New Hope Railroad
New Hope 40 reversing over 2nd Ingham Run Bridge
|Locale||Bucks County, Pennsylvania|
|Dates of operation||1966–present|
|Length||18 miles (29 km)|
|Headquarters||New Hope, Pennsylvania|
NHRR has been involved with various film and television commercial projects; the railroad is also an associate member of NORAC.
The heritage operations utilize both steam and diesel locomotives for excursions out of New Hope. Regular NHRR excursions are 45-50 minutes long with trains running every hour on the hour between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM (with a 5:00 PM 90-minute trip to Buckingham on weekends); the railroad mostly uses former Reading Company passenger cars, which date between 1914 and 1932, for excursions.
NHRR is involved in the import and export of raw materials and manufactured products. Freight customers range from national chemical companies to consumer product manufacturers. NHRR interchanges with Pennsylvania Northeastern Railroad in Johnsville, which in turn interchanges with CSX Transportation in Lansdale. NHRR's primary customers are based in Warminster; CRC Industries, Castrol and Double H Plastics are served on a weekly basis.
The line currently operated by the New Hope Railroad was originally known as the New Hope Branch of the Reading Company (RDG), which leased the North Pennsylvania Railroad, of which it was a part; the railroad ran as far as Hartsville Station (near Bristol Road) until March 29, 1891, when the line was extended to the long-desired terminal of New Hope, Pennsylvania.
A decade after June 1952, when Hatboro-New Hope passenger service terminated, RDG's financial situation was precarious. Looking to rid themselves of unprofitable branch lines via abandonment, a group of train aficionados and businessmen led by Philadelphia attorney Kenneth Souser established Steam Trains, Inc. with the goal of operating steam trains on a for-profit basis. Steam Trains, Inc. became organized as the 'New Hope & Ivyland Railroad (NHIR), and on June 20, 1966, the 16.7-mile line was sold for $200,000.
Steam Trains, Inc. started their operations on a high note, often in an extravagant fashion. The company leased freight locomotives from RDG, and used only hired labor to operate their excursions; the "air rights" over the Southern portion of the line from Ivyland to just North of Almshouse Road, were sold to the former Philadelphia Electric Company (now Exelon) in order to stay solvent. Steam Trains, Inc. declared bankruptcy on June 5, 1970. Operations continued under a court-appointed trustee.
The Bucks County Industrial Development Corporation (BCIDC) purchased the trackage from the Steam Trains, Inc. in early 1974 to "preserve rail service through the center of Bucks County." The county selected McHugh Brothers Heavy Hauling, Inc. to operate freight service over the line via a lease agreement. McHugh Brothers continued hauling freight with Edward L. McHugh as president until his departure in 1989. By the summer of 1976, the railroad received state funding to rehabilitate crumbling infrastructure that sorely needed fixing. By August 1977, volunteers from the Buckingham Valley Trolley Association [BVTA] (now the Electric City Trolley Museum Association) were operating state-sponsored passenger service connecting the touristy town of New Hope with SEPTA/Conrail commuter trains at Warminster. Bucks County had made a wise investment, as both passenger and freight service flourished during the 1970s once track upgrades were made. Finally, on June 30, 1979, NHRR finally emerged from its decade-long bankruptcy.
Beginning July 3, 1980, volunteers of the New Hope Steam Railway (NHOP) resumed weekend excursion service after the BVTA decided to end it; the NHOP ran trains under a lease agreement with the BCIDC until 1990, when the line and its equipment were once again in a state of decay and disrepair. The McHugh Bros. operated NHIR until 1989 when their lease ended and the Morristown & Erie was contracted to operate the railroad. The BCIDC sold the line outright to the for-profit Bucks County Railroad Preservation and Restoration Corporation (BCRP&RC) in 1990, who slowly began to rebuild the railroad to its current state of good repair. BCRP&RC is the official corporate structure, doing business as the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad (NHRR); the name is often abbreviated to "New Hope Railroad".
Stations and trackage
NHRR is a single-track railroad with passing sidings at Lahaska, Buckingham Valley, Wycombe and Ivyland. Only Wycombe and Lahaska have their run-around tracks cleared because Lahaska is used for daily excursion trips so that locomotives can uncouple and head back to New Hope on the opposing side of the train, and Wycombe is used for temporary equipment storage. All other sidetracks, run-arounds, passing sidings, and sidings are primarily used for the storage of maintenance rail cars, out-of-service passenger cars and freight cars. At Buckingham Valley, the railroad's small fleet of historic freight cars is stored, along with any borrowed maintenance equipment. At Wycombe, a number of former Long Island Rail Road commuter coaches stored in case they are ever needed. At Ivyland, a series of sidings are present for freight operations out of Johnsville Yard.
