This information is courtesy of James Knecht, Copyright (c) 1998, all rights reserved.

Here is some information on the West Shore Line from Weehawken to Albany.

I lived in Bergenfield, NJ on the West Shore Division from 1941 (when I was born) until 1965.

I regularly spent time at Bergenfield passenger station until service was eliminated in 1959. The line was four track to Dumont, NJ until 1957.

The evening rush-hour service consisted to expresses to West Haverstraw, Newburgh and Kingston supplemented by locals to Dumont. The Dumont trains terminated in a passenger yard beyond the train station, complete with wye for turning engines. The five sets which were domiciled there were always powered by rare Baldwin RS-12's and had very old non air-conditioned coaches which were originally built of wood with steel underframes. They were rebuilt with steel bodies in 1928 and 1929 by ACF, retaining their six or four wheel trucks, as originally built. They were painted in "pacemaker green' with imitation gold lettering These cars had beautiful wooden interior walls, green plush pull-over seats and dim lighting from a decorative glass lamp fixture over the central aisle. The beyond Dumont trains were pulled by RS-3's, sometimes with a baggage or RPS or combination coach in the consist. These cars were air-conditioned and were part of the Central's large fleet of Spec. 700 coaches. Starting in 1953, these cars were repainted into the two tone gray paint scheme familiar on NYC passenger cars. The interior of these cars were very utilitarian compared to the older coaches.

Service levels on weekdays on the West Shore were as follows:

Sept. 1940: 32 northbound trains daily, 4 to Albany, 4 Newburgh, 1 Kingston.

April 1955: 21, 2, 2, 1.

Oct. 1957: 17,1,2,1.

April 1958: 17,1, 1, 1.

In October 1958, service was reduced to weekdays only and West Haverstraw as the the most northern destination. Service throughout the day was also eliminated with only 12 southbound in the morning and 12 northbound in the evening. The Dumont operation was eliminated in 1957.

The reduction in service in October permitted the NYC to remove the center two tracks from service, ending the four track operation begun in the 1920's. The rusty rails and weeds were an eyesore for quite a long time until finally removed.

Not being able to secure ICC agreement to eliminate all passenger service, the Central cleverly justified discontinuance of the ferry service between first Cortland Street in New York and then 42nd Street. This effectively eliminated the need for the trains as the passenger was dropped at the Hudson River with no really satisfactory means of reaching New York City. The Public Service Coordinated Transport bus at the Weehawken station was very slow and uncomfortable. Attempts began before he last train ran and continued after the last train to restore service by running the trains to Hoboken over the Erie Railroad and to Jersey City on the Pennsylvania Railroad or to Susquehanna Transfer, but to no avail. The end of 1959 was the end of passenger service on the West Shore.

An excellent video is available from Mark 1 Video called New York Central: "Along the Hudson" which covers West Shore passenger and freight trains, along with the ferry operation on the Hudson River, for about 20 minutes. The video costs $19.99 and can be obtained by calling 1-800-66-MARK 1. Several passenger trains are shown with Boston & Maine RDC's and Canadian Pacific streamlined coach on the rear. This is a very unusual sight but makes sense as the cars would be coming from the Budd Company plant destined to Albany for interchange.

Another historical aspect of the West Shore is its hosting of passenger and freight trains of the New York, Ontario and Western between Weehawken and Cornwall, NY. Passenger service ended in 1953 and freight in 1957, with the closure of this railroad. In its latter days, the daily O&W passenger train (1) was shown as making flag stops at any West Shore station between Ridgefield Park, NJ and Cornwall, NY. This was the route to the Catskills and operated in its prime with Camelbacks pulling wooden coaches, operated in multiple sections on weekends and holidays. The end of service consisted of an F3 pulling a heater car (ex steam tender), Baggage, RPO and coach open ended observation (formerly parlor observation). Freight service was tri-weekly to Weehawken to the end in 1957.

After West Shore passenger service ended, NYC freight trains consisted of Flexi-Van, TOFC, Multi-levels and general freight pulled by FA, F3, F7 and RS-3 combinations. In time, more modern power from Alco and GE began to replace these older models. Seeing a GP7 or GP9 was a rarity on the West Shore in the early days. Reduced volume on trains on the line following the end of passenger service saw the line reduced to single track, with new bi-directional signaling. The former northbound main became an extended siding from Ridgefield, NJ to Dumont, NJ. A far cry from the days of four mainline tracks.

Click here to view the proposal to restore passenger service on the West Shore line.

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