Imre A. Reiner, train rail designer

August 11, 1993|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Staff Writer

Imre A. Reiner, an internationally recognized expert on railroads who escaped with his wife from Hungary during the 1956 uprising, died July 30 of internal bleeding at Union Memorial Hospital.

The longtime Guilford resident was 73.

He retired in 1985 as manager of engineering research for the former Baltimore and Ohio railroad and its corporate heir, CSX Corp. He joined the railroad in 1957 after he and his wife immigrated here from Vienna.

In 1966, he designed a rail that was lighter and more durable than existing rails. He hoped that his rail would be adopted as an industry standard by the American Railway Engineering Association. That didn't happen, but his rails were used on the B&O system.

"He was a farsighted individual whose work resulted in savings for the railroad," said Bob Jackson, a civil engineer for Whitman Requardt and Associates who worked with Mr. Reiner.

"Quiet and unassuming, he was truly a scholar and a research man who always looked to the scientific approach to solve problems," Mr. Jackson said. "He was a theorist and the kind of person who advanced railroading. Imre could come up with solutions because the engineering said so, rather than employing trial and error."

Mr. Reiner and his wife, the former Irene Kovacs, escaped from Hungary on New Year's Eve in 1956 by walking through a snowstorm to the Austrian border 20 miles away. It was while waiting in Vienna for a visa that their plight came to the attention of the American Academy of Sciences, which eventually sponsored them in the United States. They became U.S. citizens in 1962.

Mr. Reiner was born in Budapest in 1920. His father was a banker, and his mother a teacher. He was educated in local schools and earned his civil engineering degree at the University of Technical Sciences in Budapest in 1942.

During World War II, he served in the Hungarian army as an engineer and was taken prisoner by the Germans. After the war, he and fellow engineers, who had been forced to work on German projects, walked back to Hungary. The journey took three months, according to his wife, whom he married in 1948.

At the time of the Hungarian uprising, he had been chief engineer of the National Railways of Hungary since 1945.

His hobby was photography, and he photographed flowers, trees, buildings and ships. He also played tennis and pingpong and relaxed by playing the piano.

Services are planned for this month in Budapest.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Andrea Lynch of Guilford, Conn.; a brother, Endre Reiner of Budapest; and two grandsons.

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