Todd's Railfan Guide to
In General
How to get here
At Penn Station
The Light Rail System in General
Station by Station - the original line
Station by Station - the Broad Street line

Floobydust - Smashboard!

Amtrak Info


In General

Newark is a great spot to do railfanning from, for one, it's on the Northeast Corridor.  Add PATH trains and the Newark Subway to this, and it's hard to beat such a small area for so much activity.  I know this is a terrible excuse for a guide to Newark, but I had some pictures to share and didn't have any place else to put them.

Newark is very close to so many other railfan spots such as Hoboken and New York City that once you come, you won't want to leave.

As far as signals go, this is Amtrak PCL territory on the NEC - Northeast Corridor.  Color lights prevail on the other tracks in the area.  There is one or two smashboards still remaining on the PATH tracks, get pictures of them while you can, as they are more scarce than semaphores.  New Jersey Transit uses mostly color light signals. 

I would like to give a BIG thanks to Rich W. for contributing the detailed information and many of the pictures presented here, as he spent many hours composing and typing emails to me!  This page would be nothing without his contributions!

The biggest difficulty with railfanning the Northeast, and Newark is no exception, is that so much has been built up around the railroads that it is often hard to find decent photo locations that offer the railfan a great shot compared to the rest of the U.S.A.  This is especially true the closer you get to both NYC and Boston, and it is made even more difficult by the fact that most property owners don't care for you coming around, even when asking.  And this was 30 years before 9/11 happened!  To illustrate the point, many years ago somewhere in southern Connecticut while on a quest to get pictures on the New Haven before they replaced the triangular catenary wire, I pulled off the road, and ducked between some bushes to grab a few shots.  A guy that lived several hundred feet down the road came out to ask what I was doing, and even after telling him, he gave me a bunch of "stuff".... A year or so later, I came by with a friend, and there were now rocks along that spot and signs posted saying no parking.  No doubt in my mind that that thar fellow had something to do with it :-(

On National Train Day for 2012, I took a day trip to the Big Apple (New York City), and wound up taking the PATH to Newark to catch my ride back to Baltimore.  It was a fast paced 15 hour day of train and transit chasing.  Didn't get to do everything I wanted, but, there's always tomorrow, maybe.

Aerial shots come from www.bing.com/maps and pictures "taken" by Snagit .

Please note, because I use a lot of "full size" photos (instead of thumbnails) down in the Light Rail section, this page will probably load slowly.

Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given! Contact info is here

Getting Here

In this day and age of GPS's and GPS enabled cellphones, there's not really a whole lot of need for directions, but I'll quickly go over the roads leading to Newark.  Newark, because of it's proximity to New York City, has a multitude of ways to get here.

From the coastal areas north and south of Newark, it's I-95.

From the direct west, I-78 brings you over from Allentown and Harrisburg, once it leaves I-81 about 20 miles east of Harrisburg.  I-81 would also be the feeder from areas such as western Virginia, Tennessee, etc.

From upstate New York, like Binghamton, I would probably take I-81 south to Scranton and then pick up I-380 till it hits I-80.... head east till you get to I-280 which will take you right into Newark.  NY17, once it gets completed as an interstate may provide an alternative, as a friend of mine takes it to go to Kennedy Airport.

From the Albany area, it's the New York State Thruway to the Garden State Parkway, which brings you pretty darn close to Newark.


The above map in PDF format is here

The above map gives you an idea of how close Newark is to New York City,
and some of the things you may want to know about if you have never been here before!


     1          Penn Station, for Amtrak and PATH Trains

The black/brown building in the upper right corner is the New Jersey Transit headquarters building.  The street in front of it, labeled by Bing as Penn Plaza E is actually Raymond Blvd.  Rich also tells me that this used to be the Morris Canal.... thanks for the info!

All of the platform shots below were around 8:30-9:20pm on May 12th, 2012
            Before and during train 167 coming in....

         Roof of the NEC platform, they don't make em this way any more!

