At the New Jersey Transit (NJT) Sept. 14 Board of Directors meeting, the agency paid tribute to current or recently retired employees who have been with NJT Rail Operations (NJTRO) since its start in 1983, when NJTRO emerged from Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail), or earlier.
The end of 1982 and the beginning of 1983 were turbulent times for passenger railroads in the region comprising New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia. Conrail, which had emerged from the bankruptcy of the Penn Central, Erie-Lackawanna, Central Railroad of New Jersey, Reading and other financially strapped railroads, relinquished operation of the commuter trains in the Northeast. Three new railroads emerged from Conrail’s shadow: Metro-North in New York, SEPTA in the Philadelphia area, and NJTRO. I took a closer look at that history in a report headlined “NJT, SEPTA, Metro-North at 40” that appeared in the April 2023 issue of Railway Age.
As part of its 40th anniversary celebration of NJTRO, the agency honored its “Forty Year Club,” which consists of 28 employees who have been with the railroad or its corporate predecessors since the initiation of Rail Operations service in 1983. A proclamation was presented to this distinguished group by NJDOT Commissioner and NJT Board Chair Diane Guiterrez-Scaccetti, NJT President and CEO Kevin S. Corbett, and Senior Vice President and General Manager of Rail Operations James A. Sincaglia.
“Today, we recognize employees who have been instrumental to the success of NJ Transit’s rail operations over the past 40 years,” Corbett said. “Their long-term commitment and dedication has been a cornerstone of our work to provide safe and reliable rail service to our customers.”
NJT released a photo of the Forty Year Club members present at the ceremony with Board members and transit officials, as well as a new graphic honoring Rail Operations on 40 years of service. There was also a timeline identical to the one reproduced by Railway Age Senior Editor Carolina Worrell in her report on the start of NJTRO: NJ Transit Rail Operations Celebrates 40 Years of Service, which ran on Jan. 12, 2023.
The honorees represented many different crafts on the railroad. The most senior was John Boyington, a Block Operator, who started on the railroad in 1967. The highest-ranking was Andrew Mercogliano, who started with Penn Central in 1973 and became a Superintendent at NJT. He worked on the light rail side before he retired.
Corbett also announced two events that will take place on the weekend of Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. On Saturday, a special train called the 40th Anniversary Express from New York Penn Station to Hoboken will operate round trip on the North Jersey Coast Line, including the loop track at Bay Head, the trip’s only rare mileage. NJT is running the trip in cooperation with the United Railroad Historical Society of New Jersey. To commemorate the Pennsylvania Railroad, ALP46A electric 4636, repainted in PRR Tuscan Red livery, will pull the train as far as South Amboy. There will then be a change to the two remaining F40PH locomotives on NJT’s roster, continuing toward the Jersey Shore. GP40PH-2 4109, in its original CNJ livery and which probably pulled trains on the line when it was still the New York & Long Branch, will not be part of the consist. Still, a ritual that was practiced on every train of PRR lineage at the time will be observed: the engine change at South Amboy, which marked the end of electrified territory until 1982. The catenary was extended first to Aberdeen-Matawan in 1982 and then Long Branch in 1988, but the South Amboy power swap continued through 1988, when NJT established a Long Branch-Bay head diesel shuttle service for through service to New York Penn. Many years later, when dual-power ALP45-DPs entered service, NJT began operating through Bay Head-NY Penn trains. At the Board meeting, Corbett mentioned that when tickets were offered on line, the train sold out in eight minutes.
The public is invited to the Sunday event, which will feature a display of NJT locomotives decorated in the liveries of predecessor railroads. They can be seen at Hoboken Terminal from 10:00 until 4:00.
As I reported earlier this year, NJTRO and the other new railroads in the region got off to rocky starts in 1983. In March and April, all three were hit with strikes, as many unsettled issues concerning labor relations had to be worked out. Eventually, the railroads and their employees settled into their new routines, including at NJT. Over the years, the system was modernized and integrated into a unified railroad, although Amtrak owns the NEC and Conrail Shared Assets operates the old Lehigh Line, which forms part of today’s NJT Raritan Valley Line, for Norfolk Southern and CSX.
After the ceremony, the honorees left the room to applause and well-wishes from the audience, to attend a reunion. Perhaps the original NJTRO talked about old times and how far the railroad has come, even though many still consider it a work in progress. That would not be at all surprising, but any railroader in any craft who can point to a career spanning 40 years or more deserves to be honored. NJ Transit has now done that.
The following employees, listed by year of hire, were recognized:
- John Boyington, Block Operator
- Edward Jocelyn, Chief Engineer Signals
- George Burke, System Power Supervisor
- James Watson, Machinist
- Junus Eruhow, Signal Inspector
- Bobby Hill, Conductor
- Andrew Mercogliano, Superintendent
- Donald Winters, Machinist
- Michael Kubicki, Maintainer
- Victor Sanchez, Locomotive Engineer
- Andrew Youngclaus, Hoboken Car Shop Technician
- Robert Younger Sr., Roving Bridge Operator
- Joseph McMahon, Track Foreman
- Edward Clifford, Supervisor Communications & Signal
- Lorna Day, Tech/Inspector
- Gerald Thomas, Locomotive Engineer
- Gregory Golden, Supervisor, Communications & Signal
- David Carter, Chief Equipment Strategy, Design & Engineering
- Tyrone Wilcher, Assistant Chief Power Supervisor
- Barbara Wiliams, Mechanic A Substation
- Rosalind Evans, Lead Clerk
- Ingrid Burnett, Supervisor Crew Assignment
- Richard Johnson, Carman
- Laura DeShong, Senior Chief Clerk
- Manuel Pena, Director Rail Infrastructure Construction
- Christopher Beluch, Tech-Communications
- Donald Bogen III, Plumber Foreman
- Shirelda Hardwick, Office Supervisor
- Robert Timmerman, Lead Tech
- Janice Terry, Lead Clerk