Budd Rail Diesel Car

Budd Rail Diesel Car
For other meanings of RDC, see RDC (disambiguation).
Budd Rail Diesel Car ("RDC")

Budd RDC-1 Ex PRSL #M-407 of the
Cape May Seashore Lines.
Manufacturer Budd Company
Constructed 1949–1962
Number built 398
Capacity RDC-1: 90 passengers
RDC-2: 70 passengers, baggage section
RDC-3: 48 passengers, 15-foot (4.6 m) RPO, baggage section
RDC-4 No passengers, 30-foot (9.1 m) RPO, 31-foot (9.4 m) baggage section
RDC-9: 94 passengers
Car body construction Stainless Steel
Car length RDC-1/2/3/9: 85 ft (25.91 m)
RDC-4: 73 ft 10 in (22.50 m)
Engine(s) RDC-1/2/3/4: GM 110 diesel, 2 off
RDC-9: GM 110 diesel, 1 off
Power output RDC-1/2/3/4: 550 hp (410 kW)
RDC-9: 275 hp (205 kW)
Transmission Hydraulic torque converter
UIC classification RDC-1/2/3/4: (1A)(A1)
RDC-9: (1A)2′
AAR wheel arrangement RDC-1/2/3/4: 1A-A1
RDC-9: 1A-2
Braking system(s) Air
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)

The Budd Rail Diesel Car, RDC or Buddliner is a self-propelled diesel multiple unit railcar. In the period 1949–62, 398 RDCs were built by the Budd Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. The cars were primarily adopted for passenger service in rural areas with low traffic density or in short-haul commuter service, and were less expensive to operate in this context than a traditional locomotive-drawn train. The cars could be used singly or several coupled together in train sets and controlled from the cab of the front unit. The RDC was one of the few DMU trains to achieve commercial success in North America.

The basic car was adapted from a standard 85 ft (25.91 m) coach. They were powered by two Detroit Diesel (then a division of General Motors) Series 110 diesel engines, each of which drives an axle through a hydraulic torque converter, a technology adapted from military tanks of World War II. RDC trains were an early example of self-contained diesel multiple units, an arrangement now in common use by railways all over the world.



Budd manufactured five basic variants of the RDC:

  • The RDC-1 — an 85 ft (26 m) all-passenger coach seating 90 passengers.
  • The RDC-2 — an 85 ft (26 m) baggage and passenger coach configuration seating 70 passengers.
  • The RDC-3 — an 85 ft (26 m) variant with a Railway Post Office, a baggage compartment and 49 passenger seats. Some had no R.P.O.
  • The RDC-4 — a 72 ft (22 m) variant with only the Railway Post Office and baggage area. Some were all baggage/express; others were later modified to haul about a dozen passengers.
  • The RDC-9 (also known as the RDC-5) — an 85 ft (26 m) passenger coach seating 94, a single engine and no control cab.

Over the years, various railroads cars had slightly differing capacity due seating types and in some cases replacement of seats with a snack counter or even a galley.

The RDC-1 was powered by two 6-cylinder Detroit Diesel Series 110 engines, each of 275 hp (205 kW).

Multiple unit

Near 1956, the New Haven Railroad ordered a custom-built, six-car RDC train set named the Roger Williams. It consisted of 2-single-ended cab units, and four intermediate cars to make a complete train. The units were fitted with third-rail shoes, electric traction motors, and associated gear for operation into Grand Central Terminal, though this was short lived. In the New Haven's later years, the set was broken up, and used with regular New Haven RDCs, and by Amtrak into the 1980s.


In 1978, Budd offered a new RDC model, called the SPV-2000 (self-propelled vehicle), based on Amfleet coach bodies, but only 24 of them were sold, as they proved unreliable and did not gain marketplace acceptance. The few remaining in service have long been converted to non-powered, locomotive-drawn coaches.

