Newark is a great spot to do railfanning from,
for one, it's on the Northeast Corridor. Add
PATH trains and the
Subway to this, and it's hard to beat such a small area for so much activity. I know this is a terrible excuse for a guide
to Newark, but I had some pictures to share and didn't have any place else to
Newark is very close to so many
other railfan spots such as Hoboken and New York City that once you come, you
won't want to leave.
As far as signals go, this is Amtrak PCL
territory on the NEC - Northeast Corridor. Color lights prevail on the
other tracks in the area. There is one or two smashboards still remaining on the PATH
tracks, get pictures of them while you can, as they are more scarce than
semaphores. New Jersey Transit uses mostly color light signals.
I would like to give a BIG thanks to
Rich W. for contributing the detailed information
and many of the pictures presented here,
as he spent many hours composing and typing emails to me! This page would
be nothing without his contributions!
The biggest difficulty with railfanning the
Northeast, and Newark is no exception, is that so much has been built up around
the railroads that it is often hard to find decent photo locations that offer
the railfan a great shot compared to the rest of the U.S.A. This is
especially true the closer you get to both NYC and Boston, and it is made even
more difficult by the fact that most property owners don't care for you coming
around, even when asking. And this was 30 years before 9/11 happened!
To illustrate the point, many years ago somewhere in southern Connecticut while
on a quest to get pictures on the New Haven before they replaced the triangular
catenary wire, I pulled off the road, and ducked between some bushes to grab a
few shots. A guy that lived several hundred feet down the road came out
to ask what I was doing, and even after telling him, he gave me a bunch of
"stuff".... A year or so later, I came by with a friend, and there were now
rocks along that spot and signs posted saying no parking. No doubt in my
mind that that thar fellow had something to do with it :-(
On National Train Day for 2012, I took a day
trip to the Big Apple (New York City), and wound up taking the PATH to Newark to
catch my ride back to Baltimore. It was a fast paced 15 hour day of train
and transit chasing. Didn't get to do everything I wanted, but, there's
always tomorrow, maybe.
because I use a lot of "full size" photos (instead of thumbnails) down in the Light Rail
section, this page will probably load slowly.
Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels
inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have
something to add or correct.... credit is always given! Contact info
In this day and age of GPS's and GPS enabled
cellphones, there's not really a whole lot of need for directions, but I'll
quickly go over the roads leading to Newark. Newark, because of it's
proximity to New York City, has a multitude of ways to get here.
From the coastal areas north and south of
Newark, it's I-95.
From the direct west, I-78 brings you over
from Allentown and Harrisburg, once it leaves I-81 about 20 miles east of
Harrisburg. I-81 would also be the feeder from areas such as western
Virginia, Tennessee, etc.
From upstate New York, like Binghamton, I
would probably take I-81 south to Scranton and then pick up I-380 till it hits
I-80.... head east till you get to I-280 which will take you right into Newark.
NY17, once it gets completed as an interstate may provide an alternative, as a
friend of mine takes it to go to Kennedy Airport.
From the Albany area, it's the New York State
Thruway to the Garden State Parkway, which brings you pretty darn close to
The black/brown building in the upper right corner is the New
Jersey Transit headquarters building. The street in front of it, labeled
by Bing as Penn Plaza E is actually Raymond Blvd. Rich also
tells me that this used to be the Morris Canal.... thanks for the info!
All of the platform shots below were around 8:30-9:20pm on
May 12th, 2012 Before and during train 167 coming in....
Roof of the NEC platform, they don't make em this way
NEC platform shots
Shots from the PATH platform
Shots from the PATH platform
At 33rd Street in Manhattan
Adjacent to the station is this interesting use of an old
railroad overpass to extend a parking lot! The bridge is part of what used
to be the CNJ Newark and New York branch.
Crossing the Passaic River by Penn Station
Three lift bridges on the northern approach to
the Newark station, and a swing bridge a little north of here. The three
bridges are collectively known as DOCK. Amtrak still has a manned
interlocking tower here. Approximate train volumes per 24 hours are: 110
on Amtrak, 260 on NJT, and 290 on PATH.
A great shot by Rich W., who has this as his office view....
dunno 'bout you, but I'm jealous (I don't even have windows in my lab :-(
Flyover on the northern approach to the Passaic bridge and
For the two photos above, Rick adds:
6984 is a shot of “Dock” bridge taken from the Newark side of the
river in the afternoon. Taken from the side of a public street (City Dock
Street). You can shoot here in the later afternoon with broadside sun for
westbound Amtrak & NJT trains. Put a check mark there – it’s in the big
open area between McCarter Highway (state route 21) and Raymond Boulevard.
