• Trenton Cutoff

  • Discussion relating to the NS operations. Official web site can be found here: NSCORP.COM.
Discussion relating to the NS operations. Official web site can be found here: NSCORP.COM.
  • 108 posts
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  by Jim in S.E. Pa.
Not sure about the 'namesake'.. But the area I'm referring to is along E. State St Extension between Whitehead Rd and Klockner Rd. I believe the area is called "Fairgrounds" and /or "Grounds for Sculpture".

  by 25Hz
Yea, I believe long ago that was NJ state fairgrounds. Grounds for sculpture was a race track, and home of the mercer automobile company. Mercer produced cars in 1913 that could go 90-100 mph and are still considered the first true race car.

I've seen the red unit cars east of station. I guess it's less liability since NJT owns where the train parking seems to have been moved to, and no real vandalism etc possible, and not parked next to the busy NEC.
  by sicguy84
Engineers have been blowing the whistle more than I can ever remember. Almost every train sounds it in the area near the Ft. Washington Interchange. Day, night; whenever. Construction in the area is long over so I'm thinking many deer on tracks?
  by NorthPennLimited
NS put up whistle boards where the Rock Quarry off Camp Hill Road crosses the tracks.

Wouldn't end well if a 50 mph train hit a loaded tri-axle dump truck loaded with stone. The crossing just has cross bucks with no flashers or gates. Probable why the crews are laying on the horn.
  by JimBoylan
About passenger service on the Trenton cutoff:
Before electrification of the Whitemarsh branch of the Chestnut Hill branch between Allan Lane and Fort Washington about 1925, some of the locals from Broad St. Station continued over the Trenton Cutoff to Fallsington.
  by pumpers
JimBoylan wrote:About passenger service on the Trenton cutoff:
Before electrification of the Whitemarsh branch of the Chestnut Hill branch between Allan Lane and Fort Washington about 1925, some of the locals from Broad St. Station continued over the Trenton Cutoff to Fallsington.
Looking at old topos at http://www.historicaerials.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;, that branch went out in the 1960's. One 1940s' map also calls it the Cresheim branch. The northern half of the R.o.W is became the Ft. Washington Expressway/Rte 309
Edit, dug some more and the branch was severed already in 1952 and died slow death in bits and pieces after that. THis link downloads a pdf with a lot of info: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q ... 3Zjo5RsxGw" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
  by twiningrdkid
I lived on Twining Rd near the intersection of Moreland Rd during the 60's and 70's. For most of that time where the Prudential Eastern office is now located, was just fields and wooded areas where we would explore as kids. There was a farming family that lived right on Moreland Rd. where one of the entrances to Prudential now exists. The name of the family was the Shockey family I believe. We used to play in their barn before Prudential bought the property in the 70's. Back then I remember seeing deer on a frequent basis. One time on a Sunday when the stores were closed in the 60's I remember a spooked deer crashed through the glass at what was then the A + P grocery store (now Super Fresh I believe). The deer wouldn't come back out and was crashing through the store causing all kinds of damage. Eventually as we were waiting outside as a large crowd gathered, the deer came crashing out another window in a giant leap that went over a police car and a group of people 10 ft deep. The deer was found dead minutes later down near the tracks just below the Moreland rd bridge (Black truss bridge two lane back then) that crossed the railroad.

The Pennsylvania Railroad that runs parallel to the PA turnpike in that area (Trenton Cutoff) was my playground growing up. We built elaborate tree forts near the tracks and spent a lot of time watching and waiting for the trains. Back then you didn't have to wait long as trains came and went from both directions. My Dad worked for a time with the Reading Railroad as a civil engineer and stressed the importance of the trains in our lives, so I grew up with a love for trains and have built many elaborate layouts (both HO and O gauge.

Most of the trains during that time were unit coal trains, tanker trains, or mixed freight (mostly box cars) that went by but every so often we'd see something unusual. I remember seeing the circus train a couple of times, a few military trains with various types of jeeps and equipment. Several times we saw an entire train of brand new postal service vehicles.

I also remember seeing once or twice old passengers cars being taken somewhere (probably out to pasture.) They were empty (no passengers) and I don't ever remember seeing a passenger train on that section of the Pennsy that had passengers but from what my Dad told me, there was brief passenger traffic on that section during World War II and at unusual moments when the mainline was having a major problem.

Most of the engines that I saw during this time period were GG1's and E44's. To this day, I still get a thrill thinking about all the GG1's that would come barreling around the bend with the big headlight that let us know we needed to get off the tracks and quick. During that time there were two tracks, not one like there is today. I believe the second track was taken out sometime in the 90's but don't quote me on that. I just can't remember the exact year since I would only go back to visit my parents at that point.

