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Showtime at Secaucus Junction

Time is running out for sunlight before it disappears at 6:59 p.m. on the evening of August 12, 2022. Pascack Valley Line train 1637 to Spring Valley is leaving Secaucus Junction Station from Track H, next to Edison Fast Park’s parking lot. NJ Transit GP40PH-2B 4210 has NJT Comet V commuter cars in tow. NJT 4210 was rebuilt for NJ Transit in May 1994 at Conrail’s Juniata shops in Altoona, Pa. —William J. Skeats

Showtime at Secaucus Junction

December 2022by Stephen A. Williams/photos as noted

The NJ Transit Frank R. Lautenberg Rail Station, commonly known as Secaucus Junction, was completed in 2003. Dedicated to this long time New Jersey rail advocate, the complex was lightly patronized at the outset. But Secaucus Junction quickly assumed prominence as the long-awaited transfer hub for commuters utilizing the historical Erie Lackawanna and Pennsylvania Railroad/Jersey Central commuter operations under former sponsor N.J. Department of Transportation. Strategically situated midway along the Amtrak Northeast Corridor between New York Penn Station and Newark Penn Station, Secaucus Junction provides the crucial link for commuters along the former Erie diesel routes into Hoboken Terminal.

While the station design and its $450 million price tag have come under much scrutiny, the final product is one that any commuter and urban planner could be pleased with. The liberal use of marble and stone, wide platforms and open expanses offer a contrast to the tight confines of nearby New York Penn and Newark Penn stations. Interestingly, Secaucus also complements nearby Newark Liberty Airport station in terms of its modern appearance, convenience and being responsive to the demands of the Twenty-first Century rail traveler.

Secaucus Junction

ABOVE: Northeast Corridor Action on the Mezzanine Level: NJ Transit Montclair Train 6251 is headed by NJT ALP46 motor 4637 on August 25, 2022. —Stephen A. Williams

Secaucus also links trains with key commuter bus routes, especially impor-tant when major sports events take place in the nearby Meadowlands Sports Complex. Metro-North trains have brought eager New Haven Line football fans to Jets and Giants Sunday games in past seasons. Summer 2022 saw many loyal New York and New Jersey Mets and Yankees baseball fans detraining and streaming up the escalators to the Northeast Corridor Line during each Subway Series, further proof that Secaucus functions as the true transfer hub for commuters and pleasure traffic alike.

The core of the station complex is the top-level main concourse, to which all transferring passengers must ascend to change between Northeast Corridor and Hoboken Division, former Erie Railroad trains. Travelers must scan their ticket to gain access to this top level. Don’t become frustrated if it requires one or two swipes to activate the fare gates – the gates can be finicky, so station agents are present to assist. A food court, gift shop and restrooms are also sit-uated on this upper concourse level. In the center of the room is a striking 30 foot tall, metal and glass sculpture of a cattail, symbolic of the nearby New Jersey Meadowlands.

Secaucus Junction

ABOVE: The top level Main Concourse, looking south toward lo escalators leading to Erie line trains and platforms E-F and G-H on the lower level, September 23, 2022. Shops ring the concourse, with features a large cattail artwork in the center. —Stephen A. Williams

The next level down is the Mezzanine (middle) level which hosts electrified Northeast Corridor trains, while Bergen County, Main Line, Port Jervis and Pascack Valley diesel-hauled trains arrive and depart on the lower (“Street”) level. Track identification at Secaucus Junction is somewhat confusing, as the tracks are represented by a mixture of letters and numbers. Approaching Secaucus Junction, the east-west, two-track Northeast Corridor “High Line” across the Meadowlands expands to four tracks servicing three platforms at Secaucus Junction station. Outer tracks 2 and 3 each have their own platform, while inner tracks A and B share a wide middle island platform. Oddly, there is no Track 1…

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This article was posted on: November 21, 2022