Ocean City Service

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Ocean City Service

Postby PARailWiz » Fri Sep 17, 2004 8:48 pm

I'm too young to remember the days when trains last ran to Ocean City, so I have some questions I hope someone can answer. Basically, what was service like for the last few years of the line? How many trains per day, how many cars, etc. Also, was it possible to take a train from Philadelphia to Ocean City up to the end, either directly or with connections? Finally, how big a miracle would be needed for service to ever be restored? It seems to me the right of way is intact enough to at least run to 51st street, and all the way back to the old train station with some effort.
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Postby mgdemarco2 » Sat Sep 18, 2004 11:52 am

I am also too young to remember the days of train service to Ocean City, but I did ask a very similiar question on the old forum regarding returning service to OC. A huge miracle would be needed to restore service to even just 51st street. A new bridge would have to be approved and built. Ocean City, like many shore towns, has experienced a huge building boom so many newer houses are very close to the old row. There is no way service could be restored to 10th street because there are just way too many houese that have been built close to the old row. Around 46-49th streets, (I'm not sure of the exact steets) only a narrow alley separates the old row from newer houses. Some people here have planted gardens on the row while others have cleared the weeds out. At 51st the old passing siding is now under someone's back yard. Also, the CMSL website says that Ocean City has said they do not want any trains returning to the island. I would love to see service return but I would not bet on it.
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Postby PARailWiz » Sat Sep 18, 2004 12:30 pm

As a matter of fact, I've seen those gardens, and walked back there. I even have some pictures I took that i'll post if I get a chance. That's why I said "with some effort," although perhaps that was an understatement. I can't understand why they wouldn't want train service to return, at least in a more limited capacity than it used to exist. Traffic is really bad there in the summer.
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Postby mgdemarco2 » Sat Sep 18, 2004 1:39 pm

Yes, traffic there is out of control in the summer. This winter would be a great time to take pictures of what is left as all the ticks will be gone and the undergrowth will be a lot thinner. I would love to walk the old row from just west of the parkway out to the bay but I'm not sure if it is accesible.
NIMBYS would surely pop up in OC to fight any return of service for the same nonsense reasons that NIMBYs use to fight trains anywhere and everywhere. OC NIMBYs would surely have money and influence so returning service is clearly an uphill battle.
On a side note if you are looking for a nice beach that is accesible by train you can take the AC Line and take the shuttle bus to the Hilton. This part of the AC beach is raked and it is very clean. Everyone likes to put down the AC beach but parts of it are really nice and clean and it sure beats fighting traffic.
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Postby glennk419 » Mon Sep 20, 2004 7:15 am

To answer the original question, for the last few years of existance, rail service was down to two weekday RDC trains in each direction that ran between Ocean City and Lindenwold where you would transfer to the High Speed Line into Philadelphia. The westbound trains left OC around 6:20 and 7:20 each morning (as a teenager vacationing in OC, they were my daily alarm clock), meeting the Cape May trains in Tuckahoe where they were coupled together for the run to Winslow and Lindenwold. In the evening, the process was reversed with trains leaving Lindenwold at 4:50 and 5:50 and arriving back in OC a little after 6 and 7 PM respectively. Stops in OC were at 14th, 24th, 34th and 51st as well as the 10th Street Station. I also recall one of the passenger shelters (24th Street I beleive) had a locally applied sign calling it Society Hill East. Crook Horn bridge was usually kept in the open position except when trains were scheduled with the bridge tender working from the OC side of the bridge.

Weekend sevice was limited to one round trip per day, a 10:00 eastbound from Lindenwold with a westbound return around 6:00 in the evening. Most OC trains ran with a single RDC, the Cape May portion could have one or two cars. I also recall very limited freight service on the island almost right up til the end, usually a couple of boxcars spotted at 10th Street with Conrail switchers for power.

I bought a house in OC this year and would love to see rail service reinstated but am resigned to the fact that it will probably never happen. For now, I'll just ride my bike up Haven Avenue and remember what it used to be like.
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etc

Postby Noel Weaver » Mon Sep 20, 2004 8:34 pm

Passenger service to Ocean City was a mixed affair, in the summer
season there were two trains out of Ocean City in the AM and two trains
out of Lindenwold in the PM. These were RDC, Budd Cars which rode on
the rear of the Cape May trains to Tuckahoe where they came off and ran
on their own to Ocean City.
On weekends, there was one morning train out of Lindenwold with two or
three Budd Cars and the rear one came off again at Tuckahoe for Ocean
City. The return to Lindenwold was late afternoon or early evening.
The above was the summer schedule.
During the rest of the year, there was one trip in the AM out of Ocean City
to Tuckahoe where again, the car was coupled up to the Cape May train
for the run to Lindenwold; same move on the return trip which left
Lindenwold in the PM rush hour.
The line was equipped with distant switch signals but manual block and the
speeds were 70 MPH in the 1970's and early 1980's when I often rode it
and the Budd Cars went like a bat out of hell. Much of the line was cinder
ballast and if you looked out the rear end of the train, you could see a
real cloud of dust from both the ballast and the exhaust from the Budd
Cars.
Probably about the fastest station to station Budd Car runs in the northeast at the time.
Always a great trip.
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Re: etc

Postby JJMDiMunno » Thu Sep 23, 2004 12:15 am

Noel Weaver wrote:The line was equipped with distant switch signals but manual block and the
speeds were 70 MPH in the 1970's and early 1980's when I often rode it
and the Budd Cars went like a bat out of hell.


