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Thursday, December 30, 2004

04-12-30 CLASSIC PHOTOS: IND Tower Hunt

So here's a quick photo set from the tail end of 2004, right after I learned that the NYC Subway IND division was littered with classic interlocking towers, many of them visible from the platform a la West 4th St. After consulting a published list of active towers, I planed out a tour of the Queens Blvd Line to try and get some photos. Long story short I didn't get many and because I was mostly underground in the middle of winter I didn't wind up with many photos in general. Still, since I've been busy for the last couple of weeks, a short set of classic photos is just about all I have time to produce!

You can find the complete batch of photos here

We begin at the 36th St RiverLINE station with #3502a making a stop. The line was so new that the Intrusion Detection System was not yet operational.

At Trenton, because Amtrak Hippo #660 was hogging the Track 4 platform with a long distance train, a southbound Regional with AEM-7 #937 performed a rather extreme wrong railing operation, platforming on Track 1.

In 2004 one could still look into the tower at 5th Ave and watch the operator manipulating the GRS Model 5 interlocking machine to line routes for (V) and (E) trains.Unfortunately it was closed in 2013.

Union Turnpike is another visible tower, this one with a Union Switch and Signal Model 14 interlocking machine.

With service extended to 168th St, the original IND tower at PARSONS was dark and appeared to only be in service as needed.

Returning to Manhattan, I decided to give the Roosevelt Island Tram a try. This was partly motivated by the fact that it was one of the last places on the NYCTA where one could buy and use tokens.

Approaching Manhattan one can see why people are concerned that the Queensboro Bridge might simply fall down on its own.

Two AEM-7's, #929 and #918, were applying their combined 14,000hp to the short 7 car Vermonter trainset. 

The 7th car being the Vermont branded baggage car fitted to carry bikes and skis.

I'll finish up with this photo of a Southbound Inland Shittle train at Meriden, CT with Metroliner Cab Car #9640 in the lead.

Well that's pretty much it. As I work to catch up from my vacation, look for another short subject classic post in the near future.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

04-12-29 CLASSIC PHOTOS: SEPTA Mid-Winter Trip IV

The fourth annual SEPTA Mid-Winter Trip took place in 2004 and was built around the mid-day Cynwyd round trip, departing Suburban Station.  At the time SEPTA was actively trying to kill the Cynwyd branch service, but despite all of its efforts people kept riding the line and in the following years ridership would actually increase so much that it started to require a single married pair to serve them (as opposed to a single Silverliner unit).

To fill the morning the trip ventured out onto the Market Street Elevated, which was being targeted for reconstruction, and the R8 Fox Chase Line.  After Cynwyd the trip embarked on a CHE to CHW transfer, continuing up at North Philadelphia and finishing with a BSS Fern Rock express turn.  All in all it was a fantastic trip with a lot of Silverliner II and III action.  I got a lot of photos of "things that aren't there any more" and if you'd like to check out the entire set you can find it here.

First stop in the morning was the Market Frankford Line 62nd St station where a new headhouse was under construction.

Returning to Center City, the group transfered to an R8 Fox Chase.  Here we are getting a Medium Clear signal indication at NEWTOWN JCT.  You can see the removed connections to the Reading Wayne Jct freight bypass that had since been re-designated the Conrail (CSX) Trenton Line.  CSX was in the process of untangling itself from the control of SEPTA dispatching both here on the R8 and northern R3 West Trenton.

The flat junction with a movable point diamond would soon be reconfigured into a more typical configuration leading to a single track line.

SEPTA Lawndale Station.  Today the outbound platform is closed because SEPTA and CSX couldn't learn to share.

At CP-CHELTENHAM JCT the former Reading Newtown Branch diverges from the New York Short Line.  The branch was electrified to the City border in Fox Chase in the 1960's. SEPTA ultimately replaced double track  segment with a single passing siding between Cheltenham and Lawndale.

Budd Silverliner II #257 at Fox Chase.

At one point the Fox Chase siding was bounded by interlockings on each end.  Here NORTH CHASE interlocking stands abandoned, although its signals and overhead lines remain intact.  Beyond this point diesel RDC shuttle service operated until the early 1980's.  Attempts to reduce costs by converting the line into a transit operation also failed.  Service has been "temporarily" suspended since then with SEPTA leading parts of the RoW as trails to pretty much prevent a full restoration of service.