A number of stub tracks also exist on NHRR. At Buckingham Valley, a small siding that once served the Buckingham Valley Trolley Association is presently used as a Repair-in-progress, or RIP-track. At Wycombe, the team track once used for less-than-carload deliveries is utilized as maintenance of way siding. At Grenoble, another siding created by severing the southern switch of a passing siding is present; this siding once held a number of pieces of equipment that were eventually scrapped. Today only passenger car 1542 remains on this siding as it was flipped over onto its side by vandals. At Ivyland, exists another RIP-track, typically used for storing MoW equipment; the final siding on the railroad is in Johnsville Yard at Warminster on the North side of the Street Road crossing. This siding is used for short-term storage of interchange freight equipment and storing the diesel locomotive assigned to freight service when not in use.
The stations along the NHRR were:
|Station Name||Locality||Milepost||Passenger Facilities||Notes|
|New Hope||New Hope, Pennsylvania||37.5||Combination Freight/Passenger station||32 West Bridge Street in downtown New Hope. Used as NHRR's ticket office; the ex-Reading freight house is used as a gift shop, with a third building constructed in the 1990s as a café for riders.|
|Huffnagle/Rosenthal/Hood||Solebury Township||36||Original, Wooden shelter. No evidence of station is left.||Originally known as Huffnagle, then Rosenthal. Became Hood after demolition of station.|
|Reeder||Solebury Township||35||Original: Wooden Shelter.||Named after Eastburn Reeder, Pennsylvania's first dairy/farm commissioner.|
|Lahaska||Buckingham Township||33||Original: Combination Freight/Passenger station. Currently a wooden platform (not used).||Destination for regular hourly excursions, original building relocated after termination of passenger service in 1952 and is currently in use as a private residence.|
|Bycot||Buckingham Township||31||Passenger station, removed around 1952.||Only stone station on the line.|
|None Such Farms||Buckingham Township||30.5||Currently no station present||While never an official station on NHRR or RDG timetables, it does serve as the terminus for NHRR's "Buckingham Valley" train and various dinner trains, worth to note.|
|Buckingham Valley||Buckingham Township||30||Current/Original Combination Freight/Passenger station||Destination for regular hourly excursions prior to the late 1980s, original station building demolished in 1953, current structure from the Pickering Branch near Phoenixville, Pennsylvania|
|Montessori School||Buckingham Township||29||Passenger station, removed around 1952.||One of three destinations used for RDG's Commutation School Passes|
|Wycombe||Buckingham Township||27||Combination Freight/Passenger station||Built to the same design as the Lahaska Station, current destination for railroad's "Fall Foliage" excursions.|
|Rushland||Wrightstown Township||25||Combination Freight/Passenger station||Freight station built from converted RDG 40-foot wooden boxcar # 13914|
|Grenoble||Northampton Township||23.5||Passenger station, removed around 1952.||Station relocated to hillside at some point with trails leading down to the platform|
|Traymore||Warwick Township||22||Passenger station, removed around 1952.||Relocated from the North Pennsylvania Railroad around 1890|
|Ivyland||Ivyland, Pennsylvania||20.5||Combination Freight/Passenger station||Reportedly moved to an unknown location after passenger service ended|
|Johnsville||Warminster||19.5||Original, Wooden shelter. No evidence of station is left.||Station area's yard still exists as yard for NHRR/PN. Division point for NHRR/SEPTA.|
Italicized stations are no longer in existence
Locomotives used in the excursion passenger service are usually provided by steam locomotive No. 40, a 2-8-0 1925 Baldwin wheel arrangement. No. 40 (ex-Cliffside Railroad) is supplemented by diesel powered locomotives primarily for freight operations. The current active diesel roster consists of EMD GP30 No. 2198 (ex-Pennsylvania Railroad), GMD GP-9u No. 8218 (ex-Canadian Pacific), and GMD SD40-2 No. 5577 (ex-Canadian Pacific).
