Tuesday Tour of the Port Jervis Line: Suffern


Erie-Lackawanna train at Suffern in 1966. Photo by Carl R. Baldwin.

Welcome to Suffern, our first stop on our tour of the Port Jervis Line. As you are no doubt aware, the Port Jervis line is on the west side of the Hudson, its trains do not enter Grand Central, and the service is operated by New Jersey Transit. Suffern is a little bit of an island unto itself, however. Although it is located in New York state, Suffern is for the most part a New Jersey Transit station, and is operated by NJT. Unlike the rest of the Port Jervis Line stations, which are owned by Metro-North, the typical station signage which we are all familiar with is not present here. Although Metro-North keeps some ridership statistics regarding Suffern, it is generally not grouped with the rest of the Port Jervis Line stations for record keeping. But to keep everyone confused, Suffern does appear on Metro-North timetables, and Metro-North’s website does have a station page for Suffern.

 
   
 
Various historical photos of Suffern, ranging from Erie-Lackawanna days in 1968, Conrail in 1978, and more current Metro-North/NJ Transit service

As we tour the Port Jervis line, you will notice relatively quickly some of the major differences between service on the east and the west of the Hudson. While almost all east of Hudson stations are high-level platforms, all of the stations on the west are low-level. This arrangement makes things difficult for people in wheelchairs – so all handicapped-accessible stations have a small high-level portion of the platform to facilitate boarding. At first seeing these little platforms is strange, but when a train arrives it makes a bit more sense. However, you will not see one of these mini platforms at Suffern – the closest handicap-accessible stations are Harriman to the north, or Ramsey Route 17 (in New Jersey) to the south (or, as Metro-North suggests, Nanuet – though it is on the Pascack Valley Line, and not the Port Jervis).


Suffern’s old depot, destroyed in 1941

Although Suffern does have a small station building, it is a replacement that was built in 1941 – and not the original Victorian structure that dated to 1887. The current placement of the station is also not where it originally was – the platforms and the replacement station were erected slightly more south than before. A small structure, built in 1908 and used as a Wells Fargo mail depot, sits not far from where the original station was. The building was opened as a small railroad museum in 1998. Located just past the museum is a train yard that New Jersey Transit maintains.


Commuter rail guides – listing the “Erie-Lackawanna Railway” – and an Erie-Lackawanna ticket from Hoboken to Suffern

Unlike Metro-North’s other Port Jervis Line stations, Suffern has two tracks. Because the platforms are low-level there is a fence in-between the tracks to deter people from crossing over to the other side that way. The usual destinations for commuters from Suffern are Secaucus and Hoboken. A trip to Hoboken ranges from 45 to 70+ minutes, and a trip to Secaucus 35 to 50+ minutes. Riders can transfer at Secacus to get to Penn Station, or at Hoboken to get to the World Trade Center.

 
  
   
 
   
 
   
 
   
 
  
 



15 thoughts on “Tuesday Tour of the Port Jervis Line: Suffern

  1. nobody no where loading rock chemicals and minerals onto railcars anymore to make Twinkees that never saw a plant or vegetable….!! Hoboken, Frank Sinatras hometown, i did not realize it was so closely accessible….and thanks to Emily, i know my Grandmother is buried next to Babe Ruth and Anyn Rand, and thanks to google , zillow or showmystreet.com i see baseball diamonds being built all over my old homestead areas in the back lots but due to somewhat radical economics, im an outsider looking in and missing my twinkees, so i say i never liked winter, and have not spent a winter in cold for 40 years…..thanks for the lovely pictures of unmoved mountains and unfilled dredge lakes and unmoved rails but permits to work practically require beggings which may be against the law………………

  2. Notes:

    The 1941 depot was constructed because the 1887 was the site of numerous hits of passengers by train.

    There used to be Metro-North signage in the early 80s instead of the NJ Transit signage.

    1. I suppose that is a valid reason for relocating the placement of the station… though a poor one for tearing down the 1887 building. Unfortunate they couldn’t keep it.

  3. The location of the 1887 depot was awkward enough, since it doubled as a Piermont Branch station.

    The Erie, as you’ll see south of Suffern, was not made of money at that point and by the 50s, every cent counted. Hell, SF Tower, which is in one of your photos, was held up by timber boards when the Thruway was constructed on its foundation. It remained that way too until demolition. People do call it the Leaning Tower of Suffern because that’s exactly what it did.

  4. Does this line handle any freight traffic? That could explain the mini-highs.

    In Boston, these platforms have a removable edge about eight inches deep that allow the passage of oversized freight loads. My home line (Worcester) is shared with CSX and can’t have full high platforms installed because of the time that would have to be spent removing and later reinstalling this edging.

    The other more obvious option is simply insufficient ridership to justify improvements, and/or a lack of money.

    1. You’re right… Norfolk Southern runs freight on here (I believe they own the tracks as well). But if that weren’t the case, I don’t know if there is enough ridership to justify it. Anyways, I like the mini high platforms. They are cute :P

      1. They do not own the tracks until Hillburn Yard. NJ Transit owns up to Hillburn Yard.

        2800 riders a year is not enough to justify it either.

      2. have seen the cost of rail is 5 million a mile….quite a lot of recycled tin cans to get a spur line in… not enough rock…?,, 5200 feet apx not to long length seeable tho….

  5. unpaid taxes on rail can open a large can of worms…reminding me oddly of Eliot Roosevelt…………….gone missing like twinkees…

    1. Mike, did they give you a day pass to go to the internet cafe? I’m only kidding, you crack me up though. I think I’m too young to know who Elliot Roosevelt was, so I had to look him up. I was six when he died :P

  6. had to look him up myself, tho, but young and beauty seems to suit you, perhaps in what is your field now tho, you might find a sack of 40 mill, left in clues easy carried away from corporate mismanagement, but Mz Emily CEO President of neo twinkee Company, the way things go, might be the employments i need soon enough, Elliot lived in the hills overlooking the valley desert I live in lately….with no am track anymore…..

  7. I don’t know about Twinkies, but Suffern used to be the home of Avon lipstick. At one time I worked at the Avon HQ in Manhattan and we looked into improving the telephone system at the Suffern facility. Well, it’s tough (and expensive) to rewire an old building where some of the interior walls are 2-feet thick of solid stone.

    Kind of like the problems with some old railroad stations.

    Avon manufacturing ceased there in 2002, but I was already gone from Avon at the time. But I still think of the lipstick production line when I drive by on the Thruway.

  8. I use to go to Ramapo College so I could either take the NJ Transit from Mahwah or Suffern. But just to let Emily know, whenever a train does travel past Suffern there will be at least one or two passenger cars and one engine pulling the train that will have the markings of MTA Metro North.

    I would assume that is part of the contract between the MTA of NY And NJ Transit sharing the rails.

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