Jet engines

In what was billed as an experiment toward high speed rail, the New York Central (NYC) fitted a pair of jet engines atop one of their RDCs and added a shovel nose front to its cab. This RDC, which NYC had numbered M497, set the United States speed record in 1966 when it traveled at just short of 184 mph (296 km/h) between Butler, Indiana, and Stryker, Ohio. It was never intended that jet engines propel regular trains. With the news about high speed trains overseas, particularly the Japanese Shinkansen bullet trains, American railroads were under pressure to catch up. By strapping a pair of military surplus jet engines onto a Budd car, NYC found an inexpensive way to conduct research into how conventional rail technology behaves at very high speeds. Many people felt that it was nothing more than a publicity stunt on the part of the NYC.


United States

The Boston and Maine Railroad owned by far the largest number of these units, but they were also very popular for commuter and short distance service with the passenger heavy railroads such as the New Haven Railroad, New York Central, Northwestern Pacific, Reading Railroad, Pennsylvania Reading Seashore Lines, Baltimore and Ohio, and Jersey Central.

The Trinity Railway Express (TRE) service between Dallas, Texas and Fort Worth is using RDCs for commuter passenger service during off-peak hours, with connections available at various points to Amtrak and the DART system. Some of these are on loan to the Denton County Transportation Authority for the A-train service until its normal rolling stock of 11 third-generation Stadler GTW 2/6s are delivered. The Alaska Railroad possessed five RDCs, four of which were kept in service and one for parts cannibalization. Three were from SEPTA, two were from the former New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, and one was from the Alaska Railroad.[1] RDCs were typically coupled and used for the railroad's Hurricane Turn service and the annual Fair Train. Recently, however, the ARR sold the last of its operating RDCs to TriMet in Oregon where the cars will be used as back-ups for its WES DMUs.[2] RDCs are still used in tourist train service by the Cape May Seashore Lines, the Newport Dinner Train, the North Shore Scenic Railroad, and the Wallowa-Union Railroad Authority's Eagle Cap Train.


Via Rail RDC-1 on Vancouver Island

Canadian railways used RDCs including Canadian Pacific Railway, British Columbia Railway (where they were known as Dayliners) and Canadian National Railway (known as Railiners). Both employed RDCs on less-populated routes, though CP also made extensive use of them on commuter trains around Montreal and Toronto. When Canadian Pacific and Canadian National passenger service was consolidated into Via Rail, Via Rail inherited these units and continues to use RDCs for scheduled services on the Victoria – Courtenay train on Vancouver Island and the Sudbury – White River train in Ontario.

On March 29, 2010, Via Rail signed a contract with Industrial Rail Services for $12.6 million Canadian to refurbish and upgrade six of the RDCs built in the 1950s. The upgraded units would include new seating, wheelchair accessible washrooms, LED interior lighting, controls, wiring, heating, air conditioning systems, braking systems and rebuilt engines that meet Euro II standards.[3]

BC Rail (originally called Pacific Great Eastern Railway) operated passenger rail service between North Vancouver and Prince George using RDCs until October 31, 2002, when the service was discontinued.

The Toronto Air Rail Link connecting Union Station to Pearson International Airport was originally proposed to be operated by SNC-Lavalin using refurbished RDCs.[4] However, the project has since been transferred to Metrolinx, who instead purchased 12 new Nippon-Sharyo Diesel Multiple Units for use on the line.[5]


Three RDC-1s were exported to Australia to operate with the Commonwealth Railways. These cars were transported to Australia by Budd engineer Joseph F. Grosser. The cars arrived by ship in 1950 to great acclaim and expectation by the citizens of the country. These cars ran between Port Pirie and various locations, and later by Australian National from Adelaide to Whyalla, Port Augusta and Broken Hill.

