Budd Rail Diesel Car

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For other meanings of RDC, see RDC (disambiguation).
Rail Diesel Car (RDC)
Budd RDC-2 B&O 2.jpg
Budd RDC-1 interior 1949.JPG
Interior of the RDC-1 demonstrator in 1949
In service 1949–
Manufacturer Budd Company
Constructed 1949–1962
Number built 398
  • RDC-1: 90 passengers
  • RDC-2: 70 passengers, baggage section
  • RDC-3: 48 passengers, RPO, baggage section
  • RDC-4: RPO, baggage section
  • RDC-9: 94 passengers
Car body construction Stainless Steel
Car length
  • RDC-1/2/3/9: 85 ft (25.91 m)
  • RDC-4: 73 ft 10 in (22.50 m)
Width 10 ft 0 38 in (3.06 m)
Height 14 ft 7 in (4.45 m)
Wheel diameter 33 in (838 mm)
  • RDC-1/2/3/9: 68 ft (20.73 m)
  • RDC-4: 56 ft 10 in (17.32 m)
Maximum speed 85 mph (137 km/h)
Weight 113,120 lb (51,310 kg)
Prime mover(s)
Power output
  • RDC-1/2/3/4: 550 hp (410 kW)
  • RDC-9: 275 hp (205 kW)
Transmission Hydraulic torque converter
UIC classification
  • RDC-1/2/3/4: (1A)(A1)
  • RDC-9: (1A)2′
AAR wheel arrangement
  • RDC-1/2/3/4: 1A-A1
  • RDC-9: 1A-2
Braking system(s) Air
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)

The Budd Rail Diesel Car, RDC or Buddliner is a self-propelled diesel multiple unit railcar. Between 1949 and 1962, 398 RDCs were built by the Budd Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. The cars were primarily adopted for passenger service in rural areas with low traffic density or in short-haul commuter service, and were less expensive to operate in this context than a traditional diesel locomotive-drawn train with coaches. The cars could be used singly or several coupled together in train sets and controlled from the cab of the front unit. The RDC was one of the few DMU (diesel multiple unit) trains to achieve commercial success in North America.

The basic car was adapted from a standard 85 ft (25.91 m) coach. They were powered by two Detroit Diesel (then a division of General Motors) Series 110 diesel engines, each of which drives an axle through a hydraulic torque converter, a technology adapted from military tanks of World War II. RDC trains were an early example of self-contained diesel multiple unit trains, an arrangement now in common use by railways all over the world.


Budd manufactured five basic variants of the RDC:

  • The RDC-1 — an 85 ft (25.91 m) all-passenger coach seating 90 passengers.
  • The RDC-2 — an 85 ft (25.91 m) baggage and passenger coach configuration (combine) seating 70 passengers.
  • The RDC-3 — an 85 ft (25.91 m) variant with a Railway Post Office, a baggage compartment and 49 passenger seats. Some had no R.P.O.
  • The RDC-4 — a 72 ft (21.95 m) variant with only the Railway Post Office and baggage area. Some were all baggage/express; others were later modified to haul about a dozen passengers.
  • The RDC-9 (also known as the RDC-5) — an 85 ft (25.91 m) passenger coach seating 94, a single engine and no control cab.

Over the years, various railroads cars had slightly differing capacity due seating types and in some cases replacement of seats with a snack counter or even a galley.

The RDC-1 was powered by two 6-cylinder Detroit Diesel Series 110 engines, each of 275 hp (205 kW).

