ConRail and passenger services

Discussion related to the operations and equipment of Consolidated Rail Corp. (Conrail) from 1976 to its present operations as Conrail Shared Assets. Official web site can be found here: CONRAIL.COM.

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Re: ConRail and passenger services

Postby SooLineRob » Thu Aug 21, 2008 12:45 pm

I've become confused by the MBTA situation, and I hope someone can clear it up for those just as confused as me!

I understand the how "C Day" (4/1/76) created a VERY large prior-right seniority roster, and how an employee's "prior right seniority" allowed them to work various terminals/assignments. Then, on January 1, 1983, the metropolitan New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia areas created their own commuter rail agencies and employees chose where they would work. As a Conrail employee on December 31, 1982, I could chose my employer based on my prior right seniority; stay Conrail (freight), NJT, SEPTA, MNCR, or even Amtrak (different method of getting to/from than the commuter rail agencies).

So ... my confusion is in regards to the Boston area. South Side was prior right NH and NYC. Then PC. Then Conrail. Then B&M. Then Guilford. Then Amtrak. Now, Hertzog/MBCR/MBTA?

If I were a prior right NH employee, throughout all these changes, could I still be working out of the South Side? Or the North Side? Or, could I be working out of Lowell as an ST/GRS employee? Could I be working for CSX out of Selkirk today? How about Amtrak out of Denver, CO? If I'm working out of the South Side today, and I suffer some sort of mental problem, could I excercise my NH prior right seniority and finish my career working for CSX, MNCR, NJT, Amtrak, or even NS?

Current employees that operate the commuter rail out of Boston have their paychecks drawn on which company's bank, who's their employer today?
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Re: ConRail and passenger services

Postby Noel Weaver » Fri Aug 22, 2008 2:39 am

Ordinarily I would not answer this question but I personally know the person who asked it and will answer for him as well as
any other railroaders who may be involved.
In late 1982 T & E employees working for Conrail in seniority districts that provided crews to operate either commuter trains
or Amtrak trains had a choice. They could elect to work for Amtrak in the corridor, south of New York for district G and
north of New York for district F or they could cross over with 1980 seniority in the case of engineers. They could elect to
work for Metro-North if in district F or New Jersey Transit or Septa if in district G. If they wanted to they could also elect to
remain with Conrail and work the remaining freight and yard assignments.
In the case of employees who elected to work for one of the commuter railroads they had an option twice a year on May 1
and November 1 each year to return to Conrail and exercise their existing seniority but there were two conditions
attached to this; one was that the decision was not reversible and when you make that move you lose for all time your
seniority with Metro-North, NJT etc and second you had to give both the commuter railroad and Conrail a thirty day notice
in writing of your intention to make this move. This is what I did in November, 1987 when I provided a letter of intention
to make the move during late September, 1987 to labor relations with both Metro-North and Conrail.
With regard to Amtrak I am only speaking for the corridor, conditions are different for off corridor Amtrak work. Engineers
working for either Amtrak or Conrail had the right to flow from one to the other every six months in April and October and I
think there is a 30 day notice required in this case too. For a period we had a few engineers who would work for Conrail
in the summer and Amtrak in the winter until Amtrak started playing hardball and requiring these engineers to requalify as
a new engineer. This has certainally reduced this practice although the remaining people who were employed by Conrail
still have that right. I don't know exactly where CSX and NS fit on this but I think they have to allow the situation to
exist as it was a pre-existing agreement when they came into the picture.
All of the above engineers were on a legal leave of absence status with Conrail and their names were maintained on the
rosters every year.
There are still engineers with all of the commuter outfits, Conrail (CSX and NS too) and Amtrak who are in the above
situation. It is not likely that there will be anymore flows at this point because the involved engineers are at the top of
the roster whereever they are working.
As for the people in Boston, I think but I am not sure about this, their work rights to the commuter trains traveled with
them no matter who the operator was or is. I think they carried their vacation rights with them too. They may or may
not have freight rights and they may or may not have Amtrak rights, I am not sure about this one.
I left Metro-North in the fall of 1987 even though they had and still have probably the best contract in the entire industry
except for maybe the Long Island Rail Road. I was just plain fed up with living in New York City and everything about
that place. I did not think I could survive another ten years in that place. At the time I made the move back to Conrail, I
was one of the top engineers on the roster in New York and had a broad choice of very good work. I even went to the
superintendent of Metro-North and explained to him that my move had nothing to do with him or his people, I simply wanted
out of New York City and the area and the cost of living was so high in the suburbs at that time that anything decent was
going to be difficult for me to afford on my terms.
Retired people from Metro-North and the Long Island need their state pensions plus Railroad Retirement just to keep up
with the high cost of living in the Metropolitan Area and probably within just about all of the Metro-North service area for
that matter. Maybe the Naugatuck Valley might be a bit cheaper but I would not want to go back there.
I went back to Conrail on November 1, 1987 and immediately was able to displace on to one of the very best engineers
jobs on the entire railroad and I did just that. There were some engineers in Selkirk who were not exactly thrilled by my
displacing on to a Buffalo job there but that was my right to do and I did it. By returning to Conrail when I did in 1987, I
gained my right to flow to Amtrak every six months but that was not in the plan. I do know a couple of train people who
were with Metro-North and wanted out of New York City very badly and they went back to Conrail for six months and then
flowed to Amtrak. At least one of them was still working for Amtrak and at the top of the roster, he was very satisfied
that he made the move to get out of the New York City area just like I was. Living in Albany was like living in Heaven
compared with New York City.
Immediately after January 1, 1983 both Amtrak and Metro-North found themselves with too few engineers and they both had
to borrow engineers from each other on just about a daily basis in order to cover their work. This went on for the first
month or so until everything stabilized. It was a very difficult decision for the younger people and some of them at the start
did not end up where they wanted to go or where they wanted to work.
I could go on but I guess I have covered the question asked.
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Re: ConRail and passenger services

