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Thursday, June 17, 2010

10-06-17 PHOTOS: Capitol Limited Freight Spectacular - Part CSX

Last summer I treated my father to a Amtrak trip to Chicago with sleepers booked on the Capitol Limited westbound and the cardinal eastbound with an additional night spend in the Windy Apple itself. Over the course of this trip I took probably more than 1000 photos and today I present the first part of the first set of photos. I had originally planned to present the entire westbound photo set at once, but I had so many good pics from just the CSX portion of the Capitol Limited ride that when I finished up that section it made the most sense to post it as the first part of a two part installment.

The name of the set comes from the exceptional amount of freight my train encountered on its westbound journey from Thursday afternoon to Friday morning. Despite all of the freight traffic dispatchers at both CSX and NS performed an exceptional job at keeping out train running on Clear signals and we even had an early arrival in Chicago. Today's set documents the journey over the former B&O main line between Washington and Cumberland which is today's CSX Metropolitan and Cumberland Subdivisions. My photos focus on the parts of the line that have retained their classic B&O CPL signals. My trip was taken as close to the summer solstice as possible to ensure the maximum amount of daylight for photos and by the time I stopped for the night in Cumberland it was approaching 7:30PM.

The first part of this photo set can be found here:

And I really encourage anyone who reads this to check it out as I had pretty good conditions for the trip and there will be many good photos that won't get a featured spot.

We begin in Baltimore with a southbound Amtrak Regional departing the station behind AEM-7 #918 under a Medium Approach signal.

Of course because the Medium Approach aspect involves flashing it requires some sort of moving picture to do it justice, which fortunately I am able to provide :-)

The Meeps were already invading Baltimore in the summer of 2010 as #24 arrives with a northbound train.

At Washington Union Station we find an instance of the very old leading the old leading the young as Amtrak SW1000R #793 tows MARC GP40-2WH #60 and MP36-2C #16.

Out on the Metropolitan Sub my train encounters old B&O stations now in MARC Brunswick Line service such as this one at Germantowne.

And classic B&O CPL signals such as these at Seneca Fill. Most of the Metropolitan sub was re-signaled in the early 90's to coincide with the expansion of MARC train service which also brought about the GP40s and single level K-cars. Fortunately CSX was still installing CPLs in B&O territory for new signal projects.

Since I now have ample access to the Point of Rocks station and interlocking complex via car I decided to capture a Westbound move from the Washington branch to the original Main Line alignment with video. Here the train makes a move from track 1 to track 1 on the Metropolitan sub, but traverses two reverse turnouts to do so as the Old Main Line routing still gets the normal speed signals.

Approaching those High Rock signals I profiled in last weeks photo essay I discovered a partially camouflaged railfan hiking the tracks. How do I know he was a railfan? He later gave himself away.

Shortly thereafter we passed the first of many freight trains. This time it was an westbound coal train with a pair of helpers on the rear the lead of which was CSX AC44CW #448.

The conductor gives me a wave as my train overtakes CSX SD50-2 #8567 as it waits at East Brunswick interlocking to enter the yard.

Red nosed MARC GP40-2WH's still ruled the roost at Brunswick Yard with #52 and #62 hanging out that day with some K-cars.

WB tower soldiers on with its B&O CPL signals and US&S Model 14 interlocking machine. The sign above the door informs people that cell phones are not allowed inside the tower.

An eastbound coal train is waiting in the running track west of WB interlocking with the head end power including another AC4400 #102.

CSX C40-8W in the 7300 series teams up with a former Conrain unit at the head of a eastbound manifest freight at Weverton interlocking.

Careful where you pull over to change a flat on Sandy Hook Road.

Nature is no obstacle to the B&O at Harper's Ferry where the main line cuts through a massive stone outcropping where the Potomac meets the Shenandoah River. The current tunnel was built/expanded in 1931 so I guess the B&O wasn't aware there was a depression on.

Skipping ahead past the boring CPL-less section between Harpers Ferry and Hancock we enter the section where the B&O main tracks the Potomac river as it cuts its way through the hill and valley region east of the Allegheny front. The main line used to be 3 or 4 tracks here at one point and this is reflected in the classic B&O signal bridges that still protect the trains in the 21st Century. Here the signals at Ambrose display Approach and Clear for eastbound movements.