In about 1959, Budd introduced an new version of the RDC, with several improvements. The new cars had more powerful engines (300 horsepower each, instead of the earlier 275 horsepower), higher capacity air conditioning, stronger end construction to better withstand collisions, a more comfortable seat for the engineer (older RDCs had what amounted to a bicycle seat on a collapsible frame for the engineer) and a larger, more powerful air horn, although buyers could specify chime horn combinations or, as in the case of the New Haven, Hancock air whistles. The new design was available in all versions, RDC-1, RDC-2, RDC-3, RDC-4 and RDC-9. The RDC-9 had one 300 horsepower engine.[citation needed]

Multiple unit[edit]

In 1956, the New Haven Railroad ordered a custom-built, six-car RDC train set named the Roger Williams. It consisted of 2-single-ended cab units, and four intermediate cars to make a complete train. The units were fitted with third-rail shoes, electric traction motors, and associated gear for operation into Grand Central Terminal, though this was short lived. In the New Haven's later years, the set was broken up, and used with regular New Haven RDCs, and by Amtrak into the 1980s.[citation needed]

Jet engines[edit]

Main article: M-497 Black Beetle

In what was billed as an experiment toward high-speed rail, the New York Central (NYC) fitted a pair of jet engines from a Convair B-36, complete in their twinned nacelle from the bomber's engine installation, atop one of their RDCs and added a shovel nose front (much like a later automotive air dam) to its cab, but extended upwards, covering the entire front end. This RDC, which NYC had numbered M497, set the United States speed record in 1966 when it traveled at just short of 184 mph (296 km/h) between Butler, Indiana, and Stryker, Ohio. It was never intended that jet engines propel regular trains. With the news about high-speed trains overseas, particularly the Japanese Shinkansen bullet trains, American railroads were under pressure to catch up. By strapping a pair of military surplus jet engines onto a Budd car, NYC found an inexpensive way to conduct research into how conventional rail technology behaves at very high speeds. Still, while some useful data were obtained from the tests, they are now generally considered to have been more of a publicity stunt.[1]


United States[edit]

The Boston and Maine Railroad owned by far the largest number of these units, but they were also very popular for commuter and short distance service with the passenger heavy railroads such as the New Haven Railroad, New York Central, Northern Pacific, Reading Railroad, Pennsylvania - Reading Seashore Lines, Baltimore and Ohio, Susquehanna and Jersey Central.

The Trinity Railway Express (TRE) service between Dallas, Texas and Fort Worth is using RDCs for commuter passenger service during off-peak hours, with connections available at various points to Amtrak and the DART system. Some of these were on loan to the Denton County Transportation Authority for the A-train service until its normal rolling stock of 11 third-generation Stadler GTW 2/6s was delivered. The Alaska Railroad possessed five RDCs, four of which were kept in service and one for parts cannibalization. Three were from SEPTA and two were from the former New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad.[2] RDCs were typically coupled and used for the railroad's Hurricane Turn service and the annual Fair Train. In 2009, however, the ARR sold the last of its operating RDCs to TriMet in Oregon where the cars were refurbished and are used as back-ups for its WES DMUs.[3] RDCs are still used in tourist train service by the Cape May Seashore Lines, the Newport Dinner Train and the North Shore Scenic Railroad.


Via Rail RDC-1 on Vancouver Island

Canadian railways used RDCs including Canadian Pacific Railway, British Columbia Railway (where they were known as Dayliners) and Canadian National Railway (known as Railiners). Both employed RDCs on less-populated routes, though CP also made extensive use of them on commuter trains around Montreal and Toronto. When Canadian Pacific and Canadian National passenger service was consolidated into Via Rail, Via Rail inherited these units and continues to use RDCs for scheduled services on the Victoria–Courtenay train on Vancouver Island and the Sudbury–White River train in Ontario. The cars on these routes are the only RDCs in the world that are still providing regular service.[4]

On March 29, 2010, Via Rail signed a contract with Industrial Rail Services for $12.6 million Canadian to refurbish and upgrade six of the RDCs built in the 1950s. The upgraded units would include new seating, wheelchair accessible washrooms, LED interior lighting, controls, wiring, heating, air conditioning systems, braking systems and rebuilt engines that meet Euro II standards.[5]

BC Rail (originally called the Pacific Great Eastern Railway) operated passenger rail service between North Vancouver and Prince George using RDCs until October 31, 2002, when the service was discontinued.

