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Friday, September 4, 2009

09-09-04 PHOTOS: Babylon Cannonball

As part of my ongoing series of trips to intermediate LIRR terminals which happen to have interlocking towers last year during the Friday before Labour Day I took an excursion out to Babylon via the LIRR. Now due to the retirement of the M-1's there wasn't much I could do FROM the train, but when I did get to Babylon I was treated to a plethora of LIRR MU and diesel trainsets as well as an authentic PRR-style interlocking. Later after riding around on the V train I returned to Jamaica Station to catch the last run of the Cannonball for the 2009 summer season. To my surprise I spent about 15 minutes at the HALL end of the station completely unmolested by LIRR employees or police for taking pictures.

This time I can let me pictures do the talking so I might as well cut to the action. The complete set in chronological order can be found at:

To begin I caught a ride to Hamilton station to catch a morning NJT express train into the city. While waiting I was surprised by a southbound 5-car Keystone train with Metroliner 9638 on the tail.

I also caught this Northbound in push mode.

Catching a train of M-7's on a Babylon Express run I was forced to make use of the *sigh* side window for my signal shots. Here is the re-signaled westbound gantry for the new WOOD interlocking. Even the 37 automatics were converted to color light, although the eastbound PL automatics were retained. Compare with two years prior. At least they aren't Darth Vaders.

JAY tower is still doing it's thing, at least for the time being.

Leaving the Jamaica station complex my train passed M-7 #7071 passing under the Meathouse signal gantry.

New signal masts were up on the Hempstead Branch at VALLEY with the cutover to the new interlocking still about 2 months away.

I was getting desperate as we reached Freeport. I went out the door to get a shot of PORT interlocking.


Arriving at Babylon, the tower of the same name was located just past the east end of the platform.

The signal on Track 2 was displaying a Medium Clear on the PRR tyle pedestal signal for the diesel shittle to Speonk.

Behind me on the platform I caught a Babylon Full House with M-7's trainsets on tracks 1 and 3 lead by numbers 7796 and 7258 and the diesel shuttle on track #2 lead by DE30 #402.

Closeup of #7796 with Subtalker Spider Pig standing on the platform doing whatever a Spider Pig does.

The pic of #402 departing cam out a little soft :-(

My video of #402 departing and taking the signal came out a little better, but of course #7796 had to upstage things by pulling up to the signal.

C-3 cab car #5001 was on the rear of the short shuttle train.

A few minutes later I got a special train as M-3 #9854 pulled in on track #2 to take 402's place.

Walking to the other end of the platform I found more PRR Pedestal type signals and another M-7 train waiting to enter the platform on track #3.

More pedestal signals on tracks 1 and 2. All of the signaling here dates from the 1950's when the terminal was grade separated. 

That MU train was lead by #7728.

As I said Babylon was grade separated sometime in the 1950's which predated the 1970's separation that was carried out on the rest of the line. The result was much more robust construction methods.

Here is an interesting view of that eastbound track #2 pedestal signal. The large single PL unit red marker light is used to tell train crews when they need to pick up train orders.

Here is a more complete view of BABYLON interlocking tower. BABYLON is an example of a tower that is rare in North America. Built in the 1950's BABYLON controlled a large geographic area without relying on CTC and remote interlocking stations. The interlocking would have been an all-relay type design that made use of an advanced NX-like display panel. In the pre-integrated circuit days all of that functionality would have required a great deal of equipment which was housed in its multi-story brick building reminiscent of a telephone switch.

While popular n Europe as railroads were rebuilt during the post-war economic expansion, they were never prevalent in the States as during that time railroads went through a long period of dis-investment. Trackwork was simplified and there was little need for large complex geographic interlockings. The good news was that the United States managed to skip over what turned out to be a very expensive phase in railroad interlocking hardware and cut complex interlocking directly to solid state from the old electro-mechanical systems.

While I was poking around down a street level missed an NY&A westbound freight train passing through the station. Oh well c'est la vie. Here it is as it waits at Bridge 2 for a proceed signals. BTW I heard that those PLs were upgraded with LED's. I think they look great!

There is just no end to the trains one sees a Babylon. Here M-7 #7322 leads a train through the east-west plant and into track 3. BTW do I have to point out that BABYLON uses pneumatic point machines?

On the return trip I tried my best to take pictures of VALLEY interlocking pre-changeover. Here are some bagged position lights on the eastbound outer signal gantry.

SRS Doodlebug #128 was also on hand.

I am not exactly sure of the exact order of what I did next, but somehow I ended up at Forest Hills where I caught a V Train (remember that thing) pulling in with a consist of R42's. Here we see 4551 as the train discharges its passengers.

And the train as it relays in video form.

After lunch we once again trekked back to Jamaica station to stake out a position on platform D to await the arrival of the Cannonball. Here is an obligatory shot of a Slow Clear pulled up on the 54L signal in front of the 71sw.

LIRR M-7 #7538 was on hand to take the signal.

The E platform was jam packed waiting for the Cannonball.

 The Doubleslip scissors X-over on main tracks 2 and 4 were getting some attention by maintenance crews.

Closeup of HALL tower's bay window and awnings. 

The Cannonball arrived headed by DM30 #512. The great length of the train forced the lead engine to proceed past the platform and into the interlocking along with part of the lead coach.

The Cannonball then proceeded to hang around in the platform for about 5 minutes. Part of the delay was due to the heavy passenger load, may of whom had large bags that were having trouble cramming into the coaches. blocking the doors and isles. They also seemed to do some kind of crew change while other LIRR workers wandered aimlessly about the tracks without their OSHA approved high visibility clothing..

Unfortunately just as the Cannonball began to pull away it got downstaged by a fucking MU train.

Fortunately the MU passed before 2 carlengths had gone by and I got this shot of the Cannon ball passing HALL tower with M-7 #7471 heading into the hole for the Atlantic Branch.

Well here's what I came for. It might not be exactly Kosher to put a drumhead onto the rear of a pushing locomotive, but its still cool. The Long Island Rail Road Cannonball departing Jamaica.

LIRR DM30 #504 with the Cannonball drumhead as it travels down Main Track #4 heading towards points east.

I then walked over to Platform B where I caught M-7 #7429 pulling in from Main Track 3 as a DM30 departs east on Main Track 1. 

Here we see HALL interlocking with 4 trains moving. The MU 7429 w/b on Main 3, DM30 #503 e/b on Main 1, an MU train dropping into Atlantic 2 and a DE Oyster Bay shuttle on Main 4.

HALL tower with the two story "relay condo" that will replace it on the right. Hmm, one of those is much more elegant. 

One of these things is not like the other! Yup, the DM30 #502 on ML #1 as it heads out from Penn Station to points east.

Same basic scene with a lollypop type PL pot on a stick on Jamaica track 2.

On our way back to 34th St to catch a PATH train I took some RFW videos on the V between 5th Ave and Herald Square.

We bring our day to a close at Newark Penn (the Jamaica of New Jersey) showing NJT Pl42 #4020 waiting at the newly relocated 122R signal at DOCK interlocking governing movements on #5 track for RVL trains. The signal and switch were moved back a few carlengths to allow longer trains to platform on #5 track.

Well that's it for this trip. Your NYC Area folks had better comment as I am basically pandering to you guys -.- Thanks to Spider Pig for taking time out of his busy schedule to ride to Babylon and back with me. Let me know if you'd like to head out to Hicksville sometime!

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