History: The rail lines in South Jersey were built out in the mid 19th century, in large part to connect metropolitan Philadelphia with the shore towns from Atlantic City through Cape May. The completion of the Delaware River Bridge in 1928 eroded much of the passenger traffic causing the creation of the Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines in 1933 and a consolidation of duplicate routes. The creation of Conrail in 1976 allowed a further consolidation. Set in the 1990s, my model railroad follows an alternate history with different lines being kept and discarded.
Route description: The railroad starts at Pavonia yard in Camden and follows the old West Jersey and Seashore through Gloucester City, Woodbury, Vineland and Millville. The passenger route to Atlantic City diverges at Newfield and follows a WJ&S line abandoned in 1941. There is one branch from Woodbury to Paulsboro with interchanges to two shortlines, the Winchester and Western at Millville and SLRS at Paulsboro.
Traffic and Industry: South Jersey is primarily a consuming region with goods and raw materials being delivered. The region does have sand mine, agriculture and petroleum refining the support outbound loads. Specific traffic and commodities were generally derived from a sample of actual traffic handled by Conrail. Industries modeled include a bakery, paper warehouse, beverage distributor, building supply, glass factory, power plant, food distributor, auto ramp, intermodal ramp, transload facility, refinery, and a model manufacturer.
Operating the Layout: The layout is equipped with NCE DCC. Control of train movement is planned to be “verbal track warrants”. Car movement is controlled by a home-grown waybilling system using table based block and train assignment tables.
Description of operations - Freight: Freight traffic arrives on a trio of road trains from “points west”. There are a pair of Conrail merchandise freights, one from Conway PA (Pittsburgh) and one from Allentown PA as well as a combined multilevel and intermodal train from Harrisburg PA. There is also a unit coal train serving the electric generating station in Vineland. The inbound traffic is classified at Pavonia and dispatched to serving yards at Millville and Paulsboro for local delivery.
Passenger: All service is between Philadelphia and Atlantic City operates in push-pull mode. Amtrak operates non-stop trains into and out of Atlantic City. One train carries a through sleeper and diner from Chicago. New Jersey Transit operate commuter service between Atlantic City and Philadelphia.
Equipment: The locomotive fleet follows standard Conrail practice and models from the era. High HP four and six axles on the road trains, Low HP four axles on the yard and local jobs. Cabooses are still used (because I like them and the operating complexity that comes with!). Freight car type and road are (more or less) appropriate for the commodities and era.
Scale / Gauge
Size of Layout
23 x 13
Southern New Jersey
1985 - 1995
Style of Track Plan
Folded Dog Bone
Length of Main Line
lower 46", upper 60""
Wood frame deck
Minimum Main Line Radius
Foam board with ground goop. Some plaster cloth over carboard lattice.
% Scenery Complete
DCC - NCE
Car Forwarding System
Train Authority / Dispatching
Mother May I
Use basement side door on LH side of house as you face it. Be careful! Have to walk across lawn and navigate an uneven stone path that leads to door.