The airport rail link in Toronto between Union Station and Pearson International Airport was originally proposed to be operated by SNC Lavalin using refurbished RDCs as part of the now-defunct "Blue 22" proposal.[6] The project has since been transferred to Metrolinx, who instead purchased new Nippon-Sharyo Diesel Multiple Units for use on their Union Pearson Express service.[7]


Three RDC-1s were exported to Australia in 1951 to operate for the Commonwealth Railways. These cars were transported to Australia by Budd engineer Joseph F. Grosser. They ran between Port Pirie, Woomera Tarcoola, Marree and Whyalla, South Australia before being transferred to Australian National in July 1975 and withdrawn. In 1986 they were reinstated on services from Adelaide to Whyalla and Broken Hill before being withdrawn in December 1990.[8]

In 1961, five cars were built under license in Australia by Commonwealth Engineering for the New South Wales Government Railways.[9] They were smaller than the standard RDC in all dimensions due to a narrower loading gauge. One car was built with a buffet/snack bar accommodation in one end and was unique in being non-powered. They operated the South Coast Daylight Express between Sydney and Bomaderry. They were converted to locomotive hauled carriages in 1982 and withdrawn in 1993.[10][11]


Mafersa built some self-propelled cars under licence from Budd. They are called "litorinas" in Brazil (given that Italian slang for those trains is "littorina", which is itself inherited from the city name of Littoria). Mafersa also built unpowered passenger cars following the Budd style.

The Litorina RDCs were mostly popular in Southern part of the country, replacing the mixed freight/passenger trains in passenger service. The tariffs were cheaper than a bus ticket and the service could adapt just-in-time to the demand, by running a duplex, triplex or quadruplex train of RDCs. The service was suppressed in 1991. It still had a reasonable demand but the RDCs were in the end of useful life and the state-owned railroad company had begun to prepare for privatization as a freight-only model.

Mafersa RDCs for 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) metre gauge are much shorter than the original ones and based on the Pioneer III coach concept instead of the earlier RDC coach design and can be identified by the windows having more round corners. On the other hand, RDCs made for 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm) broad gauge tracks follow more closely the original Budd RDC.

Serra Verde Express (Green Mountain Express) is a tourism business that keeps a passenger train service between Curitiba and Paranaguá at Southern Brazil. The Mafersa/Budd RDCs are still active in this route as a "premium" options with air conditioner and catering service, while the regular passenger train is cheaper and simpler. The RDC go downhill by themselves and are towed by the passenger train uphill, probably due to the steep climb at this railway (3.3% maximum) and to avoid stressing the RDCs which are very old. Also, most of the tourist passenger demand is downhill only.


France briefly experimented with a single RDC prototype in the 1950s, numbered X-2051. Due to loading-gauge constraints, only the mechanical portion was used under a French carbody based on the X-2400 series. Due to its oddball status, it was quickly de-motored and used as a trailer.

Original owners[edit]

Budd constructed 398 RDCs between 1949–1962. The table below does not include the six cars which comprised the Roger Williams.[12]

