RDG Co. Bethlehem Branch

Discussion Related to the Reading Company 1833-1976 and it's predecessors Philadelphia and Reading Rail Road and then the Philadelphia and Reading Railway.

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Re: RDG Co. Bethlehem Branch

Postby MikeMusiowski » Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:16 am

I created the Bethlehem Branch on Trainz Simulator 2009 from Telford to Quakertown. I would extend both ways to Lansdale/Bethlehem but the game already takes a half hour to load into surveyor and I fear anymore surveyor blocks I add my project will crash and burn AHHH =P. Also I only worked with what the game had, I didn't download any items. Any suggestions to make it better or anything anyone wants to see, i'll be more than happy to make it happen. :)

http://entertainment.webshots.com/album/582403421ZJMIOO


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Re: RDG Co. Bethlehem Branch

Postby jrevans » Tue Apr 03, 2012 11:39 am

MikeMusiowski wrote:I created the Bethlehem Branch on Trainz Simulator 2009 from Telford to Quakertown. I would extend both ways to Lansdale/Bethlehem but the game already takes a half hour to load into surveyor and I fear anymore surveyor blocks I add my project will crash and burn AHHH =P. Also I only worked with what the game had, I didn't download any items. Any suggestions to make it better or anything anyone wants to see, i'll be more than happy to make it happen. :)

http://entertainment.webshots.com/album/582403421ZJMIOO

Mike Musiowski


That looks good Mike. Is it available anywhere for us to download the route? (It probably won't work on my version of Trainz though.)

In other Bethlehem Branch related news, I was up there in January when I took my family ice skating at the new ice rink up there. It was really weird to cross over the paved greenway which used to be the ROW. I was going to take pictures after we were done skating, but my camera batteries were dead, as were the backup batteries (which has never happened before). I guess I wasn't supposed to take a picture of what used to be the right of way....
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Re: RDG Co. Bethlehem Branch

Postby glennk419 » Tue Apr 03, 2012 12:05 pm

jrevans wrote:In other Bethlehem Branch related news, I was up there in January when I took my family ice skating at the new ice rink up there. It was really weird to cross over the paved greenway which used to be the ROW. I was going to take pictures after we were done skating, but my camera batteries were dead, as were the backup batteries (which has never happened before). I guess I wasn't supposed to take a picture of what used to be the right of way....


Karma Jim, Karma.
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Re: RDG Co. Bethlehem Branch

Postby LVfastfreight » Tue May 08, 2012 6:29 am

If Only the Bethlehem steel's coke works didnt cancel their last contracts for coke. Csx would be running coal trains up the Bethkehem branch to the coke works and return with coke to the Bethkehem steel Burns harbor plant. During conrail coal trains came up from hagerstown on the old WM to Enola and handed off to conrail to Saucon yard. Before split date Csx also expressed Interest in running intermodal trains up to Bethlehem. I guess without the coal/coke business the intermodal wasn't seen as profitable. Had the coke works just stayed open long enough for Csx to rebuild the track from Lansdale to Saucon yard.. We could have intermodal trains running the Bethlehem branch to Saucon today! Almost..
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Re: RDG Co. Bethlehem Branch

Postby jrevans » Tue May 08, 2012 2:59 pm

LVfastfreight wrote:If Only the Bethlehem steel's coke works didnt cancel their last contracts for coke. Csx would be running coal trains up the Bethkehem branch to the coke works and return with coke to the Bethkehem steel Burns harbor plant. During conrail coal trains came up from hagerstown on the old WM to Enola and handed off to conrail to Saucon yard. Before split date Csx also expressed Interest in running intermodal trains up to Bethlehem. I guess without the coal/coke business the intermodal wasn't seen as profitable. Had the coke works just stayed open long enough for Csx to rebuild the track from Lansdale to Saucon yard.. We could have intermodal trains running the Bethlehem branch to Saucon today! Almost..


Ah, to dream. I thought that high cars can't run up the lower part of the Bethlehem Branch, so I have no idea how double stacks could fit under the wires!
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Re: RDG Co. Bethlehem Branch

Postby glennk419 » Tue May 08, 2012 3:55 pm

jrevans wrote:
LVfastfreight wrote:If Only the Bethlehem steel's coke works didnt cancel their last contracts for coke. Csx would be running coal trains up the Bethkehem branch to the coke works and return with coke to the Bethkehem steel Burns harbor plant. During conrail coal trains came up from hagerstown on the old WM to Enola and handed off to conrail to Saucon yard. Before split date Csx also expressed Interest in running intermodal trains up to Bethlehem. I guess without the coal/coke business the intermodal wasn't seen as profitable. Had the coke works just stayed open long enough for Csx to rebuild the track from Lansdale to Saucon yard.. We could have intermodal trains running the Bethlehem branch to Saucon today! Almost..


