Ocean City Service

Discussion relating to the PRSL

Moderator: JJMDiMunno

glennk419
Posts: 3062
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2004 7:44 pm
Location: Southeastern PA & Cape May County, NJ

Post by glennk419 »

One last note -- in my opinion, the mosquitos in the early morning out of Cape May across the marshes were the absolute worst than any other place on the PRSL -- Worse even than Tuckahoe, which made drilling around even during the height of day very unpleasant (and bloody!).
How's about those green-head flies? You guys have a problem with those down there? They're more of an afternoon deal though...all I know is that they make my life miserable when I attempt to walk an abandoned ROW (Ocean City, Wildwood, anything in Cape May) in the summertime, which is why I refuse to do that in the summertime anymore...

I swear some of those bugs have TEETH! Maybe it's just that there aren't many tasty humans along those ROW's anymore. :(
Glenn

Noel Weaver
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Joined: Sat May 29, 2004 9:33 pm
Location: Pompano Beach, Florida

etc

Post by Noel Weaver »

I guess there were a fair number of commuters out of Ocean City but
on weekends, at least when I was riding those trains, there seemed to be
more passengers riding on the Cape May end of the operation. I think the
track to Cape May was just as good as to Ocean City at that time too.
The biggest problem was probably the overhead expense and the
un-willingness of anyone to spend the necessary money to up-grade the
lines and facilities. There were just too many drawbridges and towers,
too many signals and crossings to take care of for the amount of use of
these lines.
Having said that, these lines did serve a good purpose and the funds
should have been spent to upgrade them, they could have remoted the
towers and maybe the drawbridges too. More service especially off-peak,
evenings and weekends could have brough more passengers to the
trains too. Probably, they should have kept them running into 30th Street
Station in Philadelphia. A lot of people do not like two and three seat
rides when it can be avoided.
I still believe that NJT should be running trains to Cape May.
Noel Weaver

PARailWiz
Posts: 489
Joined: Sun Jun 27, 2004 9:59 pm
Location: Norristown, PA

Post by PARailWiz »

Some people here have planted gardens on the row while others have cleared the weeds out.
I finally scanned those pics I took...

http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~jkz22/oc1.jpg

http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~jkz22/oc2.jpg

JJMDiMunno
Posts: 739
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 2:55 am
Location: Hi Nella, NJ

Re: etc

Post by JJMDiMunno »

Noel Weaver wrote:Having said that, these lines did serve a good purpose and the funds
should have been spent to upgrade them, they could have remoted the
towers and maybe the drawbridges too. More service especially off-peak,
evenings and weekends could have brough more passengers to the
trains too. Probably, they should have kept them running into 30th Street
Station in Philadelphia. A lot of people do not like two and three seat
rides when it can be avoided.
I still believe that NJT should be running trains to Cape May.
Noel Weaver
Yeah, look at what happened to the rest of the system where towers once existed (BROWN, Woodbury, etc)...they're all remote controlled by the dispatcher in Mt. Laurel now (CTC), or under manual control. The drawbridges could have been controlled by a remote control device, like those that now replace the operator at Paulsboro and Bridgeport...the engineer in the cab uses a control box he holds to close or open the bridge as he approaches or after his back end clears. Even so, I feel that paying a bridge tender, if need be, is relatively insignificant compared to the money they COULD be making if service was still intact to those points today...

Mike DiMunno
~Mike DiMunno
CSAO Beesley Point Secondary - MP 8.69 (Magnolia, NJ)
Moderator: Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines :: Penn Central

Noel Weaver
Posts: 9630
Joined: Sat May 29, 2004 9:33 pm
Location: Pompano Beach, Florida

Bridges

Post by Noel Weaver »

No reason the drawbridge at Canal and maybe others in the area if there
are any could not be automated.
Here in Fort Lauderdale, Florida the Florida East Coast mainline crosses
the New River which has an awlful lot of boat traffic. The bridge is kept
open except when a train is coming and then the dispatcher in St.
Augustine can close the bridge from his board. There is a display on
each side of the bridge for approaching boats to see and when the
dispatcher has set up the proceedure for lowering the bridge, there is a
loud buzzer and a light display from either side of the bridge which displays by lights just how soon the bridge will go down. After the train
has crossed the bridge and cleared the signals, the dispatcher can hold
the bridge down for another train if need be or the bridge will go back to
its normal open position. This is a main line railroad with 12 or more
freight trains each way and the bridge is also on a double track portion of
the railroad. Nice spot for pictures there too.
I think all of the Florida East Coast drawbridges (there are several of them), are operated in this fashion. There are maintainers close by and
at least some of them have guards too.
I don't think either the train or boat traffic at Canal (Cape May) is anywhere near equal to what the train and boat traffic is here at Fort
Lauderdale or on the other FEC bridges either for that manner.
Noel Weaver

