NJ TRANSIT RAIL OPERATIONS CELEBRATES 40 YEARS OF SERVICE WITH HISTORIC RAIL EXCURSION AND DISPLAY
NJ TRANSIT Partners With United Railroad Historical Society of NJ to Operate Special Excursion Train September 30th; NJ TRANSIT’s heritage Rail Display In Hoboken October 1st
August 21, 2023
NEWARK, NJ – Calling all rail history lovers! NJ TRANSIT is planning a fun-filled historic rail weekend September 30 – October 1. To kick off the events, NJ TRANSIT and The United Railroad Historical Society of NJ are partnering to operate a special excursion train titled the “40th Anniversary Express” in honor of NJ TRANSIT Rail Operations’ 40th year of public service. Riders can purchase a ticket to travel down memory lane on the Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast Lines in a special train with historic and conventional equipment, recreate the “South Amboy engine change” and ride the Bay Head loop track in a unique railroad experience. Then, on October 1, all members of the public are invited to historic Hoboken Terminal for a special display of NJ TRANSIT’s heritage decorated locomotives.
“This special weekend is an amazing and fun way to honor NJ TRANSIT’s rich history and gives the public an exclusive look at our railroad’s heritage,” said New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Board Chair Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “Here’s to another great 40 years ahead.”
“This historic rail weekend invites passengers, families, and enthusiasts to join NJ TRANSIT in a unique experience that transcends time,” said NJ TRANSIT President & CEO Kevin S. Corbett. “From the reenactment of the ‘South Amboy engine change’ to the nostalgic display of our heritage locomotives, this event will bring history lovers together to celebrate 40 years of rail service that has connected people and places across New Jersey.”
“We are incredibly proud to be partnered with NJ TRANSIT for this event,” said URHS Executive Director Kevin Phalon. “As historians, we want to tell important stories. This trip will help us reach a large audience in a whole new way and will help bring attention to the incredible 40-year story of NJ TRANSIT’s commuter railroad.”
The special excursion train on Saturday, September 30 will travel between New York, Bay Head, and Hoboken, over sections of all three of NJ TRANSIT’s major legacy commuter systems: the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Central Railroad of New Jersey, and the Erie Lackawanna Railroad. It will be hauled first by NJ TRANSIT’s Pennsylvania Railroad heritage locomotive, wrapped in a historic livery to represent the many GG1 locomotives that hauled commuters in New Jersey from the 1930s to the 1980s. Participants will get to witness a recreation of the famous “South Amboy engine change,” which is a ritual that occurred at South Amboy station for decades until 1988. The second portion of the trip will be hauled by F40 diesels, the F40 being the first model locomotive purchased by NJ TRANSIT as part of its major renewal in the agency’s early years.
Participants will also have a unique opportunity to travel around the Bay Head loop track and take a break for a catered lunch at the station. The trip will then resume the journey back through Newark Penn Station for a great photo opportunity and then depart for historic Hoboken Terminal to end the day.
The following day, Sunday October 1st, NJ TRANSIT will display all of its heritage decorated locomotives celebrating 40 years of NJT Rail Operations and its predecessor railroads. This event is open to the general public and is free of charge. Take a stroll down memory lane with the beautiful locomotives decked out in historical liveries. A recruiting table will also be available to those interested in joining NJ TRANSIT’s ranks.
“40th Anniversary Express” Excursion Details: Saturday September 30. The train will depart New York Penn Station in the morning and will conclude at Hoboken Terminal in late afternoon. Tickets will go on sale to the public on August 25 at 10 a.m. at URHS.org. Only special excursion tickets will be accepted on this train; standard NJ TRANSIT tickets and passes will NOT be valid.
Included in the train consist, alongside several NJ TRANSIT coaches, will be four historic railroad cars: the URHS’s Hickory Creek and Tavern-Lounge No 43, and Juniata Terminal Company’s Warrior Ridge and Pennsylvania No. 120. Tickets in these historic cars will include additional on-board services and are available at a premium fare. The No. 120 will be reserved for VIPs.
Proceeds from this excursion will support the non-profit United Railroad Historical Society of NJ.
Photo Credit: Russell Sullivan
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.
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.