New Jersey Transit’s roots date back to 1979, when the company was founded as New Jersey Transit Corporation.  As mentioned on the Conrail Passenger page, New Jersey voters passed a bond issue for improvements on the North Jersey Coast Line, and was NJT’s responsibility to follow-up with the electrification project.  In August 1981, the Northeast Rail Service Act was passed and required Conrail to divest itself of commuter service by December 31, 1982.  New Jersey Transit officials considered contracting with Amtrak to provide passenger service, but investigation led to a conclusion that NJT should provide the service.  The primary reason was public relations as the commuter groups and rail problems of the 1970s were still fresh in everyone’s mind.  In March 1982, a notice was filed to the federal government that NJT would pick up commuter service in the State of New Jersey.  April 1982 saw the creation of New Jersey Transit Rail Operations as a subsidiary of New Jersey Transit Corporation.

Brand new EMD F40’s and Bombardier coaches started to be delivered to NJT during the winter of 1981-1982, wearing NJT colors.  The new locomotives and coaches worked side by side with the older equipment serving the NJCL.  Electrification to Matawan was completed by November 1982, and NJT was ready to take over all passenger service from Conrail.  The first official NJT train was train number 951 leaving Hoboken Terminal for Dover at 12:30 a.m. on January 1, 1983.  In its two months, NJT faced a February blizzard completely halting rail operations in most of the state for twenty-four hours as well as a thirty-four day strike by NJT conductors.  However, NJT’s first year ended with a 90% on time performance.  Equipment at this time on the southern end of the NJCL included F40 and E8 locomotives and Comet II coaches, Cab Cars, and older NJDOT coaches.  (All E8 locomotives were double-headed.)  The famous ex-PRR GG1s were retired in 1983 and replaced with ex-Amtrak E60 locomotives.  NJT also trimmed Bay Head Yard from fifteen tracks to eleven to better accommodate servicing in the yard.

By 1988, electrification had been extended to Long Branch and a yard built in Long Branch opened as well to hold the electrical equipment.  South of Long Branch, NJT provided timely rush hour trains and shuttle connections between Bay Head and Long Branch in non-rush hour times.  (Which still holds true today.)  There is no loop in Long Branch, so push-pull coaches are used.

New Jersey Transit, slowly but surely, made improvements to passenger coaches, locomotives and stations without major fare increases.  Bombardier Comet IIB rebuilds were delivered during 1987-1989.  By the end of 1988, NJT’s E8s were retired as Conrail and Morrison-Knudsen were delivering GP40-2 rebuilds.  GP40 rebuilds include types:
   GP40FH-2s from 1987-1990
   GP40PH-2s in 1991
   GP40PH-2s from 1992-1993
   GP40PH-2Bs from 1993-1994

As you can see, by 1990 NJT had a dependable fleet of locomotives to power its trains.  Bombardier built Comet III coaches arrived in 1991 while Comet IV coaches were delivered in 1995 to strengthen its passenger coach fleet.  Fire destroyed the historic Manasquan station in the mid-90s, while a new Point Pleasant Beach station was finally built and opened in 1996, forty years after the former station was torn down for Route 35 improvements.  The new station is a high platform station and resembles its predecessor.

Since then, very few changes have been made on the NJCL.  The summer of 1999 saw NJT MOW crews install new ties and ballast from Bay Head to the Manasquan River and the reconstruction of all grade crossings in Point Pleasant Beach along Route 35.  NJT has been a rags to riches story.  They took a rag tag fleet and turned it into one of the most dependable commuter agencies in the country.  The equipment purchases and rebuilds they made have worked out perfectly and have not made a single large fare increase anytime since running their first train January 1, 1983.   NJT has also received their first new electric locomotive, the ALP-46, for use on the NJCL and other electric lines.  In June 2002, the ALP-46 made test runs on the NJCL during the night.  In addition, NJT has ordered 33 diesel-electric locmotives to replace the various GP40 models.  In July 2003, NJT finalized plans for improvements to Bay Head Yard.  Fueling facilities will be removed from the yard, and all NJT NJCL trains will fuel and sand at Hoboken Terminal.  The inspection platforms will be built to so NJT employees can easily inspect the locomotives and coaches.  In September 2003, plans were initiated to build a new station at Manasquan, one that will resemble the original station.

August 2003 photo of former South Amboy Yard
Photo of track work at Arnold Avenue in Pt. Pleasant Beach