Notice I didn't title this "Montclair-Boonton Line". Back in the summer of 2002, the word came down that the old Erie RR portion of the NJT Boonton Line would be abandoned in favor of a new routing via the old DL&W Montclair Branch with electrification extended to Great Notch. As a result I set up with once and future Subchatter Spider Pig
to ride the entire "classic" Boonton Line before it passed into history. This was made a bit challenging due to the fact that there was no weekend Boonton Line service and very limited reverse peak service. Pigs and I met in Hoboken for the first afternoon Hackettstown train departing around 2pm, then caught a return train via the M&E.
There were a lot of storms out this day and they overtook us just after we got to Hackettstown so that's why there aren't any pix from the way back. You can view the set of pixs we did get here
To get to Hoboken on a weekday I had to catch a train from Meriden, CT, where I was attending school at the time. The Meriden siding was a scheduled meet and the northbound shuttle arrived on the scene first. Much like today, the Amtrak Springfield Shuttle trains were running with one Metroliner Cab Car, one Amfleet coach and one Genesis. Unlike today the Genesis was a P40 (#820) and still dressed in Phase IV paint.
The northbound shuttle train was also running sandwich
style with three Material Handling Cars on the end because unlike the
other shuttle trains, this was one #490, connecting to early morning
"mail" train #190. Before Amtrak exited the mail and express business
in 2005, mail cars would traverse the corridor en route to the USPS
sorting facility in Springfield, MA.
Here are my old buddies at the Meriden, CT Station. When Amtrak
re-signaled the Springfield Line ~1990 they installed New Haven style
small target US&S H-5 searchlight signals on new style aluminum masts. In 2005 the H-5's were re-headed with target type LED color light signals.
These are now currently being removed to support Rule 562 operation
without fixed automatic signals in conjunction with the double track
project and CDOT commuter service.
The unpopular GE B39-8 was predecessor to the equally unpopular B40-8. High horsepower 4-axle road power just never caught on with the major railroads so most of the B39-8's ended up being sold to GE's leading arm. #8565 here ran with the Connecticut Southern short line who had the contract for Springfield Line freight service. It pulled into the Meriden siding with #8579 to wait for the arrival of southbound Shuttle train.
That soon appeared with Metroliner Cab Car #9640 on the end.
Arriving at New Haven Station I encountered some of the FL-9's that were
still in service back in 2002. Still, by that time they were being
assigned to lesser tasks like shuttle service and, in the case of #2014
and #2024, hauling the wire train.
AEM-7 #920 is one of another class of locomotives that have since vanished from the NEC.
Well at least this hasn't changed...recent accidents aside.
Comet V? What's a Comet V?? In this pic the V's were still some years distant. The first Comet cab car I of the entire class, #5100, sits at Hoboken next to Arrow III #1321 ready to follow up a train.
There was still a strong commitment to MU operations on the Hoboken
Division before everything was converted to push-pull and funneled into
Penn Station behind. Arrow III's #1528 and #1330.
Comet I Cab Car #5130 had had grade crossing protection stripes applied, while #5133 was unmodified.
Comet III cab car #5009 was representing the post-Conrail era. This
car would be on the rear of our train outbound and the front inbound.
Double slip switches at TERMINAL TOWER, which closed in 2005.
At the time one of the two Bergen hill tunnels was closed for renovations, as seen from WEST END interlocking.
Why was the old Boonton Line taken out of service? Well the ultimate
culprit was that the DB bridge was experiencing structural problems and
had a 10mph speed restriction applied. It was only a matter of time
before the bridge, which is still standing in the open position as of
2017, would have been removed from service completely.
The old Boonton line still retained its Erie RR signaling as well as jointed rail.
Here we see the yet-to-be cut over Montclair Connection. The
electrified DL&W Montclair Line terminated only a few blocks from
the Boonton Line. Both lines suffered from low levels of service and
connecting them allowed NJT to increase frequency on the surviving parts
of both former routes.
Surviving DL&W interlocking towers in Denville and Port Norris.
Comet III cab car #5009 waiting to depart Hackettstown. A signal has already been displayed at CP-COOK.
Back in 2002 the entire length of the platforms were still open to the
public allowing photos of trains as they left the trainshed and of the
signals west of the station. Here is a night shot of a Clear signal
being displayed on DOCK interlocking's 126R signal (note the wet
platform from the rain).
Well I hope you all enjoyed the set. I'll fess up and admit that this was actually a double rerun of classic photos, but back when I first re-mastered the 2002 photos in 2007, I not only didn't process them into the proper 1280x720 resolution, but I half-assed the writeup as well.