New Jersey Transit is marking its 40th anniversary this month, and among other activities is rolling out six MultiLevel “Heritage Coaches” decorated with the logos of several predecessor railroads that came together to form the agency’s 660-route-mile, statewide regional/commuter rail network—Pennsylvania Railroad, Central Railroad of New Jersey, Erie-Lackawanna, Conrail, Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines—and the agency that created NJT in 1979, the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
Several NJT Rail Operations employees brought to the attention of senior staff that other railroads have adopted similar programs to honor their history. For example, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific both have Heritage Fleets consisting of modern diesel-electric locomotives in liveries that are contemporary interpretations of predecessor railroads. NJT’s Heritage Coach project was developed, at no extra cost to the agency, with Intersection.
Prior to implementation of the Heritage Coach project, NJT obtained a license from Conrail, the owner of the predecessor railroad Marks depicted on the coaches.
The New Jersey Public Transportation Act of 1979 created New Jersey Transit Corporation to “acquire, operate and contract for transportation service in the public interest.” NJT brought together railroad, bus and light rail into a single agency. The six logos chosen to represent the history of NJT Rail Operations “each represents an operation with a unique history,” the agency notes.
Established in 1846, the Pennsylvania Railroad by 1900 was one of the largest and most powerful corporations in the world, and the largest railroad in revenue and traffic for nearly 50 years. The PRR’s massive New York Improvements Program, completed in 1910, consisted of the Hudson and East River Tunnels, Pennsylvania Station New York, Hell Gate Bridge, Sunnyside Yards and other railroad infrastructure used today by NJT, Amtrak and the Long Island Rail Road. NJT’s Trenton-New York Northeast Corridor Line as well as parts of the North Jersey Coast Line trace their lineage to the PRR. In 1968, the PRR merged with its closest rival, the New York Central, to form Penn Central.
The Central Railroad of New Jersey (CNJ or Jersey Central Lines) built its main line west across New Jersey in 1848 by combining smaller railroads under one company. Built to haul coal from the Pocono Mountains to tidewater, the CNJ was bankrupt by 1967 and merged into Conrail in 1976. CNJ built the routes operated as today’s Raritan Valley Line and parts of the North Jersey Coast Line.
The Erie-Lackawanna was created by a merger of the Erie Railroad and the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad in 1960. The E-L operated many lines that today form NJT’s Hoboken Division: Morristown Line, Main Line, Bergen County Line, Montclair-Boonton Line, Pascack Valley Line and the Gladstone Branch, all of which serve Hoboken Terminal on the Hudson River.
Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines (PRSL), created in 1933 by combining operations of competing railroads in the South Jersey area, operated the line currently known as the Atlantic City Line between Philadelphia and Atlantic City.
Conrail (Consolidated Rail Corporation) was formed by the federal government in 1976 from the assets and operations of six bankrupt Northeastern railroads: Penn Central, CNJ, Erie-Lackawanna, Lehigh Valley, Reading, Lehigh & Hudson River. After reorganization, Conrail played a significant role in the partial deregulation of U.S. railroads under the 3R, 4R and Staggers Rail Acts. Conrail operated commuter service on all current NJT lines throughout the New York/New Jersey and Philadelphia areas from its inception until different state organizations were established, among them NJT Rail Operations in 1983.
The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) played a key role keeping commuter rail and bus services operable in the 1960s and 1970s. NJDOT financed new locomotives for Erie-Lackawanna and CNJ, and has provided funding for NJT from inception until current day for certain capital projects and operations. The NJDOT Commuter Operating Agency became the nucleus of NJT Rail Operations in 1983.