the Lounge/Observation, authentically detailed trucks and underbodies, and a lighted 20th Century Limited Drumhead, factory-installed on the Lounge/Observation to bring up the rear.
Both passenger car sets will be available with optional factory-installed constant voltage interior lighting, however the unlighted examples are also tooled for easy installation of Kato lighting kits. Standard unlighted sets will be available first, with the lighted sets expected to ship in late November, along with the Digitrax DCC and ESU Loksound equipped locomotive examples. An accompanying red carpet island platform kit will also join the range as a separately available detail piece in Spring 2021!
This set is an excellent, faithful reproduction of one of America’s most iconic trains, and will be an essential component to any northeastern or New York Central themed 1950s era layout! Look out for these soon at Modeltrainstuff.com – you can schedule an automatic email notification on their arrival by clicking here and choosing the set you wish to purchase!