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Title ERA [Electric Railroaders Association] Headlights, Vol. 11, No., 1, Jan. 1949. (Lackawanna Railroad)
Object Name Newsletter
Catalog Number 2010.007.0082
Collection Hoboken Railroad Collection
Credit Museum Collections. Gift of a friend of the Museum.
Scope & Content ERA Headlights, Vol. 11, No., 1, January 1949. Published monthly by the Electric Railroaders Association, Inc. [ERA], Lackawanna Terminal, Hoboken, N.J.

Journal / newsletter in two parts: illustrated section [Part A ], single folio, 8-1/2" x 11", 4 pp. printed, photos and map; Part B: 16 pages mimeographed newsletter, 8 leaves, printed both sides. With: Index for Volume 11, January to December 1949, single printed folio, 8-1/2" x 11" high, [3] pp. (presumed issued sometime in 1950.) PDF on file; MS -Word doc illustrated article text on file. Disk on file.

The organization was founded in 1939 and this issue celebrated its tenth anniversary with the of the first 1-page newsletter of Dec. 15, 1939 on page B-1. The illustrated section called "Jubilee Issue" celebrated the fifttieth anniversary of the first electric cars operated with multiple unit control, Chicago, 1898, a tribute to Frank Sprague. An article regarding Lackawanna (Delaware, Lackawanna & Western) Railroad electrification and equipment comprises three of the four pages in the illustrated section. (Text of article is in notes)

In the B section, on pages B-9 to B-11, is a an article "Multiple Unit Control" by Felix Reifschneider.

Notes Archives 2010.007.0082. Text of article in part A of ERA Headlights, Vol. 11, No., 1, January 1949 re D.L. & W. electrification. Article is on pages 1-3 of this 4 page illustrated section.

TEN YEARS of ERA [Electric Railroaders Association] Headlights, TWENTY YEARS of PCC Development, FIFTY YEARS of Sprague M.U. Control

VOL 11. NO. 1, Lackawanna Terminal, Hoboken, New Jersey, JAN 1949


Commuters on the Lackawanna Railroad like the service! In an area where commuters generally have unkind comments on the service rendered by their line, the Lackawanna Railroad draws unsolicited praise from its patrons. And rightly so, for the Electric Zone of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad is one of the finest examples of electric suburban service in the United States today.

More than any other single factor, the electrification of the Lackawanna Railroad has been the reason for the fine suburban development in Essex, Morris and parts of Somerset counties in northern New Jersey. The fast, frequent and relatively inexpensive train service offered by the railroad, together with the fact that the trains are powered by cinder-free electricity, has drawn more and more people into the suburban area it serves, one of the finest such areas in the New York metropolitan district.

Early in its history, the DI&W had realized the value of its New York Suburban zone and made many improvements to better serve its patrons. The fine terminal at Hoboken where passengers transfer to the railroad ferries or to the Hudson Tubes far New York City, just across the Hudson River, was one of the most important improvements made. It is on the upper Ferry Concourse of this terminal that the Electric Railroaders Association has its main Headquarters which is shared with the New York Society of Model Engineers.

By 1926, it was apparent that railroad traffic along the inner 40 miles of the DL&W was so heavy that measures had to be taken to handle the load without a breakdown of the vital service. Since additional tracks were out of the question, better utilization of the existing tracks was the only alternative and this could best be accomplished by electrification. Therefore, late in 1928, the road asked for bids for electrifying its so-called Morris & Essex Division from Hoboken Terminal to Dover with branches to Montclair, Gladstone and the Secaucus freight yard and shops.
In considering the electrification, the DI&W was faced with a number of possible voltage combinations which could be used. There was the standard 650 volts DC used by many (continued on page 2)

[Boxed note at bottom of page [1]] Fifty years ago, in the summer of 1898, the Chicago South Side El was completely equipped with electric cars using multiple unit control invented by Frank J. Sprague, ERA #1. The article above describes the advanced electric operation of the Lackawanna RR, a direct descendent of this original MU installation in Chicago.

[Captions for five photos at the left on page 2]
1: Suburban train at speed near Summit, New Jersey.
2: DL&W control trailer #2247 (ex steam trailer).
3: DL&W control "Commuter Club" car. Note stained upper sash.
4; DL&W control Baggage-passenger trailer #2404.
5: DL&W control RPO-passenger trailer #2441.

(continued from page 1) third rail suburban and rapid transit lines, the 11,000 volts AC overhead used by the New Haven and the Pennsylvania RRs, and the 3,000 volts DC overhead used by the Milwaukee road, the longest railroad electrification in the United States. It was, finally, decided to use the 3>000 volt system, as it was planned at the time to extend the electrification on the main line as far west as Scranton, Pa, and to use heavy duty electric locomotives to haul heavy trains over the Pocono Mountains. And so the Lackawanna built its 3,000 volt DC overhead system, which is also used not only by the Milwaukee, but also the Cleveland Union Terminal, Mexican Ry, Paulista RR (Brazil), and several others the world over. But the dream of electric power over the Poconos has just about died with the rapid rise of the diesel locomotive.

