Budd Rail Diesel Car: Wikis


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For other meanings of RDC, see RDC (disambiguation).
Budd Rail Diesel Car ("RDC")
Budd RDC.png
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 or RDC is a self-propelled diesel-hydraulic 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 versions of the DMU-type train diesel multiple unit 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), 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. Perhaps more importantly, they could seem to be conducting research for many people felt that it was nothing more than a publicity stunt on the part of the NYC.


North America

VIA Rail RDC-1 on Vancouver Island

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 and Canadian railways such as the Canadian Pacific Railway (where they were known as Dayliners), the Canadian National Railway (known as Railiners) and the former BC Rail. VIA Rail still uses RDCs for scheduled services on The Malahat on Vancouver Island. The planned service connecting Toronto to its airport will use refurbished RDCs as well.

RDC operating on SEPTA's experimental Fox Chase-Newtown Rapid Transit Line, circa 1982.

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 will be on loan to the Denton County Transportation Authority in late 2010 for the A-train service until their normal rolling stock of 11 third-generation Stadler GTW 2/6s are delivered. The Alaska Railroad, until very recently, 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.


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.[3] 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.[4]

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 inox 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 Railroad 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


Many examples still survive, both on tourist lines and in revenue service. The two cab units and one intermediate car from the New Haven Railroad's multiple unit are fully restored and operational, and are on display at the Danbury Railway Museum in Connecticut.

Former Santa Fe RDC DC-191 is owned by Pacific Railroad Society in Los Angeles, CA. (see link below)

The Reading, Blue Mountain and Northern (see link below) operates two RDCs for tourist operations: RDC-3 6819, ex BM&R 9166, SEPTA 9166, RDG Co 9166, née B&M 6305; and RDC-1 5110, ex BM&R 9168, PennDOT 9168, MdDOT 99, Jones Prop 99, PC 99, née NYC M499.

The Alberta Central Railway Museum (www.abcentralrailway.com) operates former Canadian Pacific Railway RDC-2 number CP 9108 on a short track for visitors.

One unit operates on the North Shore Scenic Railroad in Duluth, Minnesota.

See also


  1. ^ ARR
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ The Budd Rail Cars of the New South Wales Railways Neve, Peter Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, September, 1990 pp. 207–221
  4. ^ Railcar Recollections MacFarlane, Ian Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, September, 1998 pp. 323–340
  • 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 [2]. Retrieved June 6, 2009

External links

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