M2/M4/M6 (railcar)

The M2, M4 and M6 were three similar series of electric multiple unit rail cars produced by the Budd Company (M2), Tokyu Car Corporation (M4), and Morrison Knudsen (M6) for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Connecticut Department of Transportation. Initially branded as the Cosmopolitans, the cars were later more popularly known under their model names, M2 (1970s cars), M4 (1980s cars), M6 (1990s cars). They ran on the New Haven Line (then part of Penn Central, now a part of Metro North) for most of their service life.

An MTA-owned Budd M2 car at New Haven-Union Station in August 2006.
In serviceM2: April 1973-December 2018
M4: late 1987-2015
M6: 1994-2015
ManufacturerBudd Company/General Electric/Canadian Vickers/Avco (M2)
Tokyu Car Corporation (M4)
Morrison Knudsen (M6)
Built atErie, Pennsylvania (GE Shops)
Family nameBudd Metropolitan
ReplacedKawasaki Heavy Industries M Series rail car
ConstructedM2: 1973-1976[1]
M4: 1987[1]
M6: 1993-1995
Entered serviceM2: April 1973
M4: late 1987
M6: 1994
Number builtM2: 244
M4: 54
M6: 48
Number preservedM2: 2
M6: 4 (training only)
Number scrappedM2: 242
M4: 54
M6: 44
FormationM2: Married pair
M4/M6: Triplet
Fleet numbersM2: 8400-8471, 8500-8571, 8651-8669, 8700-8747, 8800-8849[1]
M4: 8900-8935, 8951-8985[1]
M6: 9000-9031, 9051-9081
CapacitySeated passengers:
M2: 120 (A car); 114 (B car)[1]
M4: 118 (A car); 113 (B car); 120 (D car)[1]
M6: 118 (A car); 106 (B car)[2]
Operator(s)Penn Central
Metro-North Railroad
Line(s) servedNew Haven Line
Car body constructionStainless Steel[1]
Train length170 ft (51.82 m) - 1,020 ft (310.90 m)
Car length85 ft 1 12 in (25,946 mm)[1]
Width10 ft 8 in (3,250 mm) (max)
Height13 ft (3,962 mm) (rail to roof)
14 ft 9 in (4,500 mm) (rail to top of resistor grid shrouding)
Floor height4 ft 3 116 in (1,297 mm)
Platform height4 ft (1,219 mm)
DoorsQuarter point, double leaf automatic
Maximum speed100 mph (160 km/h) (design)
80 mph (130 km/h) (service)
112,000 lb (50,802 kg)[1]
M4:133,000 lb (60,328 kg) (A car)
128,000 lb (58,060 kg)
132,000 lb (59,874 kg) (D car) (B car)[1]
Axle load35,600 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 motorsM2:
4x 160 hp (120 kW) GE 1259A DC motors[1]
4x 162 hp (121 kW) GE 1259 DC motors[1]
Power outputM2:
640 hp (480 kW)[1] @ 25 mph (40 km/h)
648 hp (483 kW)[1] @ 25 mph (40 km/h)
Tractive effort10,000 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)[3]
Acceleration1.5 mph/s (2.4 km/(h⋅s)) - 2 mph/s (3.2 km/(h⋅s)) (Starting)
Deceleration3.2 mph/s (5.1 km/(h⋅s)) (Emergency)
Train heatingelectric 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 methodContact shoe, Pantograph
BogiesGSI 70
Braking system(s)Pneumatic, dynamic
Coupling systemWABCO Model N-2A[1]
Multiple workingYes
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge


The M2 cars were built primarily by General Electric in a consortium with the Budd Company, Canadian Vickers and Avco between 1972 and 1977. They were initially branded as Cosmopolitans; 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). Final assembly of the M2 cars using Budd or Vickers bodies was completed at GE's Transportation Division in Erie, Pennsylvania.

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. Tokyu Car produced 54 M4 cars in 1987-1988, and Morrison-Knudsen produced 48 M6 cars in 1993-1995.

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

M2 series

The M2 "Cosmopolitan" series (numbers 8400-8849) replaced EMU cars dating from the early 1920s to 1954, including the Pullman 4400-series, which were originally manufactured for (and inherited from) the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad.[4] 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 on April 16, 1973. 144 base order cars were built in 1972-1974, followed by a 100-car option in 1975. These cars had been scheduled for delivery in spring 1971, but were delayed due to technical problems.[5]

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.

48 M2s were overhauled starting in 1994, with 24 returning to service in 1995.[6]:10

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

M4 series

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. It sought additional cars to increase service on the line after projections indicated an increase in ridership.[7]:17 Metro-North originally planned to purchase 44 additional M2s, but decided to award a contract for 54 M4 cars (8900-series) in 1987-1988 to Tokyu Car. The change was made due to the need to accommodate additional ridership, and because of perceived improvements the M4 model.[8]:109 The MTA Board approved the $77.3 million contract on December 20, 1984.[9] These cars were built in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.[10] Nemko assembled and finished the cars for Mitsui, which shipped the parts made by Tokyu.[11] In October 1986, these cars had been expected to enter service the following year.[12] The first cars were expected to arrive in early 1987.[13]

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. During the development of the order, Metro–North's operation and planning groups sought increased flexibility in the utilization of cars on the New Haven Line, and thus, decided on the triplets.[7]:21 The order was designed to ease maintenance and to improve reliability.[7]:19 The cars used fabricated bogies with air suspension, unlike previous cars in the M series.[14]:152

M6 series

As part of the MTA's 1987 Capital Program, 60 additional M4s would have been ordered to accommodate increasing ridership. This number was revised down to 48 in its February 1989 amendment, with 30 to be purchased by CTDOT, and 18 by the MTA. The December 1990 amendment changed the car order to a separate contract, the M6 series cars (9000-series). Similar to the change with the proposed purchase of M2 cars, the decision was made to purchase improved models following a reassessment of fleet requirements.[8]:110 The contract called for 39 cars, with an option for 9 more cars,[15] and was awarded to Morrison Knudsen in August 1990 for $91.5 million.[16] Work was scheduled to begin 1991, and continue until early 1993.

