• An Early Ride on the Metroliner

  • Tell us where you were and what you saw!
Tell us where you were and what you saw!

Moderator: David Benton

  by Noel Weaver
I might get nailed for off topic here but many years ago before Amtrak, during the very first months of Metroliner MU equipment operation, they were only using the GE cars in revenue service so it was limited to snack bar coaches and parlor cars. The Westinghouse equipped cars still had a lot of bugs and problems and they could not successfully MU the two varieties.

It was 1969 and I had a regular job firing out of Penn Station to New Haven and return. There used to be a sheet of notes regarding
passenger trains, special moves and other notes. I always checked it every day although it was not required of engine crews and one day I found a note at a train of Westinghouse cars would run an evening trip to Philadelphia in revenue service. This was not a Metroliner schedule but just a plain old clocker to Philly. Our system passes were not good on the Metroliner schedules but this was a 200 series train so I could ride it on my pass.

I took the evening ride down to 30th Street and remember hearing the people on the radio discussing the equipment all of the way down. They seemed to think that they had conquered the majority of the problems that they were having with these cars and indeed, quite soon after this some of the Westinghouse cars began to appear in regular service.

Noel Weaver

  by John_Perkowski
Moderator's Note,

Split from an Acela thread and moved to Mr Benton's Rail Travel and Trip Reports Forum.

  by Nasadowsk
One big issue with the Westinghouse cars is they'd trip substations, due apparently to their rather unique single winding, low impedance transformers, which were supposed to be able to cope with both 25hz 11kv and 60hz 25kv power, with low side tap changers.

The GE cars used a proven high side changer (though the changeover gear was never installed).

I don't know why they split the traction order, but they did and IMHO it was a bad idea.

I've read that Amtrak actually did want a follow on to the Metros, but Budd wouldn't build it for them. It was quite a black eye for Budd, and I suspect, given what I've read prior to the project, that the end result was not what they wanted, and they wanted no part of it anymore after the dust settled.

I have some of the writings from Budd's engineers in the mid 60's, and it as clear they were thinking ahead of everyone else - they talk about a lightweight EMU that potential would have had a monomotor truck, or even body mounted motors, though they suggested the Pioneer III as an immediate possibility. They also discussed high speed DMUs and even gas turbine units (though those never really went anywhere). They also proposed HSTs as being unit trains as opposed to married pairs or interchangeable cars.

They also pointed out that you needed an integrated transit system, and that rail could not be the 'one stop shop' for all of the NEC's needs.

Interestingly, they pointed out the Japanese efforts of the time, and held them in high regard

I never even saw the Metros in service, let alone ride on them, which I kinda find a bummer, because they were a remarkably interesting car, even if they were a technological failure.

  by hsr_fan
Nasadowsk wrote: I never even saw the Metros in service, let alone ride on them, which I kinda find a bummer, because they were a remarkably interesting car, even if they were a technological failure.
Same here! The closest I'll come is riding aboard a converted cab car on a Keystone one of these days, hopefully!

  by pennsy
Famous Tall Tale:

My sainted father-in-law got stuck in Washington DC after he had spent the week there on business and the winter weather had grounded all flights back to NYC. He was quite depressed when he phoned us in Far Rockaway and told us he could not make it home for dinner. I recommended to him that he take a cab to Union Station, DC and catch the Metroliner to Penn Station, and the LIRR to Far Rockaway. Once at the Far Rockaway station he should phone us and we would pick him up. With luck we would see him in time to have a late dinner that Friday night.

That is exactly what he did, and came home with marvelous reports of how great a ride the Metroliner provided. He spent the trip in the lounge car, smoking his cigar and chatting with the other passengers. He avoided looking out of the windows since everything was a blur. I had told him the train cruised at 100 mph. He really enjoyed his dinner that night and we spent the evening listening to his "exploits" on the Metroliner.
  by JimBoylan
Nasadowsk wrote:I don't know why they split the traction order, but they did and IMHO it was a bad idea.
PCC trolley car orders also suffered from this problem. Even today, railroads will split orders for Diesel locomotives.

  by David Benton
Alan ,i hope you got some credit for getting your father in law home !

  by hsr_fan
Well, I did take a ride in cab car 9635 today, which in its former life was Metroliner 823. So, I guess that's as close as I'll get to riding a Metroliner MU! :-D

  by walt
I managed to ride on a Metroliner MU train between Philly and Baltimore back in the late 1970's after a Redskins-Eagles game. The ride was uneventful, but it was a little weird exiting the train at Baltimore through the engineer's position.

  by hsr_fan
Hmm, apparently 9635 was actually Metroliner car 810, not 823. Some site out there had it incorrect.

  by pennsy
Hi David,

Depends on what you call credit. At that time my sainted father-in-law was heavy into cigars, Garcia y Vega, Claro Claro. Really long cigars, and very lightly colored (claro claro). So after a really nice dinner I lit up one of his cigars, and we had a nice smoke and discussion of how the Metrolink saved the day, and his weekend.