         NEC platform shots

                Shots from the PATH platform

                Shots from the PATH platform

    At 33rd Street in Manhattan

  Adjacent to the station is this interesting use of an old railroad overpass to extend a parking lot!  The bridge is part of what used to be the CNJ Newark and New York branch.

     2          Crossing the Passaic River by Penn Station

Three lift bridges on the northern approach to the Newark station, and a swing bridge a little north of here.  The three bridges are collectively known as DOCK.  Amtrak still has a manned interlocking tower here.  Approximate train volumes per 24 hours are: 110 on Amtrak, 260 on NJT, and 290 on PATH.


  A great shot by Rich W., who has this as his office view.... dunno 'bout you, but I'm jealous (I don't even have windows in my lab :-(

  Flyover on the northern approach to the Passaic bridge and Penn Station.

  <= 6984       <= 7508

For the two photos above, Rick adds:  6984 is a shot of “Dock” bridge taken from the Newark side of the river in the afternoon.  Taken from the side of a public street (City Dock Street).  You can shoot here in the later afternoon with broadside sun for westbound Amtrak & NJT trains.  Put a check mark there – it’s in the big open area between McCarter Highway (state route 21) and Raymond Boulevard.

7508 is a photo of the “Newark” Draw on the NJT Morristown Line. The train is an eastbound Gladstone-Hoboken train with Arrow III MU equipment. I took this photo from the sidewalk of the nearby Bridge Street bridge.  This location works for morning and mid day shots.  There is a Hess Gas Station/Convenience store immediately east of the bridge which makes this site convenient.  The large building on the right is a relatively new Hampton Inn hotel which overlooks the bridge.

     2a          Crossing the Passaic River, upstream

  The swing bridge a little further "up" the river, this is the ex DL&W Newark Draw.  Approximately 220 trains a day go over this bridge.  Also seen in the photo is the Stickel drawbridge on I-280, one of the few on an interstate (Maybe 10? - Baltimore has one in Curtiss Bay on the Beltway, I-695)

  Another great photo from Rich.

     3          the Harrison PATH Station

Just on the other side of the Passaic River and the PATH shops is the Harrison Station.  The full size photo is a conglomeration of tracks just south of the station... only in the northeast do you generally see stuff like this.  The small picture to the right is an aerial shot of an NJT train coming into the Harrison station.


The above photo, "Snagged" from Harrison, shows a few interesting details of the tracks approaching Newark's Penn station from the north side...... 

1) Amtrak's North East Corridor passes over NJT's Morristown line on what is known as the "sawtooth" bridge....

2) Closest to the river are the PATH tracks, easily identified by the shiny 3rd rail cover....

3) Then we have the Conrail Center Street Branch freight track in "front" of the retaining wall....

4) Going over the Conrail line and one of the PATH tracks using the red girder bridge is the fairly new NJT Waterfront connection....

5) Connecting tracks built about 15 years ago to create what is known as the "Midtown Direct" allowing the Morristown Line access to the NEC and go into Penn Station in NYC.

6) The NJT Morristown Line.

The New Jersey Turnpike is the highway in the lower right hand corner. 

     4          the PATH Shops

The shops sit a little east of the Harrison Station.


     6          NJT Newark - Broad St Station

This station is conveniently located adjacent to the extended Newark City Subway light rail line, due to the system designers diligence.  The photo shows the new island platform.  The station had been 3 tracks with 2 side platforms.  The old westbound waiting room was demolished, and track 3 was moved northward to make room for the new high level platform.  The thumbnail to the right is an aerial shot of a train leaving the Broad St station, engine pushing.


