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Posted by: E8M 86 A-B
Posted on: Apr 12th, 2017, 11:47pm
Mention "The Blue Train" to most rail buffs, and they will naturally assume you are talking about the famous (and luxurious!) "Blue Train" that has been operating on the African continent for decades.
But, until the mid-60's, there was also another "Blue Train".....a humble, workaday train far, far removed from the glitz and elegance of the luxurious train overseas.
In the early 1960's, PATH (after its takeover of the old H&M RR) "modernized" several of the old H&M "Black" cars, by painting them blue, and also updating the old cars in several areas (these cars were then coupled into a six-car train, which then comprised "The Blue Train")
One Class "F" car (#439) had one vestibule door blanked out and replaced with grillwork to accomodate a large air-conditioning unit that took up all of the formerly-opened vestibule, save for the motorman's cab.
This car was always at the same end of the train; other cars in the train included #'s 501 (interestingly, the only unrebuilt car in the train) 427, 407, 516, and 538.
Car #407's windows were updated with a more streamlined, rounded look, that was quite attractive.
This distinctive and interesting train indeed was eye-catching, and a great favorite of area transit buffs.
By late 1965, however, PATH replaced all of the ancient H&M fleet with new PA-1 cars; though most of the old "Black" cars were scrapped, a group was retained and converted to work equipment, including those cars once part of the "Blue Train".
These cars were common sights at Journal Square until 1979, when PATH retired them as work cars.
Sadly, none of the "Blue Train" cars were preserved.
I was lucky enough as a youngster to not only see this distinctive train many times at Journal Square, but also, able to ride it a number of times.
Today, over 50 years since its last run through "The Tubes", the colorful "Blue Train" still rumbles and screeches through my memory......
*One of the 1909 Class "B" cars, upon retirement, was donated to the Museum of Transport at St. Louis; another "Black" car (#503) a Class "J" unit ( PRESSED STEEL, 1928 ) resides at the Shore Line Trolley Museum. It is is the only surviving "Black" car today to be restored to operating condition.
The Class "J" cars, incidently, were the newest cars in the "Black" car fleet.
Posted by: E8M 86 A-B
Posted on: Apr 12th, 2017, 11:59pm
Here is a sight most familiar to yours truly, in his much younger years.
Here we see the "Blue Train" (with #407 in the lead) at the old JSQ station, patiently awaiting the call to duty; this scene, today, is totally unrecognizeable today in 2017.
The distinctive modernized windows remained intact when the car entered work service in 1965.
Note, too, the PRR catenary on the tracks at far right; above, on the Hudson Boulevard (today JFK Boulevard) bridge, a North Hudson Boulevard Lines bus on a #1 LOCAL run, is seen awaiting its departure northbound from the Square (I remember these buses QUITE well!)
Car #407 was a Class "F" unit, built by ACF in 1922; the newest of the "Black" car fleet were the Class "J" cars, built by ACF in 1928.
*The oldest of the "Black" car fleet operated by PATH were the Class "B" units, built by PRESSED STEEL in 1909, one year after the first section of the H&M opened for business.
Here is the "Blue Train" again, in 1964, awaiting its next call to duty at the old Henderson St. yards in Jersey City (this long-established yard was closed by PATH about 1990; today, no trace remains)
Note the blanked-out vestibule door on car #439; this was the car (as I had mentioned in the previous post) that had a bulky a/c unit installed in a portion of the vestibule........
For comparison, here is a view from 1965 taken at Journal Square, showing a train of 'Black" cars laying over on one of several yard tracks.
These grimy, gritty black cars are QUITE a contrast to the spiffy-looking "Blue Train"!
Like the cars themselves, the old H&M Station building, the pedestrian overpass to the station, and the PRR catenary are today distant memories.....how fortunate I was to know such classic scenes as well as I did, during my childhood years........