Posts Tagged ‘New Jersey Transit’

Rush Hour at WC Tower

June 18, 2018

We hosted a “Rush Hour in the Tower” event in the old Erie Railroad’s “WC” Tower in Waldwick. New Jersey, on June 15. For a $20 donation, our guests had access to the tower and surrounding area from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

A half dozen photographers were treated to about 40 trains during that period, featuring six types of motive power and two commuter agencies.

Norfolk Southern even rushed the local back right before the flood gates opened. It was a nice event and everyone went away happy.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

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Meanwhile, Back in New Jersey

April 10, 2018

I hope Dave McKay Day went well. I was in Waldwick, New Jersey, on that day, getting the Erie Waldwick Tower and Waldwick Erie Station museums ready to open for the season. Since the famous Erie landmark Waldwick “S” Curve (also known as Collin’s Curve) is right there I decided to take a couple shots. It may be only three tracks now and the only varnish it sees are NJ Transit commuter trains, but it still looks good and is still as photogenic as ever. Also included is a shot of Chesapeake & Ohio 614 when it traveled the ex-Erie back in 1996.

Photographs by Jack Norris

NTSB Wants Screening for Sleep Disorders

February 16, 2018

The National Transportation Safety Board wants the Federal Railroad Administration to require railroads to medically screen “safety-sensitive” employees for sleep disorders.

The recommendation came in a special investigation report about two end-of-track collisions at commuter train stations in New Jersey and New York.

In a separate report, the NTSB said last week that both accidents, which involved commuter railroads in the New York City area, were caused by engineer fatigue resulting from undiagnosed and untreated obstructive sleep apnea.

In both accidents trains struck end-of-track bumping posts and continued into the waiting rooms of the stations.

In a news release, the MTSB said both incidents had “almost identical” probable causes and safety issues.

The NTSB also called for the use of technology such as positive train control in terminal stations and improving the effectiveness of system safety program plans to improve terminal operations.

The New Jersey accident, which occurred on Sept. 29, 2016, and involved a New Jersey Transit train in Hoboken, killed one person and injured 110.

The other accident involved the Long Island Rail Road and occurred on Jan. 4, 2017, at the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, New York. That incident injured 108.

Simulating the Work of a Tower Operator

January 31, 2018

Being a volunteer at the former Erie Railroad WC Interlocking Tower Museum in Waldwick, New Jersey, I have keys to the place and can access it whenever I want.

I had a day off so I decided to spend a Monday morning rush hour seeing it from the tower operator’s point of view.

Between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. there were 30 scheduled movements, plus deadheads and a local Norfolk Southern freight for good measure.

These trains either passed through the interlocking on the mainline or were originating/terminating in Waldwick Yard.

Each time I watched the computer-controlled interlocking set up for each train, all I could think of was the poor operator setting up the interlocking for up to 10 trains per hour.

Even though WC interlocking was electrified early, the operator still had to throw the switches and signals individually.

When you experience the conditions first hand it makes you appreciate the workers of the past. Here is some of the variety from this morning, including New Jersey Transit runs push-pull trains with a cab car on the south end.

They are suffering from a cab car shortage right now, the result being that some trains are being led by a locomotive on the south end, making for some rare photo ops.

Being a volunteer at the former Erie Railroad WC Interlocking Tower Museum in Waldwick, New Jersey, I have keys to the place and can access it whenever I want.

I had a day off so I decided to spend a Monday morning rush hour seeing it from the tower operator’s point of view.

Between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. there were 30 scheduled movements, plus deadheads and a local Norfolk Southern freight for good measure.

These trains either passed through the interlocking on the mainline or were originating/terminating in Waldwick Yard.

Each time I watched the computer-controlled interlocking set up for each train, all I could think of was the poor operator setting up the interlocking for up to 10 trains per hour.

Even though WC interlocking was electrified early, the operator still had to throw the switches and signals individually.