     7          Bascule Bridge, the NX Draw

Nice example of this type of bridge, obviously not used any more.  The last commuter train to ramble over this branch was in October of 1966, and the last time a freight went over this bridge was in December of 1977.  A day shift operator was assigned to the bridge Monday through Friday... after the last train came through, he was given another assignment, and the bridge has been open ever since.  The bridge sat intact through the winter, but once warm weather set in, and kids found out that trains weren't using it and an attendant was no longer on duty, vandalism set in.  The bridge is a double track bridge, but the bridge and branch were single tracked in the early 60's.  The branch itself was always single track west of the 4th St station in Newark.  In 1982, the bridge was used in a scene of the movie Annie (more info at  http://www.hingepepper.com/anniemovie.htm ).  (Thanks to Rich's friend Ken for this info!)   The line east of the bridge has been out of service since 2002.  On the west side of the bridge, the last customer using rail service recently closed, and as of this writing (June 2011), the track has not been used for several months.  The track is the former Erie RR's Newark Branch.

     8          A Couple of RR Bridges

Once a two track right-of-way and bridge, what remains is very unused. 

     9          A Couple more RR Bridges

Once a two track line, this trackage was once the Erie-Lackawanna's Harrison-Kingsland Branch.  Most of the branch is unused except for a small portion at the south end.


     5          NJT's Newark Light Rail Line

Train at the Broad St station.  Photo by L. Henry, from
The station is a former DL&W depot.  The Morristown line is the elevated track behind the station.

  Another photo at Broad St by Adam E. Moreira from Wikipedia.

As many of you may know, I am particularly partial to transit, especially light rail lines, because I used to work for the Baltimore system 1995-1998... but my love for the stuff started as a kid cause my grandparents lived in the Queens sections of New York City, at the "junction" of the IRT #7 line at the 69th St station, and the IND E and F lines at 65th Place (they actually "crossed" each other one stop up at 74th Street - the IND is a subway, and the IRT is an EL out here).

With that said, I continue my focus on transit with coverage of the Newark system....

The Newark Light Rail Line began life in 1935 as the Newark Subway, operated by the Public Service Corporation as its #7 line.  It last operated with 30 PCC cars bought from the Twin Cities Rapid Transit Co (Minneapolis and St Paul MN) in the 1950's.  The PCC's lasted till August 24th, 2001... Three days later on August 27th, the line reopened using LRV's.  :-(  New Jersey Transit took over the operation in 1980.  The original line was aka the #7 - City Subway Line.  The line was 5.3mi long (8.5km) and ended at Franklin Ave in Newark.  Over the years, a number of streetcar lines used the Newark Subway line as an access Penn Station.

The line was extended in 2002 (June 22nd), with the opening of stations at Grove Street and Silver Lake.  The Heller Parkway and Franklin Ave stations were combined into a new station at Branch Brook Park.  The new maintenance facility is located adjacent to the end of the line at Grove St.

A completely new extension to Broad Street was opened July 17th, 2006 .  At this time, NJT also renamed the name of the system to the Newark Light Rail.  The new line adds about a mile (1.6km) of track to light rail service in Newark.  Train volume is about 160 trains a day between the Penn and Broad Street stations.

The new LRV's are manufactured by Kinki Sharyo.  The cars are two-segment cars with an articulated section in the middle as commonly found on most light rail systems in America, with the articulated section being able to seat 10 passengers unlike the Baltimore cars.

The one way fare is $1.50, set up as a single zone fare.  Tickets need to be purchased AND validated before getting on the train.  A special fare of 70 cents is available for passage between Penn Station and Warren.  NJT police do not normally ride the  trains, but may show up at any time to inspect tickets.  A fine of 74 bucks is waiting for those that don't have a valid ticket.  Valid tickets are ONLY good for 60 minutes!  A monthly pass can be had for $54.  A one-zone ticket with a transfer is $2.20.  There are no daily passes offered for unlimited rides.

Service was originally between 05:00 and 23:00, but on January 8th, 2005, NJT started late night service.  This may give you a chance for NS/LRV photo ops if you can stay up that late and are in the right place at the right time.  When I worked for the light rail system here in Baltimore, that happened on many occasions as we ran test trains up to Timonium and had to pass the NS freights, pretty cool, but we seemed small compared to the freights :-)

For more info on the Newark Light Rail system, check out:


The Newark Subway - AKA the #7 City Subway Line - Before Light Rail Took Over

Many thanks to Mitchell Libby for sending these photos in.  He has many more pictures in my SEPTA section.

