Raritan Valley Line
The Raritan Valley Line is a commuter rail service operated by New Jersey Transit (NJT), originating at Pennsylvania Station, located in Newark, New Jersey, with most trains terminating at the Raritan station, located in Raritan, New Jersey.
Some weekday trains continue further west and terminate at the High Bridge station, located in High Bridge, New Jersey. Connections to Pennsylvania Station, located in New York City, New York, via the Northeast Corridor Line or North Jersey Coast Line can be made at Newark. As of March 2014, five, select, weekday, off-peak, RVL trains now terminate/originate directly at New York Penn Station as their easternmost terminus, in a reported 'pilot project' with an eye toward further expansion of Raritan Valley Line NYC direct service. The pilot will be extended in November 2014 to include trains that terminate/originate in New York Penn Station after 8 pm.
The Raritan Valley Line is colored orange on New Jersey Transit's system map. Its symbol is the Statue of Liberty, a homage to the Central Railroad of New Jersey whose logo was also the Statue of Liberty.
Most of the line follows the main line of the former Central Railroad of New Jersey. Historically, CNJ trains ran on this line, as part of its Lehigh-Susquehanna Division, from Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton in eastern Pennsylvania, through Elizabeth and Bayonne to Jersey City.
Until 1967 CNJ service terminated at the company's Communipaw Terminal in what is today Liberty State Park. This station, which was also served by Reading Company trains to Philadelphia and B & O service to Washington, D.C. and beyond, had connections by chartered bus or ferry into Manhattan (the ferries serving the financial district).
At the end of April 1967 the Aldene Connection opened, connecting the CNJ main line to the Lehigh Valley Railroad (now Conrail's Lehigh Line), and trains were re-routed to Newark Penn Station on the Northeast Corridor via Hunter Connection. This allowed CNJ to end the ferry service between Jersey City and Manhattan, which was losing money.
Trains could not go beyond Newark Penn Station to New York Penn Station because the locomotives are diesel-powered, and diesel locomotives cannot operate in the North River Tunnels. The introduction of ALP-45DP dual-mode locomotives allows for direct service to New York Penn Station. Limited, off peak, weekday, daytime service to New York Penn Station started as a pilot program on March 3, 2014. Trains scheduled to arrive at New York Penn Station between 10am and 2pm as well as trains departing between 11am and 3pm provide one-seat rides to New York. The pilot includes 5 round trips, including 2 round trips originating/terminating at High Bridge.
Unlike the Northeast Corridor, the majority of station stops on the Raritan Valley Line are not wheelchair accessible. Newark Penn Station, Union, Cranford, Westfield, Plainfield, and Somerville are accessible, high-platform stations. Roselle Park has a high platform but does not have a ramp or elevator to the street.
The Raritan Valley Line uses all diesel service, with locomotives consisting of the F40PH-2CAT, GP40PH-2(A and B) GP40FH-2, Alstom PL42AC, and GE P40DC locomotives. It originally used a 5 or 6 car set of Comet series coaches and, since late 2008, Bombardier Multilevel Series Coaches were added and replaced the Comet coaches. Most trains now consist of an PL42AC or ALP-45DP and a six car set of Multilevels. Prior to the service and the discontinuation of ACES, the P40DC locomotives are now used on the Raritan Valley Line.
With the initiation of limited direct inbound service on weekdays only to New York on the Raritan Valley Line in March of 2014, dual-mode Bombardier ALP-45DP locomotives (combination diesel &/or electric power) were added to the RVL rolling stock to incorporate the "One Seat Ride" to and from Raritan or High Bridge and Penn Station in New York. NJT currently has proposed plans for weekend direct service. In October, NJT is currently seeking funds to increase possible direct service. The dual powered locomotives will remain on the RVL indefinitely.
In January 2014, as a limited time, a 6 car set of Comet series coaches with a PL42AC were used as the Multilevels were moved to the Meadowlands Rail Line to incorporate longer trains for passengers to access to Metlife Stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII. The plans backfired as a result of overcrowding.
The Raritan Yard, located in Raritan, is the line's only rail yard; the yard is located just west of the station. All eastbound trains change crews here and trains are normally stored here overnight. This is also one of two fueling facilities for NJT locomotives (the other is at Hoboken Terminal). All trains terminating in Newark head to the Meadows Maintenance Complex in Kearny, New Jersey, to be stored.
Service beyond High Bridge to Phillipsburg was discontinued in December 1983 ostensibly due to low ridership coupled with infrequent service west of High Bridge. Then, in November 1989, the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJ DOT) severed the rail line between Alpha and Phillipsburg during construction of I-78. This was done in order to avoid having to build an overpass over the out-of-service trackage. Trackage was later dismantled between Phillipsburg and Bloomsbury, where the line connects with Norfolk Southern's parallel Lehigh Line. New Jersey Transit could build the stations along the existing Norfolk Southern Lehigh Valley Line towards Allentown or Reading.
Since 1984, there have been repeated calls for resumption of service to Phillipsburg to relieve traffic congestion on the parallel I-78 and U.S. Route 22. The Raritan Valley Rail Coalition, formed in 1998 by former U.S. Congressman Bob Franks, is currently looking for cost-effective ways to improve mobility, reduce highway congestion, and increase transit ridership along the Raritan Valley Line. Their study is slated for completion in January 2010. In addition, real estate developers have touted former industrial hub Phillipsburg as an excellent candidate for restored commuter rail service, saying "P'burg. . .a good candidate for rail service..."
NJ Transit has been responsive to the idea, and initiated an environmental impact statement. It was determined that service restoration will take approximately four years and cost $90 million.
Another plan that has been proposed is to restore service on the former Reading Railroad's Jersey City branch track between Ewing and Bound Brook to be called the West Trenton Line, providing a direct link to the SEPTA service of the same name and establishing an additional link to Philadelphia. To date, no funding for the proposal has been secured.
These stations have closed since the Aldene Plan was implemented in 1967. They are listed from east to west.
- NJ TRANSIT QUARTERLY RIDERSHIP TRENDS ANALYSIS November 2012 Retrieved May 23, 2014.
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- "Conrail/NJ DOT end Bayonne shuttle". Thorpefamily.us. Retrieved 2012-06-27.
- Mike Frassinelli, "The Star-Ledger," "NJ Transit unveils first dual-mode locomotive in North America," May 11, 2011 http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/05/nj_transit_to_unveil_dual-mode.html
- Mike Frassinelli (February 18, 2014). "Raritan Valley Line riders to get 'one-seat ride' to NYC beginning March 3". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2014-02-18.
- "njtransit.com" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-06-27.
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- Flood, Danielle; Mustac, Frank (July 1, 2009). "NJ Transit Analyzing Recommendations Made in I-78 Corridor Study". New Jersey On-Line.
- Hausman, Daniel (February 13, 2007). "Perrucci Pitches P'burg as Place To Do Business, Says Region a Good Candidate for Rail Service" The Express-Times.
- Easton Mayor Sal Panto Jr. says rail study 'has holes,' plans own task force Monday, June 07, 2010, By DOUGLAS B. BRILL, The Express-Times http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/easton/index.ssf?/base/news-2/1275883506119710.xml&coll=3
- . New Jersey Transit. Retrieved April 5, 2008.
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