As a result my expectations of this trip were rather low, consisting of just a few pics out the side window and whatever I could take at Middletown and at Harrisburg. However, much to my surprise I discovered that the Pennsylvanian had recieved a full Business Class car which had been moved to the front and therefore there was an open window out the back. Not willing to pass up a gift horse I took advantage of the situation and at least carried out an eastbound survey of the PRR Main Line between Harrisburg and Philly. The weather wasn't the best and most of the pictures had to be taken through two sets of glass, but it captured the state of the line before the segment between Lancaster and Parkesburg before they were re-signaled.
Anyway this set of photos will cover Amtrak operations at Lancaster, Middletown and Harrisburg, Middletown and Hummlestown operations at Middletown and the best of the survey pics taken between Harrisburg and Philly.
You can see the entire set of photos here.
We begin with Amtrak AEM-7 #951 at Lancaster, PA. Due to single tracking ahead we had to wait for about 10-15 minutes at Lancaster and so I had some time to step off and take some photos.
CORK tower had been cut over to the new non-1920's technology interlocking. Here is a photo of the still open tower with a new style relay hut in front of it.
Here is a picture of the new coloruized position mast signals at the new CORK interlocking with a Clear signal displayed on the 2W signal.
The rear Metroliner cab car #9634 was "closed" in terms of people sitting there, but while waiting to depart Lancaster I popped back and took a picture of the cab signal display unit in the Cab Car Cab. This CSS CDU is equipped for ACSES (Amtrak's overlay PTC system) operation with a "track speed" display under the signal speed one. The signal speed is determined by cab signal codes, the track speed is determined by an internal database updated by track mounted beacons that provide TSR and train positioning information. A wider shot reveals that the Metroliner speedometer goes up to 150mph.
Because the CSS unit in the non-operating cab had not been cut out (to eliminate the need for a re-test) it was constantly freaking out as it waited for acknowledgement of the Restricting indication. I love these CDUs both because of their minimalist nature and super awesome full color position light display.
Arriving at Middletown I walked with Bob the few blocks to the Middletown and Hummelstown Railroad's yard just south of downtown Middetown. I've been there before, but I felt obligated to take pictures of the SEPTA PCC cars store there like #2104.
Of course you all know ex-SEPTA CTA L car #477 formerly used on the Rt 100, however today I got a nice shot of the inside and what was stored there. I love those classic PCC light fixtures.
Their Western Maryland painted Alco S6.
And their GE 44-ton #1.
Arriving soon after was one of that days excursion runs featuring a former DL&W MU trailer car in push mode, here having the race Street crossing flagged.
After the flagman remounted the M&H's second GE 44-ton passed by pushing on the rear.
Then it was back to the Amtrak station to take a picture of an eastbound Keystone train headed by cab car #9638. Here is a shot of it passing over the PRR road bridge over Union street that was replaced a few months later.
AEM-7 #923 was pushing on the rear as a bit of sun peeked out of the cloud cover.
Then it was back to the M&H yard where #2 was now leading the next scheduled excursion out of the yard and across Race Street with another flagman protecting the crossing.
Alright, time for the third and final leg of the journey here in the rear car of Amtrak's Pennsylvanian. Here we have a view of STATE interlocking showing the 101 switch in the reverse position and a P42 protect engine in the stub track.
Between here and Lancaster the route has been re-signaled to Rule 562 operation. However unlike certain railroads that end in EPTA or NORTH Amtrak was smart and left distant wayside signals in case of CSS failures. Here are the new 1015 automatic distants to STATE interlocking as well as the 18W intermediate signal on the NS Royalton branch.
While the eastbound gantry signal of ROY interlocking is clearly visible from the Middletown station platform, the westbound view is not as east to obtain. Here we see that view with the NS Royalton Branch splitting off to the left and the Burd Street bridge currently under replacement.
The new colourized position light distant mast signals for ROY interlocking.
New high level platforms under construction at Elizabethtown.
Westbound signals at Rheems Interlocking which took the place of the former Temporary Block Stations and hand operated crossovers at E-Town and Florin.
MP 815 automatic distant signals to Rheems, this time with proper PRR type lower head backing plates.
