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Saturday, July 25, 2015

15-07-25 PHOTOS: BB-62 Take 2

I'll admit that the main subject of today's photo set is more boat than train, but since like most rail stuff I like the Battleship New Jersey was built in the 1940's and I took rail transit to get there I'm posting the photos in my main sequence instead of an OT aside.

Thanks to Groupon I was lured back to take another Battleship New Jersey tour about a decade after my last visit. I heard that the fire control room was now open with its old analogue computer and figured it was worth a visit. As the groupon was basically a 2 for 1 deal I hooked up with fellow Subchat participant Phil Nasadowski who was interested in using the ship as a subject for some medium format photography.

You can find all of my photos here

We begin with "classic" PATCO car #271 arriving at Haddonfield.

At Ferry Ave I got my first photo of a rebuilt PATCO Unit in service, #1005. This trainset of rebuilt cars was being run as much as possible to identify possibly faults.

Phil Nasadowski has some expensive tastes. 

A ship in service from 1944 to 1990 tends to rack up a lot of awards. Click here for a wide angle.

While known for their big guns, like these 16" 55 caliber Mk 7's, one major weakness of this type of armament was that the ship could only fire a full magazine load of shells before the barrels would have to be removed and re-lined.

The group that runs the museum is currently in a capitol campaign to restore the teak decks to their original appearance. This small portion has already had the work done and it is phenomenal. 

A Battleship can be thought of as an armoured box covering the engines, magazines, main guns and command center. All else is generally considered sacrificial. Here we see the armoured conning tower set in the middle of the larger bridge structure. Cast steel structures such as these are one of those things, like steam locomotives, that we can't make any more. 

View of the Ben Franklin Bridge from the bridge.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

15-07-10 PHOTOS: Pttsburgh Rade

This summer I had the opportunity to take a road trip to Pittsburgh and as usual I was able to convince my ride to throw in some railfan stops along the way. These consisted of a number of locations along the former PRR Main Line / Conrail Pittsburgh Line as well as some stops in downtown Pittsburgh. This was my first visit back to Pittsburgh since 2010 and I was also able to try out the new North Shore light rail extension, which is part of the downtown free travel zone.

You can find the entire set of photos here.

On the way to my first stop I got lucky and caught some road power laying over on the Radebaugh Secondary. It consisted of new SD70ACe #1145 and C40-9W #9652, along with CN SD75I #5639.

Traffic on the Pittsburgh Line tends to come in waves and the fleeted westbound signal at CP-RADE showing Approach was an indication that I had arrived right in the middle of one. Sure enough a westbound coal train with ES44AC's #8115 and #8129 soon appeared.

Next up was an eastbound helper set running light presumably to Johnstown for its next assignment. Power consisted of two 6300 series SD40E's, #6325 and #6310, which were originally SD50's. SD40E's are NS's preferred power for PRR Main Line helping.

Clear PRR position light signal for an eastbound doublestack train.

That was quickly followed by a westbound double stack train with C40-9W's #9917 and #9277

Later that day I caught the SRS truck out at CP-PENN.

CP-PENN is the interlocking that still features a 4-track PRR PL signal bridge and is also the tri-junction between the Pittsburgh, Conemaugh and Fort Wayne lines.

The clear signal was for a westbound manifest freight with C40-9W #9853 and SD60I #6792.

Friday, July 3, 2015

15-07-03 PHOTOS: Septaration

When Conrail was forcibly removed from the commuter rail business by Ronald Regan in 1983 the result in most places was a clean divestment of hundreds of track miles with no practical value to a freight railroads. However in a small handful of locations, main line freight operations continued to share track with full service commuter rail lines. One such location was in Philadelphia where parts of two SEPTA Regional Rail routes ran on Conrail's Trenton Line. Whereas prior to 1983 when Conrail commuter trains were run in between Conrail freight trains by Conrail tower operators, after 1983 Conrail trains were suddenly being dispatched by SEPTA operators whose primary focus was making sure commuters got to their destinations on time. The situation was further complicated by further agreements regarding track and wire maintenance. The result was that nobody was happy with freight sitting around waiting for slots and commuter trains sometimes left waiting for slow moving freights.

In 2008 CSX convinced SEPTA to split off its R8 Fox Chase service from the Trenton Line between CP-NEWTOWN JCT and CP-CHELTENHAM JCT by converting a shared two track line into two non-shared single track lines. This left only the 6 miles of R3 West Trenton trackage between CP-WOOD and CP-TRENT as the only shared section between SEPTA and CSX. In 2013 SEPTA sensed an opportunity provided by the ill-conceived PTC mandate to claim that their trains would not be able to run on a line equipped with CSX's PTC system. When the State of PA increased transit funding, SEPTA promptly used the windfall removing the operational inconvenience despite the fact it would reduce capacity for both passenger and freight by creating stretches of single track operation.

With the project nearing completion in the summer of 2015, I ventured out with Chuchubob to not only document some of the to be decommissioned Conrail era signaling, but also SEPTA and CSX operations on the shared Trenton Line.

We begin with CP-TRENT itself, here showing the northbound track 1 dwarf signal displaying Medium Approach for an approaching SEPTA R3 train. Work can be seen in the background on the right of way for the relocated CSX single track which would loop around the SEPTA yard. The main line crossover outside of interlocking limits was installed in 2012 as part of SEPTA's original plan that either involved a shared interlockings both here and at CP-WOOD, or didn't involve any separation at all since, unlike say rail gauge, PTC systems are not mutually exclusive. However, I guess when you're playing with house money, why not spend it.

Here we see SEPTA Silverliner IV #101 arriving at the head of a 5-car R3 West Trenton train. All trains were running on the inbound track to practice the single track future of the line. Of course SEPTA probably sees that as a positive since it will provide an excuse as to why service cannot be increased.

Here is a short video of the same train relaying on the #1 main track. The revised separation plan involved the former through tracks being converted into yard tracks and two yard tracks when being removed for the relocated CSX track. This would eliminate the ability for the SEPTA dispatcher to turn trains on the main and give them signals more favorable than Approach through West Trenton station.

SEPTA SL-IV #290 laying over on the main next to the old TRENT tower which now serves as a crew base for the terminal.

It is not uncommon for the SEPTA dispatcher to sneak CSX freights through during the mid-day lulls. Here CSX SD50 #855s leads a C40-8W at the head of a short merchandise freight train.

SL-IV headed back towards Philly and a Clear signal indication on block signal 31S. When TRENT tower was closed ~1994, Conrail installed short 1-mile block signaling between here and CP-WOOD to increase capacity. 

The first stop in Pennsylvania is Yardley where I caught SL-V #822 making its station stop before rolling past automatic signal 301S displaying a Clear indication. CSX has already removed the corresponding signal on track 2, since the removal of passenger traffic will preclude the necessity of short signal blocks.