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New Jersey Herald - July 7, 1966 issue
Article Subsections
  • Newton - Branchville Services Abandoned By Lackawanna RR
  • Last Trains
  • Freight Loss

    Newton - Branchville Services Abandoned By Lackawanna RR

    Newton--All service on the Erie Lackawanna Railroad between Andover Junction and Branchville will go out of existence on July 14 it was revealed by railroad officials yesterday (Wednesday).

    The company said that notices were posted over the July 4th holiday weekend in Erie Lackawanna trains serving the Sussex Branch between Andover Junction and Branchville and at stations on that branch announcing the termination of both freight and passenger service in accordance with a decision and order of the Interstate Commerce Commission on June 23. Hearings on the matter were held at Newark on Oct. 27, 1965

    Meanwhile, action is still pending on a railroad application to terminate all passenger service in Sussex County from Netcong to Newton along a 12.1 mile stretch of line. The State Public Utility Commission has already ruled that the service can be discontinued, but enforcement of the ruling was withheld until the railroad submitted a schedule of new services acceptable to the PUC.

    Last Trains

    In compliance with the Interstate Commerce Commission, a federal regulatory agency, the last weekday passenger train to operate into Newton will be train No. 1015 on Wednesday July 13. The last week end passenger train from Branchville will be No. 1068 on Sunday, July 10.

    Effective Thursday, July 14, passengers may board the train at Andover on weekdays and weekends. Freight patrons located in the area will be served by other nearby Erie Lackawanna stations.

    At present passenger service on the line is handled by one train a day in each direction between Newton and Hoboken on week days, and one train a day in each direction on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays between Branchville and Hoboken. Freight service on the branch is on a "when required" basis.

    Freight Loss

    Freight and passenger service on the 118 year old branch line from which for many years came much of the milk for the metropolitan area and which has now ceased entirely--has almost vanished, the railroad told the ICC at the hearing, and has now reached a point where continued service to the branch adversely affects the company's operations. The combination of highways, motor trucks and private automobiles has reduced materially the requirements for railroad service in the area, the Erie Lackawanna asserted.

    The Sussex Branch of the Erie Lackawanna Railroad originally was incorporated as the Sussex Mine Railroad Company on March 9, 1848. The company was authorized to construct a railroad from the Andover Mines, in Sussex County, to a point on the Morris Canal and with the privilege of extending the line into Newton.

    Three years later the company was authorized to extend its lines into Sussex, Warren and Morris counties and connect with the Morris and Essex Railroad. In February, 1853, the name of the railroad was changed to Sussex Railroad Company and it was authorized to extend its lines to any point on the Delaware River in the county and to build a bridge across the river.

    During these years the railroad did build its lines, but not beyond Branchville, and in 1871 the company made a {new} connection with the Morris and Essex at Stanhope. {The connection was made to Netcong/Stanhope in 1901}

    In the Early 1880's the Lehigh and Hudson Railroad had plans to buy up the Sussex. However, the executive committee of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad had other ideas and quickly moved in on July 12, 1881, to buy controlling interest in the Sussex. The railroad was operated by the DL&W only so far as its controlling interest permitted until Jan. 1, 1924, when the Sussex was leased to the Lackawanna. On Dec. 3, 1945, the Sussex was merged into the DL&W and it became a permanent branch of the railroad.

    In the 1920's and through the 1930's and World War II the Lackawanna operated six trains a day each way over this route, mainly to haul milk. The freight and passenger business also was relatively good during these years, but since the middle 1940's better highways, motor trucks and automobiles took their inevitable toll.