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Monday, December 29, 2008

08-12-29 PHOTOS: SEPTA Mid-Winter Trip VIII

Ha! I managed to slide it in before the boom lowered. Yes here is the extensive set of photos from last year's SEPTA Mid-Winter trip. Last year the photos were a bit more extensive than years prior due to the extraordinarily good weather. When it's gray and rainy I tend not to care too much about taking pictures of the local scene, but in 2008 there was nary a cloud in the sky for the entire trip allowing for close to ideal photographic conditions.

The itinerary last year consisted of a Southwestern double triangle trip. We started out with a trip on the R2 to Wilmington and Back. Then a walking transfer to the Rt 102 at Sharon Hill, which we rode to 69th St for lunch and then caught a Rt 100 to Norristown for another connection with the R6, which took us to North Broad for a connection to the BSS, up and around the Fern Rock loop and back down to the Rt 15 which was taken to the Westmoreland loop.

So any of you who have thought about attending one of these trips, bur never pulled the trigger CHECK OUT THESE PHOTOS and see what you are missing.

On our trip to Wilmington our R2 local train was stopped at HOLLY interlocking so that we could be overtaken by an ACELA express, just before being passed by one coming in the opposite direction.

Following the ACELA we got a Medium Approach signal pulled up. As we proceeded through the interlocking I noticed that flank protection was applied when trains were routed from the local onto the main. This means that the switch to the freight track was set to divert any train violating the Stop signal out of the way of a colision.

At Wilmington station most of the trip participants confined themselves to the new high level wooden platform which was installed because NS no longer runs freight trains through the station. I got this well lit shot of BRANDY interlocking at the south end of the platform.

On the north end was WINE interlocking, here displaying the signal pulled up for our departing R2 train.

The trip disembarked from SEPTA S-IV #444 at Sharon Hill before making the trek to the Sharon Hill Rt 102 station.

The routes 101 and 102 are currently undergoing a rebuilt, but that project had not yet started in December of 2008. Here are Trolley, #105, ducks under the CSX Philly Sub bridge before arriving at the Sharon Hill station.

We had time to take some pictures of #105 before boarding.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

08-11-25 VIDEOS: Let's Ride NYC Subway: Episode 2 - (A) Train Fulton Street

Welcome back to another episode of Let's Ride New York City Subway. In today's episode we are going to ride the Fulton Street Line in Brooklyn between Hoyt Street and 72nd St Grant Ave. We will be riding this line in an R40M made by the St. Louis Car Company (a division of General Steel Industries).

Not allowing myself to be deterred by that cap in the first Episode we begin at Lafayette Ave on the express run to Nostrand Ave. Nothing special about the routing, I was just a little late out of the gate with the video. Despite being a local station Lafayette Ave has an interlocking tower just visible on the right. Also note passing an R38 on the C at Franklyn Ave.

Next up, Nostrand ave to Utica Ave. We are slowed down a little bit into Utica due to workers on the tracks.

Next stop after Utica Ave is Broadway ENY. There is a tower at Utica, but it is only open as needed. Note the A train of R44 charging into the station on the opposite platform as we depart.

Moving right along we now express to the former end of express/local service at Euclid Ave. During this run we are passed by 2 R44 trains on the northbound A.

08-11-25 VIDEO: Let's Ride NYC Subway: Episode 1 - E Train Queens Boulevard

Well, the Railfan Window Era in New York is almost at an end. If you want to experience the thrill of standing at the front of a subway train as it barrels through the tunnel you'll either have to shell out $50 for a Museum Train ticket or an equal amount for a set of Rich Green's Railfan DVD's...or will you?

That's right, as the cool cars were slowly thrown to the bottom of the ocean I stepped into the breach to preserve a video record of the best runs in the city and they are all available for free on the You Tube. So sit back for the first Episode of Let's ride New York City Subway. Today we ride the E Train in an Budd R32.

We begin at Times Square 42nd Street where the E splits off on its trip to Queens taking the diverging route from the local track and descending to the lower level 50th St station.

Skipping ahead a bit to the Lexington Ave station there our train journeys under the East River to 23rd and Ely. Note the crossover interlockings on either side of the tunnel.

