On Friday, August 12th, the Lackawanna Coalition, along with members from SCDRTAC, made an inspection trip on the North Jersey Coast Line. The weather was warm and sunny, and none of the trains was empty. We chose this itinerary to accommodate anyone coming in from Southern New Jersey or Philadelphia to have enough time. This trip was more inspection than excursion, as our stopovers in Red Bank and Bay Head were 60 minutes and 45 minutes, respectively, not enough time to see the towns.
The Coast Line has some features that make it stand out from other lines. It goes to shore towns, of course, but there are beaches, lakes, and rivers along the way. I have been on NJCL many times, but this trip was my first to the terminus. I only knew of Bay Head as the end of the line, but Bay Head is an old shore town and destination in its own right—it even has a hotel in walking distance of the train station!
Our train itinerary:
#3239 PSNY–Long Brach
Coalition members grabbed this outbound train at Secaucus, Newark, and Rahway, then deboarded at Red Bank to have lunch at 1:08 p.m.
#3243 PSNY–Long Branch + Long Branch–Bay Head #4343.
At 2:06, we boarded at Red Bank, arrived at Long Branch at 2:23 p.m., then boarded the Bay Head shuttle train (a timed transfer across the platform), and we arrived at Bay Head at 3:11 p.m.
#4366 Bay Head–Long Branch #4266 Long Branch-PSNY
At 4:02, we departed Bay Head, then transferred at Long Branch at 4:46 p.m. Some members deboarded the trains at different stops, and made their return trips later.
One can see all types of NJT’s rolling stock on NJCL. There are numerous bridges on NJCL and intersections with in-service and disused freight lines. One can see the active construction of the new Raritan River Bridge between Perth Amboy and South Amboy. At South Amboy, the catenary current switches from 12KV to 25KV, and train runs at grade. South of Long Branch, the line is diesel only. The locomotives utilize the loop track at Bay Head yard.
The line’s stations are a mix: Modern stations such as Woodbridge, somewhat older stations such as Perth Amboy and South Amboy, beautiful historic station houses as in Red Bank, renovated station houses as Asbury Park and Manasquan, and basic stations such as Avenel and Bay Head. There are well-placed platforms in stations such as Aberdeen-Matawan and Red Bank—and the unique situation at Manasquan, where you must walk across the gravel ballast to board the inbound train.
>We have been finding our inspection runs informative and interesting, and are considering a trip to Port Jervis, though recently-announced “bustitution” on weekends in foliage season will mean a late-night return from a weekday afternoon trip.