Passenger excursions typically consist of 3–4 former RDG coaches built between 1914 and 1927; total NHRR passenger car count is 25, nine of which are currently in service; the only locomotives owned by the corporate structure of the NHRR are Nos. 40 and 1533. All diesels are owned by a privately held company (Rail Power Inc.) and leased to the operation. Rail Power Inc. is owned by three NHRR employees and also owns subsidiary Pennsylvania Northeastern's locomotives.
|Number||Heritage and wheel configuration||Notes|
|No. 40||Former Cliffside Railroad, Ex Lancaster & Chester (L&C), 2-8-0||Active, Built 1925 by Baldwin Locomotive Works (CN 58824) for L&C, bought by Steam Trains Inc. in 1962. It was infrequently used due to NHIR's favor of #1533, until that locomotive's withdrawal from service in 1975. After No. 9 was removed from service in 1981, NHOP's main source of motive power between 1981 and 1986 was No .40. Out of service between 1987 and 1990, returned to service by NHRR in 1991.|
|No. 1533||Former Canadian National (CN), Ex Canadian Northern Railway, 4-6-0||Out of service since 1975, Built 1911 by Montreal Locomotive Works (CN 49878) as CNoR No.264, renumbered by CNoR in 1912 to No. 1325, included in CN merger in 1923, renumbered to No. 1533 in June 1956, purchased by Steam Trains Inc. in 1962. Was NHIR's main locomotive between 1966 and 1974 and last ran in December 1975. Tender stored on deadline at New Hope, locomotive stored behind New Hope engine house.|
Former steam locomotives
|Model and number||Heritage||Notes|
|0-6-0 No. 7||Former Virginia Blue Ridge, Ex Norfolk and Portsmouth Belt Line, Exx US Army||Scrapped 1976. Built in 1944 by Lima Locomotive Works (CN unknown) as US Army No. 4061. Privately owned during time on NHIR. Never operated on NHIR.|
|0-6-0 No. 9||Former Virginia Blue Ridge, Ex US Army||Sold to SMS Rail Lines in 2009, built in 1942 by ALCO (CN 70421) as US Army No. 4023. Operated on NHIR 1966, 1969 to 1970, and 1976 to 1981.|
|Model and number||Heritage||Notes|
|GP-30 No. 2198||Former CR, Ex PC, Exx PRR||Built 4/1963 as PRR 2250. Used for passenger service. Regularly leased to PN for freight due to cab signals.|
|GP-9u No. 8218||Former CP||Built 8/1957 AS CP 8678. Rebuilt in 1988 by CP. Originally PN, transferred to NHRR in September 2017. Painted in simplified NH&I livery. Main passenger locomotive of NHRR.|
|SD40-2 No. 5577||Former CP||Built 3/1972, used by NHRR for freight. It is usually based in Warminster, Pennsylvania. In patched CP livery.|
|GE C30-7 No. 7087||Former CSXT, Ex SBD||Built 11/1981, was mainly used for freight along the line, but also saw occasional passenger operations. Retired.|
Passenger rolling stock
|Type and number||Heritage||Notes|
|Baggage Car No. 1096||Former AMTK, Ex ATSF||Active, built 1960 by Pullman-Standard Corporation, originally a baggage car No. 3997 during Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe and Amtrak service but converted by Iron Horse Enterprises for main line excursion service. Traded to NHRR as partial payment for work done to ex C&O 614. North end baggage door is fake. Windows are removable. Used as No. 40's Tool Car on the railroad's offline / Main Line Steam trips.|
|Coach No. 1127||Former VFSR, Ex RDG||In active service. Built 1922 by Harlan Plant of Bethlehem Steel for Reading Company, Class PBn, 84-seat coach. Was numbered #11 under NHOP operation. Purchased after closure of Valley Forge Scenic Railroad. Saw use during the "Reading Rambles" excursions. Is equipped with Taylor flexible-type (MU) trucks from the 1930s testing of a new truck style to be put on Reading's MU fleet.|
|Coach No. 1220||Former VFSR, Ex RDG||In active service. Built 1922 by Harlan Plant of Bethlehem Steel for Reading Company, Class PBn, 84-seat coach. Wore Reading Company livery from 1991-2008. Was numbered #12 under NHOP operation. Purchased after closure of Valley Forge Scenic Railroad. Only coach with tan seats instead of standard green.|
