The EMD FL9 (New Haven Class EDER-5) is a dual-power electro-diesel locomotive, capable of diesel-electric operation and as an electric locomotive powered from a third rail. Sixty units were built between October 1956 and November 1960 by General Motors Electro-Motive Division for the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad (the "New Haven").

New Haven FL9 No. 2010 at Enfield in 1968
Type and origin
Power typeElectro-diesel
BuilderGeneral Motors Electro-Motive Division (EMD)
Build dateOctober 1956 – November 1960
Total produced60
Gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Length59 ft 0 in (17.98 m)
Loco weight287,000 lb (130,000 kg)
Electric system/s660 V DC Third rail
Current pickup(s)Contact shoe
Prime moverEMD 567C (2000–2029),
EMD 567D1 (2030–2059)
Engine typeV16 Two-stroke diesel
AspirationRoots blower
Displacement9,072 cu in (148.663 L)
GeneratorDC generator
Traction motorsDC traction motors
Cylinder size8.5 in × 10 in (216 mm × 254 mm)
Loco brakeStraight air, original 24RL later 26C
Train brakesAir
Performance figures
Maximum speed89 mph (143 km/h)
Power output567C: 1,750 hp (1,300 kW),
567D1: 1,800 hp (1,300 kW)
Tractive effort53,200 lbf (236.6 kN) (Starting)
29,500 lbf (131.2 kN) (Continuous) @ 9.3 mph
OperatorsNew Haven, Penn Central, Amtrak, Conrail, ConnDOT, Metro-North
ClassEDER-5 (2000-2029),
EDER-5a (2030-2059)
LocaleNorth America
Dispositiona few still in occasional service, some others preserved in museum collections, Metro North's and ConnDot's retired


The locomotive was based on the EMD FP9, lengthened to accommodate additional equipment, including a larger train heating steam boiler. Due to the additional weight, the locomotive was equipped with a three-axle rear truck, giving it an uncommon B-A1A wheel arrangement. The middle axle of the rear truck was not powered. The Flexicoil type of truck was used at both front and rear, due to this type of truck having more room for fitting the third rail shoes.[1]

The FL9 was capable of using either an over-running or under-running third rail by means of retractable shoes operated by pneumatic cylinders. The first thirty locomotives had a small DC pantograph for use within New York City's Grand Central Terminal, where long gaps exist in the third rail because of the complex trackage that includes numerous railroad switches.[2] For operation into the Pennsylvania Railroad's Pennsylvania Station, the FL9 used the Long Island Rail Road's third rail system.[3]

The electrical supply available from the third rail—660 V DC—was identical to the requirements of diesel locomotive traction motors, enabling a fairly easy conversion to a dual-power locomotive. A DC electric compressor provided air for the brake system until the diesel engine was started. Two batches of FL9s were built; 30 locomotives (including the original test units 2000 and 2001, originally built with a Blomberg front truck, but later upgraded following testing) from October 1956 through November 1957 of 1,750 hp (1,305 kW) from an EMD 567C engine; and 30 between June and November 1960 of 1,800 hp (1,342 kW) from a newer EMD 567D1 engine.[4] The two engines for the unit were 20 cylinders designated as the 567C with 1750 horsepower and the 567D1 with 1800 horsepower. [5] The paint scheme as delivered was the bright McGinnis scheme of red-orange, black and white and the Herbert Matter designed "NH" logo. FL9s were initially fitted with the Hancock air whistle, a trademark of New Haven units of this time, instead of the standard air horns on diesel locomotives.


New Haven trackage between Woodlawn and New Haven, Connecticut, 72 miles from Grand Central, was electrified in the early 1900s at 11,000 volts, 25 Hz AC overhead. The New Haven was the pioneer of heavy mainline railroad electrification in the United States. Early plans to extend the catenary to Boston were never completed due to the perennial financial problems that plagued the New Haven almost continuously from the 1920s to its demise in 1969. Amtrak finished the project in 1999 in advance of the Acela Express.

The FL9s allowed through passenger trains from Grand Central Terminal to reach Boston, Springfield, and other non-electrified destinations without the need for an engine change at New Haven. They were purchased with the intent of allowing the eventual elimination of all New Haven electric locomotives and the abandonment of the electrification east of Stamford, Connecticut, 33 miles from Grand Central. The fact that the entire New York to Boston line is now electrified shows the short-sightedness of this concept, which had been adopted by the McGinnis management to avoid the cost of modernizing the New Haven's Cos Cob, Connecticut power plant. The New Haven to Boston electrification was completed by Amtrak in 1999.

Prior to the introduction of the FL9, all non-multiple unit New Haven passenger trains were hauled by electric locomotives between New York and New Haven, with a change to steam (before 1950) or diesel at New Haven. Meeting the weight limits of the Park Avenue Viaduct in Manhattan, the FL9 made it possible to eliminate the engine change. FL9s were used on the New Haven's premier name train, the Merchants Limited, which covered the 229.5 miles between Grand Central Terminal and South Station, Boston in 4 hours 15 minutes.

