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Kato - N Scale - New York Central - 20th Century Limited - 9 car passenger Set (Without Interior Lighting) (SKU 381-106100)

Available On: December 1, 2020


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 20th century limited locomotive red carpet


Kato announced the New York Central 20th Century Limited E7 Diesel Locomotives.

The “20th Century Limited” one of the iconic New York-Chicago trains of yesteryear, makes its debut as Kato's newest Named Train!

This classic named train set replicates the New York Central's premier high-speed luxury train as it appeared in the late 1940's/early 1950's, when it had all-new cars and a sleek complement of streamlined diesel engines to pull it.

This 9-car set includes a full set of uniquely tooled cars that match the post-1948 appearance of this train, including the iconic "big window" observation car. It is designed to be pulled by Kato's new release E7 locomotives in matching paint.


    Contents of this set:
  • Baggage-RPO #5017
  • Pullman 4-4-2 Sleeper "George Washington Bridge"
  • Pullman 4-4-2 Sleeper "Bay Bridge"
  • Pullman 4-4-2 Sleeper "Queensboro Bridge"
  • Club-Lounge "Lake Shore"
  • Kitchen-Dormitory #474
  • Dining Car #401
  • Pullman 12-Bedroom Sleeper "Port of Buffalo"
  • 5-Bedroom Lounge Observation "Hickory Creek"
  • Display Unitrack
  • Special "Red Carpet" re-railer


We just talked to KATO earlier today. The E7 DC/DCC/Sound locomotives will be offered with a 13 car set you can order.

Due to shipping constraints, the 13 car sets will be packed in a 4 car and 9 car set. If you want to get the complete set you will need to order the two passenger car sets along with your locomotives.


Now, coming in late 2020/early 2021, Kato USA will finally be paying homage to this classic train in N Scale, recreating the train as it appeared in 1948-1954 (a perfect pairing with the also-available Kato “Broadway Limited”), with a sleek two-toned grey color and pair of streamlined E7A locomotives with brand new tooling for this project! Keep an eye on our website for updates - expect a full announcement in the next few months!


The Consist:

9 Car Set Contents:                                                                     

  • Baggage RPO #5017
  • 4-4-2 Sleeper “George Washington Bridge”
  • 4-4-2 Sleeper “Bay Bridge”
  • 4-4-2 Sleeper “Queensboro Bridge”
  • Club Lounge “Lake Shore”
  • Kitchen-Dormitory #474
  • Dining Car #401
  • 12 Bedroom Sleeper “Port of Buffalo”
  • 5-Bedroom Lounge Observation “Hickory Creek”
  • Special “Red Carpet” 20th Century themed Rerailer

4 Car Set Contents:                                                   

  • 10-6 Sleeper “Chicago River”
  • 10-6 Sleeper “Powder River”
  • 12 Bedroom Sleeper “Port of Boston”
  • 12 Bedroom Sleeper “Port of Albany”


Locomotives/Motive Power:                                   

  • EMD E7A New York Central #4008
  • EMD E7A New York Central #4022

Both locomotives will come packaged as a 2-Unit Set


Want the complete set of the 20th Century Limited? Click here!

Kato told us there will be two locomotives plus the passenger car sets, those of you who would like to order can do so now. Prices and details will follow. 




The 20th Century Limited was an express passenger train on the New York Central Railroad (NYC) from 1902 to 1967. The train traveled between Grand Central Terminal (GCT) in New York City and LaSalle Street Station in Chicago, Illinois, along the railroad's "Water Level Route".

NYC inaugurated the 20th Century Limited as competition to the Pennsylvania Railroad, aimed at upper-class and business travelers. It made few station stops along the way and used track pans to take water at speed. In 1938, streamlined train sets designed by Henry Dreyfuss were added to the route.

The 20th Century Limited was advertised as "The Most Famous Train in the World". It was described in The New York Times as having been "[...] known to railroad buffs for 65 years as the world's greatest train", and its style was described as "spectacularly understated". The phrase "red carpet treatment" is derived by how passengers walked to the train on a specially designed crimson carpet.

Early history

Early 1900s version of the 20th Century Limited
"The Most Famous Train In The World" (1912 NYC ad)

The 20th Century Limited first ran on June 17, 1902. It completed its run from New York to Chicago in 20 hours, four hours less than previous trains, and arrived three minutes ahead of schedule. It offered a barbershop and secretarial services. The New York Times' report stressed on the routine nature of the trip, with no special procedures being followed and no extra efforts being made to break records. It said that there "was no excitement along the way," and quoted a railroad official's claim: "it is a perfectly practical run and will be continued." Engineer William Gates said, "This schedule can be made without any difficulty. I can do it every time, barring accidents."

The schedule cut two more hours off the run in June 1905, and on the 21st of that month, the train was wrecked on the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railway line at Mentor, Ohio. It reverted to 20 hours in 1912 and was unchanged until 1932. In 1935, it dropped to 16 hours, 30 minutes, then to 16 hours on June 15, 1938, when lightweight cars took over.

