Commuting in the Garden State has evolved over the last 30 years, as classic legacy equipment has been replaced by the latest in modern technology. A 1930s vintage former Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 electric leads a North Jersey Coast Line train over the bridge at South Amboy, New Jersey, in 1981.
The changing face of NJ Transit
Photos by Steve Barry and Otto M. Vondrak
Since 1983, New Jersey Transit has embarked on the ambitious task of making two diverse electrified systems compatible, installing new junctions, and joining pieces of many lines into a state-wide passenger rail system that best serves the entire Garden State. A colorful roster of equipment has served New Jersey’s commuters over the years, with older first generation diesels and classic streamlined coaches replaced by high-horsepower HEP diesels hauling the latest commuter cars. Join editors Steve Barry and Otto Vondrak as they take us trackside over the last 30 years!
Breakfast at Tiffany's
A westbound train rolls past the old Tiffany factory in North Newark, N.J., in November 2000. This was a part of the Boonton Line and was abandoned when the Montclair connection was opened in 2002, allowing electric trains from Little Falls on the Boonton Line to operate directly into New York's Penn Station; diesel service would continue to operate into Hoboken.
Through the uprights
An F40 splits the signals at Middlesex, N.J., on the Raritan Valley Line, the former Jersey Central (CNJ) main line. The Raritan Valley Line operates from Newark, with most trains terminating at Raritan. A few rush hour trains continue beyond to High Bridge.
South Jersey sojourn
A Philadelphia-bound train rolls past the restored depot in Berlin in South Jersey on May 10, 2009. All locomotives on the Atlantic City Line face west, and two locomotives on one train is not very common.
All aboard for the Jersey Shore
Former Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines Budd RDC's idle next to the PATCO platform at Lindenwold, N.J. in 1980. When the PATCO High Speed Line was constructed, passenger trains operating on the former PRSL were cut back from Camden to Lindenwold. The RDC's will take passengers to Jersey Shore points at Cape May, Ocean City and Atlantic City. NJT service ended in 1982, but was resurrected with direct operation to Philadelphia in 1989.
The former Lackawanna Gladstone Branch maintains an interurban feel as it rolls through the bucolic horse farms of central New Jersey. Wooden catenary poles and single track with passing sidings add to the branch line flavor. A set of Jersey Arrows approach the station at Far Hills on November 1, 1999.
Twilight for the Lackawanna
A set of former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western electric m.u. cars rest at the end of the Gladstone Branch in the line's namesake town in 1981. The overhead electrical system would be completely replaced in 1984, forcing the retirement of the venerable units that had been in continuous service since 1931.
The latest technology
An ALP-46 leads a Trenton-bound train past Nassau Tower at Princeton Junction on February 7, 2010. The track to the right is the home of the shuttle to downtown Princeton, known as the "dinky" or the PJ&B (Princeton Junction & Back).
Restoration and resurrection
The classic copper facade of Hoboken Terminal's ferry slips is warmed by the rising sun. The Erie merged with Lackawanna in 1960, adding their name to the top of the sign above the ferry slips. Ferry service was cancelled in 1967, but revived in 1989 and resumed using the covered slips in 2011. The Lackawanna clock tower was removed in the 1950s, but replaced with a brand new recreation in 2007 to celebrate Hoboken Terminal's centennial. Photo by Otto M. Vondrak
4134 at Waldwick
I hopped off the train and quickly set up my tripod to capture this scene with available light at Waldwick, which is the terminus for many Bergen County Line trains. The 4134 is a GP40FH-2, rebuilt by Morrison-Kundsen in 1987 with a full body cowl. This unit was retired later in 2006, replaced by newer high-horsepower diesels. Photo by Otto M. Vondrak
Football special on the New Haven Line
An ALP46 and multi-level coaches glides across the moveable bridge over the Saugatuck River on Metro-North's New Haven Line at Westport, Connecticut. This regional service uses NJT equipment and Metro-North crews to provide a one-seat ride for football fans attending home games at Met Life Stadium in the Meadowlands. Photo by Otto M. Vondrak