When you experience the conditions first hand it makes you appreciate the workers of the past. Here is some of the variety from this morning, including New Jersey Transit runs push-pull trains with a cab car on the south end.

They are suffering from a cab car shortage right now, the result being that some trains are being led by a locomotive on the south end, making for some rare photo ops.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

 

More Former Erie Passenger Stations

December 13, 2017

The Park Ridge Station of the Erie Railroad.

In June I did a series on Erie Railroad mainline stations from Hoboken, New Jersey, to Port Jervis, New York. Here are some other stations on some lesser known Erie/Erie Lackawanna branches.

The New Jersey & New York Railroad was leased by the Erie in the 1880’s. The railroad served Bergen County, New Jersey.

Even though the Erie took control of the line, it was still the NJ&NY on paper right through the EL days.

There are some beautiful old stations on the NJ&NY RR. Here are (in order) River Edge, Oradell, and Park Ridge.

Today the line is New Jersey Transit’s Pascack Valley Line and all these stations still serve passengers in their waiting rooms. Ticket machines sell the tickets rather than agents.

Another Erie Line was originally The Northern Railroad of New Jersey.

This railroad started before the Civil War and was bought outright by the Erie about 1940.

The EL ended passenger service on this line in 1966. Today CSX owns the line and only a couple industries are served on the lower end of the line.

This line served some very affluent New Jersey communities and their stations demonstrate that. In order, we have Tenafly Station, now a restaurant, and Demarest Station, which looks more like a church.

The railroad is pretty much dead in these parts, although there is talk about making part of this line a light rail system, which still won’t reach these locations.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

The Tenafly station of the Erie Railroad

The River Edge station of the Erie Railroad

The Demarest Station of the Erie Railroad

The Oradell Station of the Erie Railroad

Memorial Day Weekend in an ex-Erie Tower

June 3, 2017

On the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, I spent my day volunteering in the former Erie Railroad WC interlocking tower in Waldwick, New Jersey.

Four trains an hour go through the interlocking on a Sunday. Two start and end in Waldwick Yard while the others continue to/from Suffern, New York, or Port Jervis, New York.

Waldwick Tower was built by the Erie in 1880 and for about 103 years the operator controlled movements on the four-track Erie main as well as movements into and out of the commuter terminal.

Today, the main goes from three tracks to two in the interlocking  and it is controlled by an operator at a computer in a location where they cannot even see the railroad.

While sitting up there, one can only imagine the operator on a dark and stormy night listening to the telegraph spitting out orders from the dispatcher.

A new addition this year is the beautiful Erie logo, made from colored stones courtesy of a local landscaping company. A day watching trains from a 137-year-old interlocking tower is a great way to spend a holiday.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

LSL Unaffected by Penn Station Changes

May 31, 2017

The Chicago-New York Lake Shore Limited will not be affected by schedule changes that Amtrak is imposing this summer at New York Penn Station during a track renewal project.

The passenger carrier said on Tuesday that it will change its schedules between July 10 and Sept. 1 to reflect the reduced station capacity as workers undertake track and switch work.

Amtrak President Charles “Wick” Moorman said Amtrak would be affected the most by the schedule changes, which also will affect New Jersey Transit and Long Island Railroad trains.

One long-distance train, the New York-New Orleans Crescent, will terminate in Washington during the construction period. Passengers bound for points north of Washington will need to change trains in Washington.

Northeast Regional service will see three round trip trains New York and Washington canceled. New York-Boston service will operate at current levels.

Keystone Service will terminate in Philadelphia with one roundtrip terminating in Newark, New Jersey.  Service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, will be at current levels.

There will be no schedule changes for Acela Express service. Amtrak said it would announce changes to Empire Service later.

Amtrak said it decided to speed up previously planned projects to improve conditions and service reliability at the station following two derailments earlier this year.

