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NJ Transit Meadowlands Rail Line Trip Report

On 15 November 2009 we took the special Meadowlands service from Westport to the Meadowlands. I purchased our tickets on the internet before the trip, so I already had them in hand when we arrived in Westport. We arrived a bit before our train and were surprised to find the waiting room in Westport open. Although the station was pretty busy when we arrived, most of the other passengers were taking the New Haven Line train to Grand Central that left just before our train. Soon our very long bi-level New Jersey Transit train arrived. It was surprisingly crowded considering that we boarded at one of the first stops, but that may have been because only about half of the train was open and we were in the last open car, still we had no problem finding seats, and it was a treat to ride nearly new equipment on the New Haven Line.

After our first time crossing the Hell Gate Bridge to Long Island we pulled in to Penn Station. We had about a 15 minute wait in Penn Station while the Metro-North crew left the train and a New Jersey Transit crew boarded. This train actually became a regular Northeast Corridor Line train to Trenton, just with a bunch of Metro-North customers already on board as the regular NJ Transit passengers arrived. During this changeover we were sitting right next to the panel where the destination signs and other passenger information is set, so it was interesting to watch the crew prepare for the next run.

At Secaucus Junction we had to switch from the upper level to the lower level to catch the train to the Meadowlands. Because we had Metro-North tickets instead of the electronic NJ Transit tickets, this meant we had to go to a special turnstile, but this still worked pretty easily. A huge mass of people made their way to the lower platforms, but a train soon arrived and there was sufficient room for everybody.

Once at the Meadowlands station, we milled around for a bit, watching more trains arrive every few minutes. Most of these trains left empty, but every half hour one was available for the return trip. Surprisingly there were about 50 of us leaving the Meadowlands before the game, a few being other rail fans and others being people who came to tailgate with their friends but didn’t have tickets to the game. Boarding this return train was controlled, requiring us to first wait in a holding area near the platform, then allowed on the platform and led to the one car being used for the return journey. Many people had to buy tickets on the train since there are no ticket machines at the station and many people were only going one way. Our ticket was one the conductor had never seen before, probably because it was not only a Metro-North ticket but one purchased on the internet. He still accepted it with no problem though. At Secaucus Junction we had to once again find someone to let us through the turnstiles to the upper level platforms so we could return to Penn Station. We walked from Penn Station to Grand Central, and caught the first train back to Westport. This train was very crowded, and nowhere near as clean as the nice new NJ Transit equipment we had taken earlier. Although the Meadowlands tickets were valid on regular Metro-North trains on game day, our ticket still baffled the conductor since we were there early in the afternoon, long before the game ended. We ended our day with a crowded but uneventful ride back to Westport.

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