The first test operation of a Lackawanna suburban electric train occurred in the summer of 1929 on the test track of the General Electric Co at Erie, Pa. Two former steam coaches were rebuilt for this experiment. The motor car was numbered #349 and housed a great deal of electrical testing equipment for use at Erie. An unusual feature was the application of diaphragms at the car ends, a practice not continued on the actual cars used today. Much experimentation was required before everything was satisfactory, as the application of 3,000 volts DC to an MU train was a new departure. Experiments at Erie had started in 1923 with car #812 of the Michigan Railway, and had continued for some years. The DL&W project allowed the engineers an opportunity to apply the knowledge thus gained to the progress of MU electric traction.
Construction of overhead and equipment was hurried along during 1929 and 1930, and the first train in regular passenger service operated between Hoboken and Montclair on September 3, 1930. Service to South Orange started September 22, to Morristown on December 18, to Gladstone on January 6, 1931, and to Dover on January 22, 1931.

The Electric Zone operations of the Lackawanna consist of three separate routes, the most important of which is the Morris & Essex Division main line to Dover via Newark and Morristown. This should not be confused with the so-called "Old Main Line" or Boonton Division, a steam operated line connecting Hoboken with Dover via Paterson and Boonton. "M&E" electric trains start their runs in the 17-track Hoboken Terminal which handles more than 70,000 commuters daily. Just to the west are the large coach and freight yards of the road, and to the north is the elevated and viaduct structure of the PSNJ over which street cars are operated. Trains from Hoboken pass thru the yards and then enter long Bergen Hill tunnel which carries the railroad under the busy communities of Union City and North Bergen located on the top of the Palisades (see August 1948 Headlights). Just after leaving the tunnel, the line passes over the Erie RR; then at West End tower the steam Boonton Division and the former electrified spur to Secaucus Yard branch off to the right. Now the line is on a grade- less swamp, the famous Jersey Meadows, and is soon paralleling the busy main line of the Pennsylvania RR. The DL&W narrows to two tracks for the draw bridge over the Passaic River at Newark, but soon returns to a three track main that continues to Millburn.

The outer tracks are used for local trains and the center track is used in either direction for rush hour express service. Several express trains regularly cover the 20.1 miles from Hoboken to Summit in as little as 28 minutes, an average speed of MPH. This is an even more impressive performance if one remembers that there is a rise of more than 375 feet between the two points.

From Newark to South Orange, the most striking thing about the line is that it appears to run thru one large urban area. And so it is. "The Oranges", comprising East Orange, Brick Church, Orange, South Orange and Maplewood, are so closely populated that town boundaries are impossible to discern. South Orange, incidentally, is one of the richest communities in the U S, and tho it boasts an average of over two cars per family, the DL&W hauls a large majority of the commuters and shoppers to the city daily.

It is on this stretch of line that the track is either on an elevated structure or in a long deep concrete open cut. At Roseville Ave station in the open cut, the Montclair branch turns off to the right. This is a very busy tho unspectacular two track branch which boasts of half-hourly service during the mid-day. It has four local stations on its 4.1 mile run and terminates at a modern six track stub-end terminal in the heart of Montclair.

Beyond South Orange, the line finally assumes the aspects of a heavy-duty railroad. Heavy rail, well-ballasted right-of-way, and a simple, well-proportioned catenary power distribution system present an imposing combination along with the many beautiful stations and landscaped lawns maintained by the Lackawanna. At South Orange, a coach yard is maintained for those trains terminating there. Millburn Tower is one of the "hot spots" on the railroad, for here the three track main narrows to two for the rest of the run to Dover, and it is also at the foot of the long grade leading to Summit, a main junction point with the electrified Gladstone branch and the steam-powered Rahway Valley RR.

Service on the Gladstone Branch (known to the employees as the Passaic & Delaware RR) closely resembles that of an interurban line and is rural in nature. The branch is single track, with turnouts. Wooden line posts hold the catenary. Headway on this, the third part of the road's Electric Zone, varies from a weekday 90 minutes down to a total of but six trains on Sunday. A non-rush-hour train usually consists of simply a combine (either RPO or baggage) and a regular passenger motor, and it shuttles between Summit and Gladstone, passengers changing at Summit for Hoboken and main line points. On most trips, however, thru cars or trains are operated to Hoboken. This branch serves the smart suburban area of Somerset county as well as a prosperous farming section.
(continued on page 3)

[top of page 3: Delaware, Lackawanna & Western R.R., Electrified Suburban Trackage, Schematic Drawing. Note: the map shows mileage distances from Hoboken.]

(continued from page 2) What freight service there is, is handled by steam locomotives, the branch having a daily "peddler" freight. An interesting point is the spectacular high-level steel trestle which carries the Gladstone branch over one of the streams feeding the Passaic River.
But to get back to the main "M&E" Division which continues west from Summit to Morristown, Denville and Dover, serving a very attractive suburban area. This part of the line is noted for its outstanding station buildings, fine suburban homes, beautiful scenery, and continuous curves and grades. A coach yard is maintained at Morristown, and a number of trains terminate here. But service to Dover and way points is never on longer than one hour headway, even on Sunday. At Denville the line is joined by the steam Boonton line which also operates passenger service to Boon- ton and beyond. Most main line trains for points beyond Stroudsburg are diesel powered, however, and operate over the Morris & Essex Division between Hoboken and Dover.