Five cars were built under license in Australia by Commonwealth Engineering for the New South Wales Government Railways.[6] They were smaller than the standard RDC in all dimensions. One car was built with a buffet/snack bar accommodation in one end. The five-car set operated the South Coast Daylight Express between Sydney and Nowra.[7]

The buffet car built by Commonwealth Engineering for the New South Wales Government Railways was the only non-powered version of these carriages.


Mafersa built some self-propelled cars under licence from Budd. They are called "litorinas" in Brazil (given that Italian slang for those trains is "littorina", which is itself inherited from the city name of Littoria). Mafersa also built unpowered passenger cars following the Budd style.

The Litorina RDCs were mostly popular in Southern part of the country, replacing the mixed freight/passenger trains in passenger service. The tariffs were cheaper than a bus ticket and the service could adapt just-in-time to the demand, by running a duplex, triplex or quadruplex train of RDCs. The service was suppressed in 1991. It still had a reasonable demand but the RDCs were in the end of useful life and the state-owned railroad company had begun to prepare for privatization as a freight-only model.

Mafersa RDCs for 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) metre gauge are much shorter than the original ones. The windows have more round corners. On the other hand, RDCs made for 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm) broad gauge tracks follow more closely the original Budd design.

Serra Verde Express (Green Mountain Express) is a tourism business that keeps a passenger train service between Curitiba and Paranaguá at Southern Brazil. The Mafersa/Budd RDCs are still active in this route as a "premium" options with air conditioner and catering service, while the regular passenger train is cheaper and simpler. The RDC go downhill by themselves and are towed by the passenger train uphill, probably due to the steep climb at this railway (3.3% maximum) and to avoid stressing the RDCs which are very old. Also, most of the tourist passenger demand is downhill only.

Original owners

Railroad Model Quantity Road Numbers
Arabian American Oil Company / Saudi Government Railroad RDC-2 4
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway RDC-1 2 DC-191, DC-192
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad RDC-1 12 1900–1911
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad RDC-2 4 1950–1951, 1960–1961
Boston and Maine Railroad RDC-1 57 6100–6156
Boston and Maine Railroad RDC-2 15 6200–6214
Boston and Maine Railroad RDC-3 7 6300–6306
Boston and Maine Railroad RDC-9 30 6900–6929
Budd (prototype/demonstrator) RDC-1 1 2960
Canadian National Railways RDC-1 9 D-200, D-201, D-102 – D-108
Canadian National Railways RDC-2 6 D-250, D-201 – D-205
Canadian National Railways RDC-3 7 D-101, D-102, D-301 – D-303, D-351, D-352
Canadian National Railways RDC-4 6 D-150, D-151, D-401, D-402, D-451, D-452
Canadian Pacific Railway RDC-3 5 9020–9024
Canadian Pacific Railway RDC-1 23 9050–9072
Canadian Pacific Railway RDC-2 22 9100–9115, 9194–9199
Canadian Pacific Railway RDC-4 3 9200, 9250–9251
Central Railroad of New Jersey RDC-1 7 551–557
Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad RDC-1 1 1
Chicago and North Western Railway RDC-1 2 9933–9934
Chicago and North Western Railway RDC-2 1 9935
Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad RDC-3 5 9000–9004
Commonwealth Railways (Australia) RDC-1 3 CB-1 – CB-3
Consolidated Railways of Cuba RDC-1, RDC-2 16
Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway RDC-3 1 1
Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic Railway RDC-1 1 500
Great Northern Railway RDC-3 1 2350
Lehigh Valley Railroad RDC-1 1 40
Lehigh Valley Railroad RDC-2 1 41
Long Island Rail Road RDC-1 1 3101
Long Island Rail Road RDC-2 1 3121
Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway RDC-4 2 32–33
Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad RDC-3 1 20
New York Central Railroad RDC-1 16 M-450 – M-465
New York Central Railroad RDC-2 1 M-480
New York Central Railroad RDC-3 3 M-497 – M-499
New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad RDC-1 29 20–48
New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad RDC-2 2 120–121
New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad RDC-3 6 125–130
New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad RDC-4 3 135–137
New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad RDC-A 2 140–141
New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad RDC-B 4 160–163
New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway RDC-1 4 M-1 – M-4
Northern Pacific Railway RDC-2 1 B-30
Northern Pacific Railway RDC-3 2 B-40, B-41
Pacific Great Eastern Railway RDC-1 3 BC-10 – BC-12
Pacific Great Eastern Railway RDC-3 4 BC-30 – BC-33
Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines RDC-1 12 M-402 – M-413
Reading Company RDC-1 12 9151–9162
RFFSA (Brazil) RDC-1, RDC-2 29
Southern Pacific Railroad RDC-1 1 10
Western Pacific Railroad RDC-2 2 375–376
Western Railroad of Cuba RDC-1, RDC-3 10