The place where the third track used to be has actually been turned into a public road complete with addressed houses. Here a 4WD vehicle crawls its way along the unstable stone.

We overtake CSX ES40DC #5233 waiting at Orleans Road interlocking with a COFC train.

Another freight train, westbound this time, was encountered inside the Stewart tunnel on the Magnolia Cutoff. The COFC train would cross over at Orleans Road interlocking to follow us and allow this train to pass.

The famous bridge-tunnel-bridge complex on the Magnolia Cutoff this time seen in the eastbound direction.

Another eastbound freight train passes us this time taking the Clear signal at the Little Niagara CPL gantry. The main line through here consisted of 3 or more tracks outside the area of the Magnolia Cutoff. This is because the extra tracks would take the old curving route along the river that the cutoff bypassed.

The eastbound CPL signals at OKONOKO interlocking have finally been replaced by Darth Vader masts, although despite the sun glare issues several of the heads have not been fitted with their Vader helmets. 

It's time for yet another freight train. This time an eastbound headed by ES44AC #813 as it approaches Okonoko interlocking.

The Longs Crossing CPL mast signals in the afternoon sun.

A third track starts up again at GREENS SPRING interlocking. A bit of local color in a pickup truck next to the RoW makes me glad I am railfanning this one from the train.

Former CSX GP35 and current Road Slug #2284 has received a new coat of paint as it pulls a string of freight cars on the tie plant siding just west of Greens Spring.

Just after the hand operated switch from the tie plant siding the Kerns Curve CPL mast on track one appears to have its 10 o'clock orbital lit. What is that aspect, Approach Stop and Proceed??

Approaching the Cumberland terminal the freight train traffic increases dramatically. Here the Capitol Limited passes through a train canyon made from autoracks and coal hoppers.

AC4400 #396 is at the head of the hopper train.

While ES40DC #5228 is moving on the siding as both train sit in front of the uber cool 3-track tubular CPL signal gantry at Dans Run. The hopper train has nowhere to go as yet another train is in front of it.

The string of new aluminum coal hoppers in turn is hauled by ES44AC #945.

Rounding the bend at the old PATTERSON CREEK tower we see some Darth Vader hoods not helping much in the way of glare protection.

At MEXICO tower we find ES40DC #5440 with a merchandise freight waiting for our train to pass.

Of course even if 5440 wasn't heading into the yard he'd have no place to go as an eastbound freight was stuck on track #1 at the eastbound CPL bracket mast with C40-8W #7638 among others.

Remote control SD40 #2431 was working the east end of Cumberland Yard and had a signal displayed at the west end of MEXICO interlocking.

Our train was finally brought to a stand at WEST HUMP interlocking due to a switch or signal problem. Fortunately a maintainer was on hand to fix the problem and we were on our way after a minute or two. Here we see the eastbound CPL bracket mast for West Hump interlocking with the signal maintainer and non-CPL dwarf signal. For a little icing on the cake a cut of freight cars was being classified on the Cumberland Yard hump and here we can see that a green hovered hopper has just been cut loose to roll through the retarders and into the bowl. There is a slightly later view available with AC4400 #45 on the yard lead.

That green covered hopper keeps rolling along through the retarder bed as we see the cut ahead of it already rolling into its track, a 3-pack of tractors on flatcars. I guess that gives new meaning to the term TOFC. The Cumberland hump has two sets of retarders, one primary and 4 secondary. The retarders slow the cars so that when they roll through the bowl they will gently couple against the string of cars that is already there and not either smash into them or stop short.

The entire 3-pack of tractors rolling through the bowl with the Cumberland Yard tower in the background. Usually tractors like these are headed eastbound for export and always assumed that Cumberland only classified westbound trains due to its configuration. I guess the tractors could be headed west or the yard can classify trains in either direction.

Well that green hopper is about to reach the secondary retarders just as my Amtrak train passes the next rolling car, a white covered hopper that was released before the tractor 3-pack.

While pulling in to the Cumberland Amtrak station we pass CSX SD40-2 #8253 as it is under remote control operation by a conductor standing on the front porch. The remote control equipment is on that pouch strapped to his chest.

Finally we encounter a Railfan Father who is enjoying a wonderful summer evening down by the railroad station with his highly engaged son...yeah right.

Anyway this is the end of Part CSX. Tune in next week for Part NS as well as a bonus segment on UD tower in Joliet later this week.

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