Brian O’Neill: Hyperloop? The ‘train of the future’ has already left Pittsburgh

Did you hear about the 100-mph train from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia?

I hadn’t either. But a Mt. Lebanon woman with the lyrical name of Blondina Bellaver called last week. She wanted to know why, with all these stories about hyperloop, nobody ever mentioned the short-lived fast train to Philly circa 1956.

She’d ridden what she recalled as “The Bullet Train” on many a Friday night because she had a cross-state boyfriend back in the day. She thought the Japanese might have had something to do with it. (The train, that is, not the romance.)

A computer search of the Pittsburgh newspaper archives for “bullet train” in that era turned up zilch. But Henry Posner III, chairman of Railroad Development Corp. in Green Tree and an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University, said Mrs. Bellaver was thinking of the AeroTrain…

But the silver 10-coach train made with stainless steel from Allegheny Ludlum was so light — about half the tonnage of a standard train of the same capacity — it rattled the riders when it traveled anywhere close to its designed top speed of 100 mph.