Arrow III MU. Photo by Donald Winship


Nobody likes old trains. They look dated, they have funny smells, and the ride quality is rough over even the best track. But old trains can be refurbished to nearly the same comfort level as brand new cars – and at a fraction of the cost. In this new era of constrained budgets, NJ Transit needs to get the best bang for its buck. Yet over the last few years they’ve spent millions on new locomotives and cars, often to heavily customized designs, while idling lots of still serviceable older equipment. Without a strategic plan to justify these decisions, NJT has been thinking too much in the short term.

We are particularly concerned that the Arrow III Multiple-Unit cars will suffer the same fate. These silver-sided cars, while the oldest in the fleet, have a unique asset that is vitally important: acceleration. Each car has an electric motor underneath to pull its “weight” so to speak, which means that whether the train is very short or very long, acceleration is just as good. On lines like the M&E and Montclair-Boonton, where stops are often very close together, being able to get up to speed quickly can shorten schedules and help recover lost time after delays. That's why we want these cars fixed, not scrapped.