The Mystery of Trains 301 and 306

Discussion of the CNJ (aka the Jersey Central) and predecessors Elizabethtown and Somerville, and Somerville and Easton, for the period 1831 to its inclusion in ConRail in 1976. The historical society site is here: http://www.jcrhs.org/

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riffian
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The Mystery of Trains 301 and 306

Post by riffian » Thu Sep 05, 2019 1:54 pm

Being a lifelong studier of timetables, but not an avid fan of the CNJ, I have often wondered about these two trains and their purpose. Timetables of the 50s show these trains running in the wee hours of the morning between Jim Thorpe and Wilkes Barre. They were the only passenger trains in an otherwise island of freight only, since CNJ passenger service terminated at Allentown. Additionally they were not operated as a turn as they passed each other sometime around 3:00AM. They made no intermediate stops (White Haven, Penobscot, Ashley) nor did they connect at Jim Thorpe with another railroad which might have explained some kind of through mail service. They are not listed as mixed trains and their schedule of between 2 and 4:00AM would seem to preclude some kind of employee service. These were the only passenger trains on the Pennsylvania Division, but did not run through to the Division terminal at Scranton.

There must be some explanation for their operation.....does anybody know??

ExCon90
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Re: The Mystery of Trains 301 and 306

Post by ExCon90 » Fri Sep 06, 2019 2:15 pm

That was a very interesting train called the Interstate Express conveying a through sleeper between Philadelphia (Reading Terminal) and Syracuse (DL&W) via RDG, CNJ, and DL&W. The only car that went all the way through was the sleeper (presumably there was a slew of mail cars). The schedule shown in the May 1955 Official Guide (in both the RDG and DL&W schedules):

10.00 pm Lv Reading Terminal........... Ar .5.45 am The Pullman was placed for occupancy at 9.00 pm.
12.44 am ..... Jim Thorpe...................... 2.53 am
.2.50 am ..... Wilkes-Barre.................... 1.05 am
.5.12 am ..... Binghamton.....................10.55 pm
.8.40 am Ar ...Syracuse..................... Lv .8.20 pm

There was a through coach Philadelphia-Jim Thorpe, which is mentioned in the Reading's equipment listing, but the train does not appear in the CNJ listing at all. The train numbers show as 301 and 306 in the RDG schedule. No coach passengers were carried between Jim Thorpe and Binghamton.
The sleeper was an 8 Section-5 Single Bedroom heavyweight. From what I could make out in the SPV rail atlas (Northeast, 2007, which shows both present and abandoned lines), the route through the Wilkes-Barre area was via CNJ as far as Carbon, from where it crossed the river to join the DL&W at Minooka Jct., then hung a hard left at Taylor Yard and used a now-abandoned freight line which joined the DL&W main at Cayuga, between Scranton and Clarks Summit (I always wondered how they did that). The mail cars and lone Pullman continued to Binghamton (with what numbers I know not), where it arrived at 5.02, DL&W #15, The Owl, having arrived at 5.02 and dropped a Syracuse Pullman (a lightweight 10-6) from Hoboken. Both Pullmans, a Diner-Lounge, and coaches left Binghamton on DL&W #1915 at 6.15 (Pullman passengers for Binghamton could remain aboard until 6.00). The reverse arrangement took place eastbound in DL&W #1910 from Syracuse to Binghamton.

I've wondered for years how that train was routed.

Return to Reading Company Olney Sta
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Re: The Mystery of Trains 301 and 306

Post by Return to Reading Company Olney Sta » Sun Sep 08, 2019 2:47 pm

Some more info here in this thread on the Reading forum:

https://www.railroad.net/viewtopic.php? ... te#p954899

riffian
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Re: The Mystery of Trains 301 and 306

Post by riffian » Sun Sep 08, 2019 6:39 pm

Thanks gents - your response and the cited previous thread explain the operation pretty thoroughly. Most peculiar that you only could ride the train during the middle of the night between two isolated points. The previous thread explains the wherefore due to the train not operating through the stations at Allentown and Bethlehem. I went through my ETTs and I found a CNJ timetable (no 14) for the Pennsylvania Division dated October 25, 1959. Lots of special instructions for trains 301 and 306, including detailed info on the interchange between DL&W and CNJ.

"No. 301 operates via Main Line from "R" interlocking to "WK" interlocking performing stations work at East Allentown."

"No. 301 connection will be delivered to DL&W at new connection, Taylor. DL&W engine will back out and pick up cars from westward CNJ track under flag protection of CNJ crew"

"Nos. 301 and 306 will change crews at Penobscot station"

"No 301 will not carry passengers between Wilkes-Barre and Scranton."

Pretty much the same instructions reversed for No. 306:

Won't carry passengers between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre; change crews at Penobscot station; operates via Main Line from "WK" interlocking to "R" interlocking, station work at East Allentown.
"No. 306 from DL&W RR at Taylor will leave train on lead, CNJ crew will double to train and depart from lead track."

Timetable also noted that both trains operate via Allentown Terminal Railroad governed by Reading TT.

Odd that the public TTs of the period still show the Jim Thorpe-Wilkes-Barre service, but all other stations between are freight only, including Penobscot, even though the trains met there at 0245 and changed crews with 10 minute station stops for both trains. Still a very odd operation.

mmi16
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Re: The Mystery of Trains 301 and 306

Post by mmi16 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 8:51 am

riffian wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 6:39 pm
Odd that the public TTs of the period still show the Jim Thorpe-Wilkes-Barre service, but all other stations between are freight only, including Penobscot, even though the trains met there at 0245 and changed crews with 10 minute station stops for both trains. Still a very odd operation.
Not unusual at all that Crew Change stops are not shown as passenger stops in the public timetables.
Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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