|Coach No. 1424||Former RDG||In active service. Built 1914 by Harlan Plant of Bethlehem Steel for Reading Company, Class PBh, 76-seat coach. Retains original Mahogany Interior. Named "Joseph R. Turner" in 1990s after stockholder. Was numbered #13 under NHOP operation. Saw use during the "Reading Rambles" excursions.|
|Parlor Car No. 1430||Former RDG||In active service. Built 1914 by Harlan Plant of Bethlehem Steel for Reading Company, Class PBh, 76-seat coach. Retains original Mahogany Interior. Converted to First Class Car in early 1970s with full bar with table and chair seating. Named "Donald L. Hammond" in 2013 after NHRR's Chairman Of The Board. Was numbered #14 under NHOP operation.|
|Coach No. 1505||Former RDG||In active service. Built 1914 by Harlan Plant of Bethlehem Steel for Reading Company, Class PBh, 76-seat coach. Retains original Mahogany Interior. Was numbered #15 under NHOP operation.|
|Open Air Observation Car No. 1525||Former RDG||In active service. Built 1927 by Bethlehem Steel for Reading Company, Class PBr, 76-seat coach. Former air conditioned/semi-streamlined car. Was converted in 1967 by NHRR to a two-thirds open and one-third closed coach, with open platforms on each end. Was taken out of service in 1979 and stored at Wycombe until 2008. Was rebuilt by NHRR as a full length open air/observation car with back platform. Named "Jack R. Rominger."|
|Coach No. 4907||Former BR&W, Ex CN, Exx CNoR||Active, built 1919 by Canadian Car and Foundry, constructed as 14 section "Colonist Sleeper" car, originally Canadian Northern No. 2877, has composite construction; wood frame and steel skin. Sold to NHRR from Black River & Western in 1993, used as birthday car as well as an overflow coach during busy seasons such as during Christmas and Fall trains.|
|Dining Car No. 800301||Former American Orient Express, Ex Alaska Railroad, Exx Union Pacific||In active service. Built 1949 by American Car and Foundry as a dinning car with table and chair seating, seats 48. Began as Union Pacific as Car No. 5004 for their City of Los Angeles and City of Portland trains. Was sold to Alaska Railroad as a dinning car, then to the American Orient Express' operation where it was renamed "Zurich". After the end of AEO's operations it was sold to Ross Rowland for his Greenbriar Presidential Express. At this time the car was renamed "Crater Lake". After the failure to get the train running, the car was auctioned off to New Hope Railroad. Car was restored in 2017 and currently serves as a first class car. Used as Parlor Car only, has minibar on South End.|
Out-Of-Service Passenger Cars
|Type & Number||Heritage||Notes|
|Coach No. 9125||Former SEPTA, Ex RDG||Out of service. Built 1932 by Bethlehem Steel for Reading Company as an electric multiple unit No. 870. Class PBn, 84-seat coach. Became coach on wire train after SEPTA's retirement of the Blueliner fleet. Was No. 9125 under Blueliner and SEPTA service. Sold 2008 to NHRR. Is equipped with Taylor flexible-type (MU) trucks.|
|Parlor/Dining Car No. 1202||Former VFSR, Ex RDG||Out-of-Service, Built 1922 by Harlan Plant of Bethlehem Steel for Reading Company, Class PBn. originally an 84-seat coach but converted by NHRR in 1990s into a Parlor/Dining Car, Renumbered #16 under NHOP operation, From Valley Forge Scenic Railroad, used on private charters.|
|RPO/Mail Car No. 72||Former WCRL, Ex CNJ||Out Of Service Built by Jackson and Sharp in 1923, has NHSR text on its side, once used as the gift shop and ticket office, One of two CNJ rolling stock owned by NHRR. Currently used for additional storage, sitting behind shop in New Hope.|
|Coach No. 983||Former VFSR, EX CNJ||Out-of-Service. Built by Pullman-Standard in 1923. Retains its original Mahogany Interior. One of two CNJ rolling stock owned by NHRR, From Valley Forge Scenic Railroad. Currently stored in New Hope awaiting restoration.|
|Coach No. 1113||Former VFSR, Ex RDG||Out-of-Service. Built 1922 by Harlan Plant of Bethlehem Steel for Reading Company. Class PBn, stored at Buckingham.|
|Open Air Car No. 1366||Former RDG||Out-of-Service, Class PB1, Built 1918 by Harlan Plant of Bethlehem Steel for Reading Company, coach converted into an Open Air Car 1970, stored at New Hope.|
