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Friday, July 29, 2016

16-07-29 PHOTOS: Savage Meet

In recent years CSX has made a number of infrastructure upgrades to its Capitol and Metropolitan Subdivisions that host weekday commuter operations from Maryland's MARC service provider. I should probably mention that this was probably not done out of the goodness of their heart, but because they got some sort of State or Federal money to make the upgrades. Because the Capitol Sub between DC and Baltimore had already been sprinkled with State funded crossovers back in the 90's, the upgrades there mostly served to improve freight service. One major bottleneck was the bulk auto delivery terminal in Jessup, MD. Trains of autoracks would have to foul the main line as they stretched through PA TOWER interlocking due to the shortness of the yard lead.

The solution was a new third track between the auto terminal and SAVAGE interlocking, about 2 miles to the south. This third track passes through the Savage MARC station and effectively eliminates the bottleneck. While funding for all day service on the MARC Camden Line has not materialized, one additional afternoon round trip, turning to DC at the popular Dorsey Park and Ride station, was added. This created a meet between the first DC bound train from Baltimore and the early Dorsey turn train out of DC in the vicinity of the Savage station (they are in fact separated by 4 minutes on the timetable).

In addition to the Savage meet I have photos from the Amtrak BWI Rail Station and CSX freight action on the Baltimore Belt Line.

In fact let's begin at the BWI station with a typical midday consist of new split level Bombardier coaches sandwitched between MP36PH-3C #17 and single level cab car #7756.

I was at BWI at a busy time with Train 79, the southbound Carolinian, running on the center express track with ACS-86 #651, being followed by a more typical Regional pulled by ACS-86 #663.

 An non-stopping Acela trainset soon passed by on the local track with power car #2019 in the lead.

 Followed by a northbound Regional pulled by ACS-86 #609.

When the MARC train I was waiting for finally showed up, it was led by single level cab car #7749.

I happened to be in Baltimore for the large Artscape arts festival, and while seeking out some shade under the old B&O Mount Royal Station trainshed I caught a pair of GE ES44AC;s (#881 and #3174) working hard up the grade from the Baltimore waterfront to the highlands north of town. Back in the age of steam these tunnels and this grade combined to force the B&O to install the world's first Main Line electrification system to provide a smoke free assist to through trains as they battled the grade.

CSX C44-10W #5256 pops out of one of the short tunnels under Mt Royal Ave and into the trainshed as it brakes a manifest freight down the hill.

Some CSX MoW equipment was occupying the North Ave passing siding.

Here are a pair of trains traversing the Jones Falls viaduct that also crosses the Baltimore Streetcar Museum. The first westbound train is led by CSX AC4400 #92 and the second by C44-10W #5228 and ES44AH #958.

Monday, July 4, 2016

16-07-04 PHOTOS: Local Color

Sometimes that which you see every day so blends into the background that it becomes easy to ignore. With the impending rebuid of the classic PATCO cars, I have been making more of an effort to take photos of my local transit scene. Here are some I took around the July 4th holiday period.

Here is a train of unrebuilt Vickers PATCO cars, with #261 and #261 leading and trailing, wrong railing at the Haddonfield station on a weekend day.

The wrong railing was going on overnight too as seen crews worked to rebuild the direct fixation system on the Westmont viaduct, as seen this video of a train featuring PAtCO Car #268. The operator had better be careful to not get pulled over due to a faulty tail light.

Lit signals at SOUTH RACE interlocking indicate that a train is approaching. The Approach Medium indication is for a diverging move at RACE interlocking.

At the side of the old Utica Ave station in Westmont, NJ, an NJT Atlantic City Line train passes by powered by PL42 #4021 with Comet V cab car #6059 on the rear. The train advanced on an Approach Medium to a Medium Clear signal at RACE interlocking where it would make its Cherry Hill, NJ stop.

Amtrak tends to schedule ACL trains to pass just west of SHORE interlocking on the NEC. This creates about a 20-30 minute gap between opposing trains. Today things were running to schedule so here is a southbound train with Comet V cab car #6047 and PL42 #4010.

Here we find SEPTA SL-IV #296 at Market East station.

Friday, July 1, 2016

16-07-01 PHOTOS: TRAFF

CP-TRAFF in Trafford, PA is located at the east end of the former PRR Pitcarin Yard, just outside of Pittsburgh on the old Main Line. Today the yard has been mostly gutted and now stands as Norfolk Southern's Pittsburgh area intermodal terminal. However what Conrail designated as the Pittsburgh Line, still runs through it all carrying 40-60 trains per day. While CP-TRAFF lost the last of its high position light signals in the late 1990's, it still features a lot of heritage elements as well as a great place to catch more dynamic rail action. Included in this set are a number of photos taken in downtown Pittsburgh where the other members of my party had decided to stop for the day. You can view the full set of photos here.

The interlocking logic dates from the Penn Central era of the early 1970's and was installed as part of a general West End CTC project stretching from Johnstown to Pittsburgh. The all relay plant has held up well over the years, even if it requires a bit more physical space than modern installations.

Another throwback would be the compressor hut supplying air to the pneumatic point machines. Popular in the days before reliable mains power was available in rural areas and household voltage buried wires could be reliably insulated, air operated interlocking plants are facing extinction both in North America and abroad due to the increased maintenance requirements. 

Conrail blue is still flies proudly next to the 4W mast signal, displaying an Approach indication for an upcoming westbound movement on track 2.

In due time a doublestack intermodal train shows up with NS SD70ACe #1075 in the lead, SD70ACe #1001 behind and ES44AC #8136 in the number 3 position. I'm sure 1001 makes some sort of emoticon, but so far it has not gained the same notoriety as NS "barcode" unit #1111.

As the doublestack train braked to a halt for the Stop signal at CP-WING, a helper pack consisting of SD40E's #6312 and #6308 drifted past as an eastbound manifest train roared by on track #1.