Raritan Valley Line

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Raritan Valley Line
New Jersey Transit GE P40DC 4800.jpg
Train #5439 stops at Dunellen.
(east of Hunter)
(Hunter to Aldene)
New Jersey Transit
(Aldene westward)
LocaleNorthern New Jersey
TypeCommuter rail
SystemNew Jersey Transit Rail Operations
Operator(s)New Jersey Transit
Rolling stockGP40PH-2 locomotives
Alstom PL42AC
Bombardier ALP-45DP locomotives
Comet IIM, IV, and V
Bombardier MultiLevels
Daily ridership21,800 (FY 2012)[1]
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in)
Electrification12 kV 25 Hz AC (Newark-New York only)
Operating speed80 mph (128.75 km/h) (top speed)
Route map

Northeast Corridor & LIRR Main Line
3.0 mi
4.8 km
0.0 mi
0 km
New York Penn Station
BSicon SUBWAY.svg MTA NYC logo.svg Amtrak
3.5 mi
5.6 km
Secaucus Junction
8.3 mi
7.2 mi
Hudson interlocking
8.8 mi
14.2 km
Newark Penn Station
Newark Light Rail Port Authority Trans-Hudson Amtrak
South Street
Northeast Corridor
to Washington
17.2 mi
27.7 km
Roselle Park
19.5 mi
31.4 km
20.6 mi
33.2 km
21.8 mi
35.1 km
23.9 mi
38.5 km
25.1 mi
40.4 km
26.3 mi
42.3 km
27.4 mi
44.1 km
Grant Avenue
Clinton Avenue
29.2 mi
47 km
33.5 mi
53.9 km
Bound Brook
West Trenton Line
to West Trenton
Chimney Rock Spur
37.9 mi
61 km
CNJ Central Branch
to Flemington
39.1 mi
62.9 km
Raritan Yard
North Branch
White House
Rockaway Valley Railroad
to Watnong
High Bridge
Former service
High Bridge Branch
to Wharton
Glen Gardner
Hampton Branch
to Washington
route severed
Washington Secondary
to Morris & Essex Lines
NS Lehigh Line
to Easton

The Raritan Valley Line is a commuter rail service operated by New Jersey Transit (NJT) which serves passengers in municipalities in Union, Somerset, and Hunterdon counties in the Raritan Valley region in central New Jersey, United States. The line's most frequent western terminus is Raritan station in Raritan. Some weekday trains continue farther west and terminate at the High Bridge station, located in High Bridge. Most eastbound trains terminate in Newark; passengers bound for New York make a cross-platform transfer. A limited number of weekday trains continue directly to New York.

Raritan Valley Line trains use three lines owned by three entities. Between High Bridge and the Aldene Connection, east of Cranford, it uses the former Central Railroad of New Jersey Main Line, now owned by New Jersey Transit and also called the Raritan Valley Line. From the Aldene Connection to Hunter it uses Conrail's Lehigh Line, formerly the east end of Lehigh Valley Railroad Main Line. Finally, it uses Amtrak's Northeast Corridor from the Hunter Connection to Newark and New York.

The Raritan Valley Line is colored orange on New Jersey Transit's system map, and its symbol is the Statue of Liberty, an homage to the Central Railroad of New Jersey, whose logo was also the Statue of Liberty.[2]


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. In peak years of service the line was the basis for trains such as the Queen of the Valley and the Harrisburg Special, reaching as far west as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Until 1967 CNJ service terminated at the company's Communipaw Terminal in what is today Liberty State Park.[3] 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.

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.[4]

The former CNJ Main Line was conveyed to Conrail on the former's bankruptcy in 1976. Conrail sold the line to the state of New Jersey in 1978 but continued to operate commuter service under contract.[5] Service on the line was cut back from Phillipsburg to High Bridge on January 1, 1984.[6]

Trains initially could not go beyond Newark Penn Station to New York Penn Station because the locomotives were 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.[7] Limited service to New York Penn Station started as a pilot program on March 3, 2014. Select trains provide one-seat rides to New York. This original "pilot project" schedule has been subsequently expanded to include additional trains, but is limited to off-peak hours due to capacity issues in the Hudson River tunnels.