Ah, to dream. I thought that high cars can't run up the lower part of the Bethlehem Branch, so I have no idea how double stacks could fit under the wires!


They would use a likewise refurbished Stony Creek branch. ;)

Couldn't you just imagine the NIMBY's in Blue Bell and Saucon Valley? :)
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Re: RDG Co. Bethlehem Branch

Postby LVfastfreight » Tue May 08, 2012 5:57 pm

Had that happened the trains would have ran single stacked up the mainline. The Q190/191 service started out running single stacks on the Trenton line. The Stoney creek also can not accomadate double stacks. The upper Bethlehem branch has low bridges like the lower end. The Perkasie tunnel also doesn't have the clearance for stacks. The Q190/191 had to be double stacked once the business grew to stay feasible. So had this intermodal service to Bethlehem ever started it may not have lasted anyway. With NS/CP already in Bethlehem and CSX having it own intermodal terminal only 60 miles away in Philly, this service was dependent on an existing infrastructure. Without the Bethlehem Steel business, nothing warranted the rebuilding of the Beth branch. Had the Coke works stayed open without a doubt this line would have been rebuilt for the coal business. It would have probably ended up full of storage cars from the east penn RR but who knows what oppurtunitys may have come about with the line back intact. The breakup of Conrail would have saved this line, but the loss of Beth steel was the final nail in the coffin.

I do think in my lifetime I will be able to ride a regularly scheduled passenger train from Bethlehem to Philly. Though it will be by way of a NJT train from Bethlehem to Newark and down the NEC to 30th st.
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Re: RDG Co. Bethlehem Branch

Postby MikeMusiowski » Mon May 14, 2012 1:44 pm

Sorry for being off topic of the current discussion but I posted up some new Trainz Bethlehem Branch pics.

http://entertainment.webshots.com/album ... O?start=36

Since it's been 8 years since the Perkasie to Quakertown excursions, I based these new pics around that and also included an RDC excursion to go along with it. I also put back into service the Southbound main between Quakertown and Rockhill to allow the excursion trains to pass between trips. Following those pics I did a sim Bethlehem bound Ore train excursion with 4 robe Alco's (only alco's I had available in my game) hauling 100 ore hoppers.


To answer your question Jim, I do not have this layout available yet online, sorry. I will explore the options though but I have not used any online capablities that Trainz has to offer yet. I'm still playing it with what the game came with so no downloads or anything of that sort on my part. =P
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Re: RDG Co. Bethlehem Branch

Postby Franklin Gowen » Thu May 31, 2012 5:27 am

LVfastfreight wrote:With NS/CP already in Bethlehem and CSX having it own intermodal terminal only 60 miles away in Philly, this service was dependent on an existing infrastructure. Without the Bethlehem Steel business, nothing warranted the rebuilding of the Beth branch.

Indeed so. Evidently the Reading itself felt somewhat the same way, as the branch's increasing scruffiness in the post-1960 era attests. Even before the RDG's final bankruptcy, the physical plant between Philly and Bethlehem (most particularly north of Lansdale) was starting to get shoddy -- simply not enough incoming revenue to spread around the entire system. Despite being an important on-line customer, earnings gained from servicing The Steel wasn't enough by itself to keep the branch in top condition.

Once you were off of the Main Line, the New York Branch or the Allentown-Harrisburg crossline, you could see and feel the difference. Compared to those three critical freight arteries, the Bethlehem Branch was underutilized as well as visibly undermaintained in certain areas during that time period. The loaded ore trains could occasionally still be seen kicking up a storm as they roared due north, but was that as great as it looked to the casual trackside bystander? Ore extras (as well as general freight) on the Bethlehem Branch were actually limited to a maximum of 45MPH in the 1970s. Passenger-train speeds were down, too, on account of that same reduction in maintenance.

LVfastfreight wrote:Had the Coke works stayed open without a doubt this line would have been rebuilt for the coal business. It would have probably ended up full of storage cars from the east penn RR but who knows what oppurtunitys may have come about with the line back intact. The breakup of Conrail would have saved this line, but the loss of Beth steel was the final nail in the coffin.

The whole issue of the Coke Works as a future profit center for freight railroading -- and instigator to reopening the northern third of the branch -- is such a tantalizing what-if. Instead, we plummeted downhill from that glittering possibility to.....a silly hike-and-bike trail. What a mockery.

LVfastfreight wrote:I do think in my lifetime I will be able to ride a regularly scheduled passenger train from Bethlehem to Philly. Though it will be by way of a NJT train from Bethlehem to Newark and down the NEC to 30th st.

