Written by: Gary Dolzall
Train Simulator’s classic New York – Philadelphia Amtrak Northeast Corridor route is now re-released in a remastered edition!
Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor is America’s busiest passenger railroad and among its most vibrant and captivating. Across the Corridor, Amtrak carries more than 11 million passengers each year, the Corridor hosts America’s fastest train (the Acela), and it is home to Amtrak’s three busiest stations (New York Penn, Philadelphia 30th Street and Washington Union Station). Back in 2011, Train Simulator created the busiest segment of the corridor – the 91 mainline route miles between New York and Philadelphia – and the famed “NEC” has now been re-released in an enhanced and remastered edition!
The remastered edition of Train Simulator’s Northeast Corridor will be automatically provided via Steam and free to owners of the original route, as well as again be available for newcomers to purchase and enjoy. To celebrate the upcoming return of the NEC, let’s take a fresh look at the history of the route and the key features of this classic route which re-creates the 91 magnificent miles linking New York City and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
In modern terms, what is known as Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor extends from Washington, D.C. northeast some 457 route miles via Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City to Boston. In an older time, and by tradition, “the Corridor” was most often equated to the Pennsylvania Railroad’s great 1920’s-1930’s electrification – a project that would electrify 244 route miles of PRR mainline trackage at a cost of $175 million and where, in Pennsy days, legendary trains such as the Broadway Limited and Morning Congressional mingled with endless commuter-totting “Clockers,” and the power of choice was the iconic, Raymond Lowey-styled Pennsy GG1 electric. Today, this vital and busy line hosts America’s fastest train – the Acela – as well as an endless flurry of Amtrak Northeast Regional trains and the commuter trains of NJ Transit (between New York and Trenton) and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (between Trenton and Philadelphia).
Without a doubt, every mile of the Northeast Corridor is captivating, but arguably none are more so than the catenary-draped 91 miles that extend from New York Penn Station to Philadelphia 30th Street Station. Those 91 route miles begin in the heart of New York City, at famed New York Penn Station (named for the Pennsylvania Railroad, which constructed the first version of the station in 1910), a station that typically sees more than 100 Amtrak passenger movements a day and generates annual ridership of 10 million passengers. To exit New York and reach the meadowlands of New Jersey, the Corridor ducks under the wide Hudson River via 14,500-foot-long twin tubes, then makes its way to Newark Penn Station. Just short of Newark, at Harrison, stands the massive Dock lift bridge over the Passaic River, which carries not only the Corridor but the tracks of the Port Authority’s Trans Hudson light-rail line.
It is south of Newark that the Northeast Corridor becomes a real steel speedway, with 100-to-125-mph running in many sections (albeit briefly interrupted by the grand sweeping S-curves of Elizabeth). On one of Pennsy’s many classic arch bridges, the Corridor spans the Raritan River at New Brunswick, New Jersey, and it is between New Brunswick and Trenton that the NEC host to the fastest running on the New York – Philadelphia section of the Corridor. Trenton, the capital of New Jersey, is 58 miles south of New York and its Transit Center is served by the trains of Amtrak, NJ Transit, and SEPTA. Just south of Trenton, the Corridor bridges the Delaware River, then points toward North Philadelphia. The area around North Philadelphia, as is northern New Jersey, is dotted with lineside industries and while the Corridor is first and foremost a passenger route, it regularly sees freight operations by both CSX and Norfolk Southern (as part of Conrail “Shared Assets” operations).
After crossing high above the scenic Schuylkill River approaching Philadelphia, Amtrak trains make their way through fabled “Zoo Interlocking” (so named for the nearby Philadelphia Zoo), where Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and Keystone Service route west to Harrisburg converge. Just south of Zoo Interlocking awaits the grand, multi-level Philadelphia 30th Street Station which – with annual ridership of 4.1 million passengers – stands only behind New York Penn and Washington (D.C.) Union Station as the busiest stations on the Amtrak national network.
Thanks to Train Simulator’s now available enhanced and remastered New York-Philadelphia Northeast Corridor route, which features Amtrak’s long-time workhorse AEM-7 electric (upgraded with an improved cab and signaling) and Amfleet passenger equipment, we’ll all be able to take the throttle of an Amtrak speedster and experience first-hand the challenges and drama of operations along these 91 magnificent miles of American railroading! – Gary Dolzall ■