• Never trains again - NS sold LVRR mainline

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in Pennsylvania
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in Pennsylvania

Moderator: bwparker1

  by carajul
Just got off the phone with NS real estate dept. They did, in fact, sell the LVRR mainline in PA in Carbon and Lehigh Counties that is now being used as the DL trail. It was sold to some state sponsored non-profit org, then ownership xfered to the munis the row passes through. So the LVRR main is gone and trains are gone forever too. To think CP wanted to buy the row in the mid-90s and rebuild the trackage and CR told them to piss off. Oh well.
  by CNJ Fan 4evr
Looking back now CR probably saved CP tons of money. They rarely run trains into Allentown anymore. I think there is one train each way on the Lehigh line now and only one NS road job(actually a local) and some small locals a few days a week.
  by lvrr325
Not sure where you've been but CP has agreed to sell everything below the Albany market, to NS.
  by rwk
Reason why the LV was abandoned is no direct route to Allentown Yard from the north. Trains at Bethlehem on the ex-LV can cross over on the connector bridge by the Hill to Hill bridge. But trains from the north need to switch to the ex-CNJ at Lehighton to be able to enter Allentown Yard. But some east west freights do bypass the yard on the ex-LV between Allentown and Bethlehem.
  by lvrr325
In fact the LV used it primarily as a bypass for through trains like the Apollos after they inherited the L&S side when CNJ pulled out, they closed up their smaller yards. CP might have been able to run it to avoid the yard for their Oak Island trains, but they'd have had to put a couple yard tracks in somewhere to set off any Allentown traffic which would then have to be brought over by a local of some sort.

Ultimately there's not enough traffic left on the LV to need two tracks. The NS takeover will change that even more.
  by carajul
When the LV inherited the CNJ, they shifted everything to the CNJ side as it was easier to get into A'town yard. They kept the LV side as a bypass and for the hi=speed Appolo piggyback trains as the track conditions were so bad on the CNJ side derailments were commonplace. In the early 1980s Stanley Crane became CEO of CR. The Regan administration was fed up with CR losses and gave them one last $300,000,000 loan and that was it. Crane began tearing out every inch of unprofitable, marginally profitable, or unprofitable track.

The LV main was a duplicate of the CNJ just a few feet across the river so in 1984 it was abandoned torn out.

Sad to see NS sold the land. The LV is now history (literally and figuratively).

I've also noticed a lot of the telegraph poles are being torn down along the LV row thru Lehigh gap. There are also rails and private sidings still in the woods along the row, even though the mainline is now a paved path.

The LV main from Atown north to Cementon by Whitehall Cement was NOT sold. The rail trail people wanted it but NS refused as Whitehall Cement may relay the tracks and use rail service again. So NS gave them an easement to use the land next to the row.
  by lvrr325
It is, or will be, possible to hike most of the former LV or CNJ lines that no longer have rails, from Wilkes-Barre to Allentown, which I suppose is a small plus.
  by one87th
In response to the last two posts concerning the LV right-of-way from Allentown north to Cementon, and the ability to hike/bike the right-of-way, I refer you to an article posted on today's (February 2) Morning Call website concerning the completed sale of said right-of-way and the proposal to turn it into a 2-lane highway and parallel hiking/biking trail:

http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-a ... story.html

To paraphrase the article, a developer associated with "The Waterfront" development in Allentown (site of the former Lehigh Structural Steel plant) proposes the development of a 3.25 mile two-lane road from Union Boulevard in Allentown north to Race Street in Whitehall township (current end of the RJ Corman-operated former Lehigh Valley main line).

The article also states that the parallel biking/hiking trail would run from Hamilton Street in Allentown to Pine Street in the West Catasauqua section of the township, and would eliminate the only gap in the 165-mile Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage trail that runs from Mountain Top south to Bristol. (Not sure how accurate that statement is….there is still a gap from Lehighton to Jim Thorpe, but I believe plans are being formulated to fill that gap).

In retrospect, since taking over the former LV mainline, RJ Corman has failed to develop any traffic north of the Lehigh Structural Steel plant following the closure of the Tarkett plant in Fullerton (with the exception of some one-time temporary pipeline offloading and storage). Now that the Structural Steel plant is being converted into offices/luxury apartments, all hopes of any track remaining seem lost.

As for relaying tracks and restoring service north to Whitehall Cement in Cementon, I believe there was some serious discussion back in the late 90s or early 2000s, but the Cement wouldn't commit to the guaranteed minimum number of cars to make the service profitable. And now that the railroad bridges are removed in Hokendauqua, I doubt that restoration is even remotely feasible. An often quoted figure is $1million for a new mile of railroad track construction. Even thought the right-of-way is there, the costs of engineering a new bridge (plus associated costs for archaeological surveys, legal fees, track construction, and fighting off NIMBYs) might negate any profits derived from such a venture. Not sure how much stone reserve is in the area, and how much longer the plant can continue to operate profitably. You can be sure Norfolk Southern would research that well and see if the investment would constitute a return on the investment, or if those funds would provide a better and quicker ROI in other infrastructure projects related to their main lines.

So get those photos of the existing track while you still can.

--Sic transit gloria mundi--
  by pumpers
As part of the local area news in what I think is the latest Railpace, they also talk more about the development of the Allentown waterfront and the end of the LV and maybe a pic or two. THere is one customer still (a cryogenics company I believe) but they will transload on another Corman track nearby (maybe the old passenger bypass where Corman has (or at least did) have a small yard.) JS