Metro North Anniversary Years


Commuter Rail at 30; Grand Central Terminal at 100 

Between the 1960s and the 1980s, Northeastern commuter rail operations made the transition from private to public operation.

In 1983, after more than a decade of various forms of subsidy, operation of commuter rail service radiating from Grand Central Terminal on former New Haven and New York Central Railroad routes was conveyed to Metro-North (an affiliate of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority).

Thirty years later, Metro-North is one of America’s busiest commuter railways.

New Haven, Connecticut
New Haven, Connecticut’s railroad station. I remember in the early 1980s when this waiting room was closed and the old station was a rotting relic of an earlier age. Exposed with a Lumix LX3 on June 29, 2013.


It embodies a curious aesthetic by blending infrastructure and classic architecture from the golden age of railroading with utilitarian modern railway equipment, while offering convenient no-frills public transport.

The days of boarding a well appointed parlor car on New Haven Railroad’s exclusive, luxurious Merchants Limited at Grand Central Terminal for the run to Boston ended long ago. Likewise, New York Central’s New York-Chicago all-sleeper extra-fare Twentieth Century Limited is now the stuff of legend.

New Haven arrivals-departures.
Solari arrivals-departure board at New Haven, Connecticut, June 29, 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.

When the new Grand Central Terminal opened in 1913, it was the grandest and most opulent railway station in the world. It represented the power of private capital, and was New York Central’s gift to New York City.

On June 29, 2013, I made a foray in to Metro-North territory. Since I’m not a regular commuter, I have the privilege of enjoying my travels on Metro-North trains, which included my first spin on a new M-8 electric multiple unit.

Lumix LX-3 photo.
Lumix LX-3 photo.
Metro North train at New Haven.
A 1970s-era Metro North ‘M2CSR’ multiple unit at New Haven, June 29, 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.
Train to Grand Central.
Destination board on a new M8 multiple unit. Lumix LX3 photo.
seat check.
Brian’s seat check on a nicely air conditioned M8 heading toward New York City. Lumix LX3 photo.
M8 interior. Lumix LX-3 photo.
M8 interior. Lumix LX3 photo.
Metro-North M8 passes Noroton Heights, Connecticut. June 29, 2013. Exposed with Canon EOS 7D with 40mm Pancake lens. 1/60th second.
Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal’s 42nd Street Façade, New York City. Lumix LX3 photo.

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3 comments on “Metro North Anniversary Years

  1. The Palmer Union Station, designed by H.H. Richardson and completed in the 1880s, has been beautifully restored on the inside. This hosts the very popular Steaming Tender Restaurant (open for lunch and dinner Wednesday thru Sunday). The Olmsted park opposite the station is presently being restored.

    As to a future Palmer rail service; lobby your congress, Amtrak, MBTA, local officials, and anyone else who might listen.

  2. Tom Warger on said:

    The New Haven terminal building and waiting room are indeed nice. We’ve got a long way to go to catch up with the quality of service and accommodations that even a smallish town in Switzerland has… but it seems our standards are coming up. New Haven, Stamford, Rennselaer… maybe one day Springfield (MA)? Hoping for Palmer, too–first passenger service and then restoration of the beautiful station.

  3. Dan Howard on said:

    “…while offering convenient no-frills public transport.”

    I believe the New Haven line is one of the few if not possibly the last commuter line in the US to offer “Bar Cars” on some of its late afternoon/evening, weekday commuter runs both westbound and eastbound.

    While not even close to the extra fare service reflective of your comparative point, for some it is probably a step up from a “run-of-the-mill” commuter train ride.

    Hopefully those who enjoy it the most have someone picking them up at the station to drive them home….

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