It's a short local hop from 23rd Ely to Queens Plaza where we are joined by the G Train. The Queens Plaza area has been re-signaled under the Queensboro Master tower with new US&S signals replacing the old GRS units.

Now we're turning up the heat as the E train goes express between Queens Plaza and Roosevelt Ave. This takes us through the new 63rd St junction and under the separate 2-track express tunnel under Northern Boulevard. We re-join the local tracks and then finish up at Roosevelt Ave. We also pass a G or R train and meet an F train at Roosevelt. The interlocking around Roosevelt Ave is controlled by the local interlocking tower.

08-11-25 PHOTOS: (A) Train Lefferts Time Warp

Remember when the NYC Subway used to be cool? Well I do because a year ago when the MTA's plan to take out a City Equity Loan to finance $1 billion dollars worth of new rolling stock was going into full swing I embarked on a concerted effort to visit the city more and document what was soon to be lost.

Now because most of the RFW equipped cars ran underground most of my documentation efforts came in video form, but when the trains would emerge from their subterranean lairs I could take some pictures the old fashioned way. One of these occasions was on the Liberty Ave el between Grant Ave and Lefferts Ave in Queens. In an ironic twist of fate things got cooler before they got lame with all sorts of fun R trains appearing on the A.

You can see ALL of the photos at by CLICKING THIS LINK or just some of the photos by reading on.

You might also remember that a year ago we were in the midst of a major financial meltdown. To commemorate this event I took a picture of this Banker waiting for a train at the Wall Street (A)(C) station.

Moving on here is a shot of the tower at Hoyt St. You can make out the model board and the GRS Model 5 pistol grip interlocking machine.

Here the A train mounts the liberty El just past Grant Ave.

Number 30 signal at the intelrocking at 80th St.

R44 #5400 emerges from the hole at Rockaway Blvd interlocking.

Monday, November 10, 2008

08-11-10 PHOTOS: A Capitol Limited November

So, why have I gotten a year behind in putting my photos online. Well I pin the blame on the size of the memory sticks available to my new camera. While having several cards with 1GB of storage allows me to take a great deal of video, it also permits things like this set of photos which contain over 300 pictures taken from the back of the Capitol Limited as it traveled from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC. In fact counting the other two sets of photos I have posted from this trip I came away with over 500 photos, all of which had to be individually improved in a post production process that added up to many hours of effort. Now I have to invest another hour writing up a useful description for the best of those photos, which few people will end up reading.

I guess someone's got to do it.

So, back to the Capitol Limited. What could be so important that I would end up taking about one photo per mile traveled between Pittsburgh and Washington? Well in fall of 2008 CSX was in the process of converging the last remaining segments of B&O signaled Rule 251 trackage on the Keystone Sub to Darth Vader traffic lights. Moreover on the Cumberland and Metropolitan Subs I felt it prudent to take photos of all the CPLs there just because you never know when some dickhead might feel the need to "improve" things in those places as well.

The trip was largely gray with a few spots of sunlight, but I didn't let this stop me as I had history to document!! I'll try not to bore you too much with some of the more bland signal pix, but I did manage to capture other things as well.

You can see the huge massive collection here:

Give it a click so you can see the result of large capacity memory cards!!

So at this point the only section of classic signaling left on the Keystone sub was between SINNS interlocking near McKeeyport, PA and Connelsville, PA. I had previously traversed this route in 2007 on a trip back from Chicago in June where I got considerably more light, but due to the impending replacement I couldn't be picky.

Here is basically what the signaling consisted of. Simple B&O CPL block signals driven from a pole line with hand operated trailing crossovers every 10 miles or so. Here is a video montage of some of the Keystone Sub CPLs because video mode worked better in the low light.

Back in the day most railroad main lines consisted of miles and miles of simple automatic block trackage with hand operated crossovers and no interlockings anywhere to be found. The Keystone sub snakes for about 30-40 miles along the Youghiogheny River in this fashion until it nears Connelsville, PA where a large B&O classification yard used to be located and a string of interlockings were under the control of VI Tower, located in the yard office.

Principal among these was the squickly named SODEM interlocking, with its 3-track CPL signal gantry seen here in this video.