Introduction of the FL9 allowed the New Haven to scrap its entire fleet of pre-1955 electric locomotives, many of which were less than 25 years old. The FL9 had higher operating costs and lower performance than the electric locomotives it replaced. The only New Haven electrics surviving through the FL9 period were the General Electric EP5 "Jets" of 1955 as well as the freight service General Electric E33s purchased secondhand from the Virginian Railroad in 1959. Three FL9s were required to approach the performance of one EP5. But the powerful "Jets" were doomed by poor maintenance, and the last were retired in 1977, after having been regeared for freight service by inheritor Penn Central in 1973. In keeping with the New Haven's policy of dual service utilization of locomotives, FL9s were used at night to move a Trailer-on-FlatCar (TOFC) train, with difficulty, in one direction between the Cedar Hill yard in New Haven and the Oak Point yard in The Bronx. Assigned to this train in the other direction, an EP5 locomotive could easily outrun automobile traffic on the adjacent Connecticut Turnpike.


The FL9s could be considered successful, despite being under-powered compared to the powerful electrics they replaced, which also had their problems. However, for other reasons, the New Haven never did abandon its electrification, negating the primary reason for purchasing the FL9s. In 1969, the New Haven FL9 fleet passed to Penn Central on the merger of the Pennsylvania Railroad and New York Central Railroad, and some were repainted in Penn Central schemes, while others remained in their former New Haven paint. When the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) began funding these commuter services in 1970, many were repainted blue with a bright yellow nose, although they remained Penn Central-owned. The locomotives passed to Conrail in 1976. 12 FL9s were sold to Amtrak, six of which were remanufactured by Morrison-Knudsen starting in 1978 and remained in Amtrak service until at least 1996.[6][7]

Also in 1978, FL9 #5048 was used in the filming of the original Superman movie starring Christopher Reeve. Still painted in New Haven livery, the unit was depicted pulling a commuter train past the entrance to Lex Luthor's hideout during the villain's introduction scene.[8]

In 1983, Conrail passed its commuter operations to state agencies. In New York State, the MTA formed Metro-North Railroad as a subsidiary company to operate these, and operations in Connecticut under contract with that state. The locomotives were repainted in Metro-North colors (more commonly in a silver, blue, and red scheme;[9] some in a silver and blue scheme[10]), and a large number of them, now in some cases over 25 years old, were rebuilt and modernized. Ten rebuilt for the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDT) were painted in the original New Haven (New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad) paint scheme, which has since been applied to remanufactured locomotives in the CDT's Shoreline East service pool, and on four new GE Genesis II P32AC-DM dual-mode locomotives.

Many were replaced only in the early years of the 21st century by new power, a service life of almost 50 years. Metro-North and Connecticut DOT, along with the Housatonic Railroad, operated a "Farewell to the FL9's" fan trip from Stamford, CT to Canaan, CT and return on October 23, 2005. The last FL9 to see passenger service was in late 2009. Metro-North retired all its remaining FL9s in 2009. Six owned by the Connecticut Department of Transportation are currently retired and are being stored in New Haven Yard awaiting sale.[11]

The FL9s are restricted to branch lines since they no longer have the ability to operate on third rail power.

Surviving examples

Several FL9s exist today, donated to several museums and railways.

  • All Amtrak units were purchased by the Morristown and Erie Railway, New Jersey. Two went to tourist train service on the M&E owned Maine Eastern Railroad (488-489), and the other remaining Morristown owned units to scrap (485-487). After the Maine Eastern Railroad ceased operations, 488 and 489 were then sent to the Whippany Railway Museum, where they are still seen pulling excursions run by the museum.
  • The Orford Express in eastern Quebec, Canada also has an operational FL9, numbered 484.
  • No. 2023, formerly no. 2057, is preserved at the Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum.[12]
  • From May 29 to June 1, 2014, New Haven FL-9 No. 2019 (formerly New Haven No. 2049) was in operation at the Streamliners at Spencer event in North Carolina. This unit was restored by the Railroad Museum of New England, and is now used to pull RMNE's Northern Lights Limited holiday train during the winter season.[13]
  • Two FL9s are in service and maintained on the Cape Cod Central Railroad in Massachusetts. (#2011 and #2026)
  • In addition to New Haven No. 2019, the Railroad Museum of New England currently has two FL9s awaiting restoration: the oldest surviving FL9, New Haven No. 2005 (currently numbered as No. 2002)[13] as well as the very last EMD F-unit ever built, New Haven No. 2059 (current painted in Metro-North livery as Metro-North No. 2033).[14]
  • As of Feb 2019 two FL9, No, 2014 and No. 2016 are presently in Fort Worth Texas in the rail yard of the Fort Worth and Western RR. They were probably purchased by the Grapevine Vintage Railroad for use on their scenic RR.

