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 New Jersey Transit and leased to CMSL. 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 CMSL since he formed the railroad in 1984. The CMSL website has a statement regarding the suspension of Cape May service due to damage done by theft: "Customer Notice: Rio Grande – Cape May City service is suspended due to the high volume theft of track material; specifically, tie plates and track spikes, along with the destruction of crossties, over a considerable distance of the Cape May Branch. These unconscionable and heinous acts of vandalism have caused extensive damage to the track structure, rendering the rail line impassable by any type of train movement. The Seashore Lines is actively exploring solutions to remediate this situation of ruinous proportions."
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 that both excursions travel on 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
CMSL 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. After a series of minor setbacks, passenger train service between Rio Grande and Cape May City resumed on August 17, 2010.
2012 vandalism and loss of service
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 CMSL's 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. The trooper also mentioned that the investigation was continuing, with the possibility of filing charges against additional individuals.
Several days later, Macrie and two Seashore Lines employees conducted a detailed, thorough track inspection of the entire area of the theft, which consisted primarily of the removal of tie plates and spikes, referred to as OTM (Other Track Material) in the rail transportation industry. The inspection was performed via track car and hi-rail truck, and by walking the track. Their inspection concluded that the area of the theft encompassed approximately 6,800 linear feet of their main line. The actual theft of the OTM represented 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 has stated that CMSL plans to have train service restored in 2013. As of July 2016, service to Cape May has not resumed.
The CMSL owns and leases a diverse roster of equipment:
- restored Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) EMD GP9 #7000;
- restored Central Railroad of New Jersey (CNJ) GP7 #1523 (Macrie is looking into leasing sister locomotive #1524 as well);
- Norfolk Southern (NS) GP38-3 #5803 (Engine was leased during the 2014 Christmas season);
- Eight of the 12 original PRSL Budd Rail Diesel Cars (RDC). Two of which are restored and in operating condition (M-407, 410). The remaining six are currently unrestored (M-402, 405, 408, 409, 411, 413);
- two unrestored Boston and Maine Railroad RDC's
- New York Central Railroad passenger car 37;
- Lehigh Valley Railroad F7A's #576 and #578;
- several United Railroad Historical Society coaches;
- restored Long Island Rail Road lounge car;
- several unrestored un-numbered PRR P70 coaches, including the last two surviving PRSL P70 coaches;
- two cabooses;
- an RS3m, formerly Pennsylvania Railroad 8481, owned by CMSL and wearing faded 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).
- 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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