@Sir Ray I went to go see how this operation runs a few weeks back and what I saw was not good at all. In fact, it was worse than I thought it would be. It’s kinda disappointing because I went in hoping that everything I had been hearing about this company being bad would be exaggerated.
Before I get started I would like to note that the amount of traffic on the Washington Secondary has steadily been decreasing since early 2020 and hasn’t gone back up. Same goes for cars to Lake Junction and especially the Totowa Industrial Track. I cannot explain why this is going on, especially when the amount of traffic into areas like Browns Yard are practically back to normal, if not slightly up from before the pandemic.
Now onto the main event, with a chase starting in Phillipsburg. (Videos and pictures of all that is mentioned below this at the bottom)
The Washington Secondary was in no better shape than the Freehold Industrial Track. Many of the tracks were uneven and despite this, the train cruised along at 20-25 mph the whole time. The train was swaying violently throughout the trip. Under the last few years of NS this was 10 MPH track, according to the 2015 Harrisburg Division timetable.
Like the Southern Secondary, several crossings were inoperable requiring the crew to stop and flag. At one crossing, a no trespassing was VERY close to the tracks. Signs were also bolted to trees in a few spots which was a little amusing lol. Other crossings had lights that only came maybe 10 or so seconds before the train crossed the road and that was concerning...
The engines, ex NS 5303 and 5304, were okay. They are at least better than most engines in Conrail North Jersey, but they made some odd noises and smoked a bit. I’ve definitely seen much worse, but there are other engines on C&D that are much worse than these two.
The relay cases at all the crossings I stopped at had cheap locks from Home Depot on them. Anyone who knows how to pick a lock would be able to pick those and help themselves to the signal rectifiers, batteries, relays, and copper wires inside. Wouldn’t be a good day for the signal maintainer.
One crossing next to Washington Yard was rebuilt cheaply, with asphalt that was already cracking despite being maybe 2 years old at most. The crossing was built with cheap equipment too from a mixture with what looked like the cheapest components of like 4 different companies. (WCH, Harmon, Progress Rail, General signals) That was kinda odd to see vs the all Safetran setup Conrail uses on crossing rebuilds.
Track work had been done recently but very few ties were installed. Which is odd because this area of track was considered excepted track under NS. Credit where it’s due, the new siding in the yard looked well made. That was probably the highest quality track I saw that day. Sadly I didn’t get a picture of it as they got back to the yard around 4 and I had to get home. Next time maybe I’ll chase to Rockport Yard.
Also the track directly leading up to Washington Yard was pretty rough. Quite a few spots where the joints in the track had dipped.
Sooooooo yeah. After seeing all that I can’t say I’m excited to see them on the Southern Secondary. I’m not gonna knock anyone for liking this company as that would just be rude, but the first impressions, in my opinion, is that this isn’t what I was hoping for and I’m not looking forward to seeing all this on the Southern in two years.