These trains, composed entirely of Flexi-Van equipment, are writing new chapters in American and world rail history.  For the first time a freight train is timed at better than a mile a minute start to stop; the “SV-6” runs from East St. Louis to Mattoon at a 60.2 mph clip.

Donald M. Steffee, Trains June 1961

NYC SV-6 Consists 10-1961

New York Central’s speedster SV-6 was begun in the fall of 1960 on a blazing fast schedule.  As these consists from one year later show, these small trains could probably fly.  Each evening, a crew was called in East St. Louis for 17:15 for the nighttime race across Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.

In these early days, I do not know if the train ran to Collinwood to connect with SV-2 or another train or operated all the way to Selkirk or beyond.  The earliest schedule available to me from 1964 looks like this:

NYC SV-6 January 1964 schedule

Based on times listed in the consists, it appears the train was on a similar schedule in 1961 and was able to make the schedule.  Call times at Bellefontaine:  04:00, 03:50, 04:10, 03:40, 03:30, 04:20, 04:20, 03:45, 04:05, 07:10.  That’s a 90% on time rate for a train scheduled as “The Fastest Freight Train in the World”.

For ease in reading, here are the station numbers used in the consists:

30533: East St. Louis
30412: Mattoon
30295: Big Four Yard (Avon)
30139: Bellefontaine
10610: Collinwood (Cleveland)

And check out the articles “Flexi-Van: Central’s Brightest Star” and “NYC Stresses High-Speed Freights” in the Modern Railroads NYC issue available at Canada Southern here.


NYC Super-Van Service ad July 1961 TrainsNYC ad, Trains Magazine July 1961.