Several RDCs survive, both on tourist lines and in revenue service:

  • Two cab units and one intermediate car from the New Haven Railroad's multiple unit are fully restored and operational, and are receiving mechanical work at the Hobo Railroad in New Hampshire. There have been efforts over the past decade to find a place to operate the three, but as of 2011, there has been no operational home found for the RDC set.
  • Former Santa Fe RDC DC-191 is owned by Pacific Railroad Society in Los Angeles, California.
  • The Reading, Blue Mountain and Northern operates two RDCs for tourist operations:
  • The Alberta Central Railway Museum operates former Canadian Pacific Railway RDC-2 (number CP 9108) on a short stretch of track for visitors.
  • An RDC operates on the North Shore Scenic Railroad in Duluth, Minnesota.
  • On March 29, 2010, Industrial Rail Services was awarded a contract to refurbish six RDCs for use by Via Rail in Ontario and British Columbia. IRSI currently owns over 25 RDCs.[8]
  • The Cape May Seashore Lines operates several restored and operational RDCs between Cape May Court House and Cape May, New Jersey.
  • The Orford Express is a tourist train operating two RDCs between Sherbrooke and Eastman in the Eastern townships (Cantons de l'est).
  • Former Boston & Maine RDC 6211 is cosmetically restored and on display at Bedford Depot Park in Bedford, Massachusetts.
  • The Wallula Union Railroad operates three former Oregon DOT, former BC Rail RDCs (two RDC-1s and one RDC-3) on its rail line in northeastern Oregon.
  • The Pacific Northwest Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society owns two former Boston & Maine/MBTA RDC-9 trailer coaches.
  • TriMet, the Portland area transit agency, owns two former Alaska Railroad RDCs and has refurbished them for backup service on its Westside Express Service (WES) commuter rail line between Beaverton and Wilsonville, Oregon.
  • The Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad in Tillamook, Oregon has two former Central of New Jersey/New Jersey Transit RDC-1s.
  • Via Rail Canada operates five RDC-2's in regular passenger service (see Canada section). It also uses the only remaining operational RDC-4.
  • Conway Scenic Railroad (North Conway, New Hampshire) operates an RDC-1 which was built for the New Haven Railroad in 1954 as their #23. It became Penn Central #68, then Amtrak #18, then Metro North #18 and was then sold to the New York Susquehanna & Western Railway where it was numbered M-5. As is the Conway Scenic tradition, the car reverted to its original number and became CSRR #23. The unit is used mid-week during shoulder seasons and for extra trips to Conway at peak times during the summer.
  • The Bellefonte Historical Railroad owns former RDG #9153 (BHRS #9153) and former NYNH&H #40 (BHRS #9167) at Bellefonte, PA on the NBER in operating condition with 9153 awaiting FRA upgrades to be completed.

See also


  • Scheurle, Bob, New York Central RDC3 #M497. Retrieved March 14, 2005.
  • Wayner, Robert J., ed. (1972). Car Names, Numbers and Consists. New York: Wayner Publications. 
  • Budd production roster [1]. Retrieved June 6, 2009

External links

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