Faced with an ever-worsening rail bottleneck at Philadelphia's Broad Street Station in the early 1900s, the Pennsylvania Railroad was desperate to simplify its steam powered suburban train service. Built to handle 160 trains per day, Broad Street had become bogged down under the stress of servicing three times that load. The solution was electrification of the entire Philadelphia commuter network and the introduction of MP54 cars powered from overhead catenary.
The railroad turned to electrification of its entire suburban fleet to resolve their traffic woes and began plans to implement an 11,000 volt ac system by building P54 steel coaches, baggage and combine cars that could be converted to power cars in the future as needed. By 1914, those needs had become a reality and the P54s were sent to the Pennsy's Altoona shops where they received one pantograph and powered truck. Controllers were added to both ends of the cars and each car featured round end windows which gave the cars an owl-like appearance.
By 1915, a 20 mile electrified route had been completed from Broad St. Station to Paoli. Over the next decade and a half, the line was expanded all the way to Trenton, New Jersey setting the stage for the next phase of electrified commuter cars - the 65' MP54. Capable of reaching speeds of 80 miles per hour, the 750 horsepower MP54E3 power cars were often coupled to non-powered MP54 cars manned by engineers instructed to run no more than 65 m.p.h. Over 360 MP54 cars were produced from 1915 to 1937 before giving way to stainless steel MP85 cars.
The MP54 returns to O Gauge railroading in our 2013 RailKing Scale 4-car set. Fully outfitted with Proto-Sound 3.0, two powerful motors, detailed car interiors with overhead lighting and moveable pantographs, the RailKing MP54 will bring a welcome addition to your commuter roster. Watching these sets creep into a station or swoosh down the track is sure to be an exciting sight on any model railroad.