RVRR - Cranford Junction

Current Cranford Junction

Cranford Junction- Aldene topography map

Cranford Junction 1979 view N at Excee Tower Photo: Steven Lynch

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Sanborn map Cranford #5 SIRT 
Interchange 1929
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Sanborn map Cranford #15 RVRR Interchange 1929
2-SIRT-Station-SIRT Tracks CNJ Camelback and Train-SIRT-CNJ Interchange-Cranford Jct. - c. 1946.jpg (126269 bytes)
SIRT Station tracks CNJ Camelback and train at SIRT-CNJ Interchange-Cranford Jct. - c. 1946
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1. CNJ 0-8-0 #311 switching cars on SIRT tracks at SIRT- CNJ Interchange - Cranford Jct.  c. 1946
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RV #16 Cranford 11/01/71 Archive: Brian Woodruf
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2. RV #17 Cranford CNJ interchange c. 01/01/72 Archive: Brian Woodruf
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3. NYS&W SW9 #120 westbound passing Excee Tower (XC) 10/27/1988
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RVRR interchange Aldene Ramp (center track) Roselle Park 10/02/81 Photo: Donald Albertson
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4. RVRR interchange 03/05/06 view W Archive: Walter Anderson
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5. M&E C420 #19 Federated Plastics siding 11/11/07 Archive: Randy Kotuby
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6. Cranford Junction roundhouse area view W 2010
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7. Alden ramp at ex-LV bridge over ex-CNJ main - view N
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8. Aldene Connection 03/05/06 view E Archive:  Walter Anderson
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RVRR-LV interchange at Locust St. and W. Webster Ave., Roselle Park freight/passenger stations Sanborn Map - 1925

RVRR - Aldene RVRR-AldeneStationCranfordJunctionPostCard.jpg (67494 bytes)
Aldene Station at Roselle Park 06/23/1908 Post Card

RVRR-Aldene_1899_viewE_AlvahReed.jpg (31442 bytes)This view east at Aldene, taken by Alvah Reed, is dated 1899. It is on page 10 of my Volume 1 book. The track furthest to the right (in front of the station) is the NY&NO connection to the CNJ. The LV is seen up ahead crossing over the CNJ with the original 1890s truss bridge. This bridge was later replaced in the 1920s. At the far left can be seen the connector between the CNJ and LV, known as Central Junction. Before the LV extended to Newark, LV trains utilized this connection and CNJ trackage rights to reach connections to New York City. The LV then built it's line over the CNJ and to NYC in the early 1890s. Central Junction still remained as a downgraded interchange for several years. Central Junction was part of a long track that started on the LV near Centennial Ave. in Cranford. The track went down to grade level. There was a connection to the SIRT at Staten Island Junction. The track then crossed the SIRT via two diamonds, crossed W. 1st St. at grade, and continued to the CNJ, paralleling the CNJ for some distance before tying in just east of Gordon Street. After Central Junction closed, the track was stubbed and used as a siding to serve Watson Stillman.  Info: Richie King

Aldene zoom insert (by Steven Lynch) - E. Robinson Co. 1906 Fire Insurance Map Union County plate #15 Research: Dr. Boright; author  "Railroad that Build Kenilworth" Archive: Craig Kasmin

Photo view is from the Garden State Pkwy overpass. Exit #137 view E

The Aldene Plan ramp was graded and built for double track for future expansion as needed. It has not been implemented since the first operational opening day:  4/30/1967

The 4 track CNJ mainline to Communipaw, NJ ferry terminal has been totally razed c. after 8/6/1978 dead ahead. It is fully grown over at this time.

Federated Plastics siding is off to the right with a covered hopper on the siding.  This siding connects to the SIRT switch just south of Cranford Junction near the ex-XC tower (razed <prior 1/01/1976).

Center of photo, just right of the signal:  white poles/red tops. These are fiber optic cable lays along the ex-ROW.

Aldene Plan

The CNJ in the mid-1960s, which claimed it was losing a considerable sum of money on its ferry operation between Liberty Street, N.Y. and its Terminal in Jersey City, NJ, even with the State picking up some of the cost in the form of subsidy, was in a permanent downward spiral that would lead to the railroad's filing for bankruptcy early in 1967.

