|Type Commuter rail|
|System New Jersey Transit|
Daily ridership 113,700 (FY 2012)
|Locale Northern and Central New Jersey|
Termini New York Penn Station Trenton Transit Center
The Northeast Corridor Line is a commuter rail operation run by New Jersey Transit along Amtrak's Northeast Corridor in the United States. It is the successor to Pennsylvania Railroad trains between Trenton Transit Center and New York Penn Station. After arrival at New York Penn Station, some trains load passengers and return to New Jersey, while others continue east to Sunnyside Yard for storage. Most servicing is done at the Morrisville Yard, at the west end of the line. The Northeast Corridor Line is colored red on New Jersey Transit system maps and its symbol is the State House. The Princeton Branch is a shuttle service connecting to the line.
Commuter service on what was to become the Northeast Corridor Line began with the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1933, after the 11,000 volt AC overhead catenary was completed between Trenton and Pennsylvania Station. Penn Station had originally been intended for long distance passenger trains, with steam-hauled commuter traffic routed to the older Jersey City terminal. With the overhead electrification complete, the PRR could run trains of electric multiple units direct to Manhattan.
The weekday schedule in September 1951 had six trains a day from New York to Trenton, seven from New York to New Brunswick, two from Jersey City to Trenton and six from Jersey City to New Brunswick. That includes just the trains that terminated at Trenton or New Brunswick; many more trains from New York to Philadelphia and beyond carried passengers to some suburban stations.
By the 1960s the financial situation of the Pennsylvania Railroad had deteriorated. With the railroad unable to sustain the money losing commuter operation, let alone invest in improved physical plant and rolling stock, the New Jersey Department of Transportation became involved with maintaining the service. In 1968 NJDoT funded construction of the new Metropark station and in 1969 they funded 35 new stainless steel "Jersey Arrow" MU cars. After 1968 the service was taken over by the merged Penn Central railroad and following the Penn Central's bankruptcy the commuter service was taken over by Conrail in 1976, under a contract from NJDoT. The state continued to fund replacement of the aging pre-war MU equipment with the Arrow II and Arrow III orders. Finally in 1983 the State took over all of the Conrail operations under the aegis of a new statewide public transport agency, New Jersey Transit.
Clocker trains were started by the Pennsylvania Railroad between Philadelphia and New York; until the 1950s weekday trains departed New York and Philadelphia on the hour through the day, giving rise to the Clocker name. After the Amtrak takeover of the Northeast Corridor the no-longer-hourly "Clocker" service was targeted at commuters making local stops bypassed by the high speed Metroliner and individually named trains. During the 1990s New Jersey Transit contracted with Amtrak to accept monthly NJT passholders on the Clocker trains. Soon the Clockers were primarily used by NJT commuters with only a handful of riders taking the trains to/from Philadelphia; the Clockers were much faster (and more comfortable) than a typical NJT train, but slower and more crowded than a typical Amtrak train causing the former's riders to prefer the trains and the latter's riders to avoid them.
With most Clocker riders using NJT tickets, New Jersey Transit supplied new ALP-46 locomotives to haul the trains' Amfleet coaches; Amtrak soon discontinued the Clocker service altogether and sold the capacity slots to New Jersey Transit for new Trenton express trains. The Clocker last ran on October 28, 2005, and thereafter New Jersey Transit began several extra Trenton-New York express trips. Connecting SEPTA Trenton Line service between Philadelphia and Trenton is listed in the timetable. The Northeast Corridor Line runs from New York Penn Station to Trenton Transit Center along with Amtrak.
The Northeast Corridor Line operates a zone service between the outlying stations and the terminal zone which begins at Newark International Airport Station. During the peak period North Jersey Coast Line trains stop at North Elizabeth through Rahway. Stations between Rahway are served by Jersey Avenue Locals, which originate and terminate at Jersey Avenue station. Finally Trenton Express trains make their first/last stop at Princeton Junction or New Brunswick. A few all stops locals operate sporadically on weekdays as well and all day on weekends. Jersey Ave locals make local stops between Rahway and Elizabeth outside peak periods. North Elizabeth station is skipped by most NEC Line trains and express trains cannot stop at Jersey Ave eastbound.
With high levels of service and a route through one of the most densely populated areas of the United States, the Northeast Corridor Line is New Jersey Transit's busiest rail line. On an average weekday in 2012, the Northeast Corridor Line handled 117,400 boardings. The line also contains all of New Jersey Transit's busiest non-terminal stations: Metropark with 7,447 boardings; Princeton Junction with 6,816; Trenton with 4,638; and New Brunswick with 4,976 weekday boardings.
All service on the Northeast Corridor Line is electric via overhead lines and uses either Budd/GE Arrow III multiple unit cars or push-pull locomotive trains hauled by ALP-46/A or ALP-45DP locomotives. These trains are made up of Comet series cars or Bombardier Transportation Multilevels.
