In my previous post, I mentioned the Central Railroad of New Jersey. The Blue Comet is likely the most memorable service from that fallen flag. Running from the Communipaw Terminal in Jersey City, across southern Newark Bay into Elizabeth, then down the Raritan Bay shore and the coast to Whiting, and then on to Winslow Junction, the Blue Comet provided quick, reliable service to Atlantic City. The line was legendary and any one that grew up in South Jersey with even a passing interest in rail has heard of the line. It’s often lauded by rail fans as an example of the Golden Age of Rail – dining car service, long (but comfortable) trips spent relaxing in style. It’s a sign of what we had and lost.
I’m sure someone will point out that the Aces Train is not the Blue Comet, likely dismissing it as a pale imitation. Aces does have a lounge car and cars different from the rest of NJ Transit’s rolling stock. It does manage to go through three states (NY, PA and NJ) but its route is surprisingly only 10 miles longer than that of the Blue Comet. Aces Train makes it all the way to New York Penn, while the Blue Comet required an initial ferry trip. The Blue Comet also made a new extra stops (Elizabeth, Shrewsbury, Whiting and more) than the one-stop-at-Newark Aces.
If rail fans want to see the golden age of rail return, they need to get out and embrace this line, whether they actually patronize the line or not. The introduction of services like Aces (run by public corps like NJ Transit and Amtrak, no less) are a sign that recreational rail patronage, once again, is a real possibility.