26 October 2008

Flemington Wants Trains

Like many Central New Jersey communities, Flemington is seeking restoration of passenger rail service. Hillsborough is already on board with plans for the reactivation of the CSX West Trenton Line - a project that is at least 10 to 20 years in our future - but Flemington's plan should also be intriguing for Hillsborough residents and officials, because 7 miles of the 18 mile line between Flemington and Bound Brook would run through our town. There would be more track in Hillsborough than in any other community along the line!

Flemington last saw passenger service along this corridor on April 25, 1953 when Jersey Central's No. 1555, nicknamed "Old Friendly" made its final run on the South Branch Railroad between Flemington and Somerville. The photo below is from the station stop at Neshanic Station that day.

CNJ Last Day Neshanic Station 1953

The section of those tracks between Three Bridges and Somerville was torn up years ago, and the proposed route wouldn't use that exact alignment, but would use the existing Norfolk Southern Lehigh Valley Line which closely parallels the old Jersey Central route.

This line also had passenger service a century ago, with stops in Hillsborough at Flagtown and at Royce Valley, where the railroad crosses the present day Route 206.

What do you think? Should Hillsborough endorse restoration of passenger service along this corridor? How about turning Flagtown into a "transit village", or building a commuter rail station at Docherty Park?

If the West Trenton Line is expected to take another 10 to 20 years, this plan will take about 20 to 30. Still, it will never happen if we don't plan for it now!


  1. this is an amazing idea! i really wish that hunterdon county would shape up and use a railroad, since it would help profit them by bringing business to the new shopping center in flemington and the outlet stores. you know a good deal about the history of the south branch railroad-i live in readington and always wondered where the tracks went, what "neshanic station" and "stanton station" referred to, and why there are tracks along hillsborough road, two sets! there are also two sets along rockafellow mills road-the road crosses over them, and follows route 202 parallel. i knew the tracks must then go into neshanic.

  2. I think the ideal light rail route would be from Somerville-Hillsborough-Flemington on down to Lambertville-New Hope with stops in between.
    If done in the right way it can be quite beautiful.

  3. I agree with Rich's comment, though I'm concerned that the redevelopment of Somerville's Landfill area will preclude the recreation of that rail line.

  4. Hi dukechristo87, and welcome!

    There is zero chance of the old Jersey Central line from Somerville through Hillsborough to Three Bridges ever being reactivated. That line passes through the middle of the Doris Duke Estate, for one thing.

    In any case, passenger trains from Flemington would use the Legigh Valley line, which closely parallels the Jersey Central through Hillsborough, but does not go to Somerville.