Once dormant, now active again

On the now 150 year old ex-CNJ Southern Division mainline, business had dwindled to a customer or two in the late 20th century. Things did not look good for this once proud high iron to southern New Jersey as recently as 2009, but, as everyone knows, there is nothing constant but change. Conrail Shared Assets Operations local SA-31 has operated on this line since Conrail proper assumed rights from the CNJ in 1976, and the line has seen hard times in the last decade & a half. With change rearing its ‘positive’ head, for a change, the current Southern Secondary has seen a significant increase in traffic in 2014, much to the delight of the local economy, and to local railfans as well.

The weekly Thursday afternoon runs have seen trains of 12+ cars for the past year, compared to runs of 1 to 5 or 6 cars previously. This days consist had 17 cars, with 14 lumber loads destined for the lines largest customer, Woodhaven Lumber in Lakewood, as well as 2 empty gondolas for loading at Brick Recycling, another ‘once dormant, now active again’ business in Howell, NJ, and one boxcar full of brick products for Extech Building Materials. The Extech  (formerly Atlantic Building Supply) siding, pictured here, had lain dormant for several years, but started receiving inbound loads again back in 2011, and has been a regular drill since then. Conrail Shared Assets crew SA-31 is seen here spotting the loaded car on the Extech siding, after having pulled the empty boxcar just moments ago. With the continued business from Extech, and the new business from Brick Recycling, just a half-mile north of here, the future looks bright for the Southern Secondary, almost forgotten about just a few years ago.

Image recorded October 30, 2014.


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Middletown preserves old freight house structure

There’s a good amount of history in this photo from Middletown, NJ. This line, the former New York & Long Branch RR (now operated by New Jersey Transit Rail Operations), was originally built in 1875 to bring New Yorkers to the resort towns and sandy beaches of central coastal New Jersey. Fortunately, the Township of Middletown saw fit to preserve the original freight house built in the early 1880’s, one of the first such structures built on the railroad.

Today, Middletown is one of the largest station stops on NJ Transit, with a huge commuter parking lot and a newer station with high-level platforms to serve the public just behind the photographer. On this beautiful spring day we see Conrail Shared Assets train SA31 traversing the NJ Transit North Jersey Coast Line on its way south (railroad west) to Red Bank, where it will leave the Coast Line and venture down the former Central RR of NJ Southern Division main, now referred to as the Conrail Southern Secondary. Norfolk Southern GP38-2 5282 is quite familiar with this area, as she was built in February 1973 as Penn Central 8079, and served the Conrail years as CR 8079, before being absorbed by NS in the Conrail split-up of 1999.

At age 37, this old workhorse seems to have a few more good years left in her career before retirement.

Image recorded May 13, 2010.

MIddletown preserves old freight house alongside new commuter structures

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