Postby Noel Weaver » Fri Aug 22, 2008 2:54 am

With all that I wrote, I failed to answer part of your question, yes a New Haven engineer could be working anywhere in the
north east for Amtrak, Metro-North, Boston MBTA commuter or CSX. In truth, there are very few former NHRR engineers
still working anywhere up there. There are probably less than 10 with Amtrak, maybe 3 or 4 with Metro-North and I think
that is it. I don't think there are any former NHRR engineers working for CSX anywhere nor for Conrail Shared Assets either.
I don't know just what the Boston situation is today, there may be a former NHRR engineer or two left there in commuter
service, I just don't know.
There is one former NHRR engineer working for Amtrak out of Albany which is off corridor and so by that, he probably could
be working anywhere in the system if he so chose to do so.
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Re: ConRail and passenger services

Postby SooLineRob » Sat Aug 23, 2008 9:21 am

Thank you, Mr Weaver, for your very detailed answer.

Hopefully, anyone with a "prior right seniority date" is within their final months of service and will be able to enjoy retirement soon!

Those first few years of Conrail ('76 to '83) must have been quite interesting. One month working an afternoon freight job, the next month working a passenger extra list. I agree that there probably hasn't been anyone "moving around" between CR/NS/CSX/Amtrak, etc for a few years. I only knew two gentlemen that did such in the mid 1990's; an Amtrak Conductor out of NY Penn came to Conrail to retire, and an NJT Engineer used his one-time move to come to Conrail.

Thank you again for your reply to this very difficult and complex question. Your willingness to share your knowledge and experience on all railroad matters is very much appreciated.
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Re: ConRail and passenger services

Postby JimBoylan » Wed Aug 27, 2008 8:49 am

I do remember riding a Chestnut Hill Local (PRR in Philadelphia) during ConRail's 1st summer. The youngish engineer said that his extra board assignments usually involved a GG-1 on freight trains. The regular passenger engineer with seniority was probably on vacation that weekend. This was not just ConRail, but the way many railroads operated until the early 1980s.
Some new hires on CSXT learn the term "East Coast Extra Board", but it was probably used on ConRail, also.
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Re: ConRail and passenger services

Postby Noel Weaver » Wed Aug 27, 2008 11:17 am

Engineers had combined extra lists until January 1, 1983. I worked extra lists in New York which could involve a commuter
train out of Grand Central Terminal one day, an Amtrak train out of Penn Station the next day and a freight train from
Oak Point to Selkirk via Danbury the third day. I never knew when the phone rang whether I would be back home in a few
hours or 40 hours later after a long trip on a freight train and overnight away from home.
Life on the extra list during that period was not always a "piece of cake".
The same thing with bidding rights, I could bid in a commuter train out of GCT, an Amtrak job out of Penn Station or a
freight train out of Weehawken, NJ to Selkirk and back. Add a yard job at Oak Point just to make it more interesting.
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Re: ConRail and passenger services

Postby Tom coughlin » Thu Aug 28, 2008 8:01 pm

For the record, the B&M took over Conrail's Boston Commuter trains in 1977.
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Re: ConRail and passenger services

Postby Jers2709 » Thu Aug 28, 2008 11:32 pm

I remember my grandfather talking about when he got to chose between NJT or Amtrak, he was saying Amtrak was upfront about how much they were paying and NJT did not. He chose Amtrak and made more money there.
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Postby n01jd1 » Tue Sep 30, 2008 12:34 pm

Jers2709 wrote:Did any of the passenger cars receive Conrail markings?

