Former NYC MU cars

The New York Central bought their first MU's in 1906 and 1907 when they began electrifying two of their New York City commuter lines. That's when electric service opened on the Hudson Division as far north as High Bridge (1906) in the west Bronx, and on the Harlem Divisionas far north as Wakefield (1907) in the north Bronx. In 1910, an additional 13 miles of third rail were added to the Harlem as far as North White Plains, NY (MP 23), and in 1913 on the Hudson as far north as Croton-on-Hudson, NY (MP 34), just north of the famous Harmon. An additional order of cars was recieved in 1913 for the new service and the opening of the "new" Grand Central Terminal. All of these MU's had arched stained glass windows above each set of two windows. These were covered over in later years, giving these MUs the appearance of having "small, and low windows." Then between 1917 and 1929, the NYC ordered 15-30 new MU's every 2 or 3 years, until the Great Depression. All of these MU's were built with regular windows, no stained glass, so they looked like a regular coach with a cab at each end. (Some of these MU's lasted into the Penn Central years, and I've seen photos of some with PC worms on them. The last few left, which by then were downgraded to rush hour "Bronx locals" only, were retired in 1972 with the arrival of the brand new M-1 "Metropolitan" MU's built for the PC/MTA accompanied by the new high level platforms on the electrified lines).

No MU's were ordered from after the Depression in 1929 until 1950. Altogether, from all the orders placed between 1906 and 1929, the number of MU's totaled 330, and were all in the 4000-4336 numbering series. Then, in 1950, the New York Central placed an order of 100 brand new electric MU cars, built by the St. Louis Car Company. These 100 brand new electric MU's built by the St. Louis Car Company brought new life to the two old electric commuter lines, the Hudson and Harlem Divisions. The NYC started off on a new slate, skipping a 4400 series, and going straight to the 4500 series, which is the series these new MU's were placed in. They were cars 4500-4599. The new khaki green MU's had yellow lettering and a yellow stripe below and above the large, nonopenable picture windows, similar to those of the stainless steel coaches the railroads ordered in the late 1940s. These MU's were modern in all ways, including quiet and fast modern compressors, and no groaning and moaning traction motors, all of which the old pre-Depression MU's had. The only non-modern thing they had were manual, non-electric doors. One well-known feature they had was a single, large round headlight at each end of the car. These cars saw a lot of bad times, and by the time PC got them, though less than 20 years old, they were in BAD shape. One of the worst years in NYC history was 1958, having failed miserably at the massive modernization attempts they made in 1956. Most branch line passenger services in New York State were abandoned by the NYC in 1958, and things got bad on the commuter lines. The Putnam Division commuter line which ran between the Harlem and Hudson Divisions, had its commuter service completely discontinued in May of 1958. I would not be surprized if the 4500s got little to no maintainance at all between 1957 and 1962 when the first public subsidies came.

So these 100 MUs, built in 1950 as the NYC's 4500 series, became Penn Central's 1000 series in 1968. They can be told apart from the 1100's by their single, large round headlight at each end of the cars.

Now onto the 1100s. The 1100s were built for the NYC in 2 orders, and were built as the 4600 and 4700 series. The first 53 were built in 1962, when public subsidization of the NYC's 2 (out of originally 4, the Putnam and River Division's both had commuter service, the "Put" discontinued in '58, the River Division commuter service dropped in '59). A total of 26 of these new MU's were bought by the NYC, built by Pullman-Standard. They wore the same NYC colors as the 4500s. the other 27 were also built in 1962, also by P-S, had the exact same design, wore the exact same colors, but were owned by the Port of New York Authority and leased to the NYC. To distinguish ownership, the 26 ones owned by the NYC were placed in the 4600 series, and the Port Authority owned ones were placed in the 4700 series. These cars had narrower, not as high, but just as long windows, as the 4500s. Another difference was the double, rather than single headlight at each end of the cars. Each of the 2 lights was smaller than the single ones on the 4500s, but apparently provided better light.

Then, in 1965 the Port Authority of NY bought 34 more MU's from Pullman-Standard, and also placed them in the 4700 series. The difference between the '65 and '62 cars is that the '62 ones had the windows higher up on the sides of the cars, while the '65 one have them more towards the center of the sides of the car. When PC got these 4600s and 4700s, they were still rather new, and had not seen much misuse. All of them were placed in the 1100 series - 4600s and 4700s all together - and still run for the MTA Metro-North Railroad as the 1100s till this day and have been rebuilt in 1985, and are extremely well maintained. (Webmaster's note: As of 1999, Metro-North Railroad plans to retire the 61 remaining 1100 series MU cars.)

So the NYC 4500s became the PC 1000s, and the NYC 4600s and 4700s became PC 1100s. The remaining post-WWI MUs were placed in the 1200 series by PC. They are easily told apart from the 4500s, 4600s and 4700s by their standard heavyweight coach appearance and rooves. The NH MU's can be easily told from the NYC ones by their stainless steel sides, giving them the "washboard" nickname. Their were 100 of these MU's built by Pullman-Standard for the NH in 1955. While around 1963 for the Harlem and Hudson Divisions, the NYC had began modernizing schedules, adding rush hour trains, modernizing the non-rush hour schedules to more "every hour to the minute" service, and ordering new MU's, all with the help of public subusidies, the New Haven was in terrible shape finacially and all, and never ordered any more MU's. The NH had put their "washboards" in a 4600 series of their own, and they apparently kept these numbers into Penn Central.

The NYC 4500 series MU's, that became the PC 1000 series MU's (with the big round headlight), were retired in 1972, with the arrival of the PC/MTA M-1 "Metropolitan" MU cars, that feature electric, subway style doors, no vestibules, and no trap doors for low level platform access. Those M-1 cars are in married pairs. They were built in 1971-1972 along with the construction of the high level platforms in the electrified zone. In 1975 the PC/MTA M-2 "Cosmopolitan" MU's arrived to replace the former NH "Washboards" on the New Haven Line main line, and on the NH Line New Caanan Branch, where high levels were built also. The M-2's are just like the M-1's, but they have pantographs for overhead catenary electric power collection, and they have an NH orange stripe, rather then the blue stripe. The only old cars left in service then were the former NYC 4600/4700 series MU's, which were the PC/MTA 1100 series cars.

The New York City page of the Metropolitan Region Photo Gallery contains pictures of most of the MU cars described in this article.



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