As a "neighborhood railroad", the DL&W follows all the way thru by purchasing its power from three local utilities. These are:
(1) Public Service Gas & Electric Corp, with connections at Hoboken (West End) and Newark (Roseville Ave);
2)Jersey Central Power & Light, at Summit;
3)New Jersey Power & Light, at Denville and Bernardsville.

The purchased AC power is converted to direct current in railroad owned mercury-arc rectifier substations. The DL&W had one of the first large scale installations of this type of rectifier in the United States. These machines have a dual advantage over motor generator and rotary converters in that they have a negligible loss of power in the conversion, and also have an extremely long potential life due to a minimum of moving parts. In addition to the substations, the railroad maintains tie stations at Hoboken, Harrison, South Orange, Montclair, Morristown and Dover.

The equipment used on the Electric Zone of the Lackawanna Railroad is of two main types, motor cars and trailers. There are 141 motor cars in service, representing the entire original order. These are low roof cars numbered #2500 to 2640. They are equipped with four 255 HP GE type #700 nose suspended motors and have an automatic acceleration of 1.5 MPH per second with an optional manual control. Braking is at the rate of 1.75 MPHPS. Cars are 70' 1-1/2" long and have a total light weight of 148,000 lbs. A motor unit will seat 82 passengers. Top free running speed is 67 MPH.

The roster of trailer cars presents a somewhat more complicated picture, however. The trailers are of four types: all-passenger, RPO-passenger, baggage-passenger, and club car. The all-passenger trailers may be subdivided into three general groups:
68 cars - #2300-2367 - high-roof ex-steam trailers with closed vestibules added at time of electrification. Seats 78.
50 cars - #2200-2249 - low-roof ex-steam trailers. Built with closed vestibules. Seats 82.
2 cars - #2451, 2455 - high-roof converted club cars. #245l is only MU car with leather seats; all others have rattan. #2451 seats 76 passengers while #2455 seats but 68.

In addition there are 15 baggage-passenger trailers numbered #2400-24l4. These cars seat 58 passengers. Then there are 4 commuter-club cars which are chartered to commuter groups. These are high- roof trailers and are assigned to the following trains:
Car #2450 on trains #510 and #633
2452 508 527
2453 510 533
2454 410 429

Last on the passenger roster are the 3 RPO-passenger trailers, numbered #2440-2442, and seating 52 passengers.

All cars, both trailer and motor, are equipped with a control station at one end. The cars, therefore, are coupled semi-permanently back to back, with a trailer and a motor car comprising a "multiple". Trains are generally made up with from 2 to 12 cars, with an occasional train carrying an odd number of cars.

The control end of each car, whether trailer or motor, has headlight, air horns, motorman's seat, pilot, end door and built- in marker lights. The opposite, or inside, ends of the cars have no inter-communicating doors, headlights, etc, but do have an extra jumper line connection between roof ends to serve as a bus line to supply current to the trailer.

The roof ends of the motor cars have been modified to accommodate air intakes for the traction motor cooling system. All of the cars are regular railroad roof type, but the height varies. The reconstruction work on those trailers which did not formerly have the closed vestibules was done at either the main Kingsland shops of the DL&W or at the Berwick plant of the American Car & Foundry Co (Berwick, Pa). All cars are of steel construction. An odd feature of the motor cars is that they carry roll signs in the side windows for the display of train numbers.

In addition, two three-powered (overhead, battery & diesel) electric locomotives were built (#3501 and 3502) which were used for several years in freight transfer service between Secaucus & Hoboken. These have since been scrapped.

The famous Hoboken Terminal of the Lackawanna, briefly mentioned earlier, is quite a transportation center. There are three levels of electric transport at this point. For beneath the surface is the three-track terminal of the Hudson & Manhattan tubes, which provide fast subway service to both uptown and downtown New York, as well as locally in Hudson county, New Jersey. At street level are the tracks of the Lackawanna RR, and also the lower level of the Public Service of New Jersey Hoboken terminal. While the lower level is now used only by diesel buses, the upper level, above the street, retains all its original trolley car service as it connects with the Hoboken Viaduct.

In addition there are six ferry slips used by Lackawanna RR ferries for both Christopher and Barclay Sts. on Manhattan island. Railroad passengers use this ferry service at no charge.

Thus the Lackawanna Railroad, long known as the route of "Phoebe Snow" and dependent on anthracite coal, has today the ultimate in clean, cinderless operation in its suburban electrification. The fast MU cars provide a service along the 70 route miles and 160 track miles which has won the respect of the commuting public. The olive green electrics offer suburbanites the best transportation available. Just ask any commuter on the Lackawanna.
Date 1949-1950
Year Range from 1949
Year Range to 1950
Search Terms Lackawanna Terminal
Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad
Electric Railroaders Association, Inc. [ERA]
Caption [part A] pg [1]
Imagefile 074\20100070082.TIF
Classification Railroads
Business & Commerce
Social & Personal Activity