• Last NYC commuter train on the River Line (West Shore)

  • Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.
Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.

Moderator: Otto Vondrak

  by Jeff Smith
Unlike other forums, I like when old posts get resurrected here. There is so much information in the older threads...

I'd add another factor that may have played a role... the discontinuance of passenger service on the Put, and the removal of the tracks between Eastview and Mahopac. The Put was the NYC wide clearance route; with no passenger trains on the West Shore, the ROW there could be reduced to one track from two, and realigned to allow wider clearances. I imagine the reason they kept the West Shore active over the Put (when both lost passenger service about the same time) was the geography of the route, and the fact that east of the Hudson, they still had the Hudson and Harlem for freight, and shifting wide loads to WOH was easier given the remaining passenger service on those two lines.

I'm sure Mr. Weaver could add to this, if my reasoning is correct.
  by Noel Weaver
I think the passenger service on the West Shore served a bigger purpose than the passenger service on the Putnam Division did. Reason I say that is that it served a bigger population, more stations and it did not have two other lines so close by with more and better service. I think the New York Central back in the period in question (1958 or so) would have been willing to continue this operation had the State of New Jersey not been ripping it to them for property taxes for a long, long time. Perlman saw a way to even up the score by cutting the heart of the line and retaining only what they needed for their three or four round trips of through freight plus locals and the line was not heaped with local business especially on the east end (NYC timetable direction). The drastic increase in freight movements that occurred under Penn Central and Conrail ended any hope of restoring passenger service and that is still the case today, maybe even more so. Today I do not see any way that the states can force the raillroad (CSX) to accept any passenger trains on this most vital freight route. Unfortunately neither the states of New Jersey nor New York would act to keep the passenger trains running when they had the chance. So it is what is is, NOTHING.
Noel Weaver
Last edited by Noel Weaver on Tue Aug 22, 2017 12:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by West Norwood
Thoughts on the West Shore:

1. NYC wanted out of all passenger service system wide, inter-city and commuter. In post WWII U. S. it was simply staggeringly unprofitable. NJ did not help with their excessive property tax on the RR's. Remember up until the mid 1960's NJ had neither a sales tax nor an income tax. I guess elected officials preferred taxing RR's that couldn't vote rather people who could. I have also read state legislators from the urban parts of NJ (Hudson, Essex, Camden) would never permit a lowering of the railroad tax as their areas relied on the money it provided. NJ's Bd. of Public Utilities Commissioners held the whip hand until the passage of the transportation act of 1958. Until that law was passed passenger train regulation, even though it might be inter-state, was in the hands of state regulatory boards. By 1958 the Congress had begun to realize that forcing the RR's to provide such an unprofitable service would bankrupt them all.
2. Post WW II, before the Federal Govt. began the Inter-State Highway System (1956), states had begun building limited access high speed highways (NJ Turnpike, NYS Thruway & PA Turnpike) were all at least partially operational before 1956) And these highways along with the Inter-State later, cut into, I believe, the RR's short and medium haul freight service. Through WW II, although it was well know that passenger service was unprofitable, the ICC and others in authority deemed the existing freight revenues compensated the RR's for their passenger losses. When freight income began to decline too, due to loss of short & medium haul and less than car-load revenue, passenger losses became unsustainable.
3. I lived one town away from the West Shore and always had a love for it. From the mid 1950's through today my recollections of their freight trains were of long ones running frequently. I noted the removal of double tracking from Dumont north. I read later that once the Central determined they could operate their freight line along a one track ROW (at least partially, it was 2 tracks south of Dumont) they did so to reduce costs and re-aligned the tracks so wide loads could be accommodated and not have to be sent via "The Put". The Road
was mis-managed by PC, but the freight traffic always seemed long and frequent as I recall. Today CSX seems to be doing very well with it.
  by Otto Vondrak
Here's how it was explained to me. NYC wanted to discontinue the West Shore commuter trains, ICC (or PSC?) said no, too many riders would be displaced. When the petition was put forward to abandon the ferry service, there was no objection. No ferry, no commuter train riders. With no one riding the trains, NYC made a second petition to ICC and this time the discontinuance was granted. As soon as the trains were gone, "Talk" began of bringing them back.

Don't hold your breath.

  by Noel Weaver
Here is my idea on how the trains came off. The ferries crossed a state line so ICC was the governing factor and not the states. There were a couple of trains that ran only in New Jersey as far as Dumont or West Norwood. They extended these trains to West Haverstraw. After they extended all of the trains to run between Weehawken and West Haverstraw then everythint crossed state lines. The ferries came off several months before the trains did, I don't have the timetables with me at this computer but the last two passenger timetables that I have show everything running between Weehawken and West Haverstraw. I have the employee timetables as well and the trains that ran beyond West Haverstraw came off by timetable supplement and the trains that terminated short of West Haverstraw were extended a week or two after the supplement took effect. Once they accomplishee this move it was a matter of ICC decision and the states after zinging it to the railroad were finally on the short end of the stick. The New York Central had some really brilliant folks in their management ranks at that time. It was amazing the cuts that occurred in this territory once the passenger trains finally came off. The timetable had a lot less pages as well, I have most if not all of them through this period.
Noel Weaver
  by Jeff Smith
A very brief snippet of this articles mentions the end of West Shore commuter service; ironic considering the revival of this thread:

http://www.lohud.com/story/news/local/r ... 555395001/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
The Tappan Zee Bridge also sealed the region’s automobile-bound fate and spelled the demise of the ferry lines. The West Shore Rail Line stopped carrying passengers between Weehawken and Albany in 1959.
  by cr9617
This has been making it rounds, but if you haven't seen it the whole thing is a good watch. They talk about the West Shore around the 41 minute mark. Does anyone know what station the three men are sitting in front of?

American RailRoads: End Of The Line? - 1961 Educational Documentary

https://youtu.be/vau6VsjeyTM?t=48m41s" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
  by Backshophoss
Could have been a Putnam branch station,or an abandoned West Shore station,that had fire damage.