Cape May Seashore Lines
|Locale||Cape May County and Atlantic County, New Jersey|
|Dates of operation||1984–present|
|Predecessor||Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Length||27 miles (43 km)|
|Headquarters||Tuckahoe, New Jersey|
Cape May Seashore Lines (reporting mark CMSL) is a short line railroad in southern New Jersey. It offers two excursion services; a 30-mile round trip between Richland and Tuckahoe, and a 14-mile round trip between Rio Grande, Cold Spring Village, and Cape May City. The track is owned by NJ Transit and leased to the Seashore Lines. Connections are provided with Conrail's Beesley's Point Secondary, owned jointly by CSX and Norfolk Southern, at the north end in Tuckahoe. Tony Macrie has been president of the Seashore Lines since he formed the railroad in 1984.
The line to Cape May was built in 1863 by the Tuckahoe and Cape May Railroad, and operated by the Philadelphia and Reading Railway's Atlantic City Railroad and later Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines (PRSL). At one time, the rail line was known as "The Steel Speedway To The Shore”. Eventually it became part of Conrail, which ended passenger service on the line in 1981, ended freight service on October 10, 1983 and sold the line to New Jersey Transit as their Cape May Branch.
Establishment of CMSL
The Seashore Lines was founded by Tony Macrie (CEO) in January 1984. Regular train service between Cape May Court House and Cold Spring Village began in 1996. Service was extended in Cape May City in 1999 after repairs to the swing bridge crossing the Cape May Canal were completed.
In 2005, mechanical issues with the Cape May Canal swing bridge prevented trains from entering the city of Cape May. Although the bridge was repaired a year later, a severe storm in April 2007 damaged the tracks and left locomotives stranded in Tuckahoe. Passenger train service between Rio Grande and Cape May City resumed on October 12, 2009.
New Jersey Seashore Lines
New Jersey Seashore Lines (NJSL) is a subsidiary of Cape May Seashore Lines. New Jersey Seashore Lines was created by Cape May Seashore Lines in conjunction with the Clayton Sand Co. in Wall, NJ. The Seashore Lines operates on 13 miles of rehabilitated track between Lakehurst and the Woodmansie section of Woodland Township, where Clayton has a sand mine. New Jersey Seashore Lines will operate the rail service to transport sand and gravel from Clayton and serve the needs of any other customers that might need rail service along the line. The line was owned by the Central Railroad of New Jersey and was once part of the route of the famed Blue Comet.
The Seashore Lines currently operates excursion trains on 15 miles of Conrail's Beesley's Point Secondary between Tuckahoe and Richland. Current passenger train operations include the FALL FOLIAGE EXPRESS, SANTA EXPRESS, SANTA EXPRESS LIMITED and WINTER EXPRESS. Train sets primarily consist of the railroad's two GP38 diesel locomotives, as well as ex. New York Central Cafe Car car no. 37, RPCX lounge car no. 2786 and two to four coach cars. The Seashore Lines also operates occasional passenger excursions for the Buena Vista Township / Richland Village Festival.
On March 1, 2012, the Seashore Lines received a telephone call from the New Jersey State Police, advising them that theft of track material had occurred on their Cape May Branch, in an area between Woodbine and Dennisville. This is the Seashore Lines’ main line between Tuckahoe and Cape May City. The investigating trooper informed them that several individuals associated with the theft had been arrested and charged with indictable offenses. Arrested on Monday, March 5, were a father and son team from the Villas section of Lower Township, New Jersey, along with a third individual from Rio Grande.
Several days later, Macrie and two Seashore Lines employees conducted a detailed track inspection of the entire area of the theft, which consisted primarily of the removal of tie plates and spikes. This inspection concluded that the area of the theft encompassed approximately 6,800 feet, or 75 percent of the total amount of tie plates and spikes in that particular section of track. In their actions to remove the tie plates and spikes, the perpetrators also damaged and destroyed numerous cross ties.
Excursion trains did not run during the summer of 2012 due to the damage from the vandalism. The company offered rides to the public on speeder vehicles along several miles of track at the Cape May City end of the line. Macrie had stated that CMSL planned to have train service restored in 2013. As of June 2017, service to Cape May has not resumed.
The Seashore Lines owns and leases a large roster of equipment:
- Two EMD GP38's, leased from GATX, one of which is ex. PRSL #2011;
- restored Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) EMD GP9 #7000 (leased from United Railroad Historical Society of NJ);
- restored Central Railroad of New Jersey (CNJ) GP7 #1523;
- Eight of the 12 original PRSL Budd Rail Diesel Cars (RDC), two of which are restored and in operating condition (M-407, M-410).
- New York Central Railroad Tavern Lounge 37;
- United Railroad Historical Society of NJ #317 and #349 coaches;
- restored Long Island Rail Road Tavern Lounge car Good Vibrations;
- several P70 coaches, including the last two surviving PRSL P70 coaches;
- four cabooses;
- an RS3m, formerly Pennsylvania Railroad 8481, wearing Conrail blue
- Central Railroad of New Jersey (CNJ) observation car, "Tempel", used on the famed train "The Blue Comet", and wearing Comet colors of blue and cream.
- sjrails.com "History of Trains to the Shore." Cape May Seashore Lines Page. Accessed 2012-11-05.
- Degener, Richard (2010-08-18). "Seashore Line resumes train service to Cape May as tourist attraction". Press of Atlantic City. Pleasantville, NJ.
- Larsen, Erik (2016-12-09). "'Blue Comet' line being restored in Ocean County". Asbury Park Press. Manchester, NJ.
- Degener, Richard (2012-03-21). "3 arrested in thefts of metal pieces used to fasten railroad track to ties". Press of Atlantic City.
- Degener, Richard (2012-07-20). "Van Drew investigation shows Cape May Seashore Lines didn't misuse funds, but the future of train uncertain". Press of Atlantic City.
- Degener, Richard (2012-08-26). "Former railroad maintenance cars, or 'speeders,' offer scenic tours of Cape May marshland, rail history". Press of Atlantic City.
- Fichter, Jack (2007-10-30). "County Rail System? Adocates: $27 Million Needed". Cape May County Herald. Rio Grande, NJ.
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