New Haven RDC makes first run on Naugatuck Railroad

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No. 41 at Thomaston on Sunday.
Scott A. Hartley
THOMASTON, Conn. – The Railroad Museum of New England’s Naugatuck Railroad put leased Budd RDC-1 No. 41 in revenue service for the first time on Sunday, covering both of the line’s two afternoon trains between Thomaston and Waterbury.

Now totally refurbished and wearing full New Haven Railroad “McGinnis-era” colors, the 62-year-old, self-propelled car had worked for the New Haven, Penn Central, and Amtrak before its retirement in 1980.

The Budd Rail Diesel Car Foundation owns the car.

The RDC had arrived on the Naugatuck last year, and after receiving some minor mechanical work by museum volunteers, was determined to be ready for regular service. Sunday’s runs had not been announced in advance, and some riders appeared surprised to see the shiny stainless-steel No. 41 waiting at the station in place of the railroad’s regular six-axle heavyweight coaches. The car ran well all day, and handled the steep grade north of Thomaston with ease.

Museum officials pointed out that Sunday’s runs were the first time a Budd RDC has been used on scheduled passenger trains north of Waterbury since regular New Haven passenger service ended between Waterbury and Winsted in 1958 – although some excursions over the line used RDCs during the 1960s.

Remarkably, Metro-North ran its last RDC south of Waterbury to Bridgeport until 1990.

No. 41 is the latest example of an operating RDC in southern New England, joining a pair of former BC Rail RDCs in use on Rhode Island’s Newport & Narragansett Bay. Elsewhere in the region, a former Boston & Maine RDC is expected to begin running this summer on Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum’s new operation at Adams, Mass.

Most Naugatuck trains will continue to use GE U23B No. 2203, the last domestic “U-Boat” built, and former Canadian National coaches.
The RDC crosses Jericho Bridge near Thomaston.
Scott A. Hartley

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