Our R8 train was composed of 3 Budd Silverliners with #217 on the reverse end, seen here laying over at Fox Chase.

Diesel power at 30th St station was in transition.  New P42DC's had taken over from F40PHs and HHP-8's had displaced the E-60's, but AEM-7's and high hood GP-8/10 rebuilds were still on the active roster.

Here a fairly new P42DC #145 sits next to GP-10 #770 painted in MoW orange.

Amtrak N-11 Caboose was of PRR or Conrail vintage.  These utilitarian boxes were built to replace the earlier classically designed N-5 series of cabin cars in PRR service.

NJT GP40PH-2B #4205 arrives into the lower level of 30th St station with an Atlantic City Line train.  15 years later the GP40PH-2B's would still be holding down this assignment.

Heading out to Cynwyd the single SL-IV car departs Suburban and joints PRR Main Line on the same route of such famous trains as the Broadway Limited, which arrived from New York via the NY-Pittsburgh Subway to the left.

Previously Main Track #4, the "Valley Jct" ramp and Flyover were built to send passenger trains over the adjacent Belmont freight yards.  This was because freight trains kept to the middle tracks while most passenger trains stayed on the outer tracks. Valley Junction gets it name from the Schuylkill Valley Branch that departed the Main Line at this point. Here we can see the old 52nd St station that had its platform elevated on the ramp to serve outbound trains on track 4.

In 1994 a new track 4 was constructed so that SEPTA's new Overbrook Maintenance Facility could be built on the old track 4 alignment.  Westbound trains would cross over at the new STILES interlocking just west of ZOO.  This move was intended to remove the burden of maintaining the increasingly dilapidated Valley flyover bridge.  SEPTA, assuming the Cynwyd service would eventually be terminated, put no work into the bridge, eventually seeing train speeds reduced to 5mph.  It was only around 2015 that work was started on a new flat connection between the Main Line and the Cynwyd branch that would allow the bridge to be retired.  Here we can see the old Valley truss and the VALLEY interlocking 68L signal, remotely controlled from OVERBROOK tower.

Thursday, April 1, 2004

04-04-01 CLASSIC PHOTOS: Martinsburg Trip

Back in 2004 I was living in Baltimore without a car and was looking to visit a friend in the Chambersburg, PA area. The closest railheads were in Frederick, MD, served by a new MARC commuter service, and Martinsburg, WV, served on the weekends by Amtrak. So I put together a little trip wherein I would take MARC outbound from Baltimore to Frederick, (something MARC would actually sell you a ticket for) and then catch Amtrak's Capitol Limited back on Sunday from Martinsburg. Of course this allowed me to get photos in both directions that you can view here, along with some guest photos of NA cabin I happened to include , but more on that later.

Here we see MARC GP39H-2 #74 at Washington, DC. As of 2017, these 2300hp M-K rebuilds continue on in MARC service on typically shorter B&O division runs.

Golden Hour at Union Station with MARC Kab Car #7758 and K-Tower in the background.

At the time, the mainstay of the MARC fleet were 19 GP40WH-2's re-manufactured by M-K in 1993. Here #61 sits under the parking deck at Union Station with the front porch door open. Today only #68 remains in service, the fleet having been replaced by MP36PH-3C's.

My train to Frederick was led by Kab Car #7747, seen here at the terminal after sunset.

Martinsburg was once home to a major B&O shoppe complex. Today the shoppes are being converted into a historic attraction that features an 1850's vintage covered roundhouse.

NA Tower (Cabin?) had only been closed by CSX within the last year. Prior to 2000, almost the entire B&O main line was still managed by a series of 8 manned interlocking towers, but by 2004 only 3 remained. NA had been closed later than the two immediately to the west as CSX wanted the State of West Virginia to foot part of the bill for the CTC upgrade between Martinsburg and Brunswick to support the extended MARC service.

As of 2017 NA cabin still stands, although it is in increasingly rough shape. The rail heritage site across the tracks actually hosts the preserved 'R' tower from Cherry Run, WV.

Steam rises from the rails as the electric point heaters do their job to fend off a mild early spring snow event.

Still new CSX SD70MAC #4706 rolls through Martinsburg ahead of Amtrak Train 30. 

Amtrak P42DC #49 arriving on Track 1 with the eastbound Train 30.