Are you sure on that track speed? Information that I have at this time includes:

PRSL system timetable from 1960,
PRSL system timetable from 1969,
PRSL system timetable from 1973,
PRSL system track charts from 1966,
PRSL interlocking diagrams from 1968.

On all of these sources, track speed from Crook Horn Bridge, milepost 61.8 to Ocean City 10th Street Terminal, milepost 66.3 is shown as 45MPH for passenger, 30MPH for freight. From Tuckahoe to Crook Horn Bridge was a slightly different story, with passenger trains authorized for 50MPH.

And to answer an earlier question, yes, freight service did occasionally run into Ocean City. Usually, it consisted of a single boxcar of lumber, spotted on the team track by the freight house at 10th street by WY-390 / WY-391 on Friday mornings / early afternoons. Generally the crew signed up at around 11:00AM, this was the same local freight that worked the Cape May Branch and, when still in service, the Wildwood Branch.

And yes, to put it simply, to re-establish service via rail to Ocean City would require nothing short of a miracle. To be honest, restoring service to Ocean City would make the Cape May Seashore Lines project look like fun and games for a child (surely not to down the CMSL in any way, as that project was anything but childs-play, I know it was tough work to get some of that stuff below Courthouse back in service after being dormant since 1983)...first of all, it would require construction of a bridge that would cost more money to build than most high-income professionals make in their lifetime.

Second, to get to even just 51st street, you have to deal with a couple dozen homes, most of which if not all contain NIMBYs.

Third, you have to deal with the local fisherman who instantly turn into a giant swarm of NIMBYs, who will not want to even THINK of giving up their favorite fishing spot on the island (the bridge would be constructed there, and you bet they're going to put fences and stuff up to keep people from walking on the ROW up to that spot). And everyone here knows, that home-owning NIMBYs, combined with fisherman NIMBYs, combined with the people that just are too lazy to walk a few extra feet to walk on the side of 52nd street instead of where the tracks will be laid (we'll call them lazy pedestrian NIMBYs), combined with four-wheeling NIMBYs (this is a special class of NIMBY here in S. Jersey that likes to spend their time destroying carefully groomed ROW's with their four-wheelers and such, completely ignoring the issues of tresspassing, private property, etc) = pretty much no chance for the railroad.

Oh, and by the way, CMSL continues to deal with these four-wheeling NIMBYs all the time...it's a real issue down there...actually, wanna know a little interesting piece of information? Anyone here want to take a guess as to which group specifically petitioned for removal of the rail between 49th street and the Crook Horn Bridge a few years back (that wasn't that long ago)? That's right, the four-wheeling NIMBYs! Seems they didn't have enough room for their environmentally destructive machines on wheels...so they petitioned to have the tracks taken out in several spots on the island so they could have more room to ride. Before that, the tracks were pretty much entirely intact between the Crook Horn bridge and 34th street, not after the four-wheeling NIMBYs finished with it...how do I know this? Because I was there visiting my aunt at her house on 49th when they were removing some of the rail right there around 50th...no camera of course (dummy that I am, I left the thing at home, I've since learned better to NEVER go anywhere unprepared).

And that's all I've got for now folks, take care.

Mike DiMunno
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Postby hutton_switch » Thu Sep 23, 2004 7:37 am

Mike, just read your above post....I saw somewhere recently where someone said that no one writes railroad or train songs anymore....if there's one that definitely needs to be written today, it would have to be called "NIMBY" :-D ....and it would have the sound of the blues! :(
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Postby PARailWiz » Thu Sep 23, 2004 4:14 pm

Incidentally, one of those four wheel NIMBYs nearly ran me over when I walked along the ROW this summer. One last question: does anyone know if the tracks on the other side of the Crook Horn Creek are still intact to Tuckahoe? They appeared to be through my zoom lens, but of course I could only see right across the water.
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Postby SteelWheels21 » Thu Sep 23, 2004 6:14 pm

No, the tracks were pulled up from OC to the Power Plant switch around 98 or 99. I remember seeing them do it from the Garden State Parkway as I drove over the bridge.
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Postby PRSLTrainman » Thu Sep 23, 2004 9:21 pm

Mr. Weaver's comment about 70 mph running is referring to running at track speed on the Cape May branch between Winslow and Tuckahoe. After the track speed on the C&A (Main Line) between Winslow and Tide was dropped to 60mph in Sept. of 73, the long stretch between Winslow and Tuckahoe became the last and fastest race track left on the PRSL. Trains running "on the advertised" between Lindenwold and Tuckahoe covered the 43 miles in 45 min southbound, 43 minutes northbound. Mister Weaver's comments are an understatement --- 70 mph in a self-propelled RDC on a freight-weary right-of-way (from the coal trains to Beasley's Point) felt pretty close to flying. It for sure was "white-knuckle" experience for those who weren't used to it. Perhaps only exceeding by bouncing (literally) along in the hack on the rear of CM91-90 or WY33-34.