Stations on the Original Line (N to S)

Grove Street

The current end of the "extended original line", it is in Bloomfield.  It follows the old Erie Orange branch.  When the line was built and opened, NS was still running freights.  Since then, the line's only customer has closed, so there is no freight service currently running.

the Shops

Silver Lake

Interesting note about the station arrangement here..... Notice the platforms are staggered, and the crossover.  This arrangement allows the Norfolk Southern freights to come through here without hitting the platforms, since the light rail cars are narrower than the freights.

Branch Brook Park

Nice place for pictures with the tight curve almost reversing the direction of the track as seen in the second photo.

In the above photo, you have the NS heading north to Newark on the left side.  The light rail tracks on the right head to Penn Station, and at the bottom left, to Grove Street.

Davenport Ave

Bloomfield Ave

The Bloomfield presents the railfan with a little bit of interesting history, in that this is where the surface streetcar lines used to connect with the subway tracks and go into Penn Station.  The yellow line in the middle photo is one of the connectors, partially seen in the upper photo.  In the bottom photo, the path is overgrown with brush.

Park Ave

Orange St

Notice Bing has this station incorrectly labeled as Park Ave.  The 3 track Morristown line is in the cut under the light rail line.

Norfolk St

Subway Portal, into the hole we go....


Stations on the Broad St Line - Newark Light Rail (N to S)

Broad Street

Two shots of the station, with a better view of the tailtrack in the lower shot. 

Riverfront Stadium (NB)

Washington Park (SB) and Atlantic St (NB)

NJPAC / Center Street

The tunnel entrance is to the right in this aerial shot, north is the the left.


Stuff in Italics are comments from Rich W.


One of the few surviving Smashboard signals in existence AND in service.  It is west of the Harrison PATH station before crossing the Passaic River.  Pictures taken by Rich W, and are from the new parking garage adjacent to the tracks.  Get your own pictures before it is also removed: as the EB one was several years ago!!!


  A picture from the same location above by Matt Van Hattem

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this page!

A photo by Rich W.  Notice the signal facing us is on a bracket post and has a doll post on the right, indicating that the signal is for the left track.  Facing away from us, notice the signals are offset, telling us that the signal is a permissive signal (as opposed to absolute).  More info on the difference is here The photo is of a signal that was replaced about 2 years ago but had been one of the last operational “dummy mast” signals in this area. Signal 8-1J was an automatic signal governing westward traffic on the NJT ex Erie Pascack Valley Line in East Rutherford, NJ. The “intervening” track (hence the dummy mast) is a freight-only switching lead known as the Long Siding. NJT rebuilt the whole area a few years ago and now both tracks are upgraded and signaled for passenger service as part of the new rail line to the Meadowlands Sports Complex. 


Photos by Rich W. at Millington NJ on the NJT Gladstone Branch.  They show the remains of the Train Order signal that still stands in front of the station.


Here are a few pictures from “DB” tower, which was closed in 2002. It was along the ex Erie New York & Greenwood Lake branch in Kearny, NJ. It controlled the Hackensack River swing bridge as well as the junction of the Greenwood Lake (known as the Boonton Line from 1963 until service was discontinued in 2002) with the Newark Branch. I walked the line in January, 2007 and have these 3 shots to share.

The first is the actual operators control panel that has been left abandoned. The other two are of the relays in the basement of the tower.

DB was the last “outlying” open Interlocking Station on the NJ TRANSIT Hoboken Division in northern New Jersey, and the last “Erie RR” tower/interlocking station in operation. (Note that NJT has/had other towers on the Newark Division open at that time). When NJT opened the Montclair connection in 2002, the reason for DB went away. NS operated a handful of freight trains through the region, with the final movement occurring as NS local train H84 operated on October 15, 2002. Operation of the drawbridge required the bridge operator to be out on the swing span itself.

      Photos by Rich W


Amtrak Info

For more info on Amtrak Trains in Newark, check this out:

web statistics

NEW 5-21-2011
Last Modified 21-Apr-2016