In all the NYC would own three classes of S electrics,
the aforementioned S-1 and later models, S-2 and S-3. The railroad
would roster a total of 34 S-2s, and 12 S-3s, all purchased during the
first decade of the 20th century. Of note, these locomotives gained
their designation as S-motors when they were rebuilt with a 2-D-2 wheel
arrangement after another serious accident killed 23 people involving
S-2s with a 1-D-1 arrangement (the added axle to the front and rear
helped the locomotives steer better into curves, which was the cause of
the second deadly accident, a locomotive jumping the track). Rather
simple designs, NYC’s S locomotives featured gearless traction motors
and were eventually all relegated to yard work since their small number
of axles put more weight on the rails, thus causing increased wear.
The Central’s first purchase of upgraded motors occurred in 1913 when it began taking delivery of an end-cab design with a B-B+B-B wheel
arrangement. Designated as T-motors, their all-powered axles allowed
for increased horsepower yet with more axles on the rails, less wear on
the infrastructure. Because of this the Ts were often used in regular
passenger train service and hauling the NYC’s premier named trains to and from Grand Central Terminal. Thus, T-motors were probably the most often seen New York Central Railroad electrics by the public as they could typically be spotted out on the open main lines in and around New York City. The T-motors remained in operation
all of the way until the Penn Central merger when they were bumped from
service first by the railroad's Class P electrics and later all of the
the New York Central's motors were retired in favor of New Haven Railroad’s FL9s.
Other NYC electric locomotives included Class Qs, Class Rs and Class Ps (as mentioned above). The Qs and Rs were of GE’s steeple-cab design and featured a B-B wheel arrangement (similar in nature to those used by the B&O). Purchased in the 1920s they were predominantly used on the electrified lines of the Detroit River Tunnel. The Class Ps were used around Cleveland Union Terminal and were originally designated as Class P-1a. They featured a 2-C+C-2 wheel arrangement and after CUT electrified operations were discontinued in the 1950s were transferred to GCT, reequipped for third-rail operation and dubbed P-2a and P-2b.
One of the final electric locomotive types purchased by the New York Central was the R-2 class. They featured the now-common C-C wheel arrangement used and diesel locomotives, and nose-suspended traction motors, far more advanced than any other type of electric the railroad had previously purchased. Interestingly, however, they lived out most of their lives on the NYC in secluded isolation, being used in freight service on the railroad’s West Side electrified lines. Today, while several of the S class motors have been preserved none are on public display. However, while this is the case, both Amtrak and Metro North continue to use many of the railroad’s electrified lines today for commuter and intercity services, including service to Grand Central Terminal (although the station itself only serves local commuters).
Thanks to Joe Klapkowski for help with the information on this page.
For more reading on the New York Central electrification please consider Electric Locomotives by Brian Solomon. The book details most electric locomotives used in the United States beginning with the B&O’s Baltimore project and also covers the Central’s operations. Also, you might also be interested in New York Central Railroad from Brian Solomon and Mike Schafer. While the book is just a brief history on the railroad it is very well done and will at least give you a general overview and history of the Central’s (and it is filled with many, excellent, historical and colorful photographs, including that of the New York
Central electrification projects) at which point you can decide if you
are interested in further books of study on the railroad (there are
hundreds out there!).
New York Central's Electrification