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NJ TRANSIT Rail Operations Commemorates Four Decades of History With Numerous Events Throughout the Year

January 11, 2023

NEWARK, NJ – January 1, 2023 marked the 40th anniversary of NJ TRANSIT assuming control and management of the operations of New Jersey’s commuter rail network, previously operated by Conrail under contract to NJ TRANSIT and the State of New Jersey. 

Shortly after midnight on January 1, 1983, the first “NJ TRANSIT” trains departed Hoboken and Penn Station New York with crews who were now officially NJ TRANSIT employees. Over the past 40 years, NJ TRANSIT has steadily improved New Jersey’s rail network by investing in modernized equipment, rebuilding the infrastructure and right-of-way, increasing service to Midtown Manhattan, introducing one-seat rides to Penn Station New York on three rail lines, increasing overall capacity, extending electrification on two busy rail corridors, and much more. We look forward to achieving another 40 years of progress as we continue to enhance the travel experience for all NJ TRANSIT rail customers.

“Congratulations to the men and women of Rail Operations for a job well done.” said New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Board Chair Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti.  “I am proud of NJ TRANSIT’s commitment over the last four decades in providing safe and reliable rail travel for millions of customers all over the state. And we continue to use and invest in the latest technologies and advances to enhance service and safety.”

“Our congratulations and thanks go out to the entire NJ TRANSIT Rail Operations team, past and present, on the occasion of its 40th anniversary,” said NJ TRANSIT President & CEO Kevin S. Corbett. “With a proud legacy behind us, an extraordinary team now in place, major rail infrastructure projects like the Portal North Bridge Replacement Project currently underway, and 138 new multi-level rail cars beginning to arrive in 2024, the future looks very bright for this essential division of NJ TRANSIT – and more importantly, for the millions of customers who depend on it every year.”

In recognition of this anniversary, NJ TRANSIT has painted four locomotives in “Heritage” paint schemes to recognize the predecessor railroads and employees that make up our system.  In the photo,  ALP46A 4636 wears a Pennsylvania Railroad-inspired scheme, while GP40PH-2 4109 appears reminiscent of its as-delivered Central Railroad of New Jersey paint scheme.  Cheers to 40 years!

History of NJ TRANSIT

As NJ TRANSIT Rail Operations celebrates its 40th anniversary as an operating railroad, NJ TRANSIT is recognizing the evolution that has taken place from its challenging beginnings to the delivery of an efficient transportation system that serves New Jersey and the surrounding region four decades later.

On January 1, 1983, a dedicated group of employees — combined with support from the state and federal governments — began transforming an aging and disjointed passenger railroad system into one of the premier passenger railroads of North America. A combination of needed investments, smart planning and a shift in railroad culture from “moving equipment” to “serving customers” led to delivery of a safer and more convenient, reliable and cost-effective service.

Older railcars and locomotives were refurbished or replaced with ADA-accessible equipment. New high-level platforms were built for customers with disabilities and faster boarding and exiting of trains. Signals and overhead-wire catenary systems were modernized. Continuous welded rail was installed for a smoother, faster ride.

As on-time performance and service quality rose, so did ridership. That paved the way for more service expansion, including the launch of Atlantic City Rail Line service, the launch of MidTOWN DIRECT service, the opening of the Newark Liberty International Airport Station and the opening of the Frank R. Lautenberg Station at Secaucus Junction that today allows customers access to 11 of NJ TRANSIT’s 12 rail lines.

NJ TRANSIT also centralized its maintenance and train dispatching functions in Kearny with the opening of the Meadows Maintenance Complex in 1987 and the Rail Operations Center in 2003. These facilities created a more modernized, reliable and efficient method of maintaining and operating trains.

While expanding the capacity of the rail system, NJ TRANSIT concurrently added tens-of-thousands of new parking spaces, including the addition of major park & ride facilities at Metropark, Ramsey Route 17, Montclair State University, Bay Street, Rahway, Hamilton, Trenton and Morristown stations.