The engine change point was moved to Croton–Harmon station in 1913, when the NYC line was electrified south of that point.

20th Century Limited pulled by Hudson #5344 Commodore Vanderbilt departing Chicago's LaSalle Street station, 1935

In the 1920s, the New York-Chicago fare was $32.70 plus the extra fare of $9.60, plus the Pullman charge (e.g. $9 for a lower berth), for a total of $51.30. This fare entitled a passenger to a bed closed off from the aisle by curtains; a compartment to oneself cost more. In 1928, the peak year, the train earned revenue of $10 million and was believed to be the most profitable train in the world.

The cars of the 20th Century Limited were lit with fluorescent lamps soon after their introduction, which did coincide with the introduction of the new Art Deco train sets in 1938.

New train sets

In 1938, industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss was commissioned by the New York Central to design streamlined train sets in Art Deco style, with the locomotive and passenger cars rendered in blues and grays (the colors of NYC). The streamlined sets were inaugurated on June 15, 1938. His design was probably the most famous American passenger train. The first new 20th Century Limited train left New York City at 6 p.m. Eastern Time and arrived at Chicago's La Salle Street Station the following morning at 9 a.m. Central Time, traveling the 958 miles (1,542 km) at an average 60 miles per hour (97 km/h). The eastbound train left La Salle Street Station in Chicago at 3 p.m. and arrived at Grand Central Terminal the following morning at 8 a.m. For a few years after World War II, the eastward schedule was shortened to 15½ hours.

In 1945 EMD diesel-electrics replaced steam, and a new diesel-electric-powered trainset was commissioned. The replacement was inaugurated by General Dwight D. Eisenhower in September 1948. This set was featured in postwar films such as North by Northwest and The Band Wagon.

Like many express passenger trains through the mid-1960s, the 20th Century Limited carried an East Division (E.D.) Railway Post Office (R.P.O.) car operated by the Railway Mail Service (RMS) of the United States Post Office Department which was staffed by USPOD clerks as a "fast mail" on each of its daily runs. The mails received by, postmarked, processed, sorted, and dispatched from the 20th Century Limited's RPOs were either canceled or backstamped (as appropriate) during the trip by hand applied circular date stamps (CDS) reading "N.Y. & CHI. R.P.O. E.D. 20TH CEN.LTD." and the train's number: "25" (NY-CHI) or "26" (CHI-NY).

For much of its history before 1957, the all-Pullman train made station stops only at GCT and Harmon for New York–area passengers and LaSalle Street Station and Englewood for Chicago-area passengers. These traveled in as many as seven sections, of which the first was named the Advance 20th Century Limited. In 1957, the 20th Century Limited was combined with the Commodore Vanderbilt, adding more station stops to the original four (two terminals and two suburban stops). In the 1960s the NYC added slumbercoaches to the roster of sleeping cars.


By the late 1950s the train was in decline. On December 2, 1967, at 6:00 P.M., the half-full train left GCT, track 34 for the last time. As always, carnations were given to men and perfume and flowers to women boarding the train. The next day, it arrived at LaSalle Street Station in Chicago 9 hours 50 minutes late due to a freight derailment near Conneaut, Ohio.

Present day

Amtrak now operates the Lake Shore Limited between New York's Penn Station and Union Station in Chicago. Otherwise it follows a route similar to the 20th Century's, except west of Whiting, Indiana (near Chicago), where it switches to the former Pennsylvania Railroad's Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railway.

On August 26, 1999, the United States Postal Service issued 33-cent All Aboard! 20th Century American Trains commemorative stamps featuring five celebrated American passenger trains from the 1930s and 1940s. One of the five stamps features an image of a streamlined J-3a steam locomotive leading the 20th Century Limited out of the Chicago railyards on its way to New York, with the Board of Trade Building in the background.



A section of one of the famous red carpets, next to the observation car "Hickory Creek". The 20th Century Limited originally departed New York City from the right-hand side of this platform.

The 20th Century Limited was advertised as "The Most Famous Train in the World". In the year of its last run, The New York Times said that it "...was known to railroad buffs for 65 years as the world's greatest train". Its style was described as "spectacularly understated ... suggesting exclusivity and sophistication".:48–49 Passengers walked to the train in New York and Chicago on a specially designed crimson carpet, giving rise to the phrase "the red carpet treatment". "Transportation historians", said the writers of The Art of the Streamliner, "consistently rate the 1938 edition of the Century to be the world's ultimate passenger conveyance—at least on the ground". 

Regular passengers included Theodore Roosevelt, William Jennings Bryan, Lillian Russell, "Diamond Jim" Brady, J. P. Morgan, Enrico Caruso, and Nellie Melba.



This set does NOT have interior lighting

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Order Due Date: July 31, 2020

 Anticipated Delivery Date: December 2020


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$315.00 US