Posts Tagged ‘New Jersey Transit’

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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Despite Massive Snow NJT Still Ran On Time

February 10, 2017

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A severe snow storm hit New Jersey on Thursday. Since I live within walking distance of the old Erie/Erie Lackawanna Bergen County Line I wandered down to the station at the height of the storm to see the action. All the trains I saw (except for one) were on time to the minute. Our station is seeing its 88th winter, still doing its job sheltering passengers from the weather. The trains keep rolling on the old Erie, moving passengers just like they have for over a century.

Photographs by Jack Norris

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Looking for Reminders of the Erie in NJ

February 4, 2017

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I recently took a train ride over the former Erie Railroad to Port Jervis, New York. At one time Port Jervis had 12,000 residents, about half of them employed by the Erie.

Today, Port Jervis is a run-down town trying to survive by reinventing itself as a go-to destination. There are plenty of relics of the Erie to be seen there.

At the west end of Campbell Hall Yard, 22 miles east of Port Jervis, sits a typical Erie concrete phone booth.

In Port Jervis itself, restored Erie E8A No. 833 and a short line railroad’s RS-3 bring the Erie back to life.

The 115-foot turntable once handled the Erie’s largest steam locomotives.

The base of a huge water tower remains at the east end of a snow-covered wasteland that was once a 10-track coach yard.

The old Port Jervis station now serves as a commercial office building. Trains of Metro-North Railroad pass by on their way to a replacement Metro-North station about a half mile to the west. In the old engine servicing area, the old sanding towers remain where Berkshires and 2-10-2s once roamed.

The old Erie signals are getting replaced between Suffern, New York, and Port Jervis.

Those at Port Jervis, however, should still be around for a while. An underpass that at one time had 15 tracks passing above it proudly proclaims its former owner.

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Some Erie Now and Then From the East End

December 30, 2016

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Centennial Trains

Centennial Trains

Memorabilia from the Erie Railroad's centennial.

Memorabilia from the Erie Railroad’s centennial.

In keeping with the theme then and now, I thought I would pass on this little tidbit from the Erie Railroad’s east end.

On a late December day I am standing at New Jersey Transit’s Ramsey/Route 17 Station in Ramsey, New Jersey, which is less than 10 years old.

Erie milepost JC 28 is about 600 feet behind me. I am on the station platform looking railroad west (compass north).

You can probably tell that this was the Erie main line and four tracks wide in the Erie/Erie Lackawanna days.

Above me, traffic is whizzing by on the Route 17 overpass. Thousands of commuters and tens of thousands of cars go through and over this unremarked spot every day. If they only knew.

Now, we go back 65 years to 1951. The Erie Railroad is celebrating its 100th Anniversary.

A special train is being run with museum cars, the latest in Erie freight and passenger cars and new, shiny roaring diesel locomotives.

There were also some flat cars. On one of these flat cars is carried the Baltimore & Ohio’s 1855- built William Mason and a period passenger car.

They are disguised as an Erie train from 1851 and will be off-loaded at certain display areas to give operating demonstrations to the crowds of visitors.

Which brings us back to the matter of milepost JC 28.

The William Mason and its train were off-loaded here. Erie officials had given orders to an eastbound freight to temporarily stop and pose with the William Mason for the company photographer.

The photographer was on – you guessed it – the Route 17 overpass directly above my head. Although I can show the spot of the photo I could not duplicate the elevation due to bridge changes and the volume of traffic.

If everyone that passes through today only knew what happened at this very spot 65 years ago.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

Jack Norris Collection Part of Exhibit

October 27, 2016

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Akron Railroad Club blog contributor Jack Norris has been asked by New Jersey Transit and the Fair Lawn Historical Preservation Society to do an exhibit about the railroad and Fair Lawn. This is a lead up to a lecture being given by NJT and FLHPS on Nov 2, 2016, about train transportation through Fair Lawn over the years. My exhibit will be on display during regular library business hours through Oct 30.

