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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

09-05-09 PHOTOS: PRR Main Line Survey 2009 - Part 1

Last May I took another trip on Amtrak's Pennsylvanian between Philly and Pittsburgh. Like my previous trip I bought a business class ticket so I could have access to the rear railfan window. This time around I had much more sunlight available, better weather and an implied verbal consent to stand in the rear vestibule. As a result I managed to take a picture of EVERY signal between ZOO interlocking and PITT interlocking at MP 342. I also took pictures of other points of interest as well as the trains that we passed and that passed us.

The trip was a wonderful experience and for an overall cost of $60 a great value as well. I highly recommend taking business class when it is the last car on a non-NEC train. The "Railfan Tax" of $20 is much cheaper than most videos, excursion tickets or even books.

The my PRR Main Line survey resulted in a collection of over 600 photos so I am going to have to split things up. Part one covers the Amtrak Harrisburg Line from ZOO to STATE, next we move onto the NS Pittsburgh Line from CP-HARRIS to ALTO and finally Part 3 will cover ALTO to CP-PITT.

The entire set can be viewed here Landmarks line stations and such are arranged by milepost as are block signals. Interlockings and any trains encountered are given their standard names.

Starting out we have ZOO interlocking still in about a month away from having the K section transfered to SEPTA control. The new signals are in place, but still wired into the massive 230 lever US&S Model 14 interlocking machine in ZOO tower. Here is the new cantilever mast carrying the 30R and 32R signals.

Old and new at the famous "K ladder" double slips. 70L and 68L signals on the 36th St connector remain original equipment, the 54L and 64L have been replaced pending transfer to SEPTA.

The 36th St connector joins the Main Line proper at under the twin cantilever mast holding the 80L and 86R signals.

At the JO section of ZOO we can see how the NY-Pittsburgh Subway was built with the straight route through the interlocking. Trains from 30th St have to take the slower diverging route. This was done to speed express passenger trains such as the Broadway Limited.

STILES interlocking was installed with the 1994 Overbrook Shoppes Project which relocated Main Line track 4 from the VALLEY flyover track to the space previously used by Bellmont yard. STILES is remote ZOO tower.

PAXON interlocking is located under the aging VALLEY flyover providing a access to the east end of Overbrook Shoppes. This track had previously been used to fly passenger trains over the busy freight yard here as in PRR times the center tracks were used by freight and the outside tracks by passenger trains. Even in 1994 the Flyover was getting into increasingly bad shape and moving trains off of it not only enabled the Overbrook Shoppes project, but also any need to radically repair the flyover. Today the flyover is only used by outbound R6 Cynwyd trains at 15mph.

Silverliner III #234 with a pair of SII's hang out in the Overbrook Shop yard.

WOODBINE interlocking provides access to the west end of the Overbrook Shoppes. Like PAXON it is R-ZOO and not to be confusing it is located next to what remains of the Woodbine section of OVERBROOK interlocking. Where the yard track now takes off was the former route of Main Line tk 4 which sandwitched a freight yard in the middle between here and the flyover.

OVERBROK tower still soldiers on after 83 years in service.

Popping out the other side of the interlocking I caught a Medium Clear on the 14L signal indicating a train on the express 2 track was crossing over to 1 track.

And here is that train. A Keystone pushed by AEM-7 948.

Ardmore station with the 84 signal.

Some MoW tree trimming near Haverford Station. The train the folks on the platform are waiting for will arrive on 2 track as a result.

BRYN MAWR tower and Bryn Mawr station. The tower was closed in 1994 after a fire in the locking room and remoted to PAOLI. Long term plans call for moving the interlocking west to Villanova.

When the Blue Route was built in the 1990's a new bridge for the Main Line came with it.

High level platforms under construction at Wayne. The re-pained 1915 era catenary poles ended at the county line.

The Berwyn Station and the 50mph Berwyn Curve. One of the few major curves on this part of the Main Line which weren't re-aligned.  Shortly after this we were passed by another SEPTA local.

East end of PAOLI interlocking.

PAOLI tower as my train crosses over to 1 track to wrong rail all the way to THORN interlocking.

Original 1915 Paoli substation.

Ballast machine parked on the 2 track stub.

SEPTA local pulling onto the pocket track at FRAZER interlocking. This interlocking was built when the Paoli Yard was closed due to massive PCB contamination and the mid-point terminus was moved to Malvern in 1994. A yard was built at Frazer to store the trainsets along with a Bombardier facility to service the push-pull sets.

GLEN intelrocking, part of the THORN tower CTC project. Original junction with the Philadelphia and Trenton cutoff. From left to right w/b Main Line track 4,NS Dale Secondary, SEPTA Frazer yard lead (which becomes tk 2) and eastbound track 1.

Track 4 was out of service for rail replacement.

A high-rail big-rig was pushing an MoW car.

DOWNS interlocking. 3 track has been completely removed, 2 tracks is out of service. Note the increasingly rare Limited Speed triangle on the signal. Used as a way to upgrade a signal for limited speed turnouts w/o installing a flashing aspect.

