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Pennsylvania Railroad

Manhattan Transfer & Hudson River Tunnels, New York City

An inbound train arriving at Manhattan Transfer. At it's rear, you can just barely make out the bridge carrying the transit line to northern New Jersey.

Note that the locomotive is already into the fringes of the third rail district. You can see how the rail changes from right to left to work around the turnout.

At left is part of the return loop of the line leading to the Hudson & Manhattan transit tunnel into the City.


The H&M had originally terminated at Newark. When it came into the PRR orbit, they received trackage rights and their third rail was extended into Manhattan Transfer, where two 1100 foot long platforms have been built for passengers to change trains. (This is why the junction is known as Manhattan Transfer, rather than because of the change of motive power.) This loop line operates strictly with MU equipment.

Both illustrations courtesy the Pennsylvania RR Historical & Technical Society

An outbound train pauses at the covered transfer platforms. The head end brakeman hurries to pull the coupler lever while a MoW crew looks on.

Because there are only two through tracks here, and the PRR New York Division sees a train movement every 5 minutes, 24 hours a day, the exchange is honed down to a fine art.

Within 3-1/2 minutes, the DD-1 is cut off and moves clear, the road power coupled on, the air tests completed and the train is on its way.

The electric can then either move to the standing tracks or be sent directly back to the City if a power balancing move is needed.

In a curious maneuver, westbound trains scheduled to pause at the stub end Broad Street Station, Philadelphia, leave Penn Station running backward. At Broad street, the train arrives backward, another locomotive couples to the head end and they proceed west in the proper direction. Trains not scheduled into Broad Street depart Manhattan Transfer in the proper forward facing manner.

Aside from the main lines, Manhattan Transfer includes standing tracks for steam and electric power and steam locomotive servicing facilities. The Mechanical Department has a Bad Order track and shops where light repairs or adjustments can be made.

Manhattan Transfer also abuts to the Meadows Yard, so freight movements are also dispatched from nearby (although not through the Transfer proper.)

Below is a schematic of how Manhattan Transfer looked at the height of its operation. When the through 11000 Volt AC lines reached here in 1933, the exchange of motive power was discontinued. The Transfer continued in use until 1937 as an exchange point to H&M trains. However, that has also ended and the last of the terminal trackage is slated to be removed.

Jersey Meadows

Approaching the Hudson we come to Bergen Hill and the Jersey Meadows. In this 1914 photo a train pulled by a DD-1 has just emerged from the Hackensack Portal bound for Manhattan Transfer.

The bridge in the foreground crosses the main line of the Erie railroad en-route to their own terminal at Jersey City.


Both photos courtesy New Jersey State Historical Society

Another 1914 view from the top of the portal casement. An inbound train, again under the care of a DD-1 is just entering the Hudson River Tunnel. Present speed is down to 30 mph.

At left is Sub Station #3, which provides power to this stretch of the third rail. The group of small buildings near the center are for the Track Gang.

Note how remarkably rural this scene is, considering that Lower Manhattan is only a few thousand yards away.


Rail-Ferry Terminals

PRR Manhattan Transfer

Pennsylvania RR Electrification - - New Haven electrification


New York Metro Area Mega Map - - Jamacia, LI

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North East Rails  Clint Chamberlin.
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