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(erielack) Feb. 67 Suburban Timetable

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I was looking at some suburban timetables today and I came across a Main / 
Bergen County Line timetable from Feb. 6, 1967; see attached scan of weekday 
trains.  EL suburban service had been cut back in October, 1966, but would 
start to expand again in April, 67.

I forgot just how bad the initial cuts were; there was very little service 
other than during the rush hour, except on the M&E.  Compare this with 
today's Main Line schedule, where I count about 54 trains each way on 
weekdays.  There is also a lot more service now on Saturdays and there's 
Sunday service, which didn't exist in 1967.  If you were railfanning back in 
early '67, you could catch train 53 out to Port Jervis and then come back 
mid-afternoon on 58 (and probably see 3 or 4 freights on a good day).  But 
that pre-dawn schedule was tough; if any of you did ride 53, my hat is off 
to you.  Wish I could have, but I was 14 at the time and my mom didn't want 
me walking the streets from East Rutherford to Lyndhurst at 4:30 am.  
Parents were stricter back then, and maybe that was good.  Anyway, I had to 
wait another year until I could ride the trains in search of freight action, 
and then only to Suffern (as 53 and 58 were gone by mid-68).  But at least I 
had a few more choices as to what Suffern trains to catch by then.

I wonder what we would have said if we could have glimpsed the future in 
1967 and could have seen what exists and what doesn't exist today.  As to 
the EL being gone, that wouldn't have been too surprising in 1967; we knew 
it just wasn't making any money.  We'd probably be pleasantly surprised that 
passenger service made such a big comeback, but would be very dismayed about 
what happened to freight service.  Passenger service over Moodna Viaduct 
would make us smile, but only until we realized that the Main Line thru 
Goshen and Monroe was gone.  It wouldn't be too surprising to learn that a 
combination of the Norfolk and Western and the Southern ran what little 
freight service was left (we knew back then that they were powerful lines), 
but the concept of NYS&W through freights would astonish us.  NJ Transit and 
Metro North wouldn't be all that surprising, since in 1967 we already knew 
that the government was involved with the CN, the LIRR, and the Alaska RR.  
The GP40 variations wouldn't surprise us too much either, as they were being 
delivered to the CNJ in '67.  The PL42s would be pretty hard to swallow, 
though (passenger engine design has really been on a downward trend since 
the E-8).  It would be comforting to know that Hoboken was still where the 
trains ran to (and that some sort of ferry service had returned to the 
Hudson River), but Secaucus Junction would seem very futuristic.

As to what you young folk will see over the next 30 to 40 years -- maybe 
electrification in a decade or two, if world oil production starts leveling 
off and prices skyrocket.   Perhaps freight traffic will then surge to the 
point that the Southern Tier Line will be relevant once more (and they will 
put the double track back between Port Jervis and Otisville Tunnel).  But 
those freights - or even passenger trains -- may be running with one-man or 
(arg) no-man crews; the locomotives will instead have cameras and sensors 
monitored by someone in India or Madagascar.  Will the homeland security 
issues lighten up so that you could go out and enjoy watching trains again, 
or are we heading for barbed wire and armed guards stationed along the 
tracks?  Will all cameras used outside the home need to be registered with 
the government? Enough speculation -- for now, let's just be glad that we 
still do have passenger trains to Suffern and Port Jervis in 2005.

Jim Gerofsky

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