Desperate to cut costs, the CNJ turned to the state who created a "railroad transportation division" within the highway commission headed up by Dwight R. G. Palmer, who was placed in charge of preserving rail commuter services as a cheaper alternative to a new highway building program.

Palmer's office produced a report called "The Rail Transportation Problem" stating that the state should partiality subsidize service until more fundamental changes could be made.

One of these "fundamental changes" for eliminating the ferry service were studied, and in 1965 work was begun on the "Aldene Plan" whereby CNJ trains would be routed up the Lehigh Valley at Aldene, over to the former PRR at "Hunter," terminating at Newark's Penn Station, leaving passengers the option of taking a PRR train to Penn Station, N.Y. or the PATH Tubes, if their destination was downtown.

It would involve the building of a ramp to connect the CNJ and the Lehigh Valley Railroad at the site of the recently abandoned Aldene Station to reroute trains bound for Jersey City to follow the LV to the Pennsylvania Railroad mainline (now the Northeast Corridor) and on to Newark Penn Station where passengers could transfer to PRR trains into New York Penn Station. This would allow the CNJ to abandon its labor-intensive ferry service and much of its Communipaw Terminal in Jersey City, and all local trains operating east of Cranford, all totaling up to about $1.5 million in annual savings.

As a concession to a few hundred factory workers that worked in various areas along the line, a set of Budd Rail Diesel Cars would continue to operate between Cranford and Bayonne until the end of that service on August 6, 1978.

Opening day for the Aldene Plan was officially announced for Monday, May 1, 1967 but a full-service rehearsal occurred the day prior (a Sunday to avoid the commuter rush). The CNJ operated push-pull consists with a cab car leading eastbound. Today, operations are nearly identical. Passengers bound for New York must disembark at Newark and change either to a Northeast Corridor or North Jersey Coast Line train operated by New Jersey Transit to New York Penn Station or PATH trains to the World Trade Center. The change of train is necessary as the Raritan Valley Line has never been electrified, and only electric trains can operate into New York Penn Station.

Also affected by the change was the Reading Company's Crusader service from Philadelphia, which operated over the CNJ via trackage rights. After the Aldene Plan went into effect, it began to operate into Newark Penn Station, continuing until 1981 as a through service, and then as a connecting train from West Trenton through 1982. New Jersey Transit has explored reactivating this service as the West Trenton Line.

The Aldene Connection is single track, although it is graded to allow a second track to be added.

Considerable work had to be done before service began on May 1, 1967, mostly on the former Lehigh Valley, where a station had to be built at Roselle Park, along with the elimination of several grade crossings. (Chestnut Street and Locust Street for example) 

In addition, a connecting track had to be built at Aldene, connecting the CNJ with the L.V., and since the volume of trains was too large for the two-track Lehigh Valley, signaling improvements were made so trains could run either way on both tracks (rule 261-TCS). A gauntlet track was needed on #2 at Roselle Park, since wide shipments would be too close to the island platform. And last, but not least, a coach yard had to be built at Harrison, NJ (just east of Newark) to store equipment between trips. Since the CNJ/LV connection at Aldene was only a single track, it often became a bottleneck at rush hour, with east bounds sometimes waiting for westbounds before they could "go up the Hill." Two tracks were planned, but never installed, contributing to headaches for the operators at "EXCEE" and "NK" towers.

Former CNJ Bay Head trains ran over the PRR tracks from Newark to Perth Amboy, via Rahway and the PRR's Perth Amboy and Woodbridge branch.

So, with all the equipment in place, the Aldene Plan was operational on May 1, 1967, which was a Sunday. Trains operated on a weekday schedule, giving crews, towermen and some commuters a chance to give it a "dry run." 

cranfordjunctionCNJmap.jpg (220762 bytes)

CNJ Central Division - Main  Line map shows the single track Aldene cut-off from north side of CNJ 4 track main to LV.  The Aldene Plan also relocated the trailing point (westbound facing) Rahway Valley connection to the CNJ to a facing point switch. 



 Station Island Junction
                                                                                              B&O GP40 #4038  1979 view N Photo: Steven Lynch

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Sanborn map Cranford #16 LV - B&O (now SIRT) Interchange 1929
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SIRT Staten Island Jct 1918 (rev. 1980)
SIRT - SIR Staten Island Railway sirt620caboose.jpg (52068 bytes)
Click here for the SIRT- SIR Railway