Original buyers

RailroadQuantityRoad numbers
New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad
RailroadQuantityRoad numbersNotes
Connecticut Department of Transportation 6 2011, 2014, 2016, 2019, 2024, 2026, 2027 All ex-NH. All have retired in 2009. 2019 was sold many years before the retirement of the rest in 2009. As of 2018 the last remaining units that were retired have been sold off to other railroads.
Naugatuck Railroad 1 2019 ex-CDOT/NH
Massachusetts Coastal Railroad 2 2011 and 2026 Both units were purchased secondhand from ConnDOT. Ex-NH
Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum 1 2024 Purchased secondhand from ConnDOT. Ex-NH
Grapevine Vintage Railroad 2 2014 and 2016 Both units are ex-CDOT/NH

See also


  1. Solomon 2011, p. 114
  2. Hartley 1993, p. 35
  3. Hartley 1993, p. 36
  4. Pinkepank 1973, p. 101
  5. Garrat, Colin (1999). The World Encyclopedia of Locomotives. USA: Anness. p. 156. ISBN 1-84038-487-5.
  6. "AMTRAK E8's, late 1970s... Bonus, AMTRAK FL9's, 1996" via www.youtube.com.
  7. "Amtrak FL-9 @ Yonkers.(1996)" via www.youtube.com.
  8. ""Superman" (1978) Goofs". IMDB.com. Retrieved June 5, 2015.
  9. White, Eric. "Rapido Trains HO scale FL9 diesel locomotive". Model Railroader (February 2016). Retrieved 1 November 2016.
  10. "New model trains for the week of March 3, 2015". Model Railroader. 2 March 2016. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
  11. Kadden, Jack (2005-11-06). "The Last Stop Draws Near: Catching Up With the FL9". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  12. EMD FL9 Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum
  13. otto.vondrak. "CDOT 2002 (NH 2005) and 2019 (NH 2049) – Railroad Museum of New England". Retrieved 2019-01-06.
  14. otto.vondrak. "New Haven 2059 (Metro-North 2033) – Railroad Museum of New England". Retrieved 2019-01-06.

Secondhand Owners

  • Hartley, Scott (March 1993). "The Unsinkable FL9". Trains. Vol. 53 no. 3. pp. 34–41. ISSN 0041-0934.
  • Pinkepank, Jerry A. (1973). The Second Diesel Spotter's Guide. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Kalmbach Publishing. ISBN 978-0-89024-026-7.
  • Solomon, Brian (2011). Electro-Motive E-Units and F-Units: The Illustrated History of North America's Favorite Locomotives. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Voyageur Press. ISBN 978-0-7603-4007-3.

Further reading

  • Cook, Preston (July 2008). "Something About F-Units". Railfan & Railroad. Vol. 27 no. 7. pp. 42–49. ISSN 0163-7266.
  • Hollingsworth, Brian; Cook, Arthur F. (1987). The Great Book of Trains. New York: Portland House. ISBN 978-0-517-64515-4.
  • Lamb, J. Parker (2007). Evolution of the American Diesel Locomotive. Railroads Past and Present. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-34863-0.
  • Marre, Louis A. (1995). Diesel Locomotives: The First 50 Years: A Guide to Diesels Built Before 1972. Railroad Reference Series. Waukesha, Wisconsin: Kalmbach Publishing. ISBN 978-0-89024-258-2.
  • Middleton, William D. (2001) [1974]. When the Steam Railroads Electrified (2nd ed.). Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-33979-9.
  • Schafer, Mike (1998). Vintage Diesel Locomotives. Enthusiast Color Series. Osceola, Wisconsin: MBI Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7603-0507-2.
  • Solomon, Brian (2000). The American Diesel Locomotive. Osceola, Wisconsin: MBI Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-7603-0666-6.
  • Solomon, Brian (2005). EMD F-Unit Locomotives. North Branch, Minnesota: Specialty Press. ISBN 978-1-58007-192-5.
  • Solomon, Brian (2006). EMD Locomotives. St. Paul, Minnesota: Voyageur Press. ISBN 978-0-7603-2396-0.
  • Solomon, Brian (2010). Vintage Diesel Power. Minneapolis, Minnesota: MBI Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7603-3795-0.
  • Solomon, Brian (2012). North American Locomotives: A Railroad-by-Railroad Photohistory. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Voyageur Press. ISBN 978-0-7603-4370-8.
  • Swanberg, J. W. (Spring 2015). "Playing With Fire: The Saga of the FL9". Classic Trains. Vol. 16 no. 1. pp. 78–83. ISSN 1527-0718.
  • Wilson, Jeff (1999). F Units: The Diesels That Did It. Golden Years of Railroading. Waukesha, Wisconsin: Kalmbach Publishing. ISBN 978-0-89024-374-9.
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