The junction with the former PRR Columbia Branch at the rebuilt Cork interlocking. The Amtrak Harrisburg Line splits to the right while the NS Columbia Secondary takes the route to the right. The Philadelphia and Columbia was the original route laid down in the 1840s or 50s as it was built to connect with the Susquehanna river and canal at Columbia. The line to Harrisburg came a short while later. Surprisingly the present day curve was actually a 1920's re-alignment from an even more severe curve down the line where the Dillerville yard and Reading Lancaster branch crossed the P&C to access downtown Lancaster.
Departing Lancaster Station we see the new Conestoga Interlocking that was created when Cork was re-signaled. Cork had been a sprawling plant that covered some 2+ miles. After re-signaling it was broken up into 4 logical interlocking plants, Lititz, Cork, Conestoga and Holland. In this view we are looking back towards the Lancaster station with the freight bypass track heading off to the left. The freight bypass track is needed because of the high level platforms. Previously freight trains would use the center main tracks and passenger trains would use two pocket "station tracks", but the station tracks were removed and the mains re-routed to serve the platforms.
Confused? Check out the model board of the original interlocking machine.
Signal maintainers were out in force that day as they were preparing to cut in the next segment of Rule 562 signaling between the new Holland interlocking and the to-be-re-signaled Leaman interlocking. Here we see Holland in service on track #4 only while a temporary eastbound signal mast is on track #1 as this is still ABS Rule 251 operation. The new reverse direction 661 distant automatic signal is on the gantry bagged and waiting to go into service. The distant signal for holland interlocking will be the new 645 automatic that that is located about 2 miles east on track #4.
I am saying track 1 and track 4 because until 1948 there were 4 tracks between Parkesburg and what is now Holland interlocking. (The Conestoga River bridge was never widened to accommodate 4 tracks which is why they didn't run through to the junction with the Columbia Branch at Cork.) You can see here in this picture of the Smoketown substation that the right of way is clearly 4 tracks wide.
Soon after we passed the Westbound Pennsylvanian showing off its Amfleet II coaches for the LD pax and the Amfleet I coach on the rear for the local traffic.
New distant signals for Leaman interlocking are up at the Irishtown grade crossing, which already sported the 591 automatics. This is a very popular railfan location for the 100mph operation over a grade crossing which also sees a good deal of Amish horse and buggy traffic. In fact I caught a pair of railfans, one of whom is setting his tripod on the track in the crossing to shoot my train as it departs eastward. Here is a closer view of the railfans and the crossing.
New signals are up and ready to go at what had been called TBS Leaman and was soon to be Leaman Interlocking. Here we see the eastbound mast signals, one of which is still bagged. TBS Leaman was a strange and unique animal as it wasn't an interlocking, yet it had an operator's shack with a small interlocking machine to control the signals an unlock the hand operated switches. Reverse direction signals were not provided so at this point the track #4 eastbound signal mast is bagged while the track #1 mast has replaced the former PRR unit.
In the westbound direction the reverse holds true only the gantry mounted track #4 PRR signal has been bagged and replaced by a mast. The switched had been renewed way back in 2005 and were simply motorized when Leaman became an interlocking. However they were and continue to be only good for Slow Speed (15mph) movements.
The new turnouts are still in place, but unused at what was refereed to as Atglen Intelrocking, but was re-named by Amtrak to PARK interlocking when the original PARK interlocking was taken out of service last fall. Back in may of mast year the 465 automatic signals were still in place, but have since been replaced by colourized masts in the same style as LEAMAN. To the left of the photo is the former Atlgen and Susquehanna right of way which used to provide a low grade route for freight trains and after 1948 allowed the Main Line to be reduced to 2 tracks.
At the old PARK interlocking seeing had I had made a couple of in person visits i decided to compliment my westbound video with an eastbound one. This is the junction between the A&S branch and the Main Line. The A&S branch ducked under the Main Line tracks a mile or so west of PARK intelrocking to take up the middle spots as was traditional for PRR freight tracks. More that until it was retired last December Amtrak maintained it as a full 4-track crossover even tho one freight track was completely removed and the other only saw one local freight a few times a week. PARK was only opened on an as needed basis for trackwork and other contingency situations and trying to modify the 1930's interlocking logic would have been too costly than to just let the excess switches and trackwork atrophy in the field. As the interlocking was normally set to Automatic watch the reverse direction dwarf signals pop up to Restricting as my train passes. Still, even as late as 2006 PARKs maintainer applied a fresh coat of paint to the Model 14 interlocking machine.
