New Jersey Transit Rail Operations (Atlantic City Line)
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The Atlantic City Line (ACL)
The Atlantic City Line (ACL) is a rail line operated by New Jersey Transit (NJT) between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Atlantic City, New Jersey, operating along the corridor of the U.S. Route 30 in New Jersey|White Horse Pike. It runs over trackage that was controlled by both the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) and the Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines. It shares trackage with SEPTA and Amtrak on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) until it crosses the Delaware River on Conrail's Delair Bridge into New Jersey. The Atlantic City Line also shares the right-of-way (railroad) with..
There are 14 departures each day in each direction. Unlike all other NJT railway lines, the Atlantic City line does not have traditional rush hour service, and correspondingly, no "peak period" of additional fares during a weekday.
By the late 1960s, the surviving former Pennsylvania-Reading_Seashore_Lines Main_Line Ex Camden and Atlantic Main Line was reduced to a commuter service funded by the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDoT) running trains of Budd RDC railcars operating from a small terminal at the Lindenwold PATCO station. Conrail took over from the P-RSL in 1976, maintaining service between Lindenwold and Atlantic City, Ocean City and Cape May. By 1983, the federally-dependent railroad was ordered to cease operating its contracted commuter rail services. NJDoT used this as an opportunity to terminate the chronically under-performing South Jersey rail services.
The Gambler's Express
Almost immediately, there was talk of restoring the line to Atlantic City. Casino gambling had brought the aging resort back from the brink of financial collapse and local politicians were irritated that most railway transportation projects benefited the more populous northern portion of the state. A deal with Amtrak was worked out where the line, suffering from decades of deferred maintenance and, in places, outright abandonment, would be completely rebuilt for a new Amtrak service. Dubbed the "Gambler's Express," service connected Atlantic City with cities up and down the Northeast Corridor as well as a local commuter service run by NJT.
Amtrak 1989 Resurrection
The current Atlantic City line opened April 1, 1989, with Amtrak running from Philadelphia, Richmond, Virginia, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Springfield, Massachusetts and, for a brief period, the Philadelphia International Airport. The following September, NJT moved in, serving commuters between Atlantic City and Lindenwold. At Lindenwold, passengers had to transfer to PATCO. By 1994, Amtrak realized that their Atlantic City plan was poorly marketed, and high fares hurt potential ridership. As a result, it was announced that Amtrak would discontinue service effective April 1, 1995.
New Jersey Transit takes over
Initially, there were worries that NJT would also cease operations, as Amtrak had been helping maintain the track and NJT would be forced to buy its own fueling facility. However, NJT reluctantly opted to stay, as the line was the transit agency's only commuter line in South Jersey. For the time being, a target of a US $1 million subsidy reduction was set in March 1996.
NJT eventually extended service into Philadelphia (via Amtrak's 30th Street Station), and a new station facility was built in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Ridership increased, and NJT decided to maintain the line after declaring that the line's ridership had met the target set for it.
Another improvement that has since occurred was the starting of a shuttle service between the Atlantic City Rail Terminal and the city's casinos. Free Atlantic City Jitney Association:jitneys shuttle passengers to the shore and the various casinos.
"Regional Transportation & Economic Development Initiative"
On 12 May 2009, New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine and the Delaware River Port Authority, the agency which manages the PATCO Hi-Speed Line, announced plans to review ways to expand and enhance the Atlantic City Line, in which the DRPA would "examine opportunities to improve this system including the development of a Transfer Station at the PATCO Woodcrest Station allowing for more convenient transfers between PATCO, New Jersey Transit and convenient access from I-295" and "also identify track improvements to facilitate more frequent, reliable service and a better connection to the Atlantic City Airport Terminal." The study would be part of a comprehensive transportation plan for South Jersey that would include a new diesel light rail line bewteen Camden and Glassboro and express bus service along the NJ 42 and NJ 55 freeways.
The line, which was originally double-tracked in both directions, is currently a single-track operation, with short, 5000 foot passing sidings along its entire length. Meeting points for trains moving in opposite directions are pre-scheduled and can be located in the employee timetable. Trains also are scheduled to pass on the NEC just prior to Frankford Junction (SHORE interlocking) in order to minimize the number of times Atlantic City trains obstruct through trains on the busy corridor. The Atlantic City Rail Terminal incorporates a fueling facility and trains are fueled in between midday runs. All train maintenance and inspections must take place in NJT's facility in North Jersey. Both cars and locomotives involved with servicing are shuttled up and down Amtrak's Northeast Corridor on weekends.
