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New Haven commuter train, 1957-1969

New Haven commuter train, 1957-1969

Fred Klein, 2016

The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad (New Haven) operated major passenger service from New York City’s Grand Central Terminal (and also Pennsylvania Station) north to Boston, with several branch lines in Connecticut and with cooperating trains beyond its own tracks. The busiest service was between New York and New Haven, and this stretch serves the most passengers of any commuter service in North America. New Haven electrified the tracks between New York and New Haven in 1914 and operated service until 1970 when the New Haven ceded passenger service to Amtrak. These New Haven tracks were heavily used not just by commuters coming into New York City, but by reverse commuters, travellers between the populated cities in Connecticut, travellers to points beyond, and freight traffic. There were thus many different passenger trains in addition to a simple string of commuter coaches on this railroad.


An operational problem was requiring a locomotive change at New Haven from use of the 11,000 volt overhead power to the south and west to diesel power on the other lines to the north including Boston. Locomotives also had to utilize the 600 volt third rail electric power on the 12 miles of the New York Central’s tracks in New Yprk city. The solution to this problem was the purchase of FL-9 locomotives from EMD in 1956. These locomotives used either diesel power or the 600 volt electric shoe, did not use the overhead caternary, and thus did not require a locomotive change on service outside of New York City. The initial paint scheme of these engines was the distinctive red, black and white McGinnis scheme.


Between 1934 and 1938, the New Haven purchased 200 lightweight steel coaches from the Osgood-Bradley Corporation in Worchester, Massachusetts. These were also known as “American Flyer” cars because of A.C. Gilbert’s model trains. These became the common passenger coaches for local and commuter trains, and lasted into the 1960s. In 1956, many were painted with the bright red band in the letter-board and the block “NH” logo on the sides that became known as the McGinnis scheme for the company president at the time. Photos of  New Haven commuter trains typically show a variety of coach types rather than a solid block of Osgood cars.


I am not a New Haven modeler, but the release in 2016 of a prototypical New Haven FL-9 diesel-electric and the prototypical Osgood-Bradley coach by Rapido Trains Inc., both in the attractive McGinnis paint scheme, made modeling a typical New Haven commuter train possible with factory painted models. The model train is thus suited to post-1956 passenger and commuter trains.


A New Haven passenger (commuter?) train led by a pair of dirty FL-9 diesels at the Stamford station in Connecticut. The third car is an Osgood-Bradley coach in McGinnis paint like the type featured in the model train. The baggage cars and the many stainless steel cars in the rear sugests this may not be a simple commuter train.


A New Haven passenger (commuter?) train with a string of Osgood-Bradley coaches in the McGinnis scheme, probably in the early 1960s. FL-9 locomotives are in the lead.


A commuter train with a string of 6 Osgood-Bradley coaches. Power is a GE electric EP-5 locomotive with a cab at both ends for easy turning at terminals. The short length of the train plus the electric locomotive suggests this is a commuter train restricted to the electrified section between New Haven and New York City.


Below is the consist of the pictured model train. It is based on photographs of typical trains and not an actual train.


Model car type

Model car name


FL-9 diesel electric



Heavyweight baggage mail

NH 3294

Osgood Bradley coach

NH 8263


Osgood Bradley coach

NH 8224


Osgood Bradley coach

NH 8210


Osgood Bradley coach

NH 8232


Osgood Bradley coach

NH 8268


Heavyweight coach

NH 6724


Commuter train, first part


The train is powered by an FL-9 diesel electric locomotive in the McGinnis paint scheme.  It is a prototypical model from Rapido Trains. Note the red shoes on the trucks for picking up 600 volt third rail power in New York City where the smoke from diesel power is not allowed. Next is a baggage mail car. Baggage and RPO cars were often on passenger trains used in “commuter” service. The model made by Microtrains is of a prototype owned by the New Haven among many different car types. The coaches are lightweights made by Osgood Bradley in 1938 and painted in the McGinnis scheme in 1956, and formed the backbone of New Haven’s commuter coach fleet. The prototypical models are from Rapido.


Commuter train, second part


The next Osgood Bradley coach is a simple Pullman green as painted between 1954 and 1956. The two Osgood Bradley coaches painted in the black and red McGinnis paint are an attractive compliment to the McGinnis locomotive. The Osgood Bradley coach models are made by Rapido. The last coach is a heavyweight paired window coach made by Pullman Standard. It may not be an exact prototype to the New Haven, but the model train is typical of light and heavy weight cars mixed in New Haven trains. The last coach model is made by Microtrains.






Lynch, Peter E., New Haven Passenger Trains, Great Passenger Trains Series, MBI Publishing, 2005, 160 pages.