Nearly identical to the M4s, these cars were completed at Hornell, New York[17] with body shells from Mafersa. Morrison Knudsen was the last American builder of railcars, and heavily underbid on contracts, including on this contract, to gain a large share of the market.[18] Morrison Knudsen had almost no experience in the design of passenger railcars, and did not build a prototype for the M6. As a result, the first cars were rejected by Metro-North.[19] In April 1995, the M6s were delayed by 18 months; only 12 cars were accepted in 1994, with the rest scheduled to be put into service in 1995.[6]:I-7 [18]

The M6s 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

The M2s, M4s, and M6s were replaced, retired, and scrapped between 2012 and December 2018 as new M8 railcars entered service. In May 2014, Metro-North retired the bar cars, with the last one departing Grand Central Terminal on May 9. Since then, there have been several proposals to reintroduce bar cars by retrofitting the new M8 fleet.[20] All M4/M6s were removed from service by July 2015.[21] In November 2016, it was announced that the last 36 M2s would also be replaced by additional M8 cars beginning in 2019.[22][23] The M2s were finally removed from service at the end of December 2018.[24]

The Danbury Railway Museum in Danbury, Connecticut has preserved M2 pair 8706-8707.[25] M6 cars 9014 and 9015 were donated to the New England Disaster Training Center in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.[26] M6 cars 9030 and 9031 were donated to the MTA K9 Police Training Center and Connecticut Air National Guard in Stormville, New York, near East Fishkill.[27]

See also


  1. Gladulich, Richard M. (April 1995). Metro-North Railroad Equipment Diagram Book. Metro-North Railroad.
  2. Parkinson, Tom; Fisher, Ian (1996). Rail Transit Capacity. Transportation Research Board. p. 100. ISBN 9780309057189.
  3. Page 30
  4. "From Green MUs to M2s On The New Haven Line," by Anthony Fitzherbert (World Rail Photos)
  5. Prial, Frank J. (April 17, 1973). "Trapped Commuters on Hand to Greet New Train Arriving at Grand Central". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 20, 2019.
  6. Final Review of ... Operating Budget Results. 1994.
  7. Hawthorne, V. T.; Kneschke, T. (1988). Proceedings of the 1988 Joint ASME/IEEE Railroad Conference: Presented at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, April 13-14, 1988. American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
  8. Review of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Capital Program. The Office of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Inspector General. 1991.
  9. "MTA Okays Selling of Coliseum". New York Daily News. December 21, 1984. p. 29. Retrieved January 18, 2019.
  10. "On right track". Daily News. December 14, 1986. p. 696. Retrieved January 18, 2019.
  11. "Navy Yard to Turn Out Rail Cars". Star-Gazette. Elmira, New York. September 4, 1986. p. 3. Retrieved January 18, 2019.
  12. Brooke, James (October 22, 1986). "Column One: Transport". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 20, 2019.
  13. "Made in Japan". On Track. Metro-North Commuter Railroad: 1, 4, 5. December 1986.
  14. Jane's World Railways. Jane's Yearbooks. 1988.
  15. Yutko, R. T.; Ronalter, J. M.; Wilkins, J. J. (June 1996). "The Evolution Of M-6". Proceedings of the 1996 Rapid Transit Conference of the American Public Transit Association. American Public Transportation Association: 96–105.
  16. Annual Report. New York, New York: Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 1991. p. 70.
  17. Hicks, Gary (August 29, 1990). "Rail Car Deal Adds 100 Jobs. Morrison-Knudsen Wins $91.5 Million Contract". Star-Gazette. Elmira, New York. p. 16. Retrieved January 20, 2019.
  18. Sterngold, James (April 4, 1995). "Do Transit Rail Cars Need U.S. Label?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 20, 2019.
  19. O'Reilly, Brian; De Llosa, Patty; Rao, Rajiv M. (May 29, 1995). "Agee In Exile". Fortune Magazine. Retrieved January 20, 2019.
  20. http://web.mta.info/mnr/html/newM8.html
  21. "Update: New Haven Line M8 Rail Cars July 13, 2015". mta.info. Metropolitan Transportation Authority. July 13, 2015. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  22. Cummings, Bill (November 17, 2016). "Metro-North buying 60 new rail cars, 10 bar cars". Connecticut Post. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  23. "Press Release - Metro-North - MTA Metro-North Railroad to Receive Up to 94 Additional M8 Cars for the New Haven Line". MTA. November 16, 2016. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  24. "Metro-North Railroad Committee Meeting January 2019" (PDF). mta.info. Metropolitan Transportation Authority. January 2019. p. 84. Retrieved January 20, 2019.
  25. "Danbury Railway Museum official Facebook post". April 18, 2019.
  26. https://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-xpm-2012-12-24-hc-trains-for-training-1225-20121224-story.html
  27. "MTA PD Canine Training Facility". Official YouTube channel of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, State of New York. July 11, 2016.
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