A Look Inside Damaged Hoboken Terminal

October 21, 2016

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I took a ride to Hoboken recently to check out the terminal after the crash that happened more than two weeks ago.

The terminal partially reopened on Oct. 10. Tracks 10 through 17 are in use and the waiting room is open. But the ticket windows are closed.

There isn’t much to see once you get into the terminal itself. The hole in the concourse roof left by the area that collapsed is only visible from the track platforms.

The north end of the concourse is walled off with floor to ceiling walls. Nothing can be seen.

The north set of doors leading from the waiting room to the concourse is sealed off. The crash hit right outside those doors on Track 5.

Had the train traveled about 15 feet more it would have penetrated the ticket office and waiting room wall.

Hoboken is a waterfront terminal. People leave the former Erie Lackawanna lines and transfer to ferry, PATH trains, buses or light rail to reach their final destinations.

You do not have to enter the waiting room to transfer. With the north end of the concourse closed off people have to go through the waiting room and exit to the outside world in order to transfer.

There were many New Jersey Transit employees around, directing people to roped-off walkways and plenty of signs that make the transfers as painless as possible.

Probably about two-thirds of regular weekday train service has been restored.

There were many NJT police and employees around keeping an eye on things. As my trains entered and exited the terminal and yard, many sets of eyes were watching each train. This was a very bad accident that could have been much worse.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

A Favorite Trip on the Ex-Erie

August 3, 2016

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One of my favorite day trips in my neck of the woods here in New Jersey is a ride on the former Erie up to Port Jervis, New York, a 94-mile ride from Hoboken.

The ride has two scenic highlights, Moodna Viaduct and Otisville Tunnel. Moodna Viaduct crosses Moodna Creek and is 3,200 feet in length and stands 193 feet high above the creek.

The trestle, the longest east of the Mississippi, was built in 1909 when the Graham Line was constructed to bypass severe grades, tight curves and many grade crossings.

The downside is that the Graham Line, which runs from Harriman, New York, to Howells, New York, adds 7 miles to the trip between Harriman and Howells.

Otisville Tunnel, 5,314 feet long and opened in 1908, was the only tunnel on the Erie between the main yard in Croxton (Secaucus, New Jersey) and Chicago.

The attached photos show the view from the train as it crosses Moodna Viaduct as well as a shot of the bridge itself.

Needless to say the view is spectacular on a sunny fall day. It is interesting to note that this view was never available to Erie or EL passengers back in the day, as passenger trains used the main line through the New York cities of Goshen, Monroe, Chester and Middletown.

In 1983 as Conrail was trimming excess trackage, it decided to abandon the old main line and transfer everything to the Graham Line.

Although the Graham Line had easy grades, gradual curves and no grade crossings, it also bypasses all inhabited areas.

That is not a problem today, however, since most everyone has automobiles and can drive to reach a train station.

Three new passenger stations were built on the Graham Line at Salisbury Mills, Campbell Hall, and the edge of Middletown.

The lots at these stations, ranging from 300 to almost 1,000 cars, are almost filled every weekday.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

The Evolution of Service on an Ex-Erie Line

July 30, 2016

EL 1234 at Radburn 1975

EL Switcher At Radburn 1975

EL Switcher At Radburn 1975

Conrail 5977 at Radburn 1977

Conrail 6152 at Radburn 1977

NJT 4014 at Radburn 2015

NS 5612 at Radburn 2015

With your current theme of then and now, I thought you might like to see action through Fair Lawn, New Jersey, over the years.

All pictures are at Radburn Station and were made between 1975 and 2015. The first three images are from 1975, the next two are from 1977 and the final two are from 2015.

Times have changed here, too. The local freight that serves the Fair Lawn Industrial Park no longer serves Kodak, of which no trace remains.

The only customer still served by rail in the industrial park is Nabisco. At the other end of town is Zerega and Sons pasta factory.

These two industries are the only freight customers left in Fair Lawn.

The tracks, the former Erie Railroad/Erie Lackawanna Bergen County Line, are now owned by New Jersey Transit and freight service is provided by Norfolk Southern.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris