By Railfan & Railroad Staff
New Jersey Transit has donated ALP-44M 4424 to the United Railroad Historical Society of NJ. The donation to URHS was made in part to commemorate NJ Transit’s 40th anniversary.
URHS officials say the acquisition of the electric locomotive is a big step for preservationists in the state aiming to save artifacts from NJT’s formative years. The ALP-44 was the first model of electric locomotive purchased new by the state of New Jersey. It represented the agency’s first foray into the global marketplace, with all 32 units being built in Sweden. Most notably, that same batch of ALP-44s made possible NJ Transit’s extraordinarily successful Midtown-Direct Service, which provided a one-seat ride from the Garden State to New York Penn Station.
“We are honored that NJ Transit would trust us to be custodians of their corporate heritage,” said URHS Executive Director Kevin Phalon. “Most people, even NJ Transit riders, will probably not know what an ALP-44 is, but they certainly understand what it means to have modern, reliable transportation to and from work every day. That is what this locomotive represents.”
The 4424 is one of 32 ALP44s built for NJ Transit by ABB (Asea Brown Boveri) in Sweden between 1989 and 1997. Until 2011, these locomotives hauled daily commuter trains on the Morris & Essex, Gladstone, Montclair-Boonton, and Northeast Corridor lines. The 4424, built in 1996, is now the newest artifact in the URHS collection.
“It may be young, but that doesn’t make this locomotive any less historic,” Phalon said. “This locomotive helps us complete the story of railroading in New Jersey. New Jersey is the birthplace of the railroad industry and the birthplace of the commuter. In the early 20th century, eight competing railroads made up one of the most robust commuter rail systems in America. By the 1960s, every single one of them had gone bankrupt. The state then took the remnants of those railroads and combined them into one, cohesive commuter rail system. The ALP-44 was an integral part of the infrastructure that brought all of these systems together.”
The preservation of an ALP-44 was a mutual decision between URHS and NJ TRANSIT. No. 4424 was chosen as it was deemed to be in the best condition for preservation of all the remaining units. The engine comes to URHS in near-complete, original condition. As part of this donation, NJ Transit has donated all its paper and digital documentation related to the construction and maintenance of the ALP-44 fleet.
NJT President and CEO Kevin S. Corbett said URHS was the perfect home for the historic locomotive.
“Inspiring the next generation of customers, employees, ‘rail buffs,’ and other stakeholders is what NJ Transit is all about,” Corbett said. “We appreciate all the labor of love that URHS performs to preserve New Jersey’s significant rail history. This special donation will be a living testament to the hard work of our Rail Operations team over the last 40 years, and I look forward to visiting locomotive No. 4424 early and often during the next 40 years as well!”
The 4424 arrived at URHS’ shop in Boonton over the weekend. The locomotive will be available for public viewing at URHS’s Railroad Museum [For A Day] festival on September 24, as well as other as yet unannounced public events.