Railroad Model Quantity Road Numbers Notes
Arabian American Oil Company / Saudi Government Railroad RDC-2 4 8000–8003
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway RDC-1 2 DC-191, DC-192
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad RDC-1 12 1908–1911, 6510–6517
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad RDC-2 4 1960–1961, 6550–6551
Boston and Maine Railroad RDC-1 57 6100–6156
Boston and Maine Railroad RDC-2 15 6200–6214
Boston and Maine Railroad RDC-3 7 6300–6306
Boston and Maine Railroad RDC-9 30 6900–6929
Budd (prototype/demonstrator) RDC-1 1 2960
Canadian National Railways RDC-1 9 D-200–D-201, D-102–D-108
Canadian National Railways RDC-2 5 D-201–D-203, D-205, D-250
Canadian National Railways RDC-3 5 D-100–D-101, D-302, D-351–D-352
Canadian National Railways RDC-4 6 D-150–D-151, D-401–D-402, D-451–D-452
Canadian Pacific Railway RDC-1 23 9050–9072
Canadian Pacific Railway RDC-2 22 9100–9115, 9194–9199
Canadian Pacific Railway RDC-3 5 9020–9024
Canadian Pacific Railway RDC-4 3 9200, 9250–9251
Central Railroad of New Jersey RDC-1 7 551–557
Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad RDC-1 1 RDC1
Chicago and North Western Railway RDC-1 2 9933–9934
Chicago and North Western Railway RDC-2 1 9935
Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad RDC-3 5 9002–9004, 9015–9016
Commonwealth Railways (Australia) RDC-1 3 CB1–CB3
Consolidated Railways of Cuba RDC-1 11
Consolidated Railways of Cuba RDC-2 5
Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway RDC-3 1 1
Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic Railway RDC-1 1 500
Duluth, Winnipeg and Pacific Railway RDC-3 1 D301
Grand Trunk Western Railroad RDC-2 1 D204
Grand Trunk Western Railroad RDC-3 1 D303
Great Northern Railway RDC-3 1 2350
Lehigh Valley Railroad RDC-1 1 40
Lehigh Valley Railroad RDC-2 1 41
Long Island Rail Road RDC-1 1 3101
Long Island Rail Road RDC-2 1 3121
Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway RDC-4 2 32–33
Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad RDC-3 1 20
New York Central Railroad RDC-1 16 M-451–M-465
New York Central Railroad RDC-2 1 M-480
New York Central Railroad RDC-3 3 M-497–M-499
New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad RDC-1 29 20–48
New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad RDC-2 2 120–121
New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad RDC-3 6 125–130
New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad RDC-4 3 135–137
New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway RDC-1 4 M-1–M-4
Northern Pacific Railway RDC-2 1 B30
Northern Pacific Railway RDC-3 2 B40–B41
Pacific Great Eastern Railway RDC-1 3 BC10–BC12
Pacific Great Eastern Railway RDC-3 4 BC30–BC33
Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines RDC-1 12 M-402–M-413
Reading Company RDC-1 12 9151–9162
RFFSA (Brazil) RDC-1 27 ED11–ED14, M504–M505, M552–M553, M600–M610, M700–M707
RFFSA (Brazil) RDC-2 2 ED51–ED52
Southern Pacific Railroad RDC-1 1 10
Western Pacific Railroad RDC-2 2 375–376
Western Railroad of Cuba RDC-1 4 901–904
Western Railroad of Cuba RDC-3 6 951–956


Several RDCs survive, both on tourist lines and in revenue service:

