A stroll through Red Bank

Red Bank, NJ, is a cool little town, and has had rail service since 1855 or so, when the Raritan & Delaware Bay (the second railroad in the state, after the Camden & Amboy) began surveying  here. The Central Railroad of New Jersey eventually assumed control of the line, and Red Bank would become the northern point on the CNJ Southern Division mainline, which extended to the Bridgton area in extreme southern NJ. After Conrail reorganized the railroads of the northeast in 1976, this route was cut in half, with the northern portion running from Red Bank to Lakehurst, and the railroad abandoned from Lakehurst to Winslow Junction (except for a 13 mile stretch under private ownership from Lakehurst to Woodmansie). The northern portion of line is still active today as the Conrail Southern Secondary, although trains presently only go as far as South Lakewood, served by the once-weekly Conrail Shared Assets Operations local SA-31. The crew is seen here strolling through the south end of Red Bank, crossing Newman Springs Road & approaching MP 39; business has been good lately, with trains of 10-15 cars on many trips, but the train today consists of only 3 cars for two customers on the line. Hopefully this is just a brief winter slowdown, and traffic levels will return to normal soon.

Image recorded January 22, 2015.

Conrail SA31 Red Bank NJ Southern Secondary

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Over the river and through the woods

It’s not easy getting to Lakewood, NJ, by rail these days, but it can still be done;  in fact, it’s done 52 times a year (barring a major weather event) by a Conrail Shared Assets Operations local based out of Sayreville, NJ. With line abandonments prevalent in the past 40 years due to the dwindling freight traffic in central New Jersey, the crew of train SA-31 must travel 6 miles east from Sayreville to South Amboy, where they will then enter the New Jersey Transit North Jersey Coast Line, when time and the numerous commuter trains occupying this important corridor will allow. Upon receiving permission from the NJT dispatcher, SA-31 will then travel south (timetable west) to Red Bank in about 35 minutes time (on a good day), and take the switch at the location of old BANK tower to enter the ex-Central Railroad of New Jersey Southern Division, now known as the Southern Secondary. Although the runaround track in south Lakewood is only 22 miles away, it will take the crew some 2 hours to get there, due to the 10mph speed limit they must endure as a result of track conditions on this little used line.

Here we see the train crossing the Navesink River under the catenary on the NJT ‘Coast Line’, as they enter Red Bank and prepare for the final leg of their journey to Lakewood. Even though Monmouth County is mostly residential in the 21st century, a good amont of the Southern Secondary runs ‘through the woods’ as it heads in a southwesterly direction towards Lakewood. An ex-Penn Central unit (GP38-2, ex-CR 8058, nee-PC 8058, blt 2/73) leads todays edition on yet another beautiful spring day in the northeast. No, 10 miles per hour is probably not fun for the crew, but superb weather should make it a bit more tolerable, as the conductor & engineer head for Ocean County’s largest lumber yard to deliver their train, and then prepare to head back to the friendly confines of Browns Yard.

Image recorded April 5, 2012.

Conrail Shared Assets Operations train SA31 crosses Navesink River Red Bank NJ

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