Train buffs share the rail experience Home News Tribune Online 06/19/06 By LARRY HIGGS GANNETT NEW JERSEY When commuters die, this is the train they hope they'll ride in heaven. Railway Age magazine threw itself a 150th birthday party on the swankiest train to roll on the North Jersey Coast Line in decades. Luxury rail cars, catered food and two classic 1950s diesel locomotives from the "streamlined age" were employed for this party on rails Thursday. For guests such as Ray Neveil of Tinton Falls, the ride from Hoboken to Bay Head and back was a throwback to the big maroon Pennsylvania Railroad trains which ran on the Coast Line until the mid-1960s. "This brings back memories. I was an old train buff from years ago and the only member of my family since the 1830s not to work on the railroad," Neveil said. For railroaders including NJ Transit conductor Bob Nemeth of South Amboy, who was working the special train, the trip reminded him of working for the Pennsylvania Railroad. "I remember working on the sleeping cars and parlor cars. I have a lot of good memories about these," Nemeth said. "This is a great retirement gift for me. I have two years to go until I'm 60." The Coast Line setting for the Railway Age Sesquicentennial Inspection Train was a natural because many of the magazine's editors and officers have roots in the Shore area, said Art McGinnis Jr., chairman and president of Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corp., parent company of the New York-based magazine. "We've all commuted on the North Jersey Coast Line over the years. This is a neat thing to do to celebrate one of the oldest magazines in existence," said McGinnis. The magazine started in 1856, but can trace the roots of its predecessor publications to the 1830s. Aiding scholarships About 125 people rode the train, many from major railroads, rail suppliers and consulting firms. Ticket sales raised $20,000 for the American Public Transportation Associations scholarship fund. The ride was well worth it. Passengers had their choice of several lounge cars to ride in, including the business car Pennsylvania, which was used by railroad and U.S. presidents, a dining car and a luxurious coach and a sleeping car. "I love it. I haven't been on a train in 20 years, and I'm not getting off," said Ron Reitemeyer of Brick. The luxury-parlor lounge car Morris County, from the Morristown and Erie railroad, featured individual swiveling, reclining seats and ice cold air conditioning. "I like seeing the old equipment in such great condition. I'm meeting various people and acquaintances in the industry," said William Roberts, supervisor of maintenance for Bombardier, a rail-car manufacturer. "It's a good thing that Railway Age can sponsor something like this. The food is extravagantly extraordinary." Employees of Joe Leone's Catering of Point Pleasant Beach balanced themselves and trays of hors d'oeuvres like cats on a fence as they served riders on the moving train. "We're walking like ducks today," joked server Trisha Apanel of Dover Township. "We've done a lot of jobs, we've been on boats and in barns, but never on a moving train." Sue Yajcaji of Dover Township worked in the galley of the lounge car Warrior Ridge preparing hors d'oeuvres. She said the movement took some getting used to. "I'll have a lot of bruises because I keep running into things, but it's very fun, definitely an experience," Yajcaji said, as she put Wasabi creme on Nori wrapped yellowfin tuna perched on a cucumber. "Things like this are a once-in-a-lifetime deal." The host of the trip, executive editor Bill Vantuono of Brick, said running the ex-Pennsy equipment on the Coast Line made sense. "There's some historical precedent. The Pennsylvania operated commuter trains on the Coast Line until 1968."