The westbound bracket CPL mast was located directly adjacent to the platform of the Connelsville Amshack and was a well known railfan hotspot. Here we see that famous mast with the track 1 signal displaying a Clear signal. The cantilever of death equipped with new darth vader signals is in already in place.

The SODEM bracket was popular due to its collection of 5 orbital lamps on the track 2 signal.

At the east end of the yard is the still safe for now GREEN JUNCTION, complete with tower and CPL signals. Here the track 1 mast signal is displaying a Stop and Proceed indication behind a freight movement that had been waiting for my train to complete its work at the Connelsville Station.

Due to the lack of CPL signals between here and Cumberland, MD this is the point in the journey where I head off to the Diner for breakfast as the train slowly snakes its way up and over the Allegheny front. The emphasis is on slow and I finished breakfast well before the train reached Cumberland and so after taking a few pictures of tunnels and darth vaders I took a nap.

Fast forward to the Cumberland, MD Amtrak station which appears to be part of the port office.

The sun popped out briefly to illuminate a MoW rail replacement train.

At MEXICO tower as crossed over to the right rail interrupting an MoW crew that were working on the switch frogs there.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

08-11-09 PHOTOS: PAT Light Rail Loop

What do you get when you take the PATH and remove the H? Well first you get a "port" that's 981 miles from the nearest seacoast. Second you get an extensive light rail system that was once posted a fleet of 666 PCC streetcars. Third, you get an antiquated fare collection system that puts SEPTA to shame.

That's right, last Armistice Day I took a trip to Pittsburgh. You already saw the pics from my trip out over the PRR Main Line, so now its time for my pics from what I actually did in the city. Much of my trip was defined by what I could get away with vis-a-vie the fare collection system. My friend was a CMU student who could ride as much as he wanted for free. For everyone else, there is no day passes, paper transfers and a zone based fare system that kicks in on the light rail for very long trips. The lack of a pass meant that I was unable to get on and off at will. That I always had to take a bus to/from CMU really made me wince at plunking down yet another $2 fare for additional stopovers.

Anyway, my plan involved a Sunday loop trip on the light rail system. I would take the scenic 42S out to Washington Jct (the furthest one can go on a base fare), railfan there for a bit, then return via the 47 Overbrook Line. The 42 Beechview route involves a good deal of street running. The Overbrook Line always ran on a dedicated RoW and had to be completely rebuilt during the 1990s due to several trestles threatening to collapse.

I hung out at the rear of the vehicle taking pictures out the reverse railfan window and most of my photos are of the fairly mundane line tour type, but I did get a good 30 min at Washington Jct and also took a few videos.

You can peruse the large selection of photos here or just stay tuned to view a choice selection.

My trip started at Steel Plaza which was built on the alignment of a former PRR railroad tunnel which provided some opportunity for some "night" photos.

On the outbound leg of my journey I didn't take many photos until we were on the street running segment of the Beechview Line. Here is the Boustead stop on Broadway Ave.

The line eventually switches to a private RoW as seen here at Kelton.

From there we had to wrong rail at Dormont Jct due to work in the Mt. Lebanon transit tunnel.

The tunnel was constructed so that the LRV's could bypass the narrow street running portion in the Mt. Lebanon business district.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

08-11-08 PHOTOS: PRR Main Line Survey 2008

Last Armistice Day I took a trip out to Pittsburgh to visit a friends in a master's programme at Carnegie Mellon University. I purchased a Business Class ticket on Amtrak's Pennsylvanian because I knew that the BC was on the very rear of the train and with the divider curtain I would probably have a fairly free hand at taking pictures out the back and even riding in the rear vestibule. In this regard everything ended up going according to plan, however what didn't go according to plan was the rather crappy weather, which, combined with the short November days resulted in an all around poor photographic opportunity.

Nevertheless I did get some useful photos out the back and moreover I was able to fall back on my old Plan B for poor lighting! So sit back, relax and enjoy my PRR Main Line Survey, 2008. It's the next best thing to my 2009 survey where the weather cooperated and I got a picture of every signal between MP 2 and MP 342 XD.

Blah blah blah, the full set of photos can be found here.

Now on with the show.

