The New Haven Railroad's Besler steam-powered, streamlined passenger train at the yard at Bridgeport, CT, November 11, 1936.

(Internet photo, Fair use, Title 17, Section 107, via the W. Lenheim Collection)


Rectangular New Haven herald, gold script lettering, forest green background.


The Besler Steam Train was a streamlined two-car trainset of the New Haven Railroad powered by steam. Constructed in 1936 from two streamlined heavyweight cars, the power was located in four cylinders located on the front truck, with high pressure driving the lead axle and low pressure on the rear axle. The steam generator was designed by William and George Besler, who had successfully designed steam engines used in cars and even in aircraft.

The Budd-built train was originally supposed to have been built of lightweight stainless steel, but the economic situation at the time forced the NH into re-purposing heavyweight passenger cars. Although they looked beautifully streamlined, they were still heavyweight cars which ultimately was too much for the steam propulsion drive, leading to breakdowns and maintenance issues. This, combined with the the fact that cars could not be removed from the trainset, led to the train's ultimate failure. Most historians feel that had the lightweight cars been used, the story would have been different. As it was, the train was used in passenger service from 1936 to 1943.


First Steam Powered Trains - Besler

An excellent vintage film showcasing the Besler Steam Train.

"William and George Besler designed steam engines including one for a train. The "Besler" train was a two-car self-propelled mini-train with a small steam engine in one car, known informally as the "Blue Goose". Numbered 9210-9211, it ran from 1936 to 1943, mostly on the Naugatuck Valley line between Waterbury and Bridgeport but had frequent mechanical problems and so was never successful enough to be duplicated. Gas-electric railcars, and then the Budd RDC, got the branchline market that Besler was looking for. Following its retirement, the Besler set had it's engine removed, and was broken up, and the two cars continued in service a while longer on the NH as a standard coach and combine."