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Sunday, June 17, 2012

12-06-17 PHOTOS: Capitol Bummer

Well after a bit of a delay it is time to showcase the final installment of my 012 Cross Country trip via the California Zephyr. Of course I got off the Zephyr and in Chicago and after a day of railfanning in the Windy Apple it was time to finish the trip up via Amtrak's Capitol Limited. To explain the title of this photo, set compared to a year previous this trip was a lot less uplifting due to a variety of signaling and infrastructure changes that considerably degraded the value of the much more mundane dash across the eastern half of the country. I guess one silver lining is that I no longer have to get up early to take pictures of endangered CPLs or the remarkable engineering of the Magnolia Cutoff, but of course if there isn't anything to see from the train it might be better to just take Southwest the rest of the way.

so what specifically was to greet me on this trip? Well we started with an hour delay out of Chicago due to a power failure at the 21St drawbridge. Then of course CP-513 is poised to lose its position light signals just like CP-509 already has. HICK tower is now closed so another victory for video games over real railroading. All but one of the small target Michigan Central style semaphores between MP 495 and CP-487 were changed to large target semaphores. CSX of course removed the position light signals and pole line between ORLEANS ROAD and HANCOCK on its main line in West Virgina and of course the are busy blasting out the Magnolia Cuttoff tunnels in a vain attempt to compete with the new Panama Canal route which will destroy their slowest in North America intermodal service. WB tower in West Brunswick was closed and the almost brand new CPLs on the Metropolitan Sub were all removed due to a rush of stimulus dollars that ensures that MARC trains operating their peak direction weekday service have the ability to cross over every 2 miles.

You can see all the photos of the above bad news here.

Like I said we began in Chicago where it was time to hurry up and wait for the stuck drawbridge. While creeping on signals we were passed by an inbound Aurora Line train with METRA F40PH #141 pushing on the rear.

We were soon joined by the outbound Texas Eagle lead by P42 #179 and now second in line to cross the bridge.

Another pair of Amtrak P42, #182 and #52, sitting on the Lumber St wye track getting ready to turn a train.

Heading past the site of the old 21st St tower we were joined in our passage over the now functional drawbridge by a BNSF coal train.

Lead by BNSF ES44AC #5940 and SD70MAC #9952

Here is the trip across the 21st St bridge in video form.

The new MP 519 automatic signals break the single block between CP-519 and Amtrak's 21St St interlocking into two.

NS C40-10W #7606 handles a double stack intermodal train alone on approach to CP-ENGLEWOOD.

The position lights at CP-513.

The quad draws at CP-509.

NS C40-8W #8380 and a friend waiting for all the traffic to clear at CP-509.

The now closed HICK tower.

NS C40-9 #8870 at the head of a mixed freight with a UP unit in the #2 slot.

NS C40-10W #7615 waiting for the signal to display at CP-501 as our train weaves its way through the freight traffic.

Westbound signals clear on both the Chicago Line at CP-497 and the B&O Main Line at CURTIS JCT.

Another westbound freight passed the now large target searchlights at MP 495.

Looks like NS ran out of large target backing plates as it went about trying to improve the visibility on the few remaining small target searchlights on the Chicago Line.

Due to dinner and the lack of sunlight caused by the drawbridge delay I called it quits at CP-487 and after a good night's sleep and breakfast I picked my camera up again as our train headed up and over the Sand Patch summit on the B&O Main Line in Pennsylvania where I caught our train overtaking CSX AC4400CW #450.

A few miles further east we passed another AC4400CW #312.

Surviving CPLs at WEST HUMP interlocking which are located next to the Cumberland yard hump.

Remote control equipped GP40-2 #2431 handing out at the east end of Cumberland Yard.

Train of autoracks at the modern style CPL signal bridge at Dan's Run.

A third CSX AC4400CW #119 approaching GREENS SPRING interlocking.

A whole pile of tailings from the clearance project inside the Carothers Tunnel. 

View inside the Graham Tunnel where the high quality work of early 20th Century engineers is being thoughtlessly ripped out. Hey CSX, try running your trains faster instead of higher.

Tailings pile for the Stewart tunnel.

The new GRASSHOPPER HOLLOW interlocking on the recently re-signaled section.

Caboose and scale test car in the small yard at Hancock, WV.

Harper's Ferry station.

New signals at WB interlocking.

The closed WB tower.

MARC GP39H-2 #70 sitting in Brunswick yard before being sold off into retirement.

MARC Pullman Gallery cars also awaiting retirement.

CSX AC4400CW #35 getting ready to split the CPLs at East Brunswick.

New interlocking at TUSCARORA, just two miles from the interlocking at EAST ROCKS. Wonderful to see so much money spent on infrastructure to support trains that MARC will probably never run.

More tax dollars at work to build a new crossover at DICKERSON, previously the automatic distant to PEPCO interlocking. This is the 4th interlocking in a row.

CSX C44-10W #5460 just east of Barnesville.

A third new interlocking ready to go in and replace the crossovers at Clopper.

DC Metro train with #3325 on point pulling inbound into Rockville.

The 4th new interlocking at MONTROSE. Does anyone really think that CSX would invest in these projects with their own money? Funny thing is that CSX management is known to be pro Republican with all the rhetoric against government spending. Ironically all the CPLs that these signals are replacing were installed in the early 1990s also using public money to improve MARC service.

CPL intermediate signal at Tacoma Park.

Well that's it. I didn't get a chance to pose for a Mission Accomplished photo as I had to rush to catch a regional to Baltimore and because we still had paper tickets the conductor of the next departing train let us on instead of making us wait 2 hours for the connection that Amtrak gives you with the Cap.

Hope you enjoyed the trip with its thousands of photos. Tune in next year when I do the whole thing again on the Southwest Chief!

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