Seashore Lines car M410
Seashore Lines car M407
  • On March 29, 2010, Industrial Rail Services was awarded a contract to refurbish six RDCs for use by Via Rail in Ontario and British Columbia. IRSI currently owns over 25 RDCs.[13]
  • The Cape May Seashore Lines operates several restored and operational RDCs between Cape May Court House and Cape May, New Jersey.
  • The Orford Express is a tourist/dinner train that operates between Sherbrooke and Eastman in the Eastern townships (Cantons de l'est). The entire train, which is locomotive-hauled, includes two former Canadian Pacific RDCs and a former Northern Pacific dome sleeper converted for dining use.[14]
  • Former Boston & Maine RDC 6211 is cosmetically restored and on display at Bedford Depot Park in Bedford, Massachusetts.
  • The Wallowa Union Railroad operated three former Oregon DOT, former BC Rail RDCs (two RDC-1s and one RDC-3)[citation needed] on its Eagle Cap Excursion Train service on its rail line in northeastern Oregon until about 2009, but as of mid-2011 the cars were out of service. In 2013, they were sold to the Idaho Northern & Pacific Railroad for its Thunder Mountain Line in Idaho.[15]
  • The Pacific Northwest Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society owns two former Boston & Maine/MBTA RDC-9 trailer coaches.
  • TriMet, the Portland area transit agency, owns two former Alaska Railroad RDCs and has refurbished them for backup service on its Westside Express Service (WES) commuter rail line between Beaverton and Wilsonville, Oregon.
  • The Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad in Tillamook, Oregon has two former Central of New Jersey/New Jersey Transit RDC-1s. These are currently leased to the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad.
  • Via Rail Canada operates two RDC-2's and 3 RDC-1's in regular passenger service (see Canada section). It also uses the only remaining operational RDC-4.
  • Conway Scenic Railroad (North Conway, New Hampshire) operates an RDC-1 that was built for the New Haven Railroad in 1954 as their No. 23. It became Penn Central No. 68, then Amtrak No. 18, then Metro North No. 18 and was then sold to the New York Susquehanna & Western Railway where it was numbered M-5. As is the Conway Scenic tradition, the car reverted to its original number and became CSRR No. 23. The unit is used mid-week during shoulder seasons and for extra trips to Conway at peak times during the summer.
  • The Bellefonte Historical Railroad owns former RDG No. 9153 (BHRS No. 9153) and former NYNH&H No. 40 (BHRS No. 9167) at Bellefonte, PA on the NBER in operating condition with 9153 awaiting FRA upgrades to be completed.
  • Chicago & Northwestern No. 9933 is kept on static display at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Illinois. After service on the C&NW, the unit was sold to the Chesapeake and Ohio, then the MBTA, and still wears the paint scheme of the latter agency.
  • Boston & Maine 6929, an RDC-9 built in 12/58, is preserved at the New Hope Valley Railway in Bonsal, NC. It retains its original lettering.
  • The Newport Dinner Train owns and operates two RDC cars purchased from the Wilton Scenic Railroad, BC-30 and BC-15, both originating from BC Rail.
  • New Haven RDC-1 42 named “Firestone" formerly owned by MBTA is on display at Old Colony & Fall River Railroad Museum in Fall River,MA not in service but used as part of the museum besides Battleship Cove alongside railroad equipment including a former Pennsylvania Railroad P-70B,a former New York Central Caboose, and a New Haven Boxcar on former Old Colony tracks

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Staufer, Alvin (1981). New York Central's Later Power. Staufer. p. 494. LOC 80-50633. 
  2. ^ trainweb.org
  3. ^ blog.oregonlive.com
  4. ^ Passenger cars - Rail Diesel Car-2 | Via Rail. Viarail.ca. Retrieved on 2013-07-26.
  5. ^ "Government of Canada and Via Rail invest in rail service, jobs in Moncton Monday, 29 March 2010 Press Release". Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  6. ^ "Railway Gazette: Toronto airport rail link negotiations collapse". Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  7. ^ "Metrolinx Transit Expansion". Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  8. ^ CB class Budd Railcars Chris' Commonwealth Railways Pages
  9. ^ "The Budd Rail Cars of the New South Wales Railways" Neve, Peter Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, September 1990 pp. 207–221
  10. ^ "Railcar Recollections" MacFarlane, Ian Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, September 1998 pp. 323–340
  11. ^ Cooke, David (1984). Railmotors and XPTs. Australian Railway Historical Society NSW Division. ISBN 0-909650-23-3. 
  12. ^ Duke & Keilty 1990, pp. 251–270
  13. ^ Moncton Firm signs $12.6M Via Rail deal
  14. ^ Orford Express. Retrieved 2012-12-04.
  15. ^ Anderson, Chuck (July 28, 2011). "Free of debt and stored rail cars, railroad sees clear tracks ahead". The Observer (La Grande, Oregon). Retrieved December 4, 2012. 


  • Crouse, Chuck (1990). Budd Car, the RDC Story. Mineola, NY: Weekend Chief Publishing. ISBN 0-9612814-2-1. 
  • Duke, Donald; Keilty, Edmund (1990). RDC: The Budd Rail Diesel Car. San Marino, CA: Golden West Books. ISBN 0-87095-103-3. 
  • Dorin, Patrick C. (1972). Chicago and North Western Power. Superior Publishing. p. 190. ISBN 0-87564-715-4. 
  • Scheurle, Bob, New York Central RDC3 No. M497. Retrieved March 14, 2005.
  • Wayner, Robert J., ed. (1972). Car Names, Numbers and Consists. New York: Wayner Publications. OCLC 8848690. 
  • Budd production roster [1]. Retrieved June 6, 2009

External links[edit]