“While we regret that this work requires some reduction in train service and disruption to passengers over the summer months, we believe it will ultimately be worth the investment in terms of increased reliability of passenger rail travel,” said Moorman in a news release.

Ex-Erie Station in Fair Lawn Being Renovated

April 18, 2017

The former Erie Railroad station in the Radburn section of Fair Lawn, New Jersey, is closing for four months for some badly needed TLC.

It is getting a new roof, ceiling and interior renovations. The station was built by the Erie in 1929 and replaced a small wood building.

The station sees about 1,500 commuters a day and is one of only a couple of former Erie stations that still has an agent, albeit only for morning rush hour Monday through Friday.

The station is styled in the Dutch style that matched many of Fair Lawn’s early homes.

Since the station is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places the appearance of the depot will not change.

The only significant change to the station was the addition of a platform canopy in the early 2000s. Compare the 1950s postcard view with the picture taken at the same angle in 2012.

The Radburn-Fair Lawn station has a special meaning for me; It is where I became a railfan.

In the ‘60s, when I was old enough to start wandering around town on my own I would go to the station every day after school and watch the trains roll by.

The Erie Lackawanna’s commuter trains were hauled by RS-3s and geeps. The train to Port Jervis was hauled by an E8.

In the early 1970s the commuter trains were replaced with brand new U34CH diesels and push-pull train sets.

The E’s would last on the Port Jervis runs a few more years. In those days the station still had a full-time agent who was there until 4 p.m.

I had many pleasant conversations with the gentleman. There was also a full-time section gang that had an office in the station, including a a kind old Italian gentlemen who would always talk to a young railfan.

My daily railfanning would end at 6:15 p.m. when the train pulled in and brought my father home from his job in New York City.

We would get in the car and drive home to become a complete family once again.

At 9:30 a.m. on Friday, April 14, the agent closed up the office and New Jersey Transit started removing the office equipment.

On Monday the station’s cozy waiting room fell silent. In about four months the refurbished building should be reopened and the waiting room and agent will be welcoming travelers once again.

I can’t wait to walk through her doors once again.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

A contemporary view of Radburn station.

Historic post card view of Radburn station.

Remember PRR’s Philadelphia Day Trips

March 14, 2017

For those people that like to take day trips by train, here are some great outings from Philadelphia that were operated by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1923. I wish those wonderful prices were still around today. Philadelphia to New York by New Jersey Transit and SEPTA today is about $50 round trip. The cheapest Amtrak fare is $56 one way.

Article by Jack Norris

Foggy Day at Princeton Junction

February 24, 2017

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The day was nice here in the suburbs of New Jersey. I was in the mood to go see some big time passenger train action so I headed 40 miles west to where the wide open spaces of central New Jersey yield some nice places to photograph the Northeast Corridor.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other ideas and I ended up in a fog bank at Princeton Junction, 47 miles southwest of New York City and 10 miles from the New Jersey capital of Trenton.

The NEC hosts an interesting variety of equipment, including old and new technologies working together to move tens of thousands of people a day from home to work and back again or countless other destinations.

One minute, you see a New Jersey Transit local made up of New Jersey Arrow MUs, originally built in the late ‘70s and rebuilt in the ‘90s. The next minute, an Acela streaks by at 125 m.p.h.

The fast, quiet electric trains running at more than 100 m.p.h. on 140-pound welded rail are hard enough to photograph on a good day.

I picked Princeton Junction due to dead-straight lines of sight for several miles in either direction.

The fog erased the advantage, but also made for an interesting time because you never knew what was going to pop out of the fog.

I had old NJT MUs as well as their modern ALP46 electrics. Amtrak produced modern ACS-64s as well as a pair of cab cars that were at one time the pride of the Penn Central Metroliner fleet, the future of high speed rail back in the late ‘60s.

I didn’t spend much time there today, but if I had waited long enough maybe the ghost of a Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1 would have emerged from the fog. Only the out-of-service Nassau Tower knows the answer.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

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