The modern era of commuter operations began in 1983 when New Jersey Transit Rail Operations took over the service from Conrail. Since that time, numerous changes to the line intended to improve New Jersey Transit service have been made. These include the following.
The Morrisville Yard is used for train layups. In 2007 NJT opened a new 19-track yard on the site of the former Pennsylvania Railroad freight classification yard across the Delaware River in Morrisville, Pennsylvania. The new yard replaced the haphazard collection of storage tracks around the Trenton Station complex. This not only increased the absolute number of trains that could be stored at the end of the line, but also reduced the number of relay movements needed to position trains in at the correct platform at Trenton. Capacity was also increased by trains no longer having to cross all 4 mainline tracks to access their storage tracks as the new Morrisville yard was accessed by a flying junction.
Trenton Transit Center
The Trenton Transit Center is the beginning of the New Jersey Transit portion of the Northeast Corridor line as well as the terminus of the SEPTA Trenton Line service. The Trenton station is also a stop for Amtrak trains with most Acela Express, Northeast Regional, Keystone, and long distance trains stopping.
In 2004 the River Line light rail Trenton station opened across the street. In 2008 the station was formally renamed the Trenton Transit Center as the station was overhauled, including the complete replacement of the station headhouse and concourse structure which had last been rebuilt during the 1960s. The new station has more space for vendors and passengers.
Hamilton Station in Hamilton Township opened in 1999, costing $30 million (1992 USD). With almost direct access to Interstate 295 and Interstate 95, park and ride capacity was large with 1,556 spaces available at the station's opening. Due to the popularity of the station with commuters arriving via Interstate from points south in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, a parking deck was added in 2007 with 2,066 more spaces for a total of 3,622. The station has sculptures and designs from the Grounds for Sculpture, a sculpture park in Hamilton.
Hamilton Station did much to alleviate the increasingly desperate parking situations in Trenton and Princeton Junction. Trenton's downtown station is hard to reach and has little space for parking; Princeton Junction has no direct access to a major highway and its vast parking lot had long since reached capacity. The Hamilton Station was built for New York area commuters traveling increasing distances to work. Its direct freeway access and ample parking proved a hit with riders and it is one of the busiest stations on the New Jersey Transit system. The conversion of the nearby American Standard factory into transit oriented development led to further ridership gains.
The Metropark rail station project was initiated by NJDoT in 1968 as part of a plan accommodate businesses and commuters that were fleeing the old urban cores. The station opened in 1971 next to the Garden State Parkway for easy access by automobile; nearby stations at Iselin and Colonia closed soon after. The new station was also designed with the new Metroliner Service in mind with high level platforms and a large business park to make the new station a destination in itself. To allow Metroliners and other express trains to stop at Metropark new crossovers were installed in the 1980s on either side of the station to allow trains on the inner express tracks to pull over and stop at the two side platforms.
Newark Airport Station
Built in conjunction with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the owner of Newark Liberty International Airport, this station allows passengers to connect with AirTrain Newark, the airport's monorail. The station opened in late 2001 and was part of a larger project to increase capacity south of Newark Penn Station. Along with the station's two island platforms, two tracks were added for a mile east and west of the station, bringing the number of tracks on this section of the corridor to 6. This allows some local trains to be passed by NJT express and Amtrak trains.
Kearny and Waterfront Connections
These track connections between the Corridor and the former-DL&W Morris and Essex Lines allow trains from NJ Transit's Hoboken Division to run to New York Penn Station, as well as allowing Newark Division trains access to Hoboken Terminal. No NEC trains serve Hoboken Terminal as of January 2010 (in the 1990s there was one Hoboken-Trenton train a day) but a few North Jersey Coast Line trains run across the connection during weekday peak hours, allowing NEC passengers to transfer. At other times, passengers must transfer using PATH.
Opened in 2003, Secaucus Junction was built as a major transfer hub for the New Jersey Transit system. Built where the Corridor crosses over the Main/Bergen/Port Jervis lines, the station allows passengers on Hoboken-bound trains to switch to trains to New York Penn Station, and vice versa.
North Brunswick Station
A new station along the NEC at North Brunswick was approved by New Jersey Transit Rail Operations in 2013 and planned to open in 2018.
NJT currently originates trains to Newark/New York during peak hours from the Jersey Avenue station in New Brunswick. The agency plans to build a flying junction and balloon loop called the Mid-Line Loop south of a new station south of Jersey Avenue in North Brunswick, allowing trains to turn around, enter and leave the Northeast Corridor without crossing over tracks.
County Yard "train haven"
In January 2014, NJT awarded a $7.64 million design and engineering contract to develop a "train haven" and re-inspection facility where equipment could be stored during serious storms at an expanded and reconfigured County Yard in New Brunswick following Hurricane Sandy, which demonstrated the vulnerability of the agency's current facilities to flooding.