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
Conrail blue is still flies proudly next to the 4W mast signal,
displaying an Approach indication for an upcoming westbound movement on
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.
With the train stopped, the two helpers were cut off and proceed east to
wait for a signal at CP-TRAFF on their way back to the helper base at
Johnstown. Typically helpers for westbound trains are cut off on the
fly as the trains summit at Galitzin or at the Johnstown helper base.
In the Conrail era a third helper base was in service in downtown
Pittsburgh, but NS eliminated it and appears to have replaced its
functionality utilizing this stop and proceed operation at Pitcarin.
If the two SD40's look a bit beefy, that's because they are former
SD50's, de-rated to 3000hp from 3600hp. Using a higher RPM and other
tricks to boost power, the early EMD 645F engines suffered reliability
problems, which has made SD40 spec rebuilding a popular option.
With the prior eastbound manifest train apparently still in the picture somewhere, #6308 and #6312 get a Restricting signal indication crossing over to track 1. The cantilever masts replaced a variety of rickety PRR/PC signals in the late Conrail/early NS era.
The traffic never stops on the old PRR Main Line. A few minutes later a
westbound merchandise train rolled through with NS C44-9W's #9857 and
#9510 on the point.
In recent years these brightly colored POTX marked Potash Corp hoppers
have appeared and are quite adept at attracting the attention of
The C&S department was nice enough to leave the guts of a US&S
A-5 pneumatic point machine laying out to show how it functions
mechanically. An air cylinder pushes a piston back and forth, which in
turn operates a crank mechanism to throw the points while a position
detector reports back to the interlocking logic. The extreme simplicity
of the design (at least compared to electric machines with gear trains,
racks and pinions), was a factor in the popularity of the pneumatic
point machine back when stuff was expensive and labour was cheap.
Moving on to downtown Pittsburgh, here we see the famous PRR Fort Wayne Bridge during golden hour.
NS C40-9W #9870 and C40-10W #7666 proceed westbound on the Fort Wayne Bridge. Mediocre access control at Pittsburgh's David L. Lawrence Convention Centre provides for excellent views of the bridge.
NS C40-9W #9578 at the head of a UPS TOFC train on the Fort Wayne Bridge.
The downtown Port Authority parking garage (located over the intercity
bus station), provides another quality view of the Pittsburgh Line and
the east end of Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Station. Today, the station
is reduced to only 2 through tracks. A third track was cut off at the
west end of the station. The old relay hut for CP-WEST PITT is still
visible adjacent to the old trackbed. The current Amtrak station
building is also visible tucked between the old station headhouse and
PAT Light Rail trains no longer serve Penn Station, however the old branch is in surprisingly good nick.
The Ohio Central private car "Sugar Creek" was sitting under the Penn Station trainshed on the former siding track.
Graduates of the NS SD60E rebuild programme don't seem to stray far from
their place of birth in Altoona. Here #'s 6927 and 6968 assist NS
C44-9W #9211 across the Fort Wayne bridge.
Although NS has been pretty good about going the rebuild route instead
of guppying up for new power hobbled by new emissions regulations, they
did purchase some new Tier 4 ES44AC's. Here #3638 leads CP AC4400 #8627 elephant style across the Fort Wayne Bridge.
Time to wrap things up with a spectacular sunset over the Allegheny River.
Next week tune in for some commuter action in both the Philly and DC markets.