At CP-BURN, located in eastern Allentown, Amtrak's Autumn Express turns onto the former Conrail Reading Line, which runs between Allentown yard and a junction with the Harrisburg Line just outside of Reading, PA. For a named "Line" (under the Conrail system), it is actually quite short, only about 30 miles from end to end, but as a link in the east-west trunk to the Port of New York and New jersey is handles a large volume of traffic.
The timing of this trip was especially important because the double track Reading Line was slated to be re-signaled from ABS Rule 251 to CTC Rule 261 and taking a train over it allowed me to survey all the classic searchlight signals in one go.
You can find the full set of photos here.
A spike of railfans had set up at CP-BURN to watch the special rise out of the hole and then cross over to westbound track 2.
The nominal subject of this photo is the eastbound MP33
distant signal to CP-BURN, however way back at the crossing is former
West Jersey informal railfan trip specialist Kevin Painter.
Large group of railfans out for the train in East Allentown.
Some cars wait for interchange on the Perkeomen Branch that diverges at Emmaus Jct.
Another big crowd is on hand at a railfan park in Macungie, PA, the home of Mac trucks.
Power crossovers at CP-ALBURTIS. This interlocking was re-signaled around 2007 and will be re-signaled again for the CTC.
Former Reading Mertztown Station building.
The new crossovers at CP-LYONS will help fill the gap between Alburtis and Blandon.
They will replace the single trailing crossover at the old LYONS Temporary Block Station, seen here with an eastbound autorack train.
A cut of local cars moves east through Fleetwood, PA as NS GP38-2 #5355
runs in the #2 position. The NS dispatcher was doing their best to
clear the single track section between CP-BLANDON and CP-WEST LAUREL so that the Autumn Express would not be delayed.
The single track Reading Low Grade Line, seen here crossing US 222
Business, was built in the 1950's as a way for trains to avoid the steep
grade on what was known as the "Hill Track" departing Reading Yard for
Allentown. Later, as trains began to operate longer distances between
stops and more east-west through traffic appeared, the Hill Track would
be completely abandoned with all Reading Line trains shifted to the Low
Grade line, even if it did create a short single track bottleneck.
The once and future Reading, Blue Mountain and Northern station at Temple, PA.
Both CP-LAUREL and CP-WEST LAUREL retain, for the time being, their
original Reading signals and interlocking hardware that date from the
1950's. Other classic Reading signaling in the area was removed around
the time of the NS takeover.
NS C44-9W #9659 and a train of autoracks is waiting for us to clear up
at CP-BELT (aka Belt Jct). This is the Junction of the old Reading
Belt Line, that bypassed the congested Reading terminal area, and the
line heading north out of Reading Yard to coal country. Today both Coal
Country and Reading are afterthoughts to the 40 or so trains per day
heading between more economically viable parts of the country.
For some reason the bridge over Tulpehocken Creek presents another single track bottleneck.
We join the Harrisburg Line at CP-DUNKLE just shy of the more well known
CP-WYOMISSING JCT. In this view we are looking back east along the
Harrisburg Line towards Philadelphia.
Next in this series we continue along the busy Harrisburg Line to, where else, Harrisburg, PA.