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Four Reasons Railfans Should Care About the Dulles Airport Plane Mates & Mobile Lounges

Recently, the Dulles International Airport in the Washington, DC-area shipped one of its Plane Mates (Mass Transit)--rubber tiered vehicles that can bring passengers directly to airplanes from airport terminal buildings or take passengers between terminals--to the Brookville Equipment Corporation for rebuilding. Well, here at All Things Trains, we love these vehicles because they are close cousins of railroading. Here are four reasons why:


  • The bodies of these vehicles were built by the Edward G. Budd Manufacturing Company. Edward G. Budd himself was a distant relative of Ralph Budd who was the longtime President of the Great Northern Railway and led the Chicago Transit Authority. The Budd Company was best known for building stainless steel, fluted passenger railcars that were used on nearly every famous train from the late 1930s on, including the Silver Meteor, Super Chief, and the South Wind among many others. The Budd Company also built the groundbreaking Metroliner MU cars, and the Amfleet I and II cars that run daily all across America comprising Amtrak trains.


  • The chassis were built by Chrysler...and Walter Chrysler, who built that company into what is known as one of America's Big 3 automakers, was once employed by the American Locomotive Company (ALCO). ALCO, of course, was a leader in steam locomotives, and remains one of the best-known builders of diesel-electric locomotives, despite exiting the business in 1969.


  • These vehicles were previously rebuilt by Morrison-Knudsen at Mountaintop, PA, one of the two facilities where much of M-K's locomotive rebuilding work took place. The other, of course, is the well-known Boise, ID shop.


  • They are being rebuilt again by the Brookville Equipment Corporation, which has built passenger locomotives (Tri-Rail), as well as industrial and freight locomotives, along with rebuilding existing locomotives.


In short, while the Dulles Airport's Plane Mates and mobile lounges are rubber-tired vehicles which serve airplanes...they are very much part of railroading, in many, many ways!

(Photo Credit: Brookville Equipment Corp. via Facebook)


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