7508 is a photo of the “Newark” Draw on the
NJT Morristown Line. The train is an eastbound
Gladstone-Hoboken train with Arrow III MU equipment. I took
this photo from the sidewalk of the nearby Bridge Street
bridge. This location works for morning and mid day
shots. There is a Hess Gas Station/Convenience store
immediately east of the bridge which makes this site
convenient. The large building on the right is a
relatively new Hampton Inn hotel which overlooks the bridge.
Crossing the Passaic River, upstream
The swing bridge a little further "up" the river,
this is the ex DL&W Newark Draw. Approximately 220 trains a day go over
this bridge. Also seen in the photo is the Stickel drawbridge on I-280,
one of the few on an interstate (Maybe 10? - Baltimore has one in Curtiss Bay on
the Beltway, I-695)
Another great photo from Rich.
the Harrison PATH Station
Just on the other side of the Passaic River
and the PATH shops is the Harrison Station. The full size photo is a
conglomeration of tracks
just south of the station... only in the northeast do you generally see stuff
like this. The small picture to the right is an aerial shot of an NJT
train coming into the Harrison station.
The above photo, "Snagged" from Harrison, shows a few
interesting details of the tracks approaching Newark's Penn station from the
1) Amtrak's North East
Corridor passes over NJT's Morristown line on what is known as the "sawtooth"
2) Closest to the river are
the PATH tracks, easily identified by the shiny 3rd rail cover....
3) Then we have the Conrail
Center Street Branch freight track in "front" of the retaining wall....
4) Going over the Conrail line
and one of the PATH tracks using the red girder bridge is the fairly new NJT
5) Connecting tracks built about 15 years ago to create
what is known as the "Midtown Direct" allowing the Morristown Line access to the
NEC and go into Penn Station in NYC.
6) The NJT Morristown Line.
The New Jersey Turnpike is the highway in the lower right
the PATH Shops
The shops sit a little east of
the Harrison Station.
NJT Newark - Broad St Station
This station is conveniently located adjacent
to the extended Newark City Subway light rail line, due to the system designers
diligence. The photo shows the new island platform. The station had
been 3 tracks with 2 side platforms. The old westbound waiting room was
demolished, and track 3 was moved northward to make room for the new high level
platform. The thumbnail to the right is an aerial shot of a train leaving
the Broad St station, engine pushing.
Bascule Bridge, the NX Draw
Nice example of this type of bridge, obviously
not used any more. The last commuter train to ramble over this branch was
in October of 1966, and the last time a freight went over this bridge was in
December of 1977. A day shift operator was assigned to the bridge Monday
through Friday... after the last train came through, he was given another
assignment, and the bridge has been open ever since. The bridge sat intact
through the winter, but once warm weather set in, and kids found out that trains
weren't using it and an attendant was no longer on duty, vandalism set in.
The bridge is a double track bridge, but the bridge and branch were single
tracked in the early 60's. The branch itself was always single track west
of the 4th St station in Newark. In 1982, the bridge was used in a scene
of the movie Annie (more info at
(Thanks to Rich's friend Ken for this info!) The line east of the
bridge has been out of service since 2002. On the west side of the bridge,
the last customer using rail service recently closed, and as of this writing
(June 2011), the track has not been used for several months. The track is
the former Erie RR's Newark Branch.
A Couple of RR Bridges
Once a two track right-of-way and bridge, what
remains is very unused.
A Couple more RR Bridges
Once a two track line, this trackage was once
the Erie-Lackawanna's Harrison-Kingsland Branch. Most of the branch is
unused except for a small portion at the south end.
Train at the Broad St station. Photo by L. Henry,
The station is a former DL&W depot. The Morristown line is the elevated
track behind the station.
Another photo at Broad St by Adam E.
Moreira from Wikipedia.
As many of you may know, I am particularly
partial to transit, especially light rail lines, because I used to work for the
Baltimore system 1995-1998... but my love for the stuff started as a kid cause
my grandparents lived in the Queens sections of New York City, at the "junction"
of the IRT #7 line at the 69th St station, and the IND E and F lines at 65th
Place (they actually "crossed" each other one stop up at 74th Street - the IND
is a subway, and the IRT is an EL out here).
With that said, I
continue my focus on transit with coverage of the Newark system....
The Newark Light Rail Line began life in 1935
as the Newark Subway,
operated by the Public Service Corporation
as its #7 line. It last operated with 30 PCC cars bought from the
Twin Cities Rapid Transit Co (Minneapolis and
St Paul MN) in the 1950's. The PCC's lasted till August 24th, 2001...
Three days later on August 27th, the line reopened using LRV's. :-(
New Jersey Transit took over the operation in 1980. The original line was aka the #7 -
City Subway Line. The line was 5.3mi long (8.5km) and ended at
Franklin Ave in Newark. Over the years, a number of streetcar lines
used the Newark Subway line as an access Penn Station.
The line was extended in 2002 (June 22nd),
with the opening of stations at Grove Street and Silver Lake.
