Lehigh Line (Conrail)

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Lehigh Line
Train Q410.jpg
Northbound CSX train Q410 on the Lehigh Line in South Plainfield, New Jersey led by a SD70ACE.
Overview
Type Freight rail
System Conrail Shared Assets Operations (Norfolk Southern Railway and CSX Transportation), (with Canadian Pacific trackage rights)
Status Operational (1999-present)
Locale Northeastern New Jersey
Termini Oak Island Yard in Newark, New Jersey
Port Reading Junction in Manville, New Jersey
Operation
Opened 1999 (spun off from the original Lehigh Line)
Owner Conrail Shared Assets Operations (Norfolk Southern Railway and CSX Transportation)
Operator(s) Conrail Shared Assets Operations (Norfolk Southern Railway and CSX Transportation)
Technical
Number of tracks 2
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)

The Conrail Lehigh Line is a railroad line in New Jersey that is part of Conrail Shared Assets Operations under the North Jersey Shared Assets Area division. The line runs from CP Port Reading Junction in Manville to Oak Island Yard in Newark. The line is double-track and signaled through its entire length. The line began operations in 1999 using former existing tracks from Manville to Newark that was once part of the original Lehigh Line which is still in existence and is owned and operated by Norfolk Southern Railway.[1]

The original Lehigh Line was built by the Lehigh Valley Railroad and opened in 1855 in the Lehigh Valley. The line later expanded all the way to Buffalo, New York and then to Jersey City which was later retracted to Newark. The original Lehigh Line and the rest of the Lehigh Valley Railroad was merged into Conrail in 1976 and was downsized in the New York and Pennsylvania. The original Lehigh Line was inherited by Norfolk Southern Railway in 1999 but it did not included the Manville to Newark tracks.

History[edit]

The line began operations in 1999 when the existing tracks from Manville to Newark automatically broke away from the original Lehigh Line when Norfolk Southern Railway acquired the original Lehigh Line in the Conrail was split between NS and CSX Transportation.

The original Lehigh Line (which is still in existence) was built by the Lehigh Valley Railroad and opened in 1855 in the Lehigh Valley. The original Lehigh Line was the Lehigh Valley Railroad's first rail line and served as the body of the railroad until the railroad built or acquired other rail lines to connect with the line. The original Lehigh Line later expanded to the northwest to Buffalo, New York and expanded east to Perth Amboy, New Jersey. The line's route switched to Newark, New Jersey when new tracks were constructed to the Northeast passed South Plainfield, New Jersey; the new tracks between South Plainfield and Newark became the new part of the line and the old part of the line which extends from South Plainfield to Perth Amboy broke away from the line and became a new rail line. The line's new tracks to the Northeast was extended again to Jersey City, New Jersey but was later pushed back to Newark again.

The original Lehigh Line and the rest of the Lehigh Valley Railroad was absorbed into Conrail in 1976 and was downsized over the years in New York and Pennsylvania. The original Lehigh Line lost its existing tracks from Manville to Newark when Norfolk Southern Railway acquired it in the Conrail split in with CSX Transportation in order for both Norfolk Southern and its competitor CSX to have equal competition in the Northeast. The Manville to Newark tracks became a new rail line called the Conrail Lehigh Line.

With the existing tracks from Manville to Newark becoming a new rail line, Norfolk Southern along with its competitor CSX own the new rail line under a joint venture and a successor to Conrail which is called Conrail Shared Assets Operations; the joint venture is the same company that operated the former Conrail railroad, just reorganized as a joint venture under Norfolk Southern and CSX ownership. For historical purposes, the Manville to Newark tracks is considered a new rail line and not the original line and the Norfolk Southern part is considered the original line and not a new rail line.

Canadian Pacific Railway has trackage rights on both the original Lehigh Line and the Conrail Lehigh Line.

Ownership and operations[edit]

A westbound Norfolk Southern intermodal train rolls through Union, NJ.
A westbound Norfolk Southern intermodal train rolls through Union, New Jersey.

The Conrail Lehigh Line is owned and operated by Conrail Shared Assets Operations under the North Jersey Shared Assets Area division. Conrail Shared Assets Operations is owned by Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail or Conrail Inc.) which in turn is owned as a joint venture between Norfolk Southern Railway (a Norfolk Southern Corporation company) and CSX Transportation (a CSX Corporation company). Norfolk Southern Railway and CSX Transportation are the only Class 1 railroads that operate on the East Coast.

The line runs from CP Port Reading Junction in Manville, New Jersey to Oak Island Yard in Newark, New Jersey along the former Manville to Newark route and tracks that was once part of the original Lehigh Line which is still in existence; the original Lehigh Line is owned by Norfolk Southern Railway. For historical purposes, the Manville to Newark tracks is considered a new rail line and not the original line and the Norfolk Southern part is considered the original line and not a new rail line. At CP Port Reading Junction in Manville, the Conrail Lehigh Line connects the original Lehigh Line by having the Lehigh Valley Railroad-built tracks continues straight pass Manville as the original Lehigh Line. Also at Manville, the Conrail Lehigh Line connects to the CSX Transportation Trenton Subdivision which was once part of the Reading Railroad; the Trenton Subdivision splits southward heading all the way to Philadelphia.

The line shares track with New Jersey Transit's Raritan Valley Line between Newark and Aldene Junction, and then parallels it closely between Bridgewater, New Jersey and Bound Brook, New Jersey. The Raritan Valley Line is a former Central Railroad of New Jersey line. It makes a roughly parallel, but sometimes diverging route to the Raritan Valley Line, running to the south of that line.[2]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Jacobs Engineering n association with A. Strauss-Wieder, Inc. Atlantic Rail Services, Inc. (September 2008). "Freight Rail Grade-crossing Assessment Study". North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority. Retrieved 1 September 2016. 
  2. ^ 1941 system route map for Central Railroad of New Jersey, indicating routes of Lehigh Valley Railroad and other railroads. http://mapmaker.rutgers.edu/HISTORICALMAPS/RAILROADS/Central_RR_1941.jpg