As my trip started with a light drizzle all the way to Lancaster I will start the writeup with a video as still pictures just were not working out. Here is Amtrak's THORN interlocking (with active THORN tower) on #4 track westbound at 90mph. You will note that on the east end of THORN the old #3 track has been completely removed, on the west end the old #2 track has been completely removed and all of the old Thorndale yard tracks have also been removed exvpt for #5 Running. Also note all of the signals facing stubbed out tracks. This video runs from THORN interlocking past the old Thorndale yard and helper base to CALN interlocking (remote THORN).

Next we have a video of PARK interlocking from the point where the old #2 track has been connected to #1 track by means of a hand operated switch. This is used for freight trains accessing the Green Giant food plant a little ways up the old A&S branch, which was a low grade freight line to Enola Yard. PARK was a major junction between the Main Line and the A&S low grad line until most of the freight left the PRR system in the early 80's. Tower PARK tower is still active, but only open as needed for track work. Most of the time it is set to automatic operation. PARK and its crazy quilt of unnecessary crossovers is planned for closure as more of the Harrisburg Line is rebuilt.

Here is the to-be-completed ATGLEN interlocking that will serve as the replacement for PARK. None of the interlocking equipment has yet been installed, but the switches were put in place when the line was upgraded to concrete ties. this is located right before the old A&S right of way splits from the main line.

Here is the famed Temporary Block Station LEAMAN at Leaman Place. The hand operated switches were replaced when the concrete ties were installed, but the TBS still uses a small interlocking panel inside the red shack to control the main line signals and unlock the switches. LEAMAN is only open as needed for trackwork and is the last TBS in service on the Harrisburg Line. I paid a ground visit to LEAMAN in 2007.

Because I new that CORK tower was in the process of being re-signaled I made sure to get some good still photos. Here is the former Conestoga section of CORK interlocking that handled the junction with the New Holland Branch. This is now HOLLAND interlocking, but at this point it is still part of CORK. The old 1 switch seen between #1 and #4 track has been removed when the new CORK was put in service in October 2009.

By 2008 much of CORK had seen new electric switches replacing the pneumatic A-5 units that came with the tower in 1927. However the 7 switch at the end of the freight siding has kept its pneumatic machine. The reason was that this switch was converted to a hand throw unit in the new interlocking and the Conestoga section 6L and 20L signals were retired.

The east end of the Lancaster Station only had a facing point crossover installed. The new plan called for full crossovers on either side of the station. The new switch was installed when the concrete ties were put in, but had not yet been placed in service, as evidenced by the rust condition. For some reason Amtrak installed low profile US&S M3 machines, typically see on rapid transit systems with 3rd rail.

The signals for the new CONESTOGA interlocking has been sitting bagged at the east end of the Lancaster Station platform since 2005. They were finally placed in service in October 2009, although the 'C' boards for Rule 562 operation still remain covered. This is probably one of the longest re-signaling projects outside of JAY and HALL.

In 1927 Lancaster station was one of the few stations with high level platforms. To avoid conflicts with freight trains the then new CORK interlocking was built with two station tracks for use by passenger trains, while freight and express trains used the two center main line through tracks (see CORK interlocking diagram). In 2005 the station tracks were removed and track bridges were used for trains stopping on the center tracks. Eventually the center tracks were moved over to the platforms and the remaining freight trains now use a a rebuilt '0' track to bypass the platforms.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

08-11-02 PHOTOS: Bailey's Wye

Bailey's Wye is the nexus of current railroad operations located just south of the Camden station next to the raven's football stadium the wye represents the junction between the Main Line south to Washington, DC, the Belt Line that goes around the top of the city to Philly the connection to Locust Point yards and finally the connection to the stubby remnants of Camden Station.

The wye is anchored by three intelockings. On the east leg is LEADENHALL-ST, on the west leg is BAILEY and on the north leg is HB TOWER. All interlockings fully utilize classic B&O CPL type signals and it is these signals I took a few minutes one Saturday morning to document.

This set of photos is sort of a remake for me as I visited this location back in 2004, but that was with my old camera and I wanted to check on some recent developments. BTW I just realized that I failed to properly color correct the photos so they'll all have a red tint due to the morning sun.

The full set can be see here.

