Direct rush hour trains from Bay Head to New York Penn Station began operating on NJ Transit’s North Jersey Coast line May 18th. This brings a one-seat ride to the lower Coast Line stations, previously only served by shuttle trains that connected to trains to Penn Station at Long Branch, or direct trains to Hoboken.
3 inbound morning trains and 3 outbound afternoon trains will run direct from Bay Head to Penn Station. The trains use NJ Transit’s dual mode locomotives, which can operate on lines without overhead power lines, but can run under electric power where overhead catenary wires exist. The dual-modes were originally to serve the cancelled ARC tunnel project, and cost 8.5-10.2 million dollars each, about twice the price of a diesel locomotive.
In order to extend trains between New York and Long Branch to Bay Head, some direct Hoboken – Bay Head trains have been truncated at Long Branch. Whereas there were 5 direct Bay Head – Hoboken trains in either direction, there are now only 2-3.
NJ Transit acquired the locomotives in 2012, but has been slow to implement one-seat rides to non-electrified lines. A few off-peak trains from the Raritan Valley Line began operating into Penn Station in March 2014. The Coast Line first saw direct service from June to September 2014, when NJ Transit inaugurated weekend express trains from Penn Station to Bay Head.
These trains are making a comeback in 2015. Four daily express trains will operate in each direction on Saturdays and Sundays, starting on June 21st.
Outbound morning trains and inbound afternoon trains serving beach visitors will run express from Newark to Asbury Park, stopping at Elizabeth, Rahway, Aberdeen-Matawan, Red Bank and Long Branch. Inbound morning trains and outbound evening trains, serving mainly Monmouth County residents, will stop at Long Branch, Middletown, Aberdeen-Matawan, and Woodbridge.
The express trains will save passengers 19-26 minutes compared to a local train, as well as eliminate the need for changing trains in Long Branch.
NJ Transit has not announced an end date for the weekend express trains.