JJMDiMunno
Posts: 739
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 2:55 am
Location: Hi Nella, NJ

Re: Bridges

Post by JJMDiMunno »

Noel Weaver wrote:No reason the drawbridge at Canal and maybe others in the area if there
are any could not be automated.
I wonder, are the people down there as impatient with the bridge closings, as they are up here? Look...the CANAL operator closes the bridge for a period of about 3 minutes, every hour from 10AM to sometime around 5PM. Yet, at times when I've been either shooting at CANAL or riding the train, I've had the experience of witnessing angry boaters shouting various obsceneties and displaying various positions of the fingers on their hands (c'mon, you all know what that means) at either the bridge itself or the train crossing the bridge, due to their "inconvenience" for 3 minutes. Remember, this is a bridge that was left always in the open position for about 16 years...some of those boating NIMBYs still aren't over the fact that trains have returned to Cape May and the Canal. Train traffic does not have priority at this location as it does at some others, if there's a ship coming, the operator must let it go first before closing the bridge. The same goes for Delair, which is why this bridge is still not remote control (and probably never will be, although the operator receives a call when the ship is quite a long distance up or down the river).

That said, in a show of why an operator is necessary down there, a boat struck the bridge back in May on that Railfan Day that CMSL had down there at the shore...anyone that was on that excursion can back me on this. Had there been no bridge operator, any structural damage to the bridge may have gone un-noticed...while the bridge damage in this case was mostly electrical, other damage that puts into question it's structural integrity might have gone un-noticed. Actually, this isn't the first time some boat has struck that bridge...it happens about once a year, sometimes more often...and that's crazy, that kind of stuff dosen't happen that often anywhere else to my knowledge, and basically it boils down to a bunch of people that simply don't obey or aren't knowledgeable in the operation and rules of operation for boats...yeah, accidents can happen, but that often? Basically, most of them don't care...that's all. Therefore, no bridge operator on duty and that thing under RC, and chances are those boaters will just ignore the horn and announcement all-together...some dinwit will get stuck in there or something or try to squeeze through and hit something after the bridge closes...

Mike DiMunno
~Mike DiMunno
CSAO Beesley Point Secondary - MP 8.69 (Magnolia, NJ)
Moderator: Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines :: Penn Central

Noel Weaver
Posts: 9630
Joined: Sat May 29, 2004 9:33 pm
Location: Pompano Beach, Florida

Bridges

Post by Noel Weaver »

I can tell you there is a lot of boat traffic in the New River here of all kinds
but mostly passenger and pleasure boats.
There are detectors that will prevent the bridge from going down in the
event that there is a problem with any boat or if a boat goes into the
bridge area after the red light comes on. The New River Bridge here has
been remoted from the dispatcher's desk for many years and I do not
recall of it ever having a problem for either the railroad or boats.
The bridge over St. John's River in Jacksonville is also remoted from the
dispatcher's office and that is a huge bridge over a big channel with large
ships coming through and a lot of train traffic as well.
I am not saying that it will ever happen but it COULD be done.
Noel Weaver

PARailWiz
Posts: 489
Joined: Sun Jun 27, 2004 9:59 pm
Location: Norristown, PA

Post by PARailWiz »

I've had the experience of witnessing angry boaters shouting various obsceneties and displaying various positions of the fingers on their hands (c'mon, you all know what that means) at either the bridge itself or the train crossing the bridge, due to their "inconvenience" for 3 minutes.
You know, it's funny, they have no problem holding up traffic on the 9th street bridge so they can go through, so I don't see why they'd have a problem waiting a minute for a train to go through...

Vermonter

Post by Vermonter »

Riding the train to and from Ocean City around the mid to late 1960's for me has always been one of those highlights in life that I cannot, from that day til now, understand why enough sensible people didn't seem to exist to keep the service running. That there are and were some is evident by the forum contributors on this subject which I have really enjoyed reading. They are also evidenced in the success story of the CMSL.