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.[8]

In September 2018, all Raritan Valley Line service was truncated to Newark Penn Station to allow for positive train control installation. Direct service to New York resumed on November 4, 2019.[9]

Rolling stock[edit]

The Raritan Valley Line uses all diesel service. The locomotives originally consisted of the GP40PH-2(A and B) and Alstom PL42AC with a 5- or 6-car set of Comet series coaches. Since late 2008, Bombardier Multilevel Series Coaches were added and displaced most of the Comet coaches. As of late 2013, the trainsets' consist use an ALP-45DP and a 6- to 8-car set of Multilevels. However, some occasional trains use the Comet coaches coupled with a PL42AC or an ALP-45DP. NJT had acquired several GE P40DC locomotives from Amtrak in 2007, but were soon transferred to ACES in 2009 and then back in 2011 due to a planned discontinuation, which formally took effect in 2012. Due to the lack of buyers, the locomotives stayed in NJT's property indefinitely until 2014, when they were sold to the Connecticut Department of Transportation for their CTrail commuter rail services.

With the initiation of select, direct, service to New York Penn Station on the Raritan Valley Line in March 2014, dual-mode Bombardier ALP-45DP locomotives (combination diesel and 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.

The line's rolling stock is stored at the Raritan Yard, the line's only rail yard, located just west of the station of the same name. 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.

In May and June 2018, NJ Transit leased 10 MARC coaches to be exclusively operated on the Raritan Valley Line. These cars have since been sent back to MARC.[10]

Proposed extensions[edit]


Service beyond High Bridge to Phillipsburg Union Station in Phillipsburg was discontinued in December 1983 because of low ridership.[11] 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.[12]

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 the late U.S. Congressman Bob Franks, sought cost-effective ways to improve mobility, reduce highway congestion, and increase transit ridership along the Raritan Valley Line. Their study was completed in January 2010.[13] 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..."[14]

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.[citation needed]

In 2010, Easton Mayor Sal Panto Jr. promoted the restoration of rail service to Easton or Phillipsburg and possibly Allentown or Bethlehem.[15]

In 2021, Amtrak placed service to Allentown via the Raritan Valley Line in their 2035 plan.

West Trenton[edit]

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 which is the current day CSX Transportation Trenton Subdivision, the NJ Transit rail service on the Trenton Subdivision would be NJ Transit's version of 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.[16]


