This trip I managed to fall asleep somewhere south of Charlotte, NS and when I woke up about 5 hours later I was shocked to find my train not pulling into Charlottesville, but instead racing through southern Virginia just north of Danville. Apparently at Greensboto, NC something has happened to our second engine and it had to be set out, delaying the train for 2 hours and moving what would have been covered by darkness into the light of a bright sunny morning.
As the crew was occupied taking care of the increasingly restless passengers (or just avoiding them in the cafe car) I was able to head back to the rear vestibule excited by the opportunity to "cover" the Southern Main between Lynchburg and Charlottesville. I had tried to cover this territory once before by changing to the Lynchburg Regional, but I discovered that the last car in that train is kept closed until DC.
You can find the complete gallery of photos here, but even I'll admit that Southern style signal can be pretty dry so keep reading to see my top pics from the lot.
Well like I said it was a beautiful May morning with the light coming from just the right direction. Here my train is only a few miles from Lynchburg and we can see the type of...wait...you gotta fucking KIDDING ME!! They gave that guy his OWN INTERLOCKING!!! >:-O
Growl...anyway, moving on from Lynchburg the Southern Main Line trnds to cut against the grain of the local geography with several long steel viaducts over rivers running to the Northwest. Here is the longest across the James River, which has been reduced to a single track.
At least the NS dispatching was very well executed. Here is a southbound doublestack train with some new EMD SD70M-2 locomotives waiting for us to take the other main track at McVOR interlocking.
A few miles later our train overtook another NS freight lead by SD70M-2 #2650.
Before doing the duck and weave at KINGSWOOD interlocking in order to pass a southbound NS mixed freight also waiting on our passage.
When the Southern RR single-tracked their main line back in the 1970's they relied heavily on the use of equilateral turnouts instead of the more traditional main and siding setup with Medium or Limited speed diverging routes. The result is that the home signal can both display a "Clear" route, and the distant can display Clear instead of Approach Diverging. Speed control through the turnout is accomplished via the line timetable which simply sets a 40mph speed limit through the interlocking. Here we see an example of this at the RED HILL interlocking and its southbound gantry.
Because I still hadn't eaten any breakfast and because I had covered the line north of Charlottesville in a previous trip I decided to retreat from the last car as we pulled through the C&O diamonds at JC Cabin. This is the route that the Cardinal takes. If it could turn onto the Southern Main here it could easily trip 30 minutes off its run.
I resumed taking photos at Manassas Park, but didn't really encounter anything interesting until just past EDSALL interlocking where NS cabin Car #555016 was attached to the rear of a local freight.
At Washington, DC I went forward to take a pic of P42DC #14 which pulled our train alone from Greensboro to here.
It was a weekday and MARC HHP-8 #4911 was hanging out next to K-Tower.
After #14 was pulled off it was replaced by AEM-7 #905.
Here is a video of that event.
Anyway, hope you all enjoyed the trip. Stay tuned next week for a trip to find some hidden CPL signals at Brunswick, MD.