Ass Transit: The Metro-North “Shoreliner”

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Hudson Line “Shoreliner” at Grand Central Terminal. Early Shoreliners with no middle doors were given names.

The name Shoreliner brings to mind the idea of shooting down the river in ultimate comfort and luxury while surrounded by the beautiful vistas of the Hudson Valley.

Well, at least the last part is true.

Metro-North’s Shoreliner passenger coaches will take you away.  Right back to the 1970’s.

Where I rode it:  Metro-North’s Hudson Line heading north of Croton-Harmon (they are also on other Metro-North lines)

Where I sat:  In the window seat of the three seater, which on some Shoreliners includes a lower back on the aisle seat.  I guess this is make sure there is no doubt about the rider getting whiplash if we crash or stop short.  This seat back was phased out in later versions.

The Good:  The views of the Hudson River, the NJ Palisades, and Hudson Highlands are all amazing.

The Bad:  If the MTA advertised travel on the Shoreliner, it would go something like this:

Come travel back in time with Metro-North.  The luxury of dulling beiges and jewel toned vinyl, faux wood wall panels, and fluorescent lighting. Comfortable seating for at least an hour until your butt loses all feeling. Memories of your weird uncle’s den will fill your mind as you ride:  The Shoreliner.  Plus, the AC and heat works!

Even when they were brand new, “replacing coaches that dated to the 1940’s”, the reaction to the new Shoreliner cars was mixed.  Some saying the seats “weren’t very comfortable” but the new cars were better “compared to the subway.”

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Seats in a first generation Shoreliner

The Reality:  The Shoreliner is based on a design from the 1960’s that was first delivered to the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad in the early 1970’s for its New Jersey commuter service.  The Comet coaches were state-of-the-art at the time and became the design for the first generation of Metro-North Shoreliners rolled out in the early 1980’s. These then-new coaches were a needed and welcomed improvement over what was an aging and unreliable fleet past its prime.

Thirty years later, the Shoreliner will never be known for its luxury or comfort.  But, as you drift to sleep, resting your head on your rolled up coat propped up against the window, remember you are truly riding a time machine.  You are being taken back to a starting point associated with the rebuilding and rebirth of commuter railroads. Because, if you shut your eyes a little tighter and actually were to end up in the late 1960’s, 1970’s or early 1980’s, it was a heck of a lot worse, as seen here, here, and here.

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2 comments

  1. Well sir, you just blew away my fond recollections of riding the Boonton Line trains between Mountain View and Hoboken between 1973 and 1976. I know it’s trendy to be sour and uncouth with one’s writings online, but why not try being positive? Those Pullman Standard / “Comet” cars were far above the comfort level of any NY City subway car. What might you eventually say about the Budd cars? The Budd “beer can” cars in use to this day are not significantly better than these “old-design” push-pull cars found on the Erie Lackawanna. The words “faux, cheap vinyl, fluorescent lights” all carry negative connotations

    1. You are correct. They are more comfortable than the subway. And, I give them credit being a part of the rebuilding and rebirth of Metro-North which they are. They are just a little worn out when compared to its more comfortable, younger cousin, the Comet V that runs up and down the Port Jervis Line for the MNR/NJT combo.

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