As a youngster at the time I used to to write to the individual at the New Jersey Highway Department (was it a Mr. Thomas?) who was the designated recipient of all correspondence related to any PRSL service reduction, and/or concerning continuing subsidies. That was the subsidy avenue from the State. Though he wrote kind and understanding replies I'm not certain he was fully convinced of the railroad's necessity.

On the subject of getting the service back I agree that it seems next to impossible. Speaking of Ocean City adversity is it a coincidence that I personally have not so much as found a CMSL flyer / schedule at the Music Pier on the boardwalk? The only thing I believe that will change enough minds to lead towards its accomplishment it will be more and more massive traffic jams. When people begin to get discouraged in coming or become enraged, then there might be hope. When real estate or business starts to lag and wallets are affected. Does anyone care to guess when there might become a time when the existing 34th and 9th Street bridges will simply not handle it? Will there ever come a time when visitors to Ocean City without vehicles will be welcomed? I think that happened at the Grand Canyon a few years ago.

Let me tell you if there can be success at building another or greater highway bridge there could be success at restoring RR service. If they know how to watch for would-be terrorists then they should be adept at handling the sick NIMBYS. If they can't exercise public eminent domain then the country is in big trouble. I say this not to be abrasive but to encourage.

The PRSL railbed may not be dead. Personally I think that some very large billboards need to be erected in key locations to depict the abandoned bed along with the existing highway parking lot and make a deep impression on some influential people by asking the question "What is wrong with this picture?"

As far as I'm concerned there cannot be enough good said about the Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines. The subject of Ocean City underscores it.

PARailWiz
Posts: 489
Joined: Sun Jun 27, 2004 9:59 pm
Location: Norristown, PA

Post by PARailWiz »

You know, I was thinking about this the other day. It might be impossible to restart service using the old roadbed, due to NIMBYism, but wouldn't it be possible to reroute it around the new houses? Actually, even if you could there probably isn't anywhere for it to go.

But how's this for a dream: The trains come in most of the way along the old roadbed, and stop just beyound the end of pavement on 51st street. From there, people can transfer to the new trolley line (in shore fast line livery, perhaps) that runs along Central Ave, then cuts down to Wesley, and then Ocean as it heads north, taking people downtown, stopping in the gardens. That way people can not only take the train to the shore, but they can get around town as well without a car. Not too shabby, eh? Anyone got some extra money lying around?
The picture to the right is a photo of Silverliner I 246 located at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, PA.

glennk419
Posts: 3062
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2004 7:44 pm
Location: Southeastern PA & Cape May County, NJ

Post by glennk419 »

Vermonter wrote:
Let me tell you if there can be success at building another or greater highway bridge there could be success at restoring RR service. If they know how to watch for would-be terrorists then they should be adept at handling the sick NIMBYS. If they can't exercise public eminent domain then the country is in big trouble. I say this not to be abrasive but to encourage.

The PRSL railbed may not be dead. Personally I think that some very large billboards need to be erected in key locations to depict the abandoned bed along with the existing highway parking lot and make a deep impression on some influential people by asking the question "What is wrong with this picture?"

As far as I'm concerned there cannot be enough good said about the Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines. The subject of Ocean City underscores it.
Thanks for resurrecting this thread.

Not to take it too far O/T, plans are well along to replace the 9th Street drawbridges with elevated structures similar to that which replaced the OC/Longport draw. That, coupled with the fact that Somers Point loves the cash cow speeding ticket revenue from vacationers traveling through their town and the anti-rail sentiment of OC itself, active rails in town will be left to the kiddie ride at Wonderland Pier.
Glenn

Vermonter

Post by Vermonter »

Glen I think your assessment is correct at least for the immediate future. If they are working on a replacement of the 9th St Bridge they are no doubt catering to both the boat and auto markets. It'll be awhile yet before they're interested in revived RR service. Purse strings will have to be threatened before anything happens. Never mind that the RR made OC what it is and had such an illustrious part of the past. Talk about being snobbish. However the PARailWiz has an idea that just makes too much sense. To reduce the amount of auto congestion has not even entered the minds of those whom you'd think would be planning OC's future. But we shouldn't allow ourselves to get too bogged down in such depression. Perhaps a positive presentation to the right person at the right time will set the right wheels in motion.

