The full photo log of this trip can be found here or just stay tuned and read on for a sampling of the best and brightest. I know this post is going to be long, but please at least skim through to the end because a lot of the Silverliner II and Amtrak action will be down there.
We begin with this photo taken of the PRR Arsenal Branch as it passes over the Sure-Kill Distressway just south of Center City. This was the freight line that linked the PW&B and West Philadelphia Elevated at ARSENAL tower with the Greenwitch Yard serving the import/export facilities on the Delaware River and South Philadelphia industry. This beefy overpass was built back in the 1970's when GG1s were still using the line along with the yearly Army-Navy passenger specials that brought thousands of fans directly to JFK Stadium.
Anyway we drove directly to Lansdale where the old signals were still standing at LAND interlocking.
Soon after a northbound R5 Doylestown train of Silverliner IV's showed up with #412 bringing up the rear.
Waiting on the station track with S-IV #344 on point was a Landdale terminating trainset getting ready for the next southbound departure.
Which is soon did, crossing the non-automated grade crossing directly south of the station.
CSX was still in charge of local freight operations and a pair of Geeps with GP38-2S #6159 was hanging out with its partner north of the station. This unit had been a GP40-2 and was downrated to 2000hp to save maintenance costs. This unit started life as Chessie System/Western Maryland unit #4260.
Hanging out with #6159 was GP40-2 #6224.
The departed SL-IV train was soon replaced on the station track by another train of SL-IVs including #454 shown here.
The Lansdale Substation retains its original 1930's equipment including two 22kv to 12kv autotransformers that emit a pleasing 25Hz hum.
Leaving Lansdale and its empty storage yard behind we made a stop a few miles up the road at the Link Belt station, which was named for the a tracked construction machinery factory owned by the company of the same name. The station is co-located with a Controlled Point appropriately named CP-LINK which was displaying clear in the northbound direction for the next train to Doylestown. This Controlled Point served as a holdout signal to allow trains to pull north of LAND interlocking without needing to have traffic thrown all the way to CP-FORREST. This Controlled Point was taken out of service in August 2011 when the new controlled siding a half mile to the north was placed into service.
Even though the Rule 261 ABS signals were still in service along the line, at some point SEPTA decided to replace the old electro-mechanical searchlight signals with the solid state Unilens variety.
For decades opposing trains on the branch had passed each other interurban style at the CP-FORREST passing siding. CP-FORREST, like CP-BELT, was a controlled point, not an interlocking and features spring switches on either end of the passing loop with automatically operated absolute signals governing the trains. Located just south of the highly acute Rt 202 crossing here we see the northern spring switch which is set in the normal position. With the opening of the new Link belt siding the north end of this siding was removed.
Northbound trains would be routed into the siding where if the track to Doylestown was free of opposing movements this stacked dwarf signal would display a Medium Clear. With the opening of the new Link belt siding this signal was removed along with the northern spring switch.