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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.

The decaying PRR amber position lights still occupy the west end signal gantry and still sitting next to them are the lunar white train order lamps. The two signals on the right side of the gantry are for the old Columbia freight branch, which was the old route of the Main Line and later the freight traffic before the A&S was built.

By this time the western segment of CORK, which handled the crossing of a Reading RR line into Lancaster, had already been split off into the new LITITZ intelrocking with brand new colourized position lights replacing the PRR Amber PLs now bagged on the right. Here is the same scene in 2007 with the 66L, 64L and 62L signals on the CORK interlocking machine.

Next up is the brand new RHEEMS interlocking, which was installed to replace the hand crossovers at the old TBS E-Town at Elizabethtown. Here my train makes a diverging move from #1 track to #2 track. The line is is signaled under rule 562 with wayside signals only at interlockings and distant signals.

Here is a view of the new eastbound home signals at ROY interlocking (R-State). We can see that Amtrak sometimes gets it right and installs the proper backing for a PRR type position light lower head.

STATE intelrocking at Harrisburg is where we reach the end of Amtrak trackage on the trip to Pittsburgh. While the terminal complex has been drastically simplified from its heyday, it is still sports a lot of physical plant including about 7 station and terminal tracks, a turning wye and a double slip switch.

Hanging out at STATE that day were an AEM-7 and a Metroliner cab car.

 Zoom view of STATE interlocking.

 Going back to video, here is the famous CP-ROCKVILLE at the east end of the Rockville bridge. CP-ROCKVILLE was rebuilt in the 80's with a brand new 4-track PRR PL gantry for westbound trains. CP-ROCKVILLE is also the junction with the Buffalo Line. At the end of the video note two new PRR PL masts that were installed when the interlocking was again reconfigured in the early 2000's. As a bit of a sad note the pneumatic point machines were removed at that time.

Here is CP-BANKS where the Enola Branch joins the Pittsburgh Line. I should have had my scanner on here because the interlocked high car detector still has a Conrail readout.

Here is CP-MIFFLIN. the eastbound PRR signal gantry had recently been replaced by a colour light cantilever mast due to structural issues with the aging gantry.

The modern style 157 automatic signal on the 3-track section west of Mifflin.

 The eastbound mast signals at CP-LEWIS also showing the Lewistown, PA Amtrak station.

Eastbound mast signals at CP-McVEY with another new installed PRR PL mast signals.

Eastbound signal gantry at CP-JACKS. This is currently undergoing replacement due to the obviously deteriorating conditions. The PL signals are notable for having the original PRR pattern backing for the lower head. CP-JACKS also recently had its pneumatic points replaced with electric.

Due to lighting issues I stopped taking stills at CP-HUNT in Huntington, PA. Here is the interlocking with pneumatic points, the Huntington Amtrak station and HUNT tower museum.

Eastbound mast PRR PL's at CP-HUNT.

Darkness couldn't stop the video! westbound Spruce Creek tunnel. Note the old westbound bore that was closed when the eastbound tunnel was enlarged for double stacks in 1994.

Here is a twilight video starting at the famous PRR signal bridge at Fostoria. Between CP-GRAY and CP-ANTIS the main line is 3 tracks and the signal bridge at Fostoria was not only installed in the 80's, but it also has 6 signals, the westbound ones have a lower unit for displaying Approach Medium. It is also next to a grade crossing which makes it a popular railfan location. At Fostoria the signals at night with two displaying Approach Medium.

After Fostoria the next location seen in this video is CP-ANTIS. I think that the twilight conditions actually make for a better video than one taken during the day. Incidentally it was not totally dark out. When I tried to take some video near the horseshoe curve about 15 minutes later I got nothing but black.

Finally the video shows the train as it runs from CP-HOMER to CP-WORKS past the world famous Altoona locomotive shopped. Just as the double stack intermodal train passes us on track 1 the conductor makes his announcement for the Altoona station stop. Next the train passes the Altoona shop deadline and finally CP-WORKS that is displaying an Approach signal for traffic on tk 1.

Well I know it was a little long, but I hope you found these both informative and entertaining. Never forget that in crappy light you can often turn to your video function on your camera to salvage something much better than blurry, grainy stills.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to have you out there documenting this "stuff". Todd/Baltimore