As I mentioned on my last post there have been a lot of things brought up for discussion in this thread that stir my insides for sure. Wow do I love going back to the sixties. Unfortunately in the fifties I was too young and didn't even have the interest or knowledge back then. But in the 60's I used up two or three 24-trip 3 month tickets between Haddonfield and Ocean City which cost $25.15 back then by the way. What a bargain, even then when it was $.42 for a one-way from either Haddonfield or Haddon Heights to Camden. During this period of time before the PATCO project began Haddonfield station was tremendous and do I mean tremendous. Now anyone remembering the 50's would call me crazy but all I had to really work with was the 60's. It was great to observe even the relatively limited movements through Haddonfield.

One thing that I didn't think was brought up yet in this thread was the fact that before PATCO construction, and during the summer season timetable there was one daily (7 days/week) southbound movement from Philadelphia to OC/W/CM (Train # 1057) which went through Haddonfield at approx. 10:15 AM. This was in addition to two movements originating from Camden during the commuting hours. On Saturdays and Sundays out of Philadelphia there were was one additional southbound to the same destinations originating from Phila. At least as of the summer of 1965, referring to my "Form 3", train # 1059 ran about 3 hours later than #1057. Before any of these though was Train # 311 out of Camden for the 3 resorts, this passing through Haddonfield at about 9:15 AM. Sundays southbound by 1965 saw only 2 trains, both these summer-only trips out of Philadelphia. One was the summer daily #1057 and in addition was an earlier movement by about one hour, #1053. In prior years or at least through summer 1963 on Sunday there was a late evening run to the 3 resorts out of Camden, leaving around 10 PM, which was returning equipment to the shore for Monday AM. By 1965 this was accomplished I believe by a deadhead move. Northbound runs besides the 2 Mon-Fri commuter trips to Camden consisted of one dailly except Sunday run to Philadelphia (#1060) which seemed to leave consistently out of 10th St Ocean City at 8:23 PM (Haddonfield 9:45 PM). Also running north on summer Saturdays was one of the Mon-Fri commuter hour runs to Camden. Later on Saturday was a mid-afternoon trip to Phila. Sundays also saw 3 northbound summer trips. One to Philadelphia in the mid-afternoon, another in the early evening and finally not more than one hour after the second Philadelphia departure there was a run to Camden, the last northbound trip of the day.

Now what was interesting during this period of time, and I guess that I'm using the long route to get there because I enjoy thinking about it all so much, was that the equipment covering the trains to and from Philadelphia were the old P-70 type coaches hauled by the Baldwin (I believe) PRSL locomotives. RDC's were only used for trips into and out of Camden during this period of time. I believe there may have been concerns about catenary clearance of the RDC's in Philadelphia. These provided a very interesting contrast to the RDC's and I really enjoyed this. The RDC's always were characterized by the soothing purr of the engines and the slow rocking back and forth of the cars especially on curves. The lighting mix caused by a combination of both the small overhead fluorescents and the under baggage-rack incandescents made for an unusually mellow-type tone. There was always a unique smell (pleasant to me) when entering an RDC.

The old P-70 coaches gave you a lot more track noise to listen to. Even though the equipment used by this time had their windows sealed for a/c,
yet an abundant amount of track noise seeped in. It was great. Whoa did I love listening to that at speed. There was one section of track which I could remember on the Delair branch, probably around Pennsauken where the joints were closer together. That was fascination plus and put the chills in my spine. The horn of the diesel was to me a very mournful call which seemed to be calling out for all the riders that had forsaken it to come back. As these P-70 runs were all non-commuter hour trains, many of them had loads of empty seats. The mourning inside of me was echoed loudly by the diesel's mournful cry. Apparently people weren't listening.

But another fascinating thing was at Tuckahoe. Many times I rode #1060 out of Ocean City. At Tuckahoe everything was dark at least later in the summer. Arriving there the engine quickly uncoupled. The lights in the car were energized by a battery in the coach and it was apparently charged by rail movement. You could hear the engine departing after bringing us up from OC and it seemed to leave entirely. Left behind, in a dimly lit coach everything was deathly quiet. After maybe 5 minutes at least of this, all of a sudden, piercing the darkness of the night from the left-hand side you could hear the sound of a horn and then a penetrating beam racing in to the station usually with at least 2 lit coaches soon to brake, slowly backing to pick us up. Ere long we were on our way, racing alongside 557 easily passing the traffic, pressing for Winslow, Haddonfield, Philadelphia.

