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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

09-12-23 PHOTOS: PAOLI Snow

Last December the Northeast got a little preview of the massive blizzards that would paralyze it later in the next year. The December blizzard dumped a lot of snow, but it was mostly powder that mostly dissipated, but there was enough to give the region a nice coating of white for a week or so. This combined by my need to gain some more Amtrak Guest Reward points gave me the idea to take an Amtrak Keystone round trip between Philadelphia and Paoli (total cost $13) with a 1 Keystone Headway wait at Paoli where I could take photos of the interlocking, station and half hourly SEPTA action.

Later, still trying to round up some AGR points I took another trip out to Paoli to rendezvous with a friend to drive me south after Christmas. Again I got some pictures of the station and interlocking, but this time they were at night to offer a contract to my previous mid-day photos.

The full set can be viewed here.

So I caught a Septa RR train to 30th St where I would pick up the Keystone and I was surprised to get a S-II/III set consisting of S-III #225, Reading S-II # 9008 and S-III #229.

With some time to kill I went to the Circa Center garage and caught the inbound Keystone with Metroliner cab car #9643 on the point.

Arriving at Paoli Metroliner cab car #9651 had a Clear indication displayed on the 12L signal. Power was provided by AEM-7 #924.

The still active PAOLI interlocking tower (built 1896) provided a nice backdrop for the departing Keystone train. The snow covered rails on the center tracks shows just how much they are used.

 Expecting to just lark about taking pictures of the old PRR signals I was very surprised when a SEPTA Bomber set showed up on a deadhead move to the mantanence facility at Frazer. It was led by AEM-7 #2306.

Running on the heels of my Keystone the train almost came to a stop before being routed through the interlocking.

The Bomber set has cab car #2408 bringing up the rear.

The scheduled...R5...local to...Malvern...was next to arrive on track 4. Here is Silverliner IV #125 discharging at Paoli station.

Bit of trivia. The only remaining portion of the original 1989 station structure is the rain canopy over the stairway from the westbound platform and the shelter at what would have been a pickup for carriages. 

Due to the safety shields and overhead wires the only pictures one could take from the overhead bridge were of the "artistic" kind.

The eastbound platform extends further to the west and provided a vantage point where one can photograph PAOLI tower, which after 114 years in service is showing its age.

One of the west end air compressor stations had been sufficiently winterized.

Zooming in along the trailing point ladder crossover we see the 1938 substation next to the original 1915 substation which is no longer in service. If you look at the upper right hand corner of the picture you'll notice the triple set of centenary hangers that stand out in every photo taken here for the last 100 years.

Well, if I was surprised when a Bomber set showed up, I was just about blown away when a few minutes later none other than PENNSYLVANIA #269 itself rolled in on another deadhead move. #269 was paired with #211.

Here is a photo that could have been taken almost 50 years ago. A pair of S-IIs passing the active PAOLI tower.

The Paoli station was completely rebuilt in the 1950's for the use of the president of the Pennsylvania Railroad (Saunders). Unfortunately he didn't care much for rail transportation and decided to be chauffeured every day to work. The sets of transmission lines jumping over the road bridge were 44Kv feeders installed in 1915. The left set is now out of service and the right set is used by Peco for a 3-phase 60Hz distributor.

Looking back from the other side of the road bridge we can see while the main part of the platform had been ploughed, the ends were left for the morning commuters to pave their own way.

The westbound signal bridge for the main portion of PAOLI interlocking is actually the road bridge itself. As the railroad is only two tracks east of here only the 12L signal over track #4 can display a straight route. The 14L signal over #3 track only provides for diverging movements. At some point the 18L pot signal governing #2 track was moved from the ground to the road bridge, probably to make way for the center fence. 

PAOLI interlocking has both a west and east end, the east end being installed in the 1930's when the mechanical machine was replaced by a Model 14. This allowed express trains to more easily platform at PAOLI and today is the most used part of the interlocking where trains on the two track line west of PAOLI can then go express on the 4-track line east of PAOLI. Here we see the next R5 local with S-IV #324 passing under the east end signal bridge.

The Paoli locals are scheduled to just about meet in the Paoli station. Here #325 meets #435 on the eastbound train.

Video of #435 departing the station and taking the signal.

It wasn't long before the operator at PAOLI tower pulled up the 28R signal for the rapidly approaching Keystone train that I would catch back to the city. It displays Medium Clear for the routing onto the center express track.

And of course here is the eastbound Keystone running on time with Metroliner Cab Car #9635 on the lead.

So a week later when again catching a Keystone my luck continued as I caught another bomber set passing through the commuter tunnel at Market East.

If there is anything that looks better than a amber PRR position light signal it is an amber PRR light position light signal at night. Here is the road bridge gantry at night.

Same signals from the side.

 And below.

And with the 12L displaying Clear for the approaching SEPTA local.

PAOLI tower at night. The lights are on and somebody is home.

Well that's it for this set. Paoli is an amazing railfan location either during the peak periods or even mid day when one can be surprised by deadhead movements. I might add a Keystone round trip on a future Mid-Winter trip because of the action one can see.

Next time tune in for the 2009 running of the Nostalgia V Train.

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