In December 2006, NJ TRANSIT combined its focus on capacity expansion with its ongoing efforts to improve the customer experience by debuting the system’s first multilevel rail car.  Multilevel cars (what some may refer to as “Double Deckers”) offer approximately 20 percent more seating capacity than most single-level cars, enabling

NJ TRANSIT to accommodate more customers using the existing infrastructure.  At every phase, customers participated in the design of the new rail cars, making the multilevel rail cars the first of NJ TRANSIT’s fleet to be designed for customers by customers.  A Customer Design Team, composed of 14 NJ TRANSIT commuters from across the system, worked with the manufacturer to provide feedback on interior design, onboard amenities, seat design, and color and fabric selection.

In December 2020, NJ TRANSIT had its Positive Train Control (PTC) system certified by the Federal Railroad Administration, which ushered in a new era of safety on the railroad.  PTC serves as an enhancement to the railroad’s already comprehensive safety mechanisms to further reduce the possibility of train collisions, excessive speed or unauthorized train movements by utilizing high-tech hardware and software installed throughout the state. 

Future of NJ TRANSIT rail

NJ TRANSIT continues to look to the future with new equipment, infrastructure and enhanced customer experience.  New bridges, redesigned stations and modern cars and locomotives continue leveraging the latest technology to move the railroad forward.


In October 2021, NJ TRANSIT added another page to its history book when the Board of Directors approved the largest single construction contract in the organization’s 40 years, with the awarding of a $1.5 billion contract for a new Portal North Bridge.  

The new bridge will be a modern two-track, high-level, fixed-span bridge that will improve service and capacity along this section of the Northeast Corridor. The new bridge will rise 50-feet over the Hackensack River and will allow marine traffic to pass underneath without interrupting rail traffic.  The project will eliminate the existing 112-year-old swing bridge, which has been the enduring source of major service disruptions for NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak customers traveling on the Northeast Corridor. 

The Portal North Bridge project is an important initial element of the broader Gateway Program, which will eventually double rail capacity between Newark and New York.

In addition, construction is underway on a new Raritan River Bridge, which carries the North Jersey Coast Line between Perth Amboy and South Amboy. This megaproject will replace a bridge dating back to 1908 with a resilient, modern structure suitable for the next 100 years.


Modernizing stations is a key aspect of improving the customer experience for the future. 

NJ TRANSIT is in the process of fully reimagining two of its major rail hubs; Newark Penn Station and Hoboken Terminal.  The Murphy Administration has committed $191 million to transform Newark Penn Station and $176 million for improvements around Hoboken Terminal. Construction at Hoboken has also included filling in the unused Long Slip canal to prepare for future rail expansion with six new tracks and high level platforms in addition to providing storm resiliency.

Major reconstruction work is underway at Elizabeth, Lyndhurst and Perth Amboy stations with more stations including Roselle Park and Bloomfield in the pipeline.  In all, we have 20 rail stations in design or active development for future work – there hasn’t been this much active station work on the rail system at one time since the 1800’s!


In the coming years, NJ TRANSIT will continue to write its history when its first ever self-propelled multilevel rail cars are put into service.  Included in an order for 138 new multilevel cars are what’s known as Electric Multiple Units (EMUs), which do not require a locomotive to push or pull them.  They will allow for the retirement of the 40+ year old single level Arrow fleet and bring with them increased mechanical reliability, additional capacity and new onboard customer amenities such as USB power ports.

The railroad is also actively receiving additional dual power ALP45 locomotives.  In all, 25 of these new locomotives will join the fleet and continue to enhance the versatility of the railroad operations with their ability to operate as diesel or electric while also providing improved reliability and reduced emissions. 