Here is BAILEY interlocking as seen from the mast signal coming off the Locust point branch. The 4-track grade crossing is on Warner Street and there is another crossing w/in interlocking limits at Ridgley Street. Both crossings means that people at the Ravens stadium can be alerted when something interesting is going on :-P

 While at the far end of the interlocking there is a three-track B&O signal gantry I didn't bother to walk down that way so instead of got a close up of the CPL dwarfs on the MARC tracks that each have a half set of orbitals. At BAILEY interlocking the MARC tracks to Candem Yard do not interact with the CSX mainline tracks.

Moving to the North point of the wye we see the back to back signals for BAILEY (foreground) and HB tower. the MARC tracks are on the far right and in the front is the connector track to Locust Point. There is a MARC yard and shop complex there and deadhead train sets will use this track to access the 3-track Camden terminal.

This "classic" CPL signal is actually brand new. The former signal on this location was demolished in a derailment in 2008, but fortunately the C&S department had some spares and had this replacement up in no time. The signal is lined for a southbound CSX movement.

Here is a different view showing the proximity of the Raven's stadium.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

08-10-12 PHOTOS: E180th St Woodside

So on my way back from the NY Capitol Region for a fall foilage fest I decided to do a little signal documentation at two vulnerable locations in the city. The first was E 180TH interlocking in the Bronx and its associated Dyre Ave Line, which are the last remaining segments of un-resignaled IRT on the NYCS, The second was WOOD intelrocking at the Woodside LIRR station which was undergoing an "upgrade" which included the use of cheesy colour light signals.

Due to the lack of a railfan view on the IRT I could only get side shots on the Dyre line which really killed the quality. Not much more to say here so I'll just cover most things in the photo descriptions.

The full set of photos can be viewed here. I urge you all to go take a look at them.

First I rode through E180th interlocking to Bronx Parkway on the (2) Train. There I took pics of some of the E180th approach signals before getting on a southbound 2 train back to the E180th station.

Anyway, here is the 38L signal showing a Clear signal. 

Note the Green over Red and red number plate indicating these are signals displaying aspects in the old IRT system in which each route a train could take was given its own independent signal head with red being used as a placeholder in a similar style to full size Railroads. For example a clear signal on the main route would be G/R or G/R/R. An caution signal on the second slower speed route would be R/Y or R/Y/R.

In the case of the 38L signal you just saw it only had one route therefore its second head only had a red placeholder lamp (with a call-on light below that). The 40L signal slightly down the tracks has a route into the yard so its lower head gets an additional yellow light for that route.

Of course E180TH intelrocking is most well known for its unique tri-headed IRT signals, which resemble some sort of strange black cast iron cactus. The IND/BMT style signals do not allow for more than two main-line routes in this fashion and therefore intelrockings have to engineered to always give trains a simple diverging or straight message. At E180TH they could just add an extra head.

E180TH interlocking is also cool for having this double slip switch.

All of this is controlled from the big US&S Model 14 interlocking machine inside E180TH tower, which is the last major electro-mechanical tower on the mainline IRT.

Friday, October 10, 2008

08-10-10 PHOTOS: Selkirk Colours

What is fall without foilage? Well, a warmer version of winter that's what, but thanks to living in a temperate climate we get to watch the leaves turn all sorts of fancy warm shades and fall off the tree. This is especially nice in upstate NY where that period between green and brown last more than a few hours. Last Italian American Appreciation Day I took another one of my trips up to the Capitol District for a little hiking in the Catskills as well as some railfanning. I out to see if the CSX destruction of classic NYC searchlight signals on the Selkirk Branch had been completed and while the results of that search was rather disappointing, I did come away with some wonderful fall photos.

My trek went from CP-169 at Hoffmans where the Selkirk Branch meets the Hudson Line to become the Chicago Line, down past CP-SH where the Carmine Branch joins. I then continued down to the Fullers Flyover Bridge at US 20.

All of the railfan related photos can be seen here and if you are interested the Catskill photos can be seen here

Now on with the show.