I can only speak intellegently about the former EL/NJDOT equipment. The only piece of EL passenger equipment to receive Conrail markings was one U34CH. It had been involved in a wreck and came back in a Bicentennial scheme numbered 1776. As I recall, the Conrail markings and number didnt last very long, probably since the number 1776 conflicted with an F7 of the same number and it was technically owned by NJDOT, not Conrail. It was renumbered 4151 sans Conrail markings and eventually repainted into the NJDOT "bluebird" scheme. The only changes I saw was that the U34's had their EL logos removed and they were renumbered into the 4100 series. There was little incentive to do anything with the coaches since they were owned by NJDOT and captive to the former EL out of Hoboken. They kept their EL markings until NJTransit took over commuter operations in 1983.
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Re: ConRail and passenger services

Postby scharnhorst » Wed Oct 01, 2008 2:32 am

One thing to rember about the TH & B was that it was jointley owned by both CP Rail and Conrail untill Conrail sold its share to CP Rail in 1981 by 1985 the TH & B was completley folded into CP Rail.
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Re: ConRail and passenger services

Postby Tadman » Thu Oct 02, 2008 9:28 am

A poster asked if and rolling stock was lettered for Conrail - I don't think any passenger cars other than OCS were lettered for conrail, but I've seen a few E/F's painted or lettered for conrail - some E7/E8's in John Dziobko pics were painted blue with the CR snail, and I've seen FL9's with in conrail blue with MTA yellow front ends. I'm not sure what their assignments were, although I seem to recall an NJDOT train with NJDot E's and a loaner Conrail blue E7 or 8. If I'm wrong about some/all of this it wouldn't surprise me - I'm recalling this from memory and cannot find the pics.

See this pic - I believe the blue was applied as part of the Conrail takeover of NYC/NH commuter services that later became MNCR. ... 2&nseq=142

edit: Found One!
FL9 in full conrail paint ... 5&nseq=168
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Re: ConRail and passenger services

Postby Caseyjim » Sun Jan 04, 2009 5:22 pm

I thought the Boston and Maine took over the Boston area commuter services of Conrail in 1977. I have the timetables to prove it, both the public timetables and the applicable B&M employee timetable. I have produced a looseleaf book about Conrail featuring a nice diagram map of the Buffalo Terminal, sample freight schedules, photos, commuter timetables and other information about the Big Blue Railroad. If anyone is interested in a copy and details about how to obtain one, please e-mail me at Thank you. Also, even though Conrail was out of direct operation of passenger trains, they did, however, have an officer to supervise Amtrak operations on the railroad.

Re: ConRail and passenger services

Postby lvrr325 » Mon Jan 05, 2009 1:40 am

MTA's paint scheme for the FL9s was yellow nose, blue sides. Some later got Conrail blue sides and lettering instead of a darker blue with PC logo.

One Conrail F7A was painted blue; former NYC 1648 (later 1792). I'm 99% certain only one Conrail E8 was painted blue, former Erie/EL 833/CR 4022. On the NJT side, they supplanted aging PC units with ex-Southern units after Southern joined Amtrak, and units repainted got either a scheme like the original U34CH blue/silver, or one of the NJ Transit schemes. In Boston, they actually leased the D&H PA's in the late 70s for commuter power when the B&M was running the trains.

Conrail only inherited 3 E7 locomotives, none were repainted.

The only revenue passenger cars that might have seen CR markings would have been on the Cleveland (former EL) and Chicago-Valparaiso commuter runs, which were the only ones Conrail inherited that were still private/RR funded and not being helped by a public entity.

I knew one engineer who used his seniority to qualify and work both the now-CSX side and the now-NS side in New York just prior to the split, but he ultimately stayed on CSX and migrated to a terminal where he had the highest seniority of anyone working there, allowing him to work a local with fairly regular hours.

Anyone still working with NH seniority would be 40+ year guys, the New Haven dissapeared into Penn Central in 1969. Odds are they've long since found a position they're happy with, on whatever railroad they chose to stay with -
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Re: ConRail and passenger services

Postby Noel Weaver » Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:36 am

On both Metro-North and Amtrak there are a couple of engineers still working from the New Haven Railroad.
With CSX I don't think there are any New Haven engineers left but i believe there are still a very small number of former
New York Central engineers in both Selkirk and Buffalo but I am not positive about this either.
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Re: ConRail and passenger services

Postby clamdigger » Wed Jan 07, 2009 7:27 pm

Another E8A painted in Conrail blue,that I know of, was CR#4256(exPC#4256,neePRR#5796).It also ran on the CR/NJDOT North Jersey Coast Line,the former New York & Long Branch rr,till at least 1980-81.Photos may be found on George Elwood"s "Fallen Fllags website:
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