|Coach No. 1536||Former RDG||Out-of-Service, Class PBr, Built 1927 by Bethlehem Steel for Reading Company, 74 seats, last used in 1969, stored at New Hope.|
|Coach No. 1542||Former RDG||Out-of-Service, Class PBr, Built 1927 by Bethlehem Steel for Reading Company, 74 seats, last used in 1969, stored at Grenoble, former "Air Conditioned" Coach, heavily vandalized, flipped on its side by vandals in mid-2010, still retains semi-streamlined skirting.|
|Pullman Parlor Car No. 2004||Former BR&W, Ex LIRR, Exx NYC, Exxx Pullman Company||Out of Service, built 1914 as lot 4329, plan 2417A Parlor-Buffet, originally named "Andrico," was a part of the Empire State Limited in NYC years, was a Club Car named "Syossett" in LIRR years, stored at New Hope.|
|Coach No. 2804||Former LIRR||Out of Service, Class P72, Built 1952 by Pullman-Standard, stored at Wycombe.|
|Coach No. 2805||Former LIRR||Out Of Service, Class P72, Built 1952 by Pullman-Standard, stored at Wycombe.|
|Coach No. 2816||Former LIRR||Out Of Service, Class P72, Built 1952 by Pullman-Standard, stored at Wycombe. In NHRR livery.|
|Coach No. 2817||Former LIRR||Out Of Service, Class P72, Built 1952 by Pullman-Standard. Used for the railroad's Haunted Halloween Events in October. While no changes have been made to the outside of the car, the inside of the coach has been fully redone for the event. In NHRR livery.|
|Coach No. 2820||Former LIRR||Out Of service, Class P72, Built 1952 by Pullman-Standard, stored at Wycombe.|
|Coach No. 2826 (2834)||Former LIRR||Out Of Service, Class P72, Built 1952 by Pullman-Standard, stored at Wycombe. In NHRR livery.|
|Coach No. 2834||Former LIRR||Out Of Service, Class P72, Built 1952 by Pullman-Standard, stored at Wycombe.|
Freight rolling stock
|Type and number||Heritage||Notes|
|Hopper Car No. 303||Former CR, Ex PC, Exx PRR||In service, wears white NHRR livery, open/exposed bin, designated for ballast service, kept in good shape, built 1955. Currently used in NHRR M.O.W. Train.|
|Flatcar No. 480047||Former IHB, Ex PC, Exx PRR||In service, wears PRR lettering, steel frame, wooden platform, used to haul railroad ties and other supplies, acquired from Indiana Harbor Belt . Currently used in NHRR M.O.W. Train.|
|Dump Car No. 53033||Former CN||In service, Wears faded chipped CN livery, used to haul ballast and other minerals, built 1957. Currently used in NHRR M.O.W. Train.|
|Boxcar No. 9811||Former NYSW||Retired, 40s Frame, PS-1, stored at Buckingham Valley, no longer sees active use.|
|Tank Car No. 3752||Former UTLX||In service, Built by Union Tank Car Co., UTLX, 3 dome tanker.|
|Flatcar No. 38009||Former US Army||Out of service, 4 truck tank carrier, built 1951.|
|Tank Car No. 55926||Former UTLX||In service, Built in 1913, Unique due to the platform at the top of the ladder.|
|Tank Car No. 6622||Former SHPX||In service, Built in 1940, 6 domes.|
|Tank Car No. 1606||Former SBIX||Out of service, Built in 1948, Wooden tank with steel frame, Used to haul vinegar.|
|Hopper Car No. 12153||Former Lehigh Valley||Out of service, 55-t-on 2-bay hopper, built by Bethlehem Steel in 1944, From Pemberton Historic Trust.|
|No. 575||Former N&B, Ex LNE||Out of service, wooden, was stored at Buckingham for a long time before being brought to New Hope on 2 November 2012. This caboose has had wall paneling and flooring replaced and is still in the process of restoration.|
|No. 576||Former N&B, Ex LNE||Restoration, wooden, was stored on deadline at New Hope until 2005 when NHRR ripped off its paneling to begin restoration of the car; as of 2013, it has had a new cupola fabricated and new wood siding is starting to be put on.|
- "Reporting Mark Search". Railinc. Retrieved 4 March 2010.
- Pawson, John R. (1979). Delaware Valley Rails: The Railroads and Rail Transit Lines of the Philadelphia Area. Willow Grove, Pennsylvania: John R. Pawson. pp. 115–117. ISBN 0-9602080-0-3.
- Balkin, Marc (2007). Ride the New Hope Line!. Mark I Videos.
- New Hope Railroad. "History." Accessed 2011-01-22.