M2 (railcar)

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M2/M4/M6 Metro-North Railcar
Budd M2-New Haven.jpg
An MTA-owned Budd M2 car at New Haven-Union Station, August 2006.
In service April 1973-present
Manufacturer Budd Company/General Electric/Canadian Vickers/Avco(M2)
Tokyu Car Corporation(M4)
Morrison Knudsen(M6)
Built at Erie, Pennsylvania (GE Shops)
Family name Budd Metropolitan
Replaced Kawasaki Heavy Industries M Series rail car
Constructed M2: 1973-1977
M4: 1987-1988
M6: 1993-1995
Entered service M2: April 1973
M4: late 1987
M6: 1994
Number built M2: 244
M4: 54
M6: 48
Number in service 32 (M2 only)
Number preserved M6: 2
Number scrapped M2: 212
M4: 54
M6: 46
Formation M2: Married pair
M4/M6: Triplet
Fleet numbers M2: 8400-8471, 8500-8571, 8650-8669, 8700-8749, 8800-8849
M4: 8900-8935, 8951-8985
M6: 9000-9031, 9051-9081
Operator(s) Penn Central
Metro-North Railroad
Line(s) served New Haven Line
Car body construction Stainless Steel
Train length 170 ft (51.82 m) - 1,020 ft (310.90 m)
Car length 85 ft 1 12 in (25,946 mm)
Width 10 ft 8 in (3,250 mm) (max)
Height 13 ft (3,962 mm) (rail to roof)
14 ft 9 in (4,500 mm) (rail to top of resistor grid shrouding)
Floor height 4 ft 3 116 in (1,297 mm)
Platform height 4 ft (1,219 mm)
Doors Quarter point, double leaf automatic
Maximum speed 100 mph (160 km/h) (design)
80 mph (130 km/h) (service)
Weight 126,500 lb (57,379 kg) (empty)
142,250 lb (64,524 kg) (full)
Axle load 35,600 lb (16,148 kg)
Traction system - Transformed AC overhead line current fed through mercury arc Ignitron (M2-original) rectifiers to a camshaft resistance motor controller
- Transformed AC overhead line current fed through Silicon (M2-rebuilt/M4/M6) rectifiers to a camshaft resistance motor controller
- DC third rail current fed directly to resistance controller.
Traction motors 4x 162 hp (121 kW) GE 1259 DC motors
Power output 648 hp (483 kW) @ 25 mph (40 km/h)
Tractive effort 10,000 lbf (44.5 kN) @ 0 mph (0 km/h)
14,200 lbf (63.2 kN) @ 10 mph (16 km/h)
5,565 lbf (24.8 kN) @ 50 mph (80 km/h)
3,878 lbf (17.3 kN) @ 80 mph (130 km/h)
1,900 lbf (8.45 kN) @ 100 mph (160 km/h)[1]
Transmission Electric
Acceleration 1.5 mph/s (2.4 km/(h⋅s)) - 2 mph/s (3.2 km/(h⋅s)) (Starting)
Deceleration 3.2 mph/s (5.1 km/(h⋅s)) (Emergency)
Power supply (?)
Train heating electric heat, air conditioning
Electric system(s) 11-13.5 kV 25 Hz AC (Catenary)
11-13.5 kV 60 Hz AC Catenary
660 V DC Third rail
Current collection method Contact shoe, Pantograph
Bogies GSI 70
Braking system(s) Pneumatic, dynamic
Coupling system WABCO Model N-2
Multiple working Yes
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge

The M2 railcar is a series of 244 electric multiple unit cars produced for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Connecticut Department of Transportation that ran on the New Haven Line (then part of Penn Central, now part of Metro North). Built primarily by General Electric in a consortium with the Budd Company, Canadian Vickers and Avco between 1972 and 1977, the cars were initially branded as Cosmopolitans. Final assembly of the M2 cars using Budd or Vickers bodies was completed at GE's Transportation Division in Erie, Pennsylvania.[citation needed]

Both the model and brand name followed the pattern set up by the M1/M1A series (the Metropolitans) in use on the Long Island Rail Road (M1) and on Metro-North's Hudson and Harlem lines (M1A). In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the M2 design was licensed by the MTA and ConnDOT to two other companies to produce follow-up series.

All cars were equipped with GE 1259 DC motors with a rated output of 162 horsepower (121 kW) on all axles.

