Sunday, October 28, 2012

Light Rail Transit in New Jersey Today


New Jersey Transit (NJT) operates three light rail systems in New Jersey.

Two are powered by electricity.  The one in Newark has two lines operating out of the basement of Newark Pennsylvania Station.  The other, the Hudson-Bergen Line, starts as two lines in Bayonne and western Jersey City, meet at the Liberty State Park Station to run together north along the Hudson River where one breaks off to terminate at Hoboken Terminal and the other continues north through Hoboken and turns west using the Weehawken Tunnel (built in 1881-1883 for steam railroads) to end west of the Palisades.   During the week cars also run from here to Hoboken Terminal.  The line is totally within Hudson County but an extension up into Bergen County is planned.

The third system runs on diesel fuel following the Delaware River between Camden and Trenton and aptly called the River Line.

All photographs were taken in October except as noted.



When I first rode the NJT Newark Light Rail in 1977 it was the one remaining Newark Streetcar Line, called the Newark City Subway, and the streetcars were painted in Bicentennial colors.

They were called PCC cars.  If you are interested in more in formation on this type of streetcar here is a Wikipedia entry.  By 1990 the cars were painted in then standard NJT colors.  This picture is at Newark Pennsylvania Station.

You can see why I called it the basement.  Not only did it perform the station function, the cars were stored there.

Today it is much different in the basement.  It has been renovated into a modern terminal.   A second line has been added.  A storage yard and car maintenance shop has been built elsewhere.  And the cars are modern, articulated Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs).  Here's one in the basement with its destination sign indicating it is headed for the new line.  I rode it out and back.

And here's the car at the end of the new line ready to return.

Here is a car approaching the last station on the other line.  To the left you can see part of the storage and maintenance facility.

The Hudson-Bergen Light Rail line serves PATH at two points, Exchange Place and Hoboken Terminal.  This picture at Hoboken Terminal shows an LRV in the light rail station plus two commuter rail diesel engines, the grand old terminal itself with its clock tower, and a surprise I just realized -- the Empire State Building.  The second picture is of the very interesting etched glass bricks that make up one of the wind breaks on the light rail platform.

The first segment of the line opened in April 2000.  Here is a shot of a train arriving at the Marin Boulevard Stop Just south of Jersey City's downtown.

I was taken with the stained glass blocks in the wind brakes.   Here is one of the Bayonne/Staten Island Bridge.

And railroad logos at the Liberty State Park Stop.

But the most surprising were the ones done by grade school students.  Some day Grandmas or Grandpas will bring their grand children to see their name.

I didn't get a chance to ride the River Line this time, but will next time.  All the pictures are from a few hours in the afternoon and evening of one day.  The first thing I noticed is the cars are bigger than the straight electric light rail car.  I say "straight" because the 740 hp diesel engine in the River Line cars turns a generator to power the motors at the wheels.  The ride from one end of the line to the other is over an hour.  The line opened March 2004.

The first picture shows a 2-car train, the first one wrapped for Rutgers University, approaching the 36th Street Stop in Camden.

The diesel is in the middle section.  If it's being worked on here is what you get -- the end units, here parked nose to nose.

Here's a train in downtown Camden at the Rutgers Stop with the Philadelphia skyline on the other side of the Delaware.

One more picture to give you a feel for the size of the beasts.

Now you have something to do the next time you are in New Jersey -- ride light rail!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Central Railroad of New Jersey's Jersey City Terminal Today

Built in 1889, this terminal received trains from Atlantic City and Washington, DC and as far away as Chicago and St. Louis.  But its main purpose was to transfer Manhattan-bound commuters between commuter trains from northern New Jersey to ferry boats for Manhattan.  The timetable for September 27, 1936 shows 132 weekday train departures.  The last train visited in 1967.

The terminal is in Liberty State Park, faces lower Manhattan across the Hudson River, and is about a mile north of Liberty Island.  Today Liberty Island Ferry tickets instead of train tickets are sold at its ticket windows and it serves as a waiting area for those ferries.  This has probably kept it from the wrecking ball.

Using pictures, let me walk you from outside the front of the depot to the back where the trains came in.

From out front of the station's head house, i.e., the waiting room, ticket office, newsstand, and baggage room, the lower Manhattan skyline and the ferry dock dominate.   This shows one of a ferry slip as it was left in 1967 except the roofing between the headhouse and the ferry slips has been removed.  The Liberty Island Ferries do not dock at the original slips.

This shows a slip with the new World Trade Center Towers rising in the background.

When you turn around you see the head house.  The building is in the Richardsonian Romanesque style.

When you enter the front doors looking through the head house you can see the gates for the trains through the doors and windows at the far end.  The people are waiting to go through security to board a ferry for Liberty Island.  The clock is correct except in is on Standard Time instead of Daylight Savings Time.

Walking through the head house and turning around this is the scene looking east.

This shot is in the Concourse, the area between the head house and the gates to the trains.  Portions of the movie Funny Girl was filmed at the terminal.  In the clip from the movie listed at the end of this essay, Barbara Streisand runs across and sings in this long room years after the trains actually stopped running.

Here is one of the gates.

These are two bumper posts for two now virtual tracks.  The train shed has become a natural botanical garden.

The north side of the train shed has an outdoor track.  Centered in the picture is the north end of the Concourse.
Here is the west end of the Bush-type train shed where the trains came in and passengers detrained or boarded.  The station had about 16 tracks.  The people are headed from the parking lot (left) where the tracks that led to the station to the head house for the Liberty Island Ferry.

The Barbara Streisand  clip from Funny Girl shot partially in the Terminal years after the trains stopped running is here:

Side Note

To the north of the head house is a 9/11 memorial.  These two pictures are self explanatory.


Note:  Wikipedia supplied many of the facts in this essay.