Arrow Cars

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The Arrows are multiple units, which means they power themselves.  The most noticeable thing about them is their diamond-shaped pantograph that connects the train to the overhead wires (called catenary wires).  The train is capable of powering itself using the overhead electricity directly, it does not require the use of a locomotive.

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Facts and Statistics

Detailed Information



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NEW! Click here to view ALL the Arrow III photos we've taken (coming soon!)

Arrow III 1487 in Elizabeth bound
for Trenton
Inside Arrow III 1368.  Train on its way to New York, stopped in Newark Intl. Airport Station. Engineer's cab of 1529 in Hoboken.
Photo by: Andrew Syvertsen, 2/26/03 Photo by: Andrew Syvertsen, 2/26/03 Photo by: Jason Del Nero, 9/29/02
Arrow IIIA 1356 arriving Elizabeth for New York Arrow III 1329 in Hoboken Terminal Car 1368 Arriving in Elizabeth bound for New York with doors opening
Photo By: Andrew Syvertsen, 2/26/03 Photo by: Jason Del Nero, 9/29/02 Photo by: Andrew Syvertsen, 2/26/03
Arrow III pantograph in Summit station.  Train heading for Hoboken Hoboken-bound train of Arrows pulling into Summit station.  Back car is 1332. Eight-car Long Branch-bound train at Elizabeth station.
Photo by: Andrew Syvertsen, 4/16/03 Photo By: Jason Del Nero, 4/16/03 Photo By: Jason Del Nero, 2/26/03
Arrow III 1344 departing Berkeley Heights on the Gladstone Branch Trenton-bound Arrow III 1430 in Newark Penn Station
Photo by: Nicholas O'Sullivan, 10/20/03 Photo by: Nicholas O'Sullivan, 12/1/03

NEW! Click here to view ALL the Arrow III photos we've taken (coming soon!)

Facts and Statistics:
You can get a comparison of this car along with the other types of cars by visiting the Car Comparison Page.
Click the [?] for information on what each term means.

Power Type Electric Multiple Unit [?] Exterior Stainless Steel - corrugated
End Doors per Side 2 Built By General Electric
Center Doors per Side 1 Built In 1979
Auto Low-level doors? No [?] Rebuilt By ABB Traction
Info Screen Inside? No [?] Rebuilt Beginning 1989 [what was the rebuild?]
Info Screen Outside? Yes [?] Door Alarm Bell [?]
Vestibule Door Type Manual - Opens in or out [?] Seats  
Line(s) Used Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast, Gladstone Branch, Morristown Line, Montclair-Boonton Line
Window/Stripe Size Small/None [?] Restroom? In all odd-numbered double cars
Amount in Use 230 Numbered 1304-1533
Seat Type Flippable - Phase III [?] Color Scheme Brown/Brown [?]
Auto PA System? No [?]

Detailed Information:
This section includes detailed information on the car, please choose a section to view, or scroll down to view the entire document.

Detailed information about the Arrow III
What makes the Arrow III so good?
What did the ABB rebuild in the mid 90s encompass?
What about the Arrow I and Arrow II?
What is the future of the Arrow III?

Detailed information about the Arrow III

The Arrow III fleet is a fleet of multiple units, which means (as explained above) that they power themselves and don't need a locomotive.  The cars operate in groups of 1 or 2.  The first 30 cars are single cars and have engineer's cabs on both ends of the car.  They can be used in a larger train or can be run by themselves.  There are single car trains which use Arrows in use on the Princeton Shuttle line which connects Princeton with Princeton Junction on the Northeast Corridor Line.  The remaining 200 cars are made up of 100 pairs of two cars, which operate together.  There are cabs on the end of each pair of cars.  On the pairs, one car has the dynamic brake grid, while the other has the pantograph.  Three out of the Four trucks (trucks are where the wheels are) are powered by traction motors.

What makes the Arrow III so good?

What did the ABB rebuild in the mid 90s encompass?

The Arrow III fleet was rebuilt in the middle of the 1990s by ABB Traction Company.  There were many reasons for this rebuild.  The Arrows were built by General Electric in the mid 70s and had DC traction motors installed.  One of the main reasons for the rebuild was to replace the DC motors with AC motors since the electrification system on the electrified lines was using AC current.  The new motors featured state of the art microprocessor control.