State Zone[17] Location Station[17] Miles (km) Date opened Date closed Connections / notes[17]
NY 1 Manhattan Pennsylvania Station Disabled access
0.0 (0.0) 1910 Amtrak (long-distance): Cardinal, Crescent, Lake Shore Limited, Palmetto, Silver Meteor, Silver Star
Amtrak (intercity): Acela Express, Adirondack, Carolinian, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express, Keystone Service, Maple Leaf, Northeast Regional, Pennsylvanian, Vermonter
Long Island Rail Road: Babylon, Belmont Park, City Terminal Zone, Far Rockaway, Hempstead, Long Beach, Montauk, Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson, Port Washington, Ronkonkoma, West Hempstead branches
NJ Transit Rail: Gladstone, Montclair-Boonton, Morristown, Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast lines
New York City Subway: 1, ​2, and ​3 (at 34th Street – Penn Station (Seventh Avenue)), A, ​C, and ​E (at 34th Street – Penn Station (Eighth Avenue))
New York City Bus: M7, M20, M34 SBS, M34A, Q32
Academy Bus: SIM23, SIM24
Flixbus: Eastern Shuttle
Vamoose Bus
NJ Secaucus Secaucus Junction Disabled access 3.5 (5.6) December 15, 2003[18] NJ Transit Rail: Bergen County, BetMGM Meadowlands, Gladstone, Main, Montclair-Boonton, Morristown, Pascack Valley, Northeast Corridor, and North Jersey Coast lines
Metro-North Railroad: Port Jervis Line
NJ Transit Bus: 2, 78, 129, 329, 353
Newark Pennsylvania Station Disabled access 10.0 (16.1) 1935[19][20] Amtrak (long-distance): Cardinal, Crescent, Palmetto, Silver Meteor, Silver Star
Amtrak (intercity): Acela Express, Carolinian, Keystone Service, Northeast Regional, Pennsylvanian, Vermonter
NJ Transit Rail: North Jersey Coast and Northeast Corridor lines
PATH: Newark – World Trade Center
Newark Light Rail: Grove Street – Newark Penn, Broad Street – Newark Penn
NJT Bus: 1, 5, 11, 21, 25, 28, 29, 30, 34, 39, 40, 41, 62, 67, 70, 71, 72, 73, 76, 78, 79, 108, 308, 319, 361, 375, 378, go25, go28
ONE Bus: 31, 44
Greyhound Lines
South Street
5 Union Union Disabled access April 28, 2003[21] NJ Transit Bus: 26, 52
7 Roselle Park Roselle Park 17.2 (27.7) February 3, 1891[22] NJ Transit Bus: 94, 113
Cranford Cranford Disabled access 19.5 (31.4) January 1, 1839[23] NJ Transit Bus: 59, 113
Olympia Trails: Westfield Commuter Service
8 Garwood Garwood 20.6 (33.2) August 1892[24][25] NJ Transit Bus: 59, 113
Olympia Trails: Westfield Commuter Service
Westfield Westfield Disabled access 21.8 (35.1) January 1, 1839[23] NJ Transit Bus: 59, 113
Olympia Trails: Westfield Commuter Service
Graceland c. 1891[26] by 1912[27]
9 Fanwood Fanwood 23.9 (38.5) January 1, 1839[23] NJ Transit Bus: 113
Olympia Trails: Westfield Commuter Service
10 Plainfield Netherwood 25.1 (40.4) 1874[28] NJ Transit Bus: 113, 882
Olympia Trails: Westfield Commuter Service
11 Plainfield Disabled access 26.3 (42.3) January 1, 1839[29] NJ Transit Bus: 59, 65, 66, 113, 114, 819, 822, 896
Grant Avenue 27.4 (44.1) 1885[30] April 26, 1986[31]
Clinton Avenue 1872[30] April 30, 1967
12 Dunellen Dunellen 29.2 (47.0) January 1, 1840[23] NJ Transit Bus: 59, 65, 66, 113, 114
Suburban Trails: Dunellen Local
13 Middlesex Middlesex c. 1893[32]
14 Bound Brook Bound Brook 33.5 (53.9) January 1, 1840[23] Somerset County Transportation: DASH
15 Bridgewater Bridgewater Known as Calco from 1915[33]–1996
Finderne Finderne 1851[33] 2006 Closed due to low ridership
17 Somerville Somerville Disabled access 37.9 (61.0) January 1, 1842[23] NJ Transit Bus: 65, 114
Raritan Raritan 39.1 (62.9) c. 1851[34]
18 North Branch North Branch September 25, 1848[23][35]
19 Whitehouse Station White House September 25, 1848[23]
20 Lebanon Lebanon July 4, 1852[36]
Annandale Annandale July 4, 1852[36]
21 High Bridge High Bridge 1852[37]
Glen Gardner Glen Gardner July 4, 1852[36][38] January 1, 1984[6] The station was known as Clarkville from 1852–November 1864 and Spruce Run until the early 1870s.[38]
Hampton Hampton July 4, 1852[36][38] January 1, 1984[6]
Bethlehem Township Ludlow–Asbury c. 1852-1854[39] 1967
Bloomsbury Bloomsbury July 4, 1852[36][40] 1967
Phillipsburg Union Station July 4, 1852[36][41] January 1, 1984[6]


  • Bernhart, Benjamin L. (2004). Historic Journeys By Rail: Central Railroad of New Jersey Stations, Structures & Marine Equipment. Outer Station Project. ISBN 1891402072.