As rebuilt by Amtrak, most of the line was equipped with cab signaling and built to Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Class 4 track standards allowing speeds up to 80mph. Around 10 miles of tangent track around Absecon was built to Class 5 standards, allowing speeds up to 90 mph. Several years after Amtrak ceased operation on the line, NJT downgraded this segment to Class 4 due to maintenance cost considerations. Until 1995, Amtrak's Section E dispatcher controlled the line from 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, but after the incorporation into the NJT system, the dispatching was shifted to Hoboken Terminal, and later the Meadowlands Maintenance Complex. The Atlantic City Line is now considered to be part of NJT's Newark Division.
Prior to the 1995 takeover, NJT trains terminating at Lindenwold would actually run to just east of the present day Cherry Hill Station where the nearest passing siding was located in order to clear the line for "Gambler's Express" trains and to allow the crew to change ends. After the terminal was moved to 30th Street Station, NJT commuter trains laid over at the south end of the station platforms to allow the diesel locomotives to exhaust into the open air (as opposed to under the confined space under 30th Street Station).
Regularly scheduled service on the Atlantic City Line consists mainly of rebuilt ex-Penn Central EMD GP40PH-2A and 2B diesel locomotives pushing or pulling primarily four-car Comet IV trains. When Amtrak had regular service on this line, power was provided by now-retired EMD F40PH locomotives, with 2 or 3 Amfleet cars and a Metroliner cab control car on the opposite end to provide push-pull operation. All trains run with the locomotive on the west end and the cab control car on the east end to facilitate boarding and reduce noise and exhaust issues at the Atlantic City Terminal.
From - NJT ETT #9 Effective 12:01 A.M. January 1, 2005
Originally, a type of Proof-of-payment fare collection was envisioned for the line to cut down on operating costs. Standard railway tickets were purchased from vending machines which then had to be validated prior to boarding. However, the system was never fully implemented and tickets were always collected normally on board by conductors.
The trains serve the following stations:
Cross-honoring of tickets on buses
Atlantic City Line train tickets are also honored on New Jersey Transit bus routes 551 and 554 lines for travel to and from railroad stations at all times. Customers using rail tickets to ride the 554 line must board and alight directly at or within one block of the Lindenwold, Hammonton, Egg Harbor City, or Absecon train stations, or at the Atlantic City Bus Terminal. Tickets for travel between Philadelphia and Atlantic City are honored on the 551 between the bus terminals in the two cities.
Atlantic City Express Service (ACES)
The Atlantic City Express Service (shortened to ACES) is a premium weekend service offered by Caesars Entertainment and the Borgata]], and operated by New Jersey Transit under contract, between New York City and Atlantic City, New Jersey, operating along the Northeast Corridor and Atlantic City Line.
In June 2006, the board of New Jersey Transit accepted a plan for an express service between Atlantic City, New Jersey and Pennsylvania Station (New York City) in Midtown Manhattan, for a three year trial initially slated to begin in 2007 (Pennsylvania Station (Newark NJ) was not initially intended as a stop, but it would be added during the planning stages)
The fleet is composed of eight multi-level passenger cars carrying both ACES and NJ Transit markings, with service funded by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and ACES LLC, a joint venture between Caesars Entertainment and Marina District Development, owner of the Borgata.
Tickets for the ACES service are priced on a Time-based pricing-dynamic pricing scale, with tickets varying between $29 and $49 for one-way coach travel, first class service available for a $25 upgrade from the coach fare, and lounge rental available for a $200 to $300 upgrade from the coach fare.
Tickets for this all-reserved service are purchased through Amtrak's website (as New Jersey Transit does not have reservation capabilities). New Jersey Transit tickets and passes are not accepted for travel on this route.
Trains pick up passengers at New York's Penn Station and Newark Penn Station, then run non-stop to/from the Atlantic City Rail Terminal in about two and one-half hours.
Trains depart New York pushed by an electric locomotive ABB_ALP-44 and led by a dormant diesel locomotive Ex Amtrak GE P40DC until Frankford Junction in north Philadelphia. At this junction in North Philadelphia, the train reverses direction and is pushed by the diesel locomotive along the Atlantic City Rail Line.
Northbound, the diesel locomotive pulls the train to Frankford Junction, and then pushed by the electric locomotive up the Northeast Corridor back to New York.