The P&T extension flyover tunnel at Thorndale. Note the barricade on track 2 where it goes out of service.

Crossing back over to 4 track at THORN interlocking. Note the "ramp" to the old P&T branch. The single remaining track is a stub.

THORN tower which still controls the 6-track full crossover in front of it and the line from GLEN to CALN via a 1937 CTC machine.

Leaving THORN interlocking. Some of this rail is 152lb PRR stock.

Thorndale used to have a local freight yard and helper base, almost all of which has been removed, but stands ready to act as a new SEPTA terminal yard.

CALN interlocking is located at what was the west end of Thorndale yard. Interlocking is only active on 1 and 2 track, but the old relay hut next to 4 track still retains a Penn Central sign.

Between CALN and PARK the old 2 track has become a ghost track. It's signals are still up and on, but the track and overhead wire are gone. Previous #2 had been used by local freight moves to the Green Giant plant past Parkesburg on the old A&S line. The old #3 track had been there in bits and pieces with overhead wires over both, but first Amtrak cleaned up the remains of #3 track, then completely removed #2 track and the overhead wires on each.

Two track reappears right before the home signal at PARK interlocking.

PARK interlocking has seen better days. PARK controlled the junction with the low grade Atglen and Susquehanna freight line. After the A&S was abandoned in the 1980's PARK was later closed as a full time interlocking when SEPTA suspended service to Parkesburg in 1995 due to Amtrak forcing them to pay the full cost of an operator there. today PARK runs mostly on automatic, only opened on an as-needed basis for crossover movements. Note the dwarf signal has already flipped up to Restricting as part of the auto-mode.

As built PARK served a 4-track main line and a 2 track A&S. The Main Line went to 2 tracks in 1948 with the A&S dropping to a single industrial track in the 1980's when freight shifted off the former PRR.

PARK will be replaced by a new simple crossover interlocking two miles down the line.

An uncommon diesel hauled mid-day Keystone passing the 494 automatic.

The old PRR station at Christiana just past the Atglen curve.

The high point on the Main Line b/t Philly and Harrisburg at Gap, PA. 485 feet above sea level.

The Gap curve and PRR Gap Station.

 The second curve at Gap makes one wonder why they never re-sligned this section. There only used to be farm fields in the way.

The LEAMAN temporary block station. Switches are hand operated and interlocked with the signals with a small panel in the cabin.

Video of the Irishtown grade crossing. Speed over the crossing is 100mph so take that suburban Nimbies. If the Amish in horse drawn buggies can deal with high speed grade crossings, why can't you in your damn SUVs.

The CORK interlocking complex had not yet been re-signaled so here is the Conestoga section that used to be where 4 tracks went to 2 for the narrow Conestoga River viaduct, as well as a connection to the New Holland branch. New signals are in place for the transition to being the separate HOLLAND intelrocking.

Video of the rebuilt east crossover at Lancaster station. This will become the new CONESTOGA interlocking.

Lancaster station. The 4-track main is now down to two with the main tracks replacing the old station tracks.

Rebuilt west crossover of CORK interlocking. This portion will continue to be known as CORK.

The new LITITZ interlocking has already been carved out of the west end of CORK. This is a connection to the NS Lititz Secondary.

This part of the Harrisburg Line now operates under Rule 562, which means cab signals without fixed wayside signals except at interlockings. Unlike SEPTA or Metro North Amtrak has retained the fixed wayside distant signals to interlockings to smooth operations in case of cab signal failure. Here are the 860 distant to RHEEMS interlocking.

RHEEMS was a new interlocking built as part of the re-signaling project to replace the hand operated temporary Block Stations at E-Town and Florin. Note the 'C' boards which give the Clear to Next Interlocking aspect for trains with CSS failure. RHEEMS is R-State.

The deep cut east of Elizabethtown used to be a tunnel back in the 1800's before it was blasted through.

Elizabethtown station with the old E-Town TBS cabin in the background. Work on the new high level platforms has yet to begin.

ROY interlocking follows the same pattern as RHEEMS with 'C' boards on the home signals.

And new colourized position light distants.

STATE interlocking marks the end of Amtrak's Harrisburg Line. Here we see the 106R signal with some cat insulators in the foreground.

 East end of the interlocking showing the old express terminal in the distance that was the source of many road railers attached to the Three Rivers when it ran before 2005. You can see the empty track bed from all of the trackage that has been removed, but the overhead wires have been left intact to hint at the former configuration.

STATE's remaining doubleslip switch.

The smoking stop at Harrisburg let me get out to take some pictures from the platform. Here is Amtrak #186 which was providing power on my train.

P42 #43 was just hanging out as protect power.

 A keystone trainset was parked further up the platform on the opposite track.

 I will conclude this section with a photo of PRR GG-1 #4859, which inaugurated electrified service to Harrisburg in 1939 and has been preserved under the trainshed.

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