We also saw some other unusual things. Several times we saw wheel boxes that were on fire and one time a freight train disconnected somewhere in the middle of the train. Back then we also saw the wonderful cabooses the railroads ran. Today's railroads just don't seem complete without them.

I also remember as the railroads were in financial trouble in the late sixties that there were several engines that broke down in that stretch going towards Morrisville. In that direction the freight trains were usually loaded with freight and supplies going to the New York area. I also remember lots of Fruit Growers Express box cars of various types and colors. All of us had our favorite type of cars and would get a thrill when we would see one go by.

I have fond memories of that time and am currently in the process of designing the biggest HO layout I have ever built. It is going to be modeled after the Trenton Cutoff and main line. I'm trying to capture the Enola to Morrisville run with the Whitford Truss as a focal point. Looking forward to actually start building it with friends and family in the coming years ahead.
  by twiningrdkid
I grew up around the Trenton Cutoff (Intersection of Twining Rd and Moreland Road in the 60's and 70's) just across from what is now the Prudential mid-atlantic campus.
Back then it was fields, some woods, a some small farms. The Pennsylvania Railroad ran parallel to the Pennsylvania turnpike in that area (probably less than 50 yards apart. It had two rail lines (instead of one as it does now), both were electrified.

Traffic was moderate to heavy during those times and as a kid we spent lots of our time waiting for and watching the trains. Most of the time back then you didn't have to wait long for a train. To this day I will never forget the thrill of having the big headlight GG1 come barreling around the bend heading to Trenton / New York loaded with heavy freight most of the time.

The engines leading the trains were mostly GG1's and E44's. Every once in a blue moon we'd see a diesel but that was rare. Most of the trains that went by were unit coal, tanker trains, or mixed freight (box cars). For a time I remember seeing a lot of piggy back trailers on the flat bed cars.

Some of the unusual trains I saw moving through this area of the Trenton Cutoff were a circus train a couple of times, military trains with all sorts of equipment including tanks and jeeps, and several trains that were nothing but brand new U.S. Postal service delivery vehicles. In the 60's I remember seeing a lot of car carrier trains for a time. At first they had no protection from people who threw rocks at the trains, but this quickly changed to car carriers with protective sides.

I never saw any live passenger service on the Trenton Cutoff, but I did see on one or two occasions some passenger cars that did not have passengers in them. My Dad told me that the Trenton Cutoff did have some passenger traffic during World War II but mostly because their was a problem (derailment or other) on the mainline. Historically it does sound like there was some passenger service (late 1800's to early 1900's) when there was a station in the Ft. Washington area (Susquehanna and Limekiln Pike area).

I never saw any trains wrecks in that area, but did see on multiple occasions wheel boxes that were on fire or engines that broke down several times where a replacement engine had to come. I do remember one time where a freight train uncoupled somehow mid-train and had to stop to fix the problem. As we approached the Penn Central time frame around 1968 you could see the deterioration in how the Pennsy was being maintained. There were a lot more problems along the rails at this time due to less maintenance and upkeep. At the time I didn't realize just how difficult things had become for the railroads.

I also remember the Moreland Road black truss bridge (two lanes) that crossed the two lines of the Pennsylvania Railroad at that point. It was replaced by a modern steel and concrete structure (4 lanes) that is still there today. At what is now the eastern entrance to the Prudential business campus was a family farm house and barn just ten yards off Moreland Rd. The family that lived there (the Shockey family if I remember right). I remember playing in the barn with their kids. I think one of the boys names was Ed Shockey.

I have fond memories of the railroad in that area and am now building an HO layout modeled after the Trenton Cutoff in the 60's. So far I have had lots of fun in the preparation stage, buying the right rolling stock for that era, figuring out the actual layout and doing all the research. That research led me to this site. It's a shame there isn't more history about these things. Hanging out near the rails and watching the trains was a big part of my childhood. We built elaborate tree forts near the tracks on multiple occasions. We followed the tracks on major hikes in both directions.

I do remember there were quite a few deer in the area in the 60's that used the right of way of the railroad for their cover. On one occasion somewhere around 1964 I remember a deer had gotten spooked and jumped through one the big panes of glass at the A+P grocery store (now a Super Fresh I believe on the corner of Moreland Rd and Twining Rd. on a Sunday when it was closed. The deer was crashing through the store doing all sorts of damage. The police came along with quite a few spectators including myself. Everyone was standing outside the store when all of a sudden the deer came crashing out another big pane of glass clearing a police car and 10 feet deep of people. The deer ran down under the black truss bridge and died along the banks of the railroad.

