Two of Susquehanna's EMD E9's (acquired second-hand from Metra) bring up the rear of a passenger excursion on NJ Transit rails at Denville Jct., New Jersey, in 2002. Susquehanna's Chinese-built Mikado No. 142 can be seen in the distance leading the train. For more than 25 years, Susquehanna was an enthusiastic operator of passenger excursions throughout its service territory.
Susquehana's last passenger trains
by Otto M. Vondrak/photos by the author
Welcome to Photo Line! Regional railroad New York, Susquehanna & Western can trace its roots back to the 1860s as part of a plan to connect New York with the Great Lakes. By the 1870s, became an important link to carry anthracite coal from eastern Pennsylvania to the port of New York. after a brief period of control by the Erie Railroad, the Susquehanna emerged at mid-century as an important link for industrial northern New Jersey. By the 1980s, the line had retrenched as a terminal railroad on the brink of being elimated by truck competition. The state of New Jersey worked out a deal with Delaware Otsego Corp. to acquire, rehabilitate and operate the line. Through a series of strategic investments, the Susquehanna grew into an important regional line carrying lucrative container traffic over a rejuvenated and expanded line connecting New York with Binghamton. Throughout this period of revival, executive Walter Rich, himself a rail enthusiast, promoted a series of passenger excursions throughout the system. As a result of the Conrail breakup, and the Susquehanna's strategic position, the railroad was purchased in 1997 by a joint partnership of CSX and Norfolk Southen. Passenger operations began to wind down almost immediately, and ceased permanently upon the death of Walter Rich in 2007. Take a fond look back at the Susquehanna's last passenger trains with R&R associate editor Otto Vondrak!
Maplefest Shuttle at Cortland, New York
Each spring, the Susquehanna operated special shuttle trains from Cortland to nearby Marathon, New York, to help ease traffic in the tiny village during its annual Maplefest celebration. The train is loading passengers at the ex-Lackawana station in Cortland on the morning of April 6, 2008.
A Maplefest Shuttle train rolls south along the Tioughnioga River towards Marathon station on April 6, 2008. The coaches are ex-Metra "gallery" double-deck commuter cars. They were briefly used in special event service before being sidelined and sold off.
Through the Tioughnioga Valley
As viewed from Interstate 81, a Maplefest Shuttle train rolls down the old Lacakwanna line along the Tioughnioga River en route to Marathon on April 6 2008. Two EMD SD40T-2's bracket the excursion train, which includes a Susquehanna business car in the consist.
Shuttle train at Cortland
One of the last Maplefest Shuttle trains discharges its passengers at the former Lackawanna station in Cortland, New York, on April 6, 2008. Originally built for the Southern Pacific in 1980, this veteran "tunnel motor" now serves the Susquehanna.
Maplefest Shuttle at Messengerville
Two former Southern Pacific "tunnel motors" bracket the Maplefest Shuttle train at River Road in Messengerville, New York, on April 6, 2008.
Steaming through Dover
Susquehanna 142 was originally built by the Tang Shan Locomotive Works in China in 1989 for the Valley Railroad in Connecticut. Locomotive 141 had been purchased by Susquehanna, but the ship carrying it to America sank in a storm. The 142 was acquired and immediately put into excursion service throughout the system. This 2002 excursion train was approaching Dover, New Jersey, on the old Lackawanna line currently operated by NJ Transit.
Susquehanna 142 leads an excursion train through the NJ Transit station at Denville, New Jersey, in 2002. This photo angle conceals the long trailing consist and diesel helpers on the rear.
Susquehanna steams through Denville Junction
New York, Susquehanna & Western no. 142 leads an excursion train through Denville Jct., New Jersey, under the wires of the former Lackawanna during the summer of 2002.
OnTrack approaches Syracuse University station
The Susquehanna began operating its first regular commuter trains since 1966 with the introduction of OnTrack service in 1994. The initial system connected Syracuse University with Armory Square and the Carousel Center Mall using Budd RDC's acquired second-hand from Metro-North. The service was suspended in 2007.
OnTrack layover at Syracuse University station
An OnTrack train lays over at Syracuse University station in Syracuse, New York. Susquehanna Budd RDC M-8 was originally built for New York Central as its M-465. It later became Penn Central 65 and Metro-North 65 before being sold to NYSW in 1994.