The Heller Parkway and Franklin Ave stations were combined into a
new station at Branch Brook Park. The new maintenance facility is
located adjacent to the end of the line at Grove St.
A completely new extension to Broad Street was
opened July 17th, 2006 . At this time, NJT also renamed the name of the
system to the Newark Light Rail. The
new line adds about a mile (1.6km) of track to light rail service in Newark.
Train volume is about 160 trains a day between the Penn and Broad Street
The new LRV's are manufactured by
Kinki Sharyo. The cars are two-segment
cars with an articulated section in the middle as commonly found on most light
rail systems in America, with the articulated section being able to seat 10
passengers unlike the Baltimore cars.
The one way fare is $1.50, set up as a single
zone fare. Tickets need to be purchased AND validated before getting on
the train. A special fare of 70 cents is available for passage between
Penn Station and Warren. NJT police do not normally ride the trains,
but may show up at any time to inspect tickets. A fine of 74 bucks is
waiting for those that don't have a valid ticket. Valid tickets are
ONLY good for 60 minutes! A monthly pass
can be had for $54. A one-zone ticket with a transfer is $2.20.
There are no daily passes offered for unlimited rides.
Service was originally between 05:00 and
23:00, but on January 8th, 2005, NJT started late night service. This may
give you a chance for NS/LRV photo ops if you can stay up that late and are in
the right place at the right time. When I worked for the light rail system
here in Baltimore, that happened on many occasions as we ran test trains up to
Timonium and had to pass the NS freights, pretty cool, but we seemed small
compared to the freights :-)
The current end of the "extended original
line", it is in Bloomfield. It follows the old Erie Orange branch.
When the line was built and opened, NS was still running freights. Since
then, the line's only customer has closed, so there is no freight service
Interesting note about the station arrangement
here..... Notice the platforms are staggered, and the crossover. This
arrangement allows the Norfolk Southern freights to come through here without
hitting the platforms, since the light rail cars are narrower than the freights.
Branch Brook Park
Nice place for pictures with the tight curve
almost reversing the direction of the track as seen in the second photo.
In the above photo, you have the NS heading north to Newark on
the left side. The light rail tracks on the right head to Penn Station,
and at the bottom left, to Grove Street.
The Bloomfield presents the railfan with a
little bit of interesting history, in that this is where the surface streetcar
lines used to connect with the subway tracks and go into Penn Station. The
yellow line in the middle photo is one of the connectors, partially seen in the
upper photo. In the bottom photo, the path is overgrown with brush.
Notice Bing has this station incorrectly
labeled as Park Ave. The 3 track Morristown line is in the cut under the
light rail line.
One of the few surviving Smashboard signals in existence
AND in service. It is west of the Harrison PATH station before crossing
the Passaic River. Pictures taken by Rich W,
and are from the new parking garage adjacent to the tracks. Get your own
pictures before it is also removed: as the EB one was several years ago!!!
A picture from the same location above by Matt Van Hattem
Thanks to everyone who contributed to this page!
A photo by
Rich W. Notice the signal facing us is on
a bracket post and has a doll post on the right, indicating that the signal is
for the left track. Facing away from us, notice the signals are offset,
telling us that the signal is a permissive signal (as opposed to absolute).
More info on the difference is
The photo is of a signal that was replaced about 2 years ago but
had been one of the last operational “dummy mast” signals in this area. Signal
8-1J was an automatic signal governing westward traffic on the NJT ex Erie
Pascack Valley Line in East Rutherford, NJ. The “intervening” track (hence the
dummy mast) is a freight-only switching lead known as the Long Siding. NJT
rebuilt the whole area a few years ago and now both tracks are upgraded and
signaled for passenger service as part of the new rail line to the Meadowlands
Photos by Rich W.
at Millington NJ on the NJT Gladstone Branch. They show the remains of the
Train Order signal that still stands in front of the station.
Here are a few pictures from “DB” tower,
which was closed in 2002. It was along the ex Erie New York
& Greenwood Lake branch in Kearny, NJ. It controlled the
Hackensack River swing bridge as well as the junction of the
Greenwood Lake (known as the Boonton Line from 1963 until
service was discontinued in 2002) with the Newark Branch. I
walked the line in January, 2007 and have these 3 shots to
The first is the actual operators control
panel that has been left abandoned. The other two are of the
relays in the basement of the tower.
DB was the last “outlying” open Interlocking
Station on the NJ TRANSIT Hoboken Division in northern New
Jersey, and the last “Erie RR” tower/interlocking station in
operation. (Note that NJT has/had other towers on the Newark
Division open at that time). When NJT opened the Montclair
connection in 2002, the reason for DB went away. NS operated
a handful of freight trains through the region, with the
final movement occurring as NS local train H84 operated on
October 15, 2002. Operation of the drawbridge required the
bridge operator to be out on the swing span itself.