We'll start out with the classic NY Central signal bridge at CP-169 where the Chicago Line begins. The signal track to the left is the Hudson Line used by Amtrak Empire and LD trains and also maintained by Amtrak. The two tracks to the right are the Selkirk Branch which was built in the 1920's along with Selkirk yard as a freight bypass of the congested Albany terminal and its steep West Albany Hill (well, not that steep, NYC steam was just wussy). Today this line is used by all CSX freight to and from Boston and the new Jersey ports. The Huston Line gets a straight shot through the interlocking so all through freight trains have to make a diverging movement here at CP-169.

I love using this picture as an example of American grade crossing protections on overseas signaling sites. I think the sign says it all.

I was lucky enough to catch this train or autoracks coming around the curve where the Selkirk Branch flies over the Hudson Line with SD40-2 #8439 in the lead and in the #2 position is a former Conrail painted C40-8W #7302.

After a little cross country trek I was rewarded with this prime and increasingly rare example of a New York Central cantilever signal mast. These used to be all over the electrified region untilthe dickheads at Metro North thought it would be a clever thing to tear them all down. This one was thankfully spared from the recently CSX re-signaling efforts on the Selkirk Branch.

The small target GRS model SA searchlights are in the offset automatic signal" position and serve as the distant signal to CP-169. The best ether can display is Approach Medium.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

08-10-04 PHOTOS: Washington Union Station Centennial

Nothing beats having a date to date your photos! Anyway last Octobre was the 100th birthday of the Washington Union Terminal complex which opened its doors as a joint venture between the PRR, B&O and several other railroads. It also provided a wonderful opportunity to hang out at the station taking photos of whatever one wished without getting swarmed by security.

Amtrak really pulled out the stops for this celebration with private varnish and private horsepower showing up from all across the east coast to represent all of the fallen flag railroads that used to call at Union Station. These included preserved E-unit diesels from the C&O, Atlantic Coast Line, Southern RR and Pennsylvania railroad. In addition to the diesel units there was a plethora of private cars also representing the aforementioned railroads. Amtrak, MARC and the FRA also put out some of their own rolling stock (can you say freebie) for the public to traipse through.

The real star of the show was PRR GG-1 #4935 which was towed from the RR Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasbourg just for the event.

Because the celebration was taking place on a weekend I drove to Greenbelt and then took the metro into Union Station (Green line to Red Line via Ft Totten). Before the gates were opened I got some good short from the Union Station parking deck.

Anyway the whole stack of photos can be viewed at the somewhat usual location.

And now for some teaser photos that will be of surprisingly good quality (for once).

I'll start off with a video of my Green Line train departing Greenblt and crossing over to the proper track. The DC Metro is actually pretty railfan friendly with a reverse railfan view available on nearly every train.

I will skip past the pictures of B&O signals and cut right to a solid train of 1000 series cars on the Red Line at Ft. Totten. (As seen on Wikipedia)

A train of CSX autoracks snaked through QN Tower interlocking adjacent to the WMATA Red Line.

K tower and the entire terminal throat.

K-tower close up with an AEM-7 hauled regional is departing from the lower level while an HHP-8 hauled regional waits on one of the high level platforms.

Here is some video of the departing Regional. Pardon my zoom.

3 P42's lay over on the lower level next to a pair of AX trainsets in the Acela section of the high level.

Dwarf CPL's abound in front of K-Tower from track level.

Anyway, here is the only surviving E3 unit in its ACL sitting next to Bennett Levin's PRR E8's.

Friday, September 12, 2008

08-09-12 PHOTOS: CMSL at Richland

Last September the CMSL completed work at its Richland station to install a storage siding funded by the local town government. I was on hand to take some pictures on the first day of operations. Also in this set were some pictures of CSX MoW work near my place in Baltimore and some disturbing pictures of Lord Xenu's forces at 30th St station in Philadelphia.

The new Richland siding ran from a bumper block at the station on Rt 40 to new switch just east of the railroad crossing south of town. The siding switch was attached to a radio base that would announce on the road channel when the switch was opened.

Not much more to it than that so I'll just dive into the pictures. You can find the whole set here

Here M410 crosses the Rt 552 crossing several miles south of Richland on its northbound trip from Tuckahoe. 

The standard CMSL trainset was being pushed by PRR #7000.

The 25mph track speed made the train easy to catch as it entered the new siding. Here is M410 again.