Metroliner (train)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other uses, see Metroliner (disambiguation).
Budd Pennsylvania Railroad Metroliner electric multiple-unit car circa 1968 before acceptance. All Metroliners, including this car, began revenue service with Penn Central markings.
Service type High Speed Inter-city rail
Status Active (as a conference car for Amtrak; converted for push-pull services for Amtrak since the late 1980s)
Locale Northeast Corridor
First service 1969
Last service 2000s (regular Metroliners)
Successor Acela Express
Former operator(s) Penn Central (1969-1971)
Amtrak (1971-2000s {regular}) 1969; 1971; late 1980s-present (patrol and conference)
Start New York City
End Washington, DC
Distance travelled 225 miles (362 km)
Average journey time 2.5 to 3.4 hours[1]
Service frequency 6-10 per day each way
On-board services
Class(es) Business and First
Rolling stock
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Operating speed up to 125 mph (201 km/h)
Track owner(s) PC, Amtrak

The Metroliners were extra-fare high speed trains between Washington, D.C., and New York City from 1969 to 2006.[2][3] They were first operated by Penn Central Transportation, successor to the Pennsylvania Railroad, and later by Amtrak.

Originally using self-powered electric multiple unit cars (later replaced by locomotive-hauled cars due to decreasing reliability and other issues) the train had reserved business-class and first-class seating. A trip between New York's Pennsylvania Station and Washington, D.C.'s Union Station took 2.5 to 3.4 hours.[1]

Amtrak replaced Metroliner service with high-speed (150 mph or 240 km/h) Acela Express trainsets. The unconverted Metroliners were retired in the early- to mid-2000s[4]


Penn Central's Metroliner train service launch schedule issued January 16, 1969, showing a single round trip between New York and Washington, D.C.

The High Speed Ground Transportation Act of 1965 started a U.S. Government effort to develop a high speed train for Northeast Corridor service. The U.S. Department of Transportation worked with the Pennsylvania Railroad, Budd Company, General Electric and Westinghouse to develop an electric multiple unit, high speed passenger train with initial service target for 1967.[5]

Metroliner service finally started on January 16, 1969,[6] operated by Penn Central Transportation, successor to the Pennsylvania Railroad after its merger with the rival New York Central Railroad, using newly developed Budd Metroliner EMUs. The initial schedule was one daily train each way between Washington and New York, and a second train in each direction was soon added; a non-stop between Washington and New York was added on April 2, 1969.[6] Top speed was 120 mph for the first couple of years and 100-110 mph during the 1970s. The Metroliner was run by Penn Central until taken over by the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) in 1971.[5]

In 1982 Amtrak finished replacing the Budd Metroliner cars, which had developed problems with their motors limiting their speed, with trains powered by the Swedish-developed AEM-7 locomotives pulling conventional Amfleet I and II coaches, whose design was based on the Metroliner, at up to 120 mph (later 125). In the six months following October 29, 1990 the morning nonstop express trains were scheduled to cover the distance between Washington and New York in two hours and thirty minutes,[7] an average speed from start to arrival of better than 90 miles per hour.

Amtrak expanded Metroliner service when problems developed with Acela Express braking systems during 2002 and 2005. As trainsets were repaired, the number of Metroliner trains declined to one round trip each weekday, eventually retired (for cars that were neither patrol or conference[clarification needed]) and the fleet was transferred to other routes. The current Northeast Regional service matches Metroliner top speed but does not offer first class seating.


Main article: Budd Metroliner

The first version of the Metroliner was an electric multiple unit train of Budd Metroliner self-propelled cars. These cars were the basis for the Amfleet railcars.

The second incarnation of the Metroliner, then owned by Amtrak, from 1982 to the 2000s was roughly equivalent to today's current Northeast Regional service trains but with Amfleet cars hauled by AEM-7 locomotives at 125 MPH.


  1. ^ a b Metroliner Timetable, Penn Central, October 26, 1969,
  2. ^ "Atlantic Coast Services timetable" (PDF). Amtrak. 2007-04-02. Retrieved 2007-08-30. 
  3. ^ "Metroliner". Amtrak. 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-30. 
  4. ^ "Amtrak to run last Metroliner". 2006-09-08. Retrieved 2006-09-08. 
  5. ^ a b Goldberg, Bruce (2006-06-30). "Metroliner's Amazing Career". Trains Magazine. No. June 2006. Waukesha, Wi: Kalmbach Publishing. 
  6. ^ a b Morgan, David P. (May 1969). "Metroliners: better late than never?". Modern Railways. XXV (248): 248. 
  7. ^ Trains Magazine (June 30, 2006). "Metroliner's amazing career - Pivotal moments in the life of America's first high-speed train". Retrieved April 30, 2016. 

See also[edit]