These are memories that do not erase and I'm sure there are some readers in this forum who will say "Amen". We all mourn though. Some of us because unless CMSL can somehow allow us to revisit it in some way it's all in the past. Other mourn I know because they never experienced it themselves. PRSL must have been a unique railroad. I can understand why Tony Macrie has worked so hard to do what he has. It gets in the blood.

glennk419
Posts: 3062
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2004 7:44 pm
Location: Southeastern PA & Cape May County, NJ

Post by glennk419 »

Bill, you should be a writer!

Although I never had the opportunity to ride the train into OC, and my memories of train service on the island are pretty much limited to being awakened by the RDC's horns early in the morning when I vacationed there as a teenager, I could visualize everything you described. I also used to go out to the bridge to see the trains come in at night, at the risk of being chased off by the bridge tender who was pretty grumpy IIRC. I guess if I had to fight off greenheads and mosquitoes every day at work, I'd have a similar demeanor.

I just bought a house in OC this past year, a long time dream, and would be absolutely delighted to see rail service return to OC. A very good friend of mine has a home on the bay side of West Ave. with the few remaining tracks in his "backyard", you wouldn't believe the number of times I've sat on his back deck looking at the tracks and dreamed of what once was. You are very right about the CMSL, I ride it at every opportunity I have and plan my trips to the Home Depot near Rio Grande so I can see the train. I also visit Tuckahoe regularly and am delighted to see the infrastructure being rebuilt there.

BTW, PA's suggestion of a trolley line has already been "somewhat" fulfilled as the "Electric City Trolley", albeit on rubber tires, runs up and down the island along Central Avenue during the summer season. It is pretty well patronized and has already saved me a ton of trips from the "40's" to the boardwalk.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Maybe, just maybe, one of these days.....
Glenn

PARailWiz
Posts: 489
Joined: Sun Jun 27, 2004 9:59 pm
Location: Norristown, PA

Post by PARailWiz »

BTW, PA's suggestion of a trolley line has already been "somewhat" fulfilled as the "Electric City Trolley", albeit on rubber tires, runs up and down the island along Central Avenue during the summer season. It is pretty well patronized and has already saved me a ton of trips from the "40's" to the boardwalk.
Yeah, but i'd rather have the real trolley. I'll say this though, it inspired my plan. I think trolleys would get a lot more business, as they'd be a lot more visible and run more frequently, as well as have that novelty charm.
Bill, you should be a writer!
I felt like I was there, and I never even saw any of this stuff until years after service ended!
The picture to the right is a photo of Silverliner I 246 located at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, PA.

Vermonter

Post by Vermonter »

Thank You to both Glenn and PA for your kind compliments. It's really the PRSL that made the material though. I know that back while experiencing these rides I was wishing that they could also be taken in by others of like appreciation. The next best thing is to at least tell others who like to hear. That these things happened 40 years ago is what knocks my socks off. Maybe this will inspire some others out there to tell of their OC riding adventures. Most of my PRSL mileage was actually between OC and Haddonfield. Other than that the remainder was mostly between Haddonfield and either Camden or Philadelphia, or between Haddon Heights and Camden. No more than a half-dozen Atlantic City trips. Once to Wildwood. I lived in Haddon Heights until about 1967 or 68. By the way I should have mentioned that the one-way fare then between Haddonfield and OC was $2.84. Between Camden and OC was $3.05. So the 24 trip 3 month ticket was a real bargain (last night's submission). For those not familiar with this there was space for 23 punches. They would lift the ticket on the 24th ride. No I would never take the 24th ride so I could keep the ticket!

Another item brought up this thread was the subject of speed limits on the branch. I had not heard what they were until reading it here so it was instructive. I do know though that in Ocean City itself they built up quite a bit of speed between 51st and 34th Streets. At the time I actually would have guessed it at least 50. From 34th to 14th they definately ran slower; here my guess was no more than 35. From 14th to 10th was an understandable crawl.

I did have a Crook Horn experience that I'll tell you about another time. The trolley thing sounds great. Actually I have seen it now that I think about it. It certainly would be much nicer if a real one, and nicer yet if it could be used as a feeder from a revised PRSL that no doubt could not do anything more now than simply enter upon OC turf. That was an excellent proposal from PA.

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