July 6, 2022

Governor Rell Takes New M-8 Rail Cars for Test Run

Metro North's New M-8 Rail Cars to be Used on the New Haven Line

Delivering on a promise she made to Connecticut commuters shortly after taking office, Governor M. Jodi Rell today boarded the first set of new M-8 rail cars for a test run. Accompanied by officials from the Department of Transportation, the Governor traveled from New Haven’s Union Station to Fairfield for some first-hand testing of the M-8 rail cars, which are to begin entering regular service next month. 

The Governor highlighted the testing with the announcement that the state would be increasing its order for M-8s from 300 units to 342 units, with the additional cars to be paid for with funds already set aside for such purpose.

“Five years ago I laid out a vision for remaking Connecticut’s commuter rail system,” Governor Rell said at a trackside ceremony before the on-board testing began. “The centerpiece of that proposal was a new fleet of rail cars for Metro-North’s New Haven Line – one of the busiest commuter lines in the world. Since the first M-8s arrived last Christmas, much has been done to ready these cars for New Haven Line service. For commuters, the wait is nearly over.

“For many years, our commuters have traveled in cars dating to the mid-70s,” the Governor said. “These older cars have traveled many miles supporting millions of commuters – but it is clearly time for a new fleet. Soon more than 300 of these M-8s, bright in their red and steel colors, will cruise the New Haven Line.”

Interior of New M-8 Rail Cars

To date, the state has received 22 M-8s. The cars are undergoing extensive testing in the New Haven Rail Yard as well as on runs between New Haven and New York. Testing began in late December 2009, when the first M-8 cars arrived, and has been on-going with engineers from the car builder, Kawasaki Rail Car Inc. of Japan, and the entire project team working virtually around the clock.

“The Department and Metro-North Railroad are aggressively working to place a set of M-8 rail cars in regularly scheduled train service in December,” said DOT Commissioner Jeffrey A. Parker. “The M-8 rail car is the most complex rail car in the United States, utilizing both DC-third rail and AC-overhead catenary propulsion systems. Getting the M-8s ready has been challenging, but has placed Connecticut’s rail fleet in the forefront of the commuter rail industry.”

The new M-8s feature more open and brighter interior space, high-back seating for all seats and a distinctive vestibule area. There are four, 110-volt outlets for every row and an American with Disabilities Act- (ADA-) compliant lavatory as well as other passenger-oriented improvements such as larger windows, brighter lighting, arm and headrests and an automated announcement and signage system.

The M-8 fleet also incorporates many safety, environmentally friendly and energy saving features. Regenerative braking systems use the braking effort of the electric traction motors to return electricity to the power grid system. Thermally insulated car bodies and window sealants/gaskets are more efficient, while the stainless steel car body is compliant with the latest federally mandated crashworthiness guidelines.