Rationing brought prosperity to the Red Arrow Lines (Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company) during World War II, as strategic materials diverted to the armed forces brought record patronage to public transportation. In the years following the war, the western suburbs of Philadelphia grew at a tremendous rate. This growth and prosperity prompted the order for a group of 14 multiple-unit streamlined rail cars.
The St. Louis cars were delivered in May and June 1949 and represent what many consider to be the last interurban cars built in America. Their arrival permitted Red Arrow to retire a group of Jewett-built interurbans dating to 1913, and several two-man center door cars like cars 66 & 73. While these cars are equipped with the same high-speed running gear as the Brilliners, they also have multiple unit capabilities (can be coupled together in pairs) and two-way radios. These important features were required to expand service along the rapidly developing West Chester line, which operated on single track over the majority of its 19-mile length.
In 1954, the widening of Pennsylvania Route 3 brought the decision to abandon the line to West Chester, after which the “Louies” became the mainstay of operation for the remaining rail lines. Cars 14 and 24 were withdrawn from regular service in September 1982 following acceptance of 29 new LRVs.
Two St. Louis-built cars were selected for preservation here at the Museum because they will demonstrate the operation of streetcars in multiple unit. Work on 14 was the most complex trolley restoration undertaken to date by our crew. Pennsylvania Trolley Museum volunteers began work on this project in the summer of 1997 and returned to car to service at the Museum in June 2004.
|Car Builder||St. Louis Car Company|
|Type||DE streamlined suburban car|
|Status||In service, restored 2004|