Between Caln Intelrocking and just west of PARK, what had been #2 track had been completely ripped out by Amtrak as with PARK closed it only was useful to that one local freight serving the Green Giant plant in Atglen. Because the line will eventually be resignaled Amtrak couldn't even be bothered to remove the signals above the now non-existent track XD. Anyway here is the view on the now two-track PRR Main Line as it soars across the Brandywine Creek over a stone masonry viaduct.
Video time again. This time an eastbound ride through THORN interlocking on track #1 from just before the Thorndale SEPTA station to just after the now abandoned Philadelphia and Trenton Low Grade Line flyover where the overhead power phase break is located. The large empty yard west of Thorndale was a former base for helper locomotives and will probably be the location of any new SEPTA R5 yard. This entire video was shot at about 90 mph.
Since you have seen my recent work on PAOLI Tower I will refrain from posting more of a lower quality, however as our train departed Paoli I saw no reason not to stand in the resr vestibule as there was little the conductor could do as the next stop was Philadelphia where I would get off so the quality if the photos should improve somewhat. The ritzy part of the Main Line hasn't seen many changes so i won't have to bather on as much either.
First up are some cool shots of PAOLI interlocking's east end specifically of the 29sw in the reverse position as it finishes crossing our train over to the #3 track to run express.
Let's see what else do we have here. The always iconic Berwyn Curve.
The recently caught-fire-and-restored Stafford station.
A eastbound train of Silverliner IVs at the 149 signal bridge.
Wayne station with its brand new high level platforms.
The Bryn Mawr station and interlocking.
Passing an inbound S-IV R5 train at Wynewood.
And an outbound at Narberth. (Get a load of that superelevation!!)
Westbound signal bridge at OVERBROOK interlocking with Overbrook Tower and Station in the background. my train is being routed straight in on track 2 which rarely happens.
SEPTA Deadline at Overbrook shoppes before it started getting scrapped.
The old Valley flyover that used to carry Main Line track #4 over the Belmont freight yards ad then back into its proper position. As the truss began to deteriorate it was decided in 1994 to re-route track #4 via a flat junction west of ZOO and use the space to build the Overbrook Maintenance facility. Today the flyover is only used by Cynwyd trains. Note the series of ladders needed for maintainers to reach the signal mounted on the bridge truss.
The new (1994) Stiles interlocking with the old track 4 on the flyover on the left, the new track four reached via the diverging route to the right and the straight route on track 2 down the center.
New catenary supports are up to allow the wire to be removed from the 40th St bridge which is undergoing a rebuild. This bridge contains trolley tracks that connect the Rt 15 with the Subway-Surface tunnel diversion route. The 27 automatic is displaying Approach Medium for the next outbound R5 or Amtrak train.
Everybody loves doubleslip switches right? Well here is one of the two doubleslip switches on what is left of the K Ladder where track 2 crosses the 36th St connector. This switch is lined straight for the angled route.
Here is the other K-ladder double slip switch this time lined with a diverging route to put my train onto the 36th St connector to 30th St station.
Amtrak AEM-7 #924 was waiting its next call to duty on the lead track just under the High Line bridge adjacent to PENN interlocking.
Halfway through its project to replace the turnouts and doubleslip switches in PENN interlocking Amtrak decided to stop refurbishing the A-5 pneumatic point machines and just replace them with M3 electric machines. Here we can see a newer electric operated doubleslip next to an air operated doubleslip. Because the model A-5 machines can be modified to double act on the movable point frog only 3 point machines are required on the traditional doubleslips while the newer ones require 4 electric machines.
As my train was pulling into 30th Street Station an Atlantic City Line train was pulling our, pushed by Geep #4209.
Well I'm sorry if that went a little long, trust me it took longer for me to write it than it too you to read it. I wanted to make sure to cover all of the new developments that have taken place on the Harrisburg Line since I last visited it in 2009. A lot was left out and if you ever have any questions about the Harrisburg Line or SEPTA R5 service you should bookmark the link and review it in a more complete fashion.
Anyway tune in next time as I railfan the B&O Main Line between Point of Rocks and Harpers Ferry via bicycle.