  1. ^ NJ TRANSIT QUARTERLY RIDERSHIP TRENDS ANALYSIS November 2012 Retrieved May 23, 2014.
  2. ^ "world.nycsubway.org/Showing Image 36731". World.nycsubway.org. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
  3. ^ Treese, Lorett (January 1, 2006). Railroads of New Jersey: Fragments of the Past in the Garden State Landscape. Stackpole Books. ISBN 9780811732604.
  4. ^ "Conrail/NJ DOT end Bayonne shuttle". Thorpefamily.us. Archived from the original on October 7, 2011. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
  5. ^ Catino, Jean E. (September 15, 1978). "State buying rail network, 130 stations". The Courier-News. p. 4. Retrieved September 16, 2018 – via Newspapers.com. icon of an open green padlock
  6. ^ a b c d "NJ Transit Studying Service to Hampton". The Courier-News. December 13, 1984. p. 13. Retrieved January 1, 2018 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  7. ^ Frassinelli, Mike (May 11, 2011). "NJ Transit unveils first dual-mode locomotive in North America". The Star-Ledger.
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  9. ^ "Raritan Valley Line Direct Service to New York Returns on Off-Peak Trains - Beginning Monday, November 4, 2019". NJ Transit. October 14, 2019.
  10. ^ "NJ Transit leasing cars from Maryland" (Press release). NBC New York. May 2, 2018.
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  12. ^ "nycroads.com". nycroads.com. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
  13. ^ Flood, Danielle; Mustac, Frank (July 1, 2009). "NJ Transit Analyzing Recommendations Made in I-78 Corridor Study". New Jersey On-Line.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Brill, Douglas B. (June 7, 2010). "Easton Mayor Sal Panto Jr. says rail study 'has holes,' plans own task force". The Express-Times.
  16. ^ West Trenton Line, New Jersey Transit. Retrieved April 5, 2008.
  17. ^ a b c "North Jersey Coast Line Timetable" (PDF). New York, New York: New Jersey Transit. November 19, 2014. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  18. ^ Frassinelli, Mike (June 5, 2013). "U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg gets one last ride at the Secaucus station that bears his name". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
  19. ^ "Newark Dedicates New Station Today". The New York Times. March 23, 1935. p. 13. Retrieved May 30, 2010.
  20. ^ "Newark Dedicates Its New Terminal". The New York Times. March 24, 1935. p. N1. Retrieved May 30, 2010.
  21. ^ "Union Station Makes its Debut on the Raritan Valley Line". NJ Transit (Press release). April 28, 2003. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
  22. ^ "Will Open in February". The Plain Speaker. Hazleton, Pennsylvania. February 2, 1891. p. 8. Retrieved April 19, 2021 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h "Original Route of New Jersey Central Railroad Followed Old Post Road Between Plainfield, Elizabethport, Historian Says". The Plainfield Courier-News. December 31, 1938. p. 7. Retrieved July 7, 2020 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  24. ^ "The Boom at Garwood". The Plainfield Evening News. August 9, 1892. p. 3. Retrieved April 19, 2021 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  25. ^ "State Items". The Daily Times. New Brunswick, New Jersey. October 28, 1892. p. 1. Retrieved April 19, 2021 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  26. ^ ""Graceland, a new station on the Central Road...."". The Plainfield Evening News. September 1, 1891. p. 1. Retrieved April 19, 2021 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  27. ^ "Commuters Want Station". The Plainfield Courier-News. July 10, 1912. p. 3. Retrieved April 19, 2021 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  28. ^ Bernhart 2004, p. 61.
  29. ^ Wyckoff, Jane Bower (April 21, 1949). "Development of Jersey Central Spurred by Plainfield Enthusiasts". The Plainfield Courier-News. p. 17. Retrieved July 7, 2020 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  30. ^ a b Bernhart 2004, p. 62.
  31. ^ "Plainfield Station Derailed From Line". The Courier-News. March 18, 1986. p. 17. Retrieved September 26, 2017 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  32. ^ Bernhart 2004, p. 63.
  33. ^ a b Bernhart 2004, p. 64.
  34. ^ Bernhart 2004, p. 68.
  35. ^ "N. York, Elizabethtown, Somerville, Easton". The Evening Post. New York, New York. March 14, 1849. p. 4. Retrieved April 19, 2021 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  36. ^ a b c d e f Lance, Jr., Howard P. (July 9, 1952). "Quiet Annandale Looks back on Century of History". The Plainfield Courier-News. pp. 1, 26. Retrieved August 2, 2020 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  37. ^ Bernhart 2004, p. 69.
  38. ^ a b c Bernhart 2004, p. 70.
  39. ^ Bernhart 2004, p. 71.
  40. ^ Bernhart 2004, p. 72.
  41. ^ Bernhart 2004, p. 75.