TrainWeb.org Facebook Page
Railbuses

Railbuses


#10

#11

The Rahway Valley Railroad's first railbus, numbered 10, was built by the Railway Motor Car Company in c.1910 (Source: Bernhart). This railbus had a trial run on the RVRR in July of 1912 and was later put into service. Pulled from service in 1914, the fate of #10 is unknown. Collection of Thomas T. Taber, III.

The Rahway Valley Railroad's second railbus, numbered 11, was built by Mack. More well known for building trucks, Mack built rail cars and locomotives from 1905 to 1930. RVRR Railbus #11 appears in this photograph, sitting behind the Kenilworth Water Tower

Fans of the Rahway Valley Railroad might be surprised to learn that at one point in time the RV owned a pair of railbuses.

 

Passenger service on the RV had taken a down turn. By 1911 passenger receipts only amounted to $3,480, down from $4,693 in 1910 (Source: Railroad and Canal Reports). The RV couldn't seem to justify the expense of running its passenger trains for only a paltry amount of money. Louis Keller, who built the railroad to transport passengers to his golf club, must have scoffed at the thought of possibly abolishing passenger service.

 

In 1912, RV management began pondering with the idea of substituting its regular passenger trains with a railbus, or two. A "railbus," as railroaders call them, come in many different shapes and sizes. Basicly you can think of a railbus, as well, a bus but with flanged wheels. Railroads, of varying sizes, found railbuses appealing to use on lines where passenger service was marginal.

 

Harry Dankel, the RV's General Manager, approached the Railway Motor Car Company of Marion, Indiana with interest in possibly purchasing a railbus. In July of 1912 the railbus outfit sent a railbus for a trial run over the RV, "A new 100-horse power gasoline motor car is being demonstrated on the Rahway Valley R.R. . . . with a view to its adoption for general use in caring for the passenger service over the line from Summit to Aldene (Cranford Citizen, July 25, 1912).

 

Evidently, the Rahway Valley Railroad made this purchased and numbered this trolley-like railbus #10. Later on, but not known exactly when, the Rahway Valley Railroad purchased a Mack railbus. Mack, more well known today as truck manufacturers, built rail cars and locomotives from 1905 to 1930. Whether the RV purchased directly the railbus from Mack, or secondhand, is unknown. The RVRR acquired its second railbus, however, and numbered it #11.

 

Bill Young tells us more of the history of these buses, "At this time Keller bought two gasoline combines ---- jitney buses, the railroaders called them---- and put them into service, knocking off all steam varnish runs. For a time Number Ten and Number Eleven, with motors inside, did well. They ran up the branch and up the main line as far as Baltusrol. There were turntables at Baltusrol, Hilton [Newark Heights], and Kenilworth, for them, with a little wooden roundhouse at the latter point. In 1914, however, a Millburn, N.J. trucker won the RVís old mail contract away from the line. Keller discarded the railcars, which had handled the mail, and put his old three car train back on to Summit " ("Doin' Fine Thanks!," William S. Young, The Crown Sheet, September 1944).

 

Between what the news article tells us, and Young's account of the railbuses, we can surmise that the height of the use of the railbuses on the Rahway Valley Railroad was from 1912 to 1914. #10 might have been discarded right away, but #11 seems to of hung around a bit longer. A photo appears of #11 sitting, in the Kenilworth Yard, on a side track.

 

Regardless of what the fate of the Rahway Valley Railroad's two railbuses may have been, they are an interesting part of this railroad's story nonetheless.

 

Head Back to the Station!