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Saturday, August 16, 2014

14-08-16 PHOTOS: JD Tower

CSX has been on a tear ripping out its classic B&O signaling all up and down the East Coast and for the last 4 years or so I have been trying to stay out ahead of the wrecking crew documenting the setup as well as I can. One of the last CPL locations on the Capitol Sub between Baltimore and Washington is JD TOWER, in Hyattsville, MD, at the point where the Alexandria Extension wyes off from the Capitol Sub proper. The Extension is used by CSX trains heading up from the south via the RF&P route.

The current signals were put into service in 1992 when the tower that stood there was closed. More on the history of the tower can be found at this website here. As far as I can tell these were some of the last B&O CPLs installed new by CSX before they began to change over to color lights. For example when VIADUCT JUNCTION tower was closed in 1994 it received color lights.

Until about 10 years ago most railroads would have left the CPLs with their entirely modern masts and gantry structures in place, but since then labor costs have changed resulting in it being cheaper to install and test brand new hardware in parallel than to cut things over and then test it.

Anyway, this isn't one of my long and involved signaling posts because JD TOWER is also a fairly well known railfan hotspot since it serves as a nexus for both east-west and north-south CSX traffic. I'm going to post most of the train photos here, but if you care about the signaling you can find those photos here.

I'm actually going to begin things with an aside. I went on another signal photo trip to ELISMERE JCT in Delaware back in July.

A Clear signal on the eastbound bracket mast was soon followed by a mixed freight train lead by AC6000 #689.

Following behind was SD70MAC #4771 and C40-8W #7866.

Whole lot of pipeline going on.

Ok, getting back to JD Tower we catch a westbound freight train with ES44AC locomotives #730 and #834 passing the eastbound CPL masts and then passing through the Hyattsville defect detector.

The entire wye used to be controlled from the JD Tower, but today only the west leg of the wye and crossover is part of JD TOWER interlocking.

New signal masts were waiting to be installed. 

The wye is also be reconstructed with a double track project on the Alexandria. Here the new crossovers can be seen with CSX SD40-2 #8856 in front of a ballast train. 

CSX installed a new temporary CPL mast on the Alexandria Extension as the old mast was in the way of the second track RoW. This mast and the apex of the wye is also part of JD TOWER interlocking.

The east leg of the wye is now known as RIVERDALE interlocking. When I arrived I noticed a Medium Clear signal on the eastbound cantilever for a movement off the wye.

 Eventually a trio of C40-10W's (#5228, #5408 and #5392) arrived with a long intermodal train. Yes, that IS another railfan hiding in the weeds.

Same three units knocking down the signal.

After that train passed a Slow Approach signal popped up on the westbound CPL mast for a single-stack intermodal train to move from the Capitol Sub onto the Alexandria Extension. Lead power was ES44AC #853. The second track should help reduce this type of congestion. 

Video of the train taking the signal. ES44AC #962 was in the number 2 position.

The Slow Approach was due to a stop signal at the south end of the wye and the train soon came to a halt. The single stack configuration was due to clearance issues in the Baltimore terminal area.

Shortly after the intermodal cleared out a Clear indication popped up on the eastbound track 1 CPL mast for what would be one of two autorack trains destined for the Jessup automotive terminal. After the first train cleared the signal popped immediately up to Stop and Proceed for a second autorack movement, allowing me to collect the full range of aspects on that signal.

 Here is a video of the two eastbound unit autorack trains running about 5 minutes apart en-route to the the car unloading facility at Jessup. For some reason CSX likes to use the crappiest engines on these trains with C40-8 #7527 and CEFX leas SD40 #3441 on the lead train and C40-8 #7531 with C40-10W #5382 on the second train.

Well that's all I have for this week. I hope everyone has some Happy Holidays and I hope to see some of you at either next week's Nostalgia Train or next Monday's Mid-Winter Trip.

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