M2 series[edit]

Cover of publicity booklet provided to commuters when the M2 Cosmopolitan railcars were launched, heralding a "new era in commuter travel"

The M2 Cosmopolitan series (#'s 8400-8849) replaced EMU cars dating from the early 1920s to 1954, including the Pullman 4400-series. These were originally manufactured for, and inherited from, the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad.[2] As with the cousin M1 series, the M2s accompanied an overhaul of the long-neglected main line and the New Canaan Branch in which longer, high level platforms were introduced along with other infrastructure improvements. The first M2s were accepted for service in April 1973. 144 base order cars were built in 1972-1974, followed by a 100-car option in 1975.

Aside from the technical differences of the New Haven Line (electrification via overhead catenary instead of third rail), the cars are similar to the sister M1A order and, in times of equipment shortages or severe weather, the M2s have run on the Hudson and Harlem lines. Most of the other differences are in the interior and exterior appearance of the cars, such as red striping on the exterior rather than blue, the interior wallpaper having both the New York and Connecticut state seals and the obvious pantograph and mechanical apparatus on the roof. Both the MTA and ConnDOT purchased bar cars, but complaints from riders from stations in New York, coupled with arrival of new equipment on the Hudson and Harlem lines, led to the conversion of the ten MTA-owned bar cars to standard coaches. The ten ConnDOT-owned bar cars, which ran on express trains to New Haven, Stamford, South Norwalk and New Canaan, remained in service during weekdays until May 2014.

M4/M6 series[edit]

M4s in the New Haven yard.

After the LIRR and Hudson/Harlem lines received an updated version of the original Metropolitan series of cars in 1984-86 (the LIRR M3 and Metro North M3A series), plans were announced for a similar undertaking on the New Haven Line. Originally, Budd was to produce these cars but pulled out in the wake of struggles that eventually led to the company's departure from railroad car manufacturing.

After Budd stepped away from the order, the rights to the M1/M3 and M2 designs were transferred to the MTA. With these rights, MTA and ConnDOT eventually awarded the order to Tokyu Car which produced 54 M4 cars (8900-series) in 1987-1988. Nearly identical to the M2s, Tokyu Car initially gave the "Triplex" brand name to the M4 cars to highlight their being a three-car set, as opposed to the married pairs of the M2s. These cars came to be known as "triplets" by railroad personnel. Though retired, one M4 triplet can still be seen at the New Haven Yard from a car driving by on I-95.

In 1994, 48 M6 series cars (9000-series) were produced by Morrison Knudsen. Nearly identical to the M4s, these cars were completed at Hornell, New York with body shells from Mafersa. The M6s also featured distinctive chimes that sounded whenever the doors were closed, a feature that did not exist on the M2s or M4s. The M6s also had black framed windows, giving them the illusion of being larger than the windows on the M2s and M4s. The M6s were also commonly referred to as "triplets".

Retirement and replacement[edit]

Seating plan and side profile of the M2 Cosmopolitan railcar shown in a booklet provided to commuters at the time of the car's launch
A reserve M2 in the New Haven Yard in April 2017.

By the start of the 21st century, the original Cosmopolitans began to reach the end of their expected service lives, with the oldest M2s having traveled over 1 million miles in all types of weather. It was then that the cars saw some of their most intense usage as the combination of increasing ridership and financial difficulties delayed the MTA and ConnDOT's abilities to fund replacement cars.

With the replacement of Rowland by Governor M. Jodi Rell in 2004, the process for a replacement series was expedited. After an earlier deal in principle with Bombardier Transportation fell through, Kawasaki Heavy Industries was awarded a contract in July 2006 to produce the M8 series, which began to enter service in March 2011. The 405 cars are based on the M7/M7A series much as the M2s were based on the M1 series, though with some interior improvements and a different front end.

The M2, M4, and M6 trains were replaced, retired, and scrapped between 2012 and July 2016. In May 2014, Metro-North retired the bar cars, with the last one departing Grand Central Terminal at 7:07 PM on May 9th. Since then, there have been several proposals to reintroduce bar cars by retrofitting the new M8 fleet.[note 1] By July 17, 2015, all M4s and M6s were retired. 36 M2 rail cars remain in the reserve fleet and still see occasional service. Otherwise all current service is provided by the M8 Kawasaki fleet.[3]

Two M6 cars were donated to MTA K9 Police Training Center and Connecticut Air National Guard in Stormville, NY, near East Fishkill. These are the only surviving M6s.

See also[edit]