David Hutchinson wrote:I lived about 75 feet off the Port Reading mainline in Metuchen, NJ. I was reviewing a log I kept for 1964 and noticed that in October of that year, a coal extra from Bridgeport to Port Reading had an Alco RS3, FP7 and a Trainmaster. It came through Metuchen at 3:30 AM, so I was not sure of the exact road numbers. I also have a Form D from PD Tower in Port Reading made out in 1962 for a 900 class FP7 in the lead on a westbound. I thought it might have been a business train, but the form was written around 8 AM, so it was most likely a freight. One of my favorite consists was on an eastbound B&O Unit train in 1963. It had 274A (F7), 490 (RS3), 803 (Trainmaster) and 5515 (GP30).
Prior to the mass use of Budd 'Rail Diesel Cars' that replaced all but one of the locomotive-hauled coach consists, sometimes there were obscure but intriguing operational quirks in how RDG ran their passenger trains.
Between the arrival of the first-generation passenger diesels and RDCs demoting them from that same service, photos show that when passenger diesel locomotives & their steam-heat generators were temporarily in short supply, the Reading was not always hesitant to use freight
diesels to pull coaches. When possible, this was typically only done in the hot months of summer, when steam heat was the very last
thing that was needed for passenger comfort.
Concerning Port Reading in 1962, Philly-New York intercity psgr. service had already contracted severely when compared to 1940s-50s levels. It's possible that by that time, one of the FP7As from the passenger fleet could (easily?) be spared for temporary freight duty. What's the month and date on that '62 Form D?
As for the October 1964 sighting of an FP7A helping to pull a freight consist through Metuchen, at first it sounds like the wrong time of year for the Reading to swap that kind of engine out of passenger service. However, by that rather late date in the game, the overall number of non-electric-MU passenger trains on the Reading lines was shrinking quickly. Somebody may have decided that one of the diesels used in passenger service could safely be spared for that unusual duty. In 1964 the Reading had bought four additional
Budd RDCs, and those reinforcements to the existing RDC fleet made several 900-series FP7As surplus to passenger requirements.
Alternatively, a few of the EMD cab units bought for freight service might
have still been on the roster. However, I am not presently able to confirm this. I do know that the EMD FTs were gone by that time, but am unsure about the freight F7s and F3s. If your sighting was at 330AM, and road numbers definitely were not visible, there is a chance that what you spotted that night may not have been one of the FP7As.
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