Riding NJ Transit from Secaucus to Rutherford
There’s a unique thrill that comes with commuting during rush hour. The hustle and bustle, the crowded platforms, and the anticipation of the long journey ahead all contribute to the experience. Recently, I had the opportunity to embark on an eventful train ride from Secaucus Junction (a favorite hot spot to railfan at) to Rutherford on the NJ Transit Bergen County Line. Little did I know that this particular ride would be filled with unexpected surprises, from a rare locomotive to the invigorating sounds and smells of a true NJ transit experience.
A Rare Locomotive and the Majestic Horn:
As I stepped onto the platform, I noticed something peculiar in the distance —the train approaching the station was led by a rare Metro North EMD GP40PH-2M locomotive #4906. Its distinct appearance stood out among the more common engines probably because it's the only one of its kind that Metro North uses. The GP40PH-2Ms and GP40-FH 2Ms are very similar yet have distinct differences. They're both an absolute thrill to watch in action.
As the train departed, the powerful engine roared to life, echoing through the station and under every tunnel and bridge we crossed. I couldn’t help but be captivated by the symphony of mechanical sounds filling the air. But the highlight of this auditory experience was undoubtedly the majestic horn which sounded like a Nathan K5LA (the classic horn of Amtrak in the 1990s). Its resounding blast reverberated with authority, announcing its presence to anyone within earshot. Seated just behind the locomotive, I could hear it loud and clear, adding a touch of grandeur to the journey.
The True NJ Transit Experience:
One thing that distinguishes a NJ Transit ride is its authenticity—a combination of sights, sounds, and smells that immerse you fully into the commuter experience. Unfortunately, that includes the occasional diesel fumes. As the passenger car door stood open during the ride, the pungent odor of diesel managed to seep into the cabin. Good thing I was getting off at the first station. Although it may not be the most pleasant scent, it served as a reminder of the authenticity of this transit system, where every aspect of the journey is experienced.
Loud Noise, Smells, and Crowded Rush Hour Bliss:
It goes without saying that rush hour trains tend to be crowded, and this ride was no exception. People packed themselves into every available space, forming a mosaic of commuters seeking their destinations. The clamor of conversations, the rustle of newspapers, and the occasional phone ringtone blended into a symphony of urban sounds. It was both chaotic and strangely comforting, knowing that this shared experience connected us all as we embarked on our daily routines.
The Rutherford Station Crossing:
Finally, we arrived at Rutherford, our destination. But the excitement didn’t end there. The Rutherford train, like many stations along the Bergen Line, boasts a unique feature—a crossing right by the platform. As we disembarked from the train, we had the opportunity to walk over to the crossing gates and watch our train take off into the distance. Standing there, feeling the vibrations of the tracks under my feet, I marveled at the sheer power of the locomotive as it gradually disappeared from view. It was a sight that encapsulated the beauty and strength of these remarkable machines. I'm sure everyone else just wanted to get to their cars.
Christian is a Voice Actor & Narrator who loves trains, travel, coffee, and all things audio.