Regarding freight into Ocean City, it was most often run down there by CM91 as a "side-trip" beyond their advertised turnaround at Beasley's Point (which was always welcome since it incurred at least a 3 hour penalty in additional pay). CM390-391 (note - "CM" not "WY" (Woodbury)) usually confined itself to it's adverstised Cape May to Tuckahoe turnaround, with the occasional "side-trip" to Wildwood as you mentioned. CM390 signed up at 6:00am and worked the branch during the mid-day between the northbound lines in the morning and the southbound lines in the evening. The 6:00am sign up for an extra man (with the added 3 hours deadheading time calculated from the crew dispatcher's office in Camden) meant that the CM390 job was the first out in the morning, and the crew dispatcher (out of kindness) would often call you early to cover the job - even before midnight -- so you could get at least a couple of hours of sleep before you had to head out in the middle of night in time to arrive in Cape May by 6:00am. CM390 for an extra man was unique -- it was a two-day assignment, unlike any other at that time on the PRSL. You were expected to stay in the bunkhouse at Cape May on your "rest" time between the two days. Some extra guys did, but many (like me) traveled back and forth to home on the in-between evening.

One last note -- in my opinion, the mosquitos in the early morning out of Cape May across the marshes were the absolute worst than any other place on the PRSL -- Worse even than Tuckahoe, which made drilling around even during the height of day very unpleasant (and bloody!). [/quote]
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Postby JJMDiMunno » Fri Sep 24, 2004 12:30 am

SteelWheels21 wrote:No, the tracks were pulled up from OC to the Power Plant switch around 98 or 99. I remember seeing them do it from the Garden State Parkway as I drove over the bridge.


Yes, the tracks from around route 9 to the GSP overpass are gone. However, from somewhere around the GSP to the Crook Horn Bridge are largely intact...some small wooden trestles still exist between Crook Horn and the GSP over those smaller marshy waterways over there. ROW is pretty bad though, I've never seen it myself, you need a boat to do that...

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Postby JJMDiMunno » Fri Sep 24, 2004 12:36 am

PRSLTrainman wrote:CM390-391 (note - "CM" not "WY" (Woodbury)) usually confined itself to it's adverstised Cape May to Tuckahoe turnaround, with the occasional "side-trip" to Wildwood as you mentioned.


Oh OK...it was in fact CM and not WY? I never quite understood why it was listed as "WY-390", but it is in the timetable at least in the arranged freight service section...typo maybe? Also listed as the same in the PRSL in Color book...however I wasn't here to witness this in person and surely didn't work for the railroad, so I am probably wrong here...

One last note -- in my opinion, the mosquitos in the early morning out of Cape May across the marshes were the absolute worst than any other place on the PRSL -- Worse even than Tuckahoe, which made drilling around even during the height of day very unpleasant (and bloody!).
[/quote]

How's about those green-head flies? You guys have a problem with those down there? They're more of an afternoon deal though...all I know is that they make my life miserable when I attempt to walk an abandoned ROW (Ocean City, Wildwood, anything in Cape May) in the summertime, which is why I refuse to do that in the summertime anymore...

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etc

Postby Noel Weaver » Fri Sep 24, 2004 12:41 am

I am sorry, I did not make myself clear on the speeds enroute to Ocean
City.
Nevertheless, the ride between Winslow and Tuckahoe was an experience
not easily forgotten, I loved it.
I made this trip many times on summer weekends, always a pleasant
experience to ride. Sometimes would go to Cape May, walk the beach for
a little while and take a bus up to Ocean City to go back in the evening.
There were a couple of good seafood restaurants in both Cape May and
Ocean City too.
Incidentally, I have ridden Budd Cars in many places and run them in
various Metro-North locations and the ones on the old PRSL were second
to none in the US. They rode reasonably well and had lots of get up and
go. The AC seemed to always work too. Friendly people too!!
Happy days for sure, good memories.
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Re: etc

Postby JJMDiMunno » Fri Sep 24, 2004 1:00 am

Noel Weaver wrote:I am sorry, I did not make myself clear on the speeds enroute to Ocean
City.
Nevertheless, the ride between Winslow and Tuckahoe was an experience
not easily forgotten, I loved it.


Oh surely it was...I regret every day that I was not here to personally experience that. It is often said that it was one heck of an experience to blast along that stretch of rail, passing motorists on 557...

Also, I continue to say...they never should have officially abandoned service to Ocean City. It was not a wise decision...as I understand it, that car was always full...and seeing as they had just done pretty much a complete overhaul on the line about a year prior to the failure of the ring gear on the bridge, it seems even less logical...abandoning service to Cape May was OK due to the extremely low ridership and terrible track conditions at the time of abandonment, but the Ocean City Branch was pretty much the only segment of rail that was PERFECT at the time service was terminated...

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