I'm not sure I'd even bet on that much of a half-solution [-sigh-].
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From the trail dudes

Postby jrevans » Fri Jun 15, 2012 2:16 am

From the trail dudes:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Saucon-Ra ... 9554997950

Steve LaBrake, from the SRT Commission, spoke to the Bethlehem Planner this morning, to get an update on connecting the SRT to the Bethlehem Greenway.

The City got a grant from DCNR to continue the Bethlehem Greenway to an area near Saucon Park, at the intersections of Auburn St & Traveler Ave (see attached map).

At this point they do not have a contract with Norfolk Southern (NS) to take it any further south, although they plan to. At this point there is no date to do such.

NS has transfered the title of the bridge at High St along with some money, to the city of Bethlehem. They have been looking for additional money to replace the bridge, at this point they have not found that additional money that they need.


I didn't realize that the bridge at High Street was considered Bethlehem. I would have guessed it was part of Hellertown. I do see why NS would want to get rid of it, if it's the old wooden bridge that I am thinking of.

Isn't that the old bridge where underneath of it was written on the rails
"DO NOT TOUCH, THIS TK STAYS ALL THE WAY TO SEPTA -->"....
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Re: From the trail dudes

Postby Franklin Gowen » Fri Jun 15, 2012 8:19 pm

jrevans wrote:I didn't realize that the bridge at High Street was considered Bethlehem. I would have guessed it was part of Hellertown. I do see why NS would want to get rid of it, if it's the old wooden bridge that I am thinking of.

Amusingly, that area is not part of the borough of Hellertown. The borough/city boundary appears to be immediately to the east of the east abutment of the High. St. bridge over the railroad. I confirmed it on an official state-issued map of the borough.

jrevans wrote:Isn't that the old bridge where underneath of it was written on the rails
"DO NOT TOUCH, THIS TK STAYS ALL THE WAY TO SEPTA -->"....

It is indeed. :-)

This picture of mine shows the High St. bridge from the south, looking north towards Saucon Creek engine house. The spraypaint applied to the rails was done on the north side of this bridge, about 100-150 feet beyond the bridge itself.

I am amazed that such an aged wooden structure survives in daily service to the present day. It was surely making NS' lawyers uncomfortable. Heh-heh...served them right for abandoning the northernmost part of the Bethlehem Branch! And now it's the city's problem. For Bethlehem's role in this trail stupidity, city council deserves to sweat a little, too. ;-)
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Re: From the trail dudes

Postby glennk419 » Fri Jun 15, 2012 8:51 pm

jrevans wrote:Isn't that the old bridge where underneath of it was written on the rails
"DO NOT TOUCH, THIS TK STAYS ALL THE WAY TO SEPTA -->"....


So how did THAT work out for us?
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Re: From the trail dudes

Postby Franklin Gowen » Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:23 pm

glennk419 wrote:
jrevans wrote:Isn't that the old bridge where underneath of it was written on the rails
"DO NOT TOUCH, THIS TK STAYS ALL THE WAY TO SEPTA -->"....


So how did THAT work out for us?

If you happened to be Don Cunningham (ex-mayor of Bethlehem who agitated madly for this "greenway" BS) or any of the involved influence-peddlers, SEPTA apparatchiks, project contractors or rail-phobic NIMBYs, I guess it worked out just fine:

    Don and whoever his pals were got plenty of face-time;

    SEPTA may have, at long last, slain the vampire of "future service restoration";

    The contractors earned plenty of green for their honest labor;

    Local homeowners have a view from their back patio which no longer includes rusty rails and ties turning into mulch.
But for us; i.e., everyone else??? Another example of "the public be damned!," curtained behind a pretty façade.
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Re: From the trail dudes

Postby jrevans » Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:58 pm

Franklin Gowen wrote:


    Don and whoever his pals were got plenty of face-time;


I still think that something fishy went down with the deal, involving adjacent parcels to the ROW belonging to Don's associates. No hard proof, just listening to my gut after reading some stuff a long time ago.
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Re: From the trail dudes

Postby Franklin Gowen » Fri Jun 15, 2012 10:22 pm

jrevans wrote:
Franklin Gowen wrote:
    Don and whoever his pals were got plenty of face-time;

I still think that something fishy went down with the deal, involving adjacent parcels to the ROW belonging to Don's associates. No hard proof, just listening to my gut after reading some stuff a long time ago.

I have the same reaction. Nothing tangible to back it up, of course. Just the helpless frustration of watching the city (and later, both Lehigh & Northampton Counties) do something to that railroad right-of-way that was, in the longer term, definitely not in the public interest. Oh well. :-(
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