Several times we saw evidence of deer that had been poached out of season near the rails in that area, but most of the deer were gone by the 70's.

Next to the GG1's, my next fondest memories of those times were the wonderful designs of the cabooses. The railroads just don't seem the same without them.

If time travel were ever possible, I'd love to go back and relive those times.
  by RDG467
I remember the open auto racks and the E44's. Can't recall ever seeing a GG1 in the 70s-that would've been interesting. I lived near Fitzwatertown and York Rds, just down the line from the twiningrdkid.

Oh, and the deer are back......you can see them many nights on the Prudential property....
  by buckyswider
Hi all! Trenton cutoff area resident here. My home overlooks a portion of the TC and I get to see the freight on a regular basis. Haven't seen a circus train for a number of years, though. That used to be pretty neat!

Anyhow, I wanted to advise of an upcoming outage on the line. The Flourtown Road bridge (Whitemarsh Township) is being replaced, which a scheduled start date of June 14, lasting until early August (that's road outage time; not sure if the rail outage times will be any shorter or longer- the rail is still active as of today, one week until road closure).

The bridge has been subject to many, many hits from overheight trucks over the recent years- probably one every month or two. With the increase in hits over the recent years, and anecdotal evidence from truck drivers, it's likely a GIS problem, as most drivers say their trucker's GPS told them that the route was OK for their truck. There's lots of signage (including three yellow 11'6" markers on each side of the bridge, road markings, etc.) to alert the drivers in advance, but apparently they really trust their GPS!

Lastly, does anyone know how many trains per day pass through this portion of the TC? At one point 10 or 15 years ago I was able to come up with "around 13", but I'm not sure if that's still accurate. It comes up from time to time as my fire company talks about potential emergency scenarios in our township...

  by RDG467
I suspect NS will build a shoo-fly and temporary bridge around the site and add a temporary speed restriction. It will slow down the trains, but avoid the need for a long detour to Morrisville.
Or, build the new bridge on falsework next to the existing one, build new abutments and then take the track OOS for a weekend and R&R the bridge.
  by buckyswider
Interesting. I just figured that the R&R would take six weeks and everything would be diverted. They haven't done any pre-work that would be indicative of a temporary structure nor of a permanent parallel structure. Well, that latter option would make things even more difficult for the entire project I guess, because the road has been lowered under the bridge as much as it can, and moving it even 20 feet would require the roadway to be re-dug there also unless they went REALLY high up, which would require and re-grading of the track even farther out than the 1 mile reported that they need to do to climb up and over the reported 2 foot raise.

I wonder if there's any opportunity to lessen the necessary increase in track height by decreasing the distance between the actual track and the bottom of the bridge?? Not really sure how much there is now, or if that is even possible.

I'll try to get down there and take some pictures of the work periodically and post them here....
  by RDG467
Bucky, do you have more details about the project? I checked PennDOT and NS' sites and only PD had a rudimentary amount of info.

The clearance is 11'9", from what I remember from Street View.
If NS goes up 2 feet, they'd only need 200 ft per side for a 1% grade, 400 ft for a 0.5 %. IDK what their target is for this Line, cause I think it's at least 1% coming up from the Septa tracks to Earnest.

It's a through girder bridge, which should allow the minimum distance from railhead to bottom of the stringer.

There's a siding just to the west of the bridge, for what that's worth, which could be extended either as a shoofly or continuing on the old WB Main while they took the current track OOS.

As for traffic, I believe there are still at least two pairs of CHI-MOR container/TOFC trains, a unit gon train from the port at Fairless, anthracite coal from the Reading & Northern for export fm Fairless, plus general freight to Morrisville.
  by buckyswider
Details are hard to come by. I don't think NS told our township very much at all, only that they will "remove and replace" the bridge and that the road will be close from 6/14 thru early August. Everything else I've heard is hearsay- including the "one mile slope" thing. And oddly, that may have come in a roundabout way from me- I remember sitting around a table at the firehouse and I googled a grade allowance, and came up with 1%, and my mental math was off by an order of magnitude. :oops: So I think I speculated 2,000 feet each direction. Then I saw it on social media as the "1 mile" thing. Who knows! I will try to do some digging tomorrow to see what I come up with. Yes, it's currently 11'9".

So if I'm talking about the line, is there a number (or range of numbers) I can use to say how many trains pass through? 5-7 per day, something like that???? I know it probably will vary, but I just would like to have a number for discussion purposes to shoot back when people say "that line doesn't get used anyway" in the context of emergency preparedness....

  by buckyswider
Not a whole lot to see day 1....

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