The fleet also received dynamic brakes.  Dynamic brakes can be explained simply as follows: the train is moving at a certain speed, therefore meaning that the wheels are also turning.  To generate electricity, all you need is something to turn a generator, therefore the wheels were the perfect thing.  Usually, the motors on each of the cars act as motors and turn the wheels.  When the engineer calls for dynamic brakes, the motors are now acting as generators.  The wheels are now turning the motors.  Generating electricity requires work, which means that the motors are getting "harder" to turn as they generate more electricity.  Eventually, the wheels slow down because their energy is being used to turn these motors (which are acting as generators and are making electrical power).  Finally, the wheels are spinning so slowly that the motors aren't being turned enough to generate any more power, and the process comes to a stop.  Because of this, the train can never be stopped using dynamic brakes, it can only be slowed down.

This new dynamic brake system also allowed the cars to generate enough electricity to power the lights, HVAC, and most other systems in the train when the train momentarily loses contact with the overhead catenary line.  When this happens, the dynamics take effect (as long as the train is not moving too slowly, in which case the individual traction motors would not be generating any power) and the train begins to slow, but the lights and air conditioning still stay on!  When the dynamics are used for braking (as explained above), the power that is generated leaves the train in the form of heat.  The large device on the top of the car is called a dynamic brake grid.  The grid receives the electricity and it is sent away in the form of heat, that is why there is always humid looking air (extremely hot air) leaving the grid, even when the dynamics are not being used at the moment.  If the fan that cools the grid should fail, the dynamics could not be used because they would almost instantly overheat.

The seats inside the cars were also changed to "phase 3" (which is not an official name) seats.  These seats are the same as used on the Comet III.  They are also the same style (although the fabric and color is different) that are used on the Comet IV and Comet IIM cars.

The rebuild, which was mostly mechanical, added at least 10 more years to the Arrows. 

What about the Arrow I and Arrow II?

Several of the Arrow I cars have been rebuilt into Comet IB cars.  They are 'odd ball' cars because they look like Arrows but always run with Comets.  The original Arrow I cars were not built by General Electric, and were known to be unreliable in their later years, although when they were made they were much more comfortable than anyone was used to.

The Arrow II, on the other hand, had a quite different end.  The Arrow IIs were built by General Electric, and were similar to the Arrow III fleet, even though they had some major differences.  The Arrow IIs were also known to be quite unreliable in their later years, and had major problems with their HVAC systems.  The Arrow IIs had been sitting in an unknown location for years since they were retired in the early 90s.  Finally, some were seen at NJ Transit's Meadows Maintenance Complex (MMC) in mid-2000.  New Jersey Transit appeared to be installing destination screens (like the Arrow IIIs have) on their exteriors, this had several people thinking excitedly that they might be returning to service sometime soon.  Unfortunately, they will not be returning to service, and the reason they had those screens installed on them is still unknown.  Most of the fleet was scrapped in 2001, but 1 pair was kept at the MMC.  It is not known if all of them have been scrapped.  One pair caught fire a few months before they were scrapped in a yard in Morris County when some welders were removing parts from them for NJT.  It is sad to see such good (and expensive) equipment be thrown away.  Most people that know the Arrow IIs say that their transformers (which are the major item of the electrical system) and other electrical components would need to be replaced in order for them to have been put back into service.

What is the future of the Arrow III?

Another rebuild (the final rebuild) is scheduled to take place within a few years, although the details are still sketchy.  Presumably since they are such good cars, the Arrows will be the only cars to be rebuilt twice!  The rebuild will probably include internal trap doors (see the article in the Comet III section for more information) and a lot more cosmetic upgrades than the last rebuild had.  The rebuild will probably give the Arrows the ability to switch voltages as they are moving (on the fly).  For example, on MidTOWN Direct lines to New York, the power is 25,000V in the overhead lines, but on the Northeast Corridor line (which is where New York Penn Station is), the system is operating with older components and the lines have only 12,000V in them.  Right now, only the ALP-44 and ALP-46 locomotives are capable of doing that voltage change as they are going.  The Arrows cannot be used on MidTOWN Direct service because they cannot change voltages on the fly.


1979 Arrow III built by General Electric
1984 Arrow III begins service on Morris & Essex Lines
1985 Arrow III switched to Northeast Corridor Line
1989 Arrow III overhaul  by ABB Traction Company begins
Today Arrows operate on all electrified lines

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