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Princeton Junction, New Jersey Transit River Line and Other Locations 5/01/2023

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I awoke at the Quality Inn and after doing our Internet duties, went to PJ's Pancake House where we both had excellent meals. We then drove to the parking lot at Princeton Junction and paid to park.

Princeton Junction Information

Princeton Junction station is eponymously in Princeton Junction, New Jersey, located in West Windsor Township. It serves New Jersey Transit and Amtrak on the Northeast Corridor, as well as New Jersey Transit on the Princeton Branch.

Princeton Junction's origins can be traced back to the United New Jersey Railroad and Canal Company, the predecessor of the Pennsylvania Railroad in the 19th century. The original station was built in 1864, in preparation for Princeton Branch service to begin in 1865.

Albert Einstein, who lived at 112 Mercer Street in Princeton, used to enjoy sitting at the station and watching the trains go by. More than once, he employed trains to explain the practical effects of his General Theory of Relativity.

The Pennsylvania Railroad depot at Princeton Junction caught fire on December 27, 1953. The fire, believed to be caused by rodents eating electrical wire, trapped the station caretaker who lived in the building. Virginia Worrilow, the caretaker, stated that she heard a crackling noise similar to a fire from several years prior. When she opened the door to check on the fire, Worrilow had flames trap her in the second-story room. Worrilow escaped to the roof of the station and police rescued her. However, her dog perished in the fire.

In 1965, a prototype for the high-speed Metroliner passed through the station at the record speed (at that time) of 164 miles per hour on a short demonstration run. Very few sections of the Northeast Corridor were capable of handling that speed, and most had to be upgraded before Penn Central's Metroliner service was introduced in 1969. A speed of 170.8 mph was achieved on the same portion of track on December 20, 1967 when the United States-built UAC TurboTrain set the rail speed record in North America. A plaque at the station commemorates the event.

The present station house was built in 1987. Most of Amtrak's Princeton Junction service prior to 2005 was Clocker service commuter traffic to New York, Newark or Philadelphia. On October 28, 2005, the Clockers were replaced by NJT trains that run only as far south as Trenton.

Princeton Junction has been designated the core of the West Windsor transit village, a smart-growth initiative to promote transit-oriented development which can include government incentives to encourage compact, higher density, mixed-use development within walking distance of the station. Development adjacent to the station permits higher densities and will include retail end entertainment elements.

As of 2017, Princeton Junction was the sixth-busiest station in the NJ Transit rail system, with an average of 6,817 weekday boardings. In addition to the Northeast Corridor Line, NJT operates a 2.7-mile spur line, the Princeton Branch, to Princeton station located at the Princeton University campus. The shuttle is colloquially known as the "Dinky" and has also been known as the "PJ&B" (for "Princeton Junction and Back"). Two train cars, or sometimes just one, are used. A single switch connects the branch to the Northeast Corridor tracks north of the station.

Service on the Princeton Branch was suspended from October 14, 2018 through May 11, 2019, replaced by shuttle buses, as part of NJT's systemwide service reductions during the installation and testing of positive train control.

Amtrak provides two early-morning trains to Washington, D.C. and two evening returns, as well as one morning train to Harrisburg and one evening return, all of which call at Philadelphia. Many more Amtrak trains stop at the nearby Trenton Transit Center. Until 2007, all Amtrak Pennsylvanian trains stopped at Princeton Junction. The southbound Amtrak Palmetto began stopping in Princeton Junction in October 2015.

The station has two high-level side platforms. Most of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor lines bypass the station via the inner tracks, except for select Keystone and Northeast Regional trains and the weekday southbound Palmetto. The next northbound station is Jersey Avenue, but all northbound trains originating in Trenton skip this station and service New Brunswick, with other trains originating at Jersey Avenue.

Our visit

We found the Princeton Dinky ready to depart so we boarded the train for the quick ride to Princeton University and detrained there.

The Princeton Dinky at the Princeton University station. We returned to Princeton Junction station and walked under the tracks to the east platform for some railfanning.

New Jersey Transit train 3915 bound for Trenton.

New Jersey Transit train 3834 on its way to New York City.

New Jersey Transit ALP-46 4615.

New Jersey Transit train 3915 left Princeton Junction.

Acela Express 2104 bound for Boston.

Northeast Regional 141 heading to Washington, D.C.

Amtrak Vermonter 56 on its way to St. Albans, Vermont.

New Jersey Transit train 3829 makes its way to Trenton.

New Jersey Transit ALP-46 4601.

