Trenton Cutoff

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Trenton Cutoff
Trenton Cutoff above former Newtown Line, April 2015.jpg
A freight train on the Trenton Cutoff passes over the abandoned Newtown Line in 2015
Type Freight rail
System Norfolk Southern
Status Operational
Locale eastern Pennsylvania
Termini Morrisville
Opened 1892
Owner Norfolk Southern
Operator(s) Norfolk Southern
Number of tracks 1
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The Trenton Cutoff (sometimes pronounced Trenton Cut Off) is a 48-mile (77 km) mile rail corridor in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania that runs from Morrisville to Glenloch. The rail corridor, today used by Norfolk Southern, consists of two rail lines, the Morrisville Line which runs between Morrisville and Earnest (near Norristown) and the Dale Secondary which runs between Earnest and Glenloch.

The rail corridor was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad and opened in 1892 as a rail line,[1] the Trenton Cutoff allowed main line freight traffic to run between New York City and Harrisburg without passing through Philadelphia. The Trenton Cutoff goes through the suburbs north and west of the city.[2] The second track (the original westbound track) was removed by Conrail circa 1992.[3]

A low-grade line, the Trenton Cutoff runs from Morrisville Yard on the Northeast Corridor to GLEN interlocking where it joins the Amtrak-owned Philadelphia to Harrisburg Main Line. Between Morrisville and Earnest, the Trenton Cutoff has active freight service. At Earnest, the Trenton Cutoff connects with the SEPTA Manayunk/Norristown Line (former Reading Railroad), with a connection to Norfolk Southern's Harrisburg Line via a bridge over the Schuylkill River west of the Norristown Transportation Center. From Earnest west to GLEN interlocking, the Trenton Cutoff is a single track in dark (unsignaled) territory. As of 2014, it sees one freight per day, carrying ArcelorMittal steel from Coatesville to Conshohocken.

Originally a two-tracked electrified rail line, the catenary wire over the tracks was dismantled to provide greater overhead clearance for double-stack container trains.[citation needed] The high voltage transmission lines running along the Trenton Cutoff from Norristown, where the Trenton Cutoff crosses over the abandoned Pennsylvania Railroad Schuylkill Branch, to Glenloch are part of Amtrak's 25 Hz traction power system, used to power trains on the Northeast Corridor and the Philadelphia to Harrisburg Main Line.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Pennsylvania Railroad "Low-grade" Lines". TrainSpottingWorld. Retrieved 2015-03-14. 
  2. ^ "PRR Interlocking Diagrams: Philadelphia to Harrisburg Branches". The Broad Way, A Pennsylvania Railroad Home Page. Retrieved 2015-03-14. 
  3. ^ "Conrail Track Chart, 1991" (PDF). Multimodalways. Retrieved 2016-11-16.  Compare with "Conrail Track Chart, 1993" (PDF). Multimodalways. Retrieved 2016-11-16.