NJ TRANSIT Rail Operations Timeline

  • 1983 – NJ TRANSIT Rail Operations replaces Conrail as the operator of commuter rail service throughout New Jersey
  • 1983/1984 — New Comet II and Comet IIA railcars arrive and Overhaul of Arrow II railcars
  • 1984 — Modernized electrification system debuts on the Morris & Essex Lines; 50+ year-old coaches replaced by modern Arrow railcars.
  • 1986-1988 — Overhaul of Comet I railcars and conversion of Arrow I cars to Comet IB cars
  • 1987 — Meadows Maintenance Complex opens
  • 1988 — North Jersey Coast Line electrification extended from Matawan to Long Branch
  • 1989 — Atlantic City Rail Line (ACRL) opens between Lindenwold to Atlantic City
  • 1989-1995 — Arrow III railcars rebuilt
  • 1990 — New ALP-44-0 electric locomotives arrive
  • 1990/1991 — New Comet III railcars arrive
  • 1993 — GP40PH-2-A locomotives rebuilt
  • 1993 — Atlantic City Line service extended to Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station
  • 1993-1997 — GP40PH-2-B locomotives rebuilt
  • 1994 – Cherry Hill Station opens
  • 1994 — Morristown Line/Boonton Line extended to Hackettstown
  • 1996 — MidTOWN DIRECT debuts (M&E one-seat ride to NY) utilizing further deliveries of ALP-44 locomotives and new Comet IV railcars
  • 1999 — Hamilton Station opens
  • 1999 – Rollout of new system map with matching color coded rail line timetables issued
  • 2001 — Newark Liberty International Airport Station opens
  • 2001/2002 — New ALP-46 electric locomotives arrive
  • 2001-2004 — Comet II railcars rebuilt
  • 2002 — 7th Avenue Concourse opens at Penn Station New York
  • 2002 — Montclair Branch and Boonton Line consolidated, renamed the Montclair-Boonton Line and new Great Notch Yard opens, allowing debut of MidTOWN DIRECT-Montclair
  • 2002-2004 — New Comet V railcars arrive
  • 2003 — Frank R. Lautenberg Station at Secaucus Junction opens ( linking 11 of 12 NJ TRANSIT rail lines)
  • 2003 — High-density signal system completed on eastern segment of NEC, increasing train capacity            to/from NY
  • 2003 — Rail Operations Center opens in Kearny
  • 2003 — Union Station opens
  • 2004 — Ramsey Route 17 Station opens
  • 2004 — Montclair State University Station opens
  • 2004 — Morrisville Yard opens
  • 2005 — New PL-42 diesel locomotives arrive
  • 2006 — Multilevel railcars, designed with the help of customers, begin arriving
  • 2007 — Expanded service on the Pascack Valley Line
  • 2008 — Wayne/Route 23 Transit Center opens
  • 2008 — Mount Arlington Station opens
  • 2009 — Penn Station New York 31st Street entrance opens
  • 2009 — Meadowlands Station opens
  • 2009 — Trenton Transit Center renovated
  • 2011-2013 — New ALP-45 dual-mode locomotives arrive
  • 2013 – Pennsauken Transit Center opens
  • 2016 — Wesmont Station opens
  • 2018 -   Elevator modernization program initiated to upgrade electrical and operating components of elevators systemwide
  • 2019-   Heritage fleet of coaches and locomotives decorated to honor NJ TRANSIT’s predecessor rail companies
  • 2020 — Positive Train Control system successfully made operational and certified by the FRA
  • NJ TRANSIT breaks ground on the Raritan River Bridge Replacement Project
  • 2021 — Portal North Bridge $1.5 billion construction contract approved and awarded
  • 2021 – Locomotives decorated in tribute to armed services unveiled as NJ TRANSIT provides service to the Army-Navy game at the Meadowlands
  • 2022 – Locomotive decorated in “Ride with Pride” scheme debuts, along with a heritage tribute scheme from the NJ Department of Transportation on GP40PH-2 41O1.
  • 2022 – NJ TRANSIT breaks ground on the construction of the Portal North Bridge


NJ TRANSIT is the nation's largest statewide public transportation system providing more than 925,000 weekday trips on 253 bus routes, three light rail lines, 12 commuter rail lines and through Access Link paratransit service. It is the third largest transit system in the country with 166 rail stations, 62 light rail stations and more than 19,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.