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Sunday, April 4, 2010

10-04-04 PHOTOS: ACL Cab Ride

Last April I realized that I hadn't been down to Atlantic City via the Atlantic City Line since 2002 so maybe it was about time I made an effort. Therefore I contacted Chuchubob and en route to an Easter related family gathering my plan to to travel with Bob from 30th St to Atalantic City, catch the departure of an ACES train, and then catch the next westbound ACL train to Lindenwold. Well our plan began to go awry when our eastbound ACL train was hit with massive delays forcing us to bail out at Absecon-Pleasantville in order to ensure we could catch both the ACES train and following ACL train.

Well after the ACES train passed and the northbound local arrived I was hoping that I would be able to get a reverse railfan view as it is standard practice for the crews to leave the rear interior door open. The problem is that ACL crews also believe that taking photos is illegal so I was bracing myself for some sort of nasty confrontation. Much to my surprise not only did the C/R on that particular trip not try to physically block my camera like a target of a 60 Minutes investigation, but suggested I could get better shots from the rear cab. Coincidentally he had never heard of the union hall Internet forums. I could have ridden all the way back to 30th St there, but alas I had an Easter dinner waiting and could not extend my trip :-(

Anyway the full set of photos is here and they mostly consist of a full line documentation. Some of you may find pictures of every signal and most of the bridges and grade crossings on the line between Absecon and Lindenwold, but I know that many of my readers have an allergic reaction to high concentrations of signal photos so I'll just hit some of the highlights here.

Here we see NJT Geep #4219 in push mode with my highly delayed eastbound train.

The new Abseason station was built atop the old PRSL Absecon-Pleasantville station which was constructed during the 1930's as part of a grade crossing elimination project in the area. The project elevated several miles of the high speed main line through the downtown Absecon. Unfortunately with the ACL's budget conscious construction techniques the original station was barely utilized. If you look eastward you can still see the remains of the original platforms on the road overpass.

After botching three other photos of the ACES train I finally managed a good one with ALP-44 #4409 being dragged west in a zoom shot.

Here we see NJT Geep #4201 pulling west adjacent to the old platform stubs as it enters Absecon station.

The trailing cab car was #5016. Here is a view of its Wabso EPIC style brake controller. Let's hope it doesn't FAIL.

Electric locomotive controls? They think of everything!

We pulled into the Pomona Siding to be passed by a southbound train. The ACL was built as a single track with passing sidings in the most literal sense of the word. Instead of short sections (2-4 mile) of double track, it was literally built with the barest bones of passing points like a single width mountain road. These are all a mile or less in length and lack any intermediate blocks. Even when trains are spot on time the schedule will have you waiting in the siding until you are passed by your opposite. No rolling meets here.

All the sidings also come with these nifty little emergency transfer boards as the lack of any two track stations means that all rescue operations will have to take place at a siding.

NJT Geep 4203 (hmm, I'm noticing a pattern here) soon showed up pushing its train southbound. Comet IV cab car #5020 was leading, but I didn't get a very good picture.

Running parallel to the former PRR controlled Camden and Atlantic Railroad main line was the Reading controlled Atlantic City Railroad main line. When I say parallel I mean within spitting distance of each other. Of course back then railroads were customer focused and Federal regulators stood out of their way so the trains were free to race eachother along the straight, flat route. Both lines lacked any real official speed limit and speed records for scheduled passenger service over a distance were constantly being set.

I should mention that this took place a few days after some major rainstorms hit the state and anything that could be considered low lying was under inches of water as seen here adjacent to the A453 signal. The ACRR RoW is now marked by a set of power lines.

The Egg Harbor City station. All ACL stations use high level, three-car platforms.

There aren't many large river crossings on the line, but there is a small bridge over a creek just past the A407 signal.

The Lica siding was next, and the NORTH LICA interlocking was having some issues with a dark signal head requiring a Rule 241 permission past stop.

Maintainers were on hand to deal with the problem.

At Hammonton Bob and I were surprised to find renown West Jersey railfan and informal trip organizing hanging out on the platform taking photos. I am not sure who was more surprised by the encounter.

The original PRSL Hammonton station still stands across the street from an NJT MoW base. The new station and parking lot were constructed on the site of a former layover yard where commuter trains from Philly would start and terminate.

Entering what used to be Winslow Junction we pass under the still standing flyover to the Ocean City branch from the C&A main line. The little porch thing on the girder truss used to hold a position light signal.

Venerable old WINSLOW tower is still standing at the point where both sides of the flying junction to the Ocean City branch would diverge. Today just the duckunder track remains.

While many of the early style steel girder bridge have been removed but this example at the old White Horse Pike survives.

Another classic girder bridge just west of the SOUTH FISH interlocking showing showing the Fish siding emergency transfer platform.

Yet another girder bridge at NORTH FISH interlocking.

The Atco station is exactly the same as the others.

The Atco station replaced the downtown Berlin station due to the new sites proximity to Rt 30 and more space for park and ride. The old station still stands and has been preserved.

The massive Rt 561 bridge in West Berlin always puzzled me as it seemed overbuilt for the amount of traffic it carried. I suspect it is an affect of traffic patterns changing over the years.

 Like several of its kin the girder bridge for United States Ave had been replaced by a modern equivalent, but the original bridge was preserved as part of a bike/foot path. These old girder bridges were known for their wooden decks and 3 ton weight limit.

Reaching the end of my ride here is Comet IV cab car #5016 as it pulls out of the Lindenwold Station.

I then took PATCO to Woodcrest in order to get a second bite at photographing an ACES train. Here is Vickers car #262 as it pulls westbound.

Success this time as I got a good photo of ALP-44 #4405 heading the ACES train eastbound.

Pushing from behind was NJT P40 #4802.

Of course no set of Philly area photos would be complete without some Silverliner II's and III's. Here we have #207 on a R8 CHW route.

And S-III #222 bringing up the rear.

Well hope you enjoyed it. If you want to browse the entire line survey please visit the link to the full gallery. Next week stay tuned for some photos from Amtrak's National Train Day.

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