Despite age and reduced volume, mainline still operational

A former Conrail locomotive (ex-CR 3356, blt 3/79), CSX GP40-2 4431 mostly saw mainline service in her younger years. This line, the former CNJ Southern Division mainline, then CR Southern Secondary, now Conrail Shared Assets Southern Secondary, generally hosted smaller units, such as the GP38-2, GP15-1, and B23-7 model locomotives during the Conrail years (1976-1999).

Now that the bigger 4-axle units are getting older, this once proud mainline now sees once proud mainline locomotives, as seen here in Farmingdale, NJ, with CSAO symbol SA31 bringing its small train through town on her way south to Lakewood, NJ. This is a bittersweet moment; this line is not nearly what it once was, but it is operational and does see a once-weekly train where there could easily be rusted, overgrown, and abandoned rail for us all to lament over.

Many thanks to Woodhaven Lumber in Lakewood, NJ, for generating enough inbound traffic to keep the trains rolling on this old and historic line.

Image recorded April 29, 2010.

CSAO symbol SA31 bringing its small train through town on her way south to Lakewood, NJ.

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Sunset scene reveals deer in the headlights

Unsure of whether to focus their attention on the photographer, or the EMD diesel-electric locomotive bearing down upon them, several deer are startled by the sudden flurry of activity around them in a truly wonderful image of rural railroading.

As you can tell by the snow covered rails, this line, the former Central Railroad of New Jersey Southern Division main line, does not see much activity any more. The line stretches from the NJ Transit North Jersey Coast line in Red Bank, NJ, and makes its way in a southwesterly direction to the current southern terminus in Lakehurst, and was once an important through route for the CNJ, connecting northern and extreme southern New Jersey.

Here, at sunset on a chilly late winter afternoon, Conrail Shared Assets Operations symbol SA-31 brings its dozen or so cars down the Southern Secondary on its weekly mission from Browns Yard in Sayreville, NJ, to the handful of customers in Farmingdale and Lakewood, NJ.  With the slow speeds on this line, CSX GP40-2 4431 (ex-CR 3356, blt 3/79) is no threat to the local wildlife, and these deer will safely disappear into the woods surrounding Farmingdale, NJ, before the crew reaches them.

Image recorded by Anthony Paci on February 19, 2010.

Sunset scene reveals deer in the headlights

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Freight trains dashing through snow to make up time lost

Dashing through the snow (at the 10mph limit), Conrail Shared Assets train SA-31 does a bit of clearing along the right-of-way as she travels through Eatontown, NJ, on the Conrail Southern Secondary. With sunset approaching, long shadows lie across the rails, warning of impending darkness along the route through Monmouth and Ocean counties. Battling the worst winter on record, freight schedules throughout the northeast have been anything but ‘on-schedule’; no run in the past 10 days for this normally weekly train, hence the 12-car consist instead of the ‘normal’ 5 to 7 cars on any given run.

After a couple days of bright sun and non-frigid temperatures, CSX 4431 and the crew will have no problems traversing the line down to Lakehurst and return. Ex-Conrail GP40-2 3356 (blt 3/79) returns to home rails, 31 years on the job and still going strong for her new owner, CSX Transportation.

Image recorded February 19, 2010.

Freight trains dashing through snow to make up lost timeClick on the image to display it at a larger size. Use your browser’s Back button to return to this page.

Conrail local freight train trundles through central NJ farmland

No horses in the field today, but plenty of horses on the rails, as a 3,000hp EMD GP40-2 easily handles its short train on the Conrail Southern Secondary. Scenes like this are hard to find in central Monmouth County, NJ, these days, but there are still a few undisturbed parcels to be found among the housing developments of this popular area. Through the fence slats we find Conrail Shared Assets Operations local freight WPSA-31 trundling through the farmland just north of downtown Farmingdale on its way back north to Browns Yard in Sayreville, NJ, with CSX 4423 (ex-Conrail 3338, blt 6/78) in control.

Image recorded October 30, 2009. Conrail local freight train trundles through central NJ farmlandClick on the image to view at a larger size

Conrail wayfreight prepares for run-around on famed ‘Blue Comet’ route

Conrail wayfreight WPSA-31, with new crew on board, prepares to make a reverse move and run-around its train for the pull back north to Lakewood. The train is sitting at the current terminus of Conrail’s Southern Secondary in Lakehurst, NJ. This is the former Southern Division mainline of the Central Railroad of New Jersey, route of the famed CNJ ‘Blue Comet’ passenger trains of the ’40s and ’50s to Atlantic City, and host to 70 and 80 car freight trains from north to south Jersey until the formation of Conrail in 1976.

There are actually no remaining customers on this end of the line; the crew utilizes the run-around track here to reverse direction to serve Woodhaven Lumber on a trailing point spur in Lakewood, the largest customer on the line. Conrail Shared Assets Operations is using CSX 4423 (ex-CR 3338, blt 6/78) for todays run on a beautiful fall day.

Image recorded September 18, 2009.

Conrail wayfreight prepares for run-around on famed 'Blue Comet' route

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