New Jersey Transit train 3829 is overtaken by an Amtrak Regional.

New Jersey Transit train 3829 left the Junction.

Amtrak's Silver Star, Train 92 from Miami to New York City, ran through the station.

New Jersey Transit train 6826 bound for New York City.

Acela Express 2153 heading to Washington, D.C.

Northeast Regional Train 86 led by ACS-64 634, the second of four locomotives with the brand new wrap for "Harry Potter and the Cursed Children" musical.

When the Princeton Dinky crew change occurs, the train pulls almost onto the Northeast Corridor.

Princeton Tower is no longer in service. We then purchased four one way tickets to Trenton.

New Jersey Transit train 3834 for New York with ALP-46 4654.

We boarded New Jersey Transit train 3833 for Elizabeth's first ride on any line of this agency.

Amtrak GP38-3 524, ex GO Transit 504, exx. GO Transit 9804, nee Canadian National GP40TC 604 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1966 on a ballast train.

Amtrak GP15D 575, built by Motive Power Industries in 2004, also on the same ballast train. We detrained at Trenton and went outside.

Pennsylvania Railroad Trenton station built in 1908. We walked across the street to the New Jersey Transit River Line station.

New Jersey Transit River Line

The River Line is a hybrid rail (light rail with some features similar to commuter rail) line that connects the cities of Camden and Trenton, New Jersey's capital. It is so named because its route between the two cities is parallel to the Delaware River.

The River Line stops at the PATCO Speedline's Broadway station (Walter Rand Transportation Center) and the NJ Transit Atlantic City Line's Pennsauken Transit Center, providing connections to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Its northern terminus is adjacent to the Trenton Transit Center.

The line is operated for New Jersey Transit by the Southern New Jersey Rail Group, which originally included Bechtel Group and Bombardier. Now that the project is in its operational phase, Bombardier is the only member of Southern New Jersey Rail Group.


The River Line was constructed on what originally was the Camden-Bordentown section and the Bordentown-Trenton Branch of the Camden & Amboy Railroad. The lines ran under the C&A name between 1830 and 1871, when the line was absorbed into the Pennsylvania Railroad. Ownership proceeded under Penn Central (1968) and Conrail (1976) until June 1, 1999, but the original passenger service had been abandoned in 1963.

Our Ride

We waited at the east end of the platform for our train to arrive.

River Line Train 3520 arrived and we boarded, taking seats behind the operator. The train stopped at Hamilton Avenue, Cass Street, Bordertown and Roebling station.

Passing the Roebling Museum which tells the story of the origins and growth of Roebling, New Jersey, a company town built by John A. Roebling's Sons Company. Some of the most important technological achievements of the industrial age such as big bridges, telegraphs and telephones, electrification, deep mines, big ships, elevators and airplanes as well as everyday objects were built in Roebling.

The train then stopped at Florence, Burlington Towne Centre, Burlington South, Delanco and Riverside. Here everyone had to detrain and ride a New Jersey Transit bus one stop because of track work between Riverside and Cinnaminson this week.

Our next train arrived and we boarded car 3506 at Cinnaminson then then stopped at Riverton, Palmyra, RT 23/Pennsauken, Pennsauken Transit Center, 38th Street Station, Walter Rand Transportation Center, Cooper Street/Rutgers University, Aquarium and the final stop at Entertainment Center. Here Elizabeth and I switched trainsets for the trip back to Trenton with the usual bus transfer between Cinnaminson and Riverside.

The Philadephia 76ers are the National Basketball Association team in the city across the Delaware River.

The car shop for the River Line.

Juniata Terminal Railroad caboose 477863, nee Pennsylvania Railroad 477863, built by the railroad in 1942.

Juniata Terminal Railroad SW1500 9625, ex. Union Pacific 1068, exx. Union Pacific Yard 1068, nee Southern Pacific 2461, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1967.

Pennsylvania Railroad Riverside station which used to be on the Camden and Amboy line.

Pennsylvania Railroad Pemberton station built in 1861. We made our way back to Trenton, crossed the street into the station and went down the stairs to Track One to wait for our train.

New Jersey Transit train 3854 took us back to Princeton Junction where we walked under the tracks and returned to the car but there was one final picture to take here.

New Jersey Transit's Princeton Dinky ready to go to Princeton University. We left and Elizabeth directed me to New York Camera in Princeton where I bought a new lens and Elizabeth acquired more film then we made our way to Aberdeen, Maryland. We had dinner at Bob Evans and stayed at the Comfort Inn this night.