RDC’s on the Island: A new (to me) tiny detail

The legend of CN’s attempts or interest (depending on who is telling the story!) in trying to employ Budd RDC’s on Prince Edward Island is something that generates a lot of discussion. I’ve read a lot of different reasons and perspectives on “why” they weren’t suitable for use on PEI but this afternoon I found a new one in an article on the CN’s operations on PEI. Rather than try to paraphrase the article, I figured I’ll just quote from the article itself:

At one time, presumably in the 1950’s, consideration was given to introducing RDC (“Railiner”) service on the Island. However it was quickly discovered that the units would not fit on the ferries (too high with the roof exhaust) so that idea was dropped. If it had been possible, likely the convention trains would have been replaced while the mixed trains would have remained unchanged due to light patronage.

(I don’t know what the author is referring to when he refers to “convention trains”)

The above paragraph is from Canadian Rail’s issue number 346 for November 1980. The most common reasons I’d heard for not introducing the RDC’s was (a) the pilots kept hanging up on the ferry aprons making loading and unloading the cars for through service to Moncton and the world difficult and (b) that the nature of the RDC’s direct drive from the motor to the trucks meant that they would have struggled with the Island’s tight curves and grades. Of course, even in the 1950’s, CN themselves were already busily putting together some business cases to justify ending rail service altogether on the Island so no doubt it didn’t take much to disuade them from exploring this idea further.

That said, the picture Bruce Ballantyne paints in his article sounds a whole like what was going on over in Nova Scotia on the Dominion Atlantic where mainline passenger trains were handled by RDC’s and Truro mixed trains number 21 and 22 were mixed trains. It sure looked nice on the DAR and would have been equally picturesque here on PEI.




  1. Maybe it should read ‘conventional’ trains, Chris?

    I think CN should have used Budds on the island. Just like Stompin’ Tom’s song, ‘Budd the Spud’ :)

    I’ve found quite a few scanned Canadian Rail issues online.


    1. Good evening Eric. I agree that likely the author intended to write “conventional”. I really like the idea of RDC’s on the Island. Of course one last example that I really wish I had more details on was an excursion that had been attempted and would have used VIA RDC. I remember seeing a plaque for that excursion but never any other details. I’d sure like to learn more and about how close they actually ever came.

      As for Stompin’ Tom… I love the irony since it was the fact that those Budds were big that started this whole thread.

      …and of course these posts, well he said it best: “they’re from Prince Edward Island.”


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