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Saturday, June 4, 2011

PRR Main Line Survey 2009 Part 3 (THORN to CORK)

Alright, moving on with part 3 we begin at CALN interlocking. This is the west end of the now defunct Thordale yard. Today the interlocking is only in service on track 1 and 2 and basically mark the end of the #2 track siding and the only remaining track in the yard space, #5 Running. Signals cannot be displayed for movements into 5 running as it is not cleared for passenger trains and there was an accidental misroute into it a number of years back. As a remedy a fuse was removed to prevent any route being cleared into 5 running and trains have to be given permission past the stop.

Here we see the eastbound signals. From right to left tracks are 1, 2, 5 running and 4. The signal on 4 track is now the 363 automatic as the interlocking was removed on 4tk prior to 1992. The ghost signal on the left gantry is the 24L which governed the now removed 6 yard track. While the piles of tie debris might seem unsightly this is actually an improvement as the area was littered with a number of ghost points from the old configuration, some retaining rusted out A-5 point machines.

Clearer view of the interlocking and the CALN relay hut. CALN is CTC from THORN using pulse code equipment from 1937. The hut still sports a green Penn Central sign dating from 1969. The Penn Central famously went bankrupt in 1972 and was nationalized in 1976.

17 switch at CALN. The TSR sign indicates the condition of #2 track.

What looks like a set of trap points is actually the old route of #2 track which until 2008 or so continued west of here. #2 track was used by a single local freight train to reach a cannery past Parkesburg. Note the 16R signal for eastbound #2 track is still present and lit.

Zombie signaling at its most extreme!! Here the #2 track signals on the 390 automatic are lit up to protect the ballast where #2 track used to sit. XD What's even more ironic was the signaling system on track two had been de-certified for years as Amtrak stopped bothering to inspect them so the local freight on the line traveled under a track warrant. ::rolls eyes:: Surprisingly Amtrak has bothered to remove the overhead catenary, which remained above the track 3 bed for two decades after it was removed. You can see how the signals were arranged when the line was 4-track, single direction. The #2 track westbound signal was not moved over tho, a new Safetran unit was installed as the existing signals had probably rusted past the point of disassembly. The 390 signals are the distants to CALN interlocking and the #1 track signal has an unusually small number board.

414 automatic, another zombie signal on #2 track and a limited speed triangle on the #4 track distant to PARK. As PARK tower became park time the operator at THORN assumed traffic control on the bi-directional two track. When the new #2 track signals were installed they appear to have used an oversized mounting post.

Westbound signals at PARK interlocking. #2 track re-appears just in time for the local freight to take the home signal at PARK. This arrangement might appear odd, but PARK is slated for removal and this arrangement preserves the status quo signaling wise while allowing the removal of #2 track between here and CALN. So if PARK is only open as needed, how are the signals on two track worked? Well they play off the traffic control controlled by the operator at THORN. Throwing the traffic lever causes the signal for the proper direction at PARK will to and its opposite to go to Stop.

Note the limited speed triangle on #4 track, which only came into play prior to 1983 when there were actually tracks here to cross over to. The large lamps to the right of the signals are 'E' boards. These are a somewhat unique feature to this interlocking installed when the tower was made part time with an automatic mode. PARK had dragging equipment detectors wired into it so if a train trips one the signal will drop to stop and the 'E' lamp will light. The crew then must stop and inspect the train while a 10 minute timer runs down. When the timer finishes the signal will re-clear with the 'E' lamp lit until the train takes the signal.

PARK interlocking is still a 4-track complete crossover even tho there are really only two main tracks left. Here we see the east 3-track stub and the eastern turnouts. As with everything I will discuss PARK tower more completely in a future post, but in brief it was built in 1937 with a 39 lever US&S Model 14 interlocking machine.  At that time the Main Line was 4 tracks through to CORK interlocking in Lancaster and PARK served as both a 4-track crossover and a junction to the 2 track Atglen and Susquehanna low grade freight line.  However in 1948 the Main Line west of PARK was reduced to 2 tracks and PARK became just a 4 track crossover with the center tracks becoming the A&S branch..

In the Penn Central era PARK was further reduced to a single pair of crossovers that allowed freight on the center tracks to crossover to the two remaining Main Line tracks 1 and 4.  Then in the eraly Amtrak era PARK was restored back to its post 1948 state as a 4-track full crossover (albeit with stub tracks) which it remained until its retirement in 2010.

Center portion of PARK. Note the difference between infrequently used rust and never used rust on 3 track. Notice the 28R has popped up to Restricting as PARK tower is in auto-mode.

Same with the 26R signal. Note that PARK uses left handed PRR PL dwarf signals. This was an alternate design used up through the 1930s. You can also see the original alignment of #3 track when the main line west of here remained 4 tracks. After the main shrank to 2 tracks, 2 and 3 track at PARK just went right into the Atglen and Susquehanna tracks. As the A&S was a low grade freight line and as traffic shrank there was less and less of a need for alternate routings.   Finally in 1983 the A&S was abandoned for rail traffic, continuing on as a power right of way for 2 circuits of 138Kv 25Hz power to the Safe Harbor Dam.  

Since we have seen so many cases of signals protecting ghost switches its only fair to have some switches protected by ghost signals!!! Actually this is an interlocking to be. The 45mph crossovers were installed when the concrete ties were laid, but they are waiting for the re-signaling project to arrive for the actual interlocking hardware to be installed. This was originally intended to be known as ATGLEN interlocking, replacing PARK above, but to simplify documentation and things it was simply took up the PARK banner in December of 2010. The empty A&S right of way can be seen on the right.

Automatic 466 right past ATGLEN. The four track signal gantry shown here was not used in the new interlocking with simple mast signals being installed on all 4 corners.

Automatic 494 with a train. Note the track 4 signal is a newer safetran PL unit.

Automatic 520 where you can see the 4-track heritage of the line between PARK and CORK where all the ABS signals are supported on 4-track beam gantries that were installed with the electrification in the late 1930's. In fact the tracks are still known as 1 and 4. Of course since the PRR did the conversion to 2 tracks they didn't leave any ghost signals

Automatic 546, note another (G) board which is why the low grade line was built.

When in an interlocking not an interlocking? When it's a Temporary Block Station. The TBS is a hallmark of the pre-CTC era where interlockings were few and far between and block operators had to camp out trackside in little huts hand throwing switches and hooping up train orders. TBS LEAMAN is a bit special as it was protected by signals (in one direction) and the little TBS hut even had a panel to clear the signals and unlock the hand throw points. Here we see the 4L signal for westbound trains.

Electrically locked hand throw points with a spring frog on the 'B' turnout. All nice and concrete of course. Oh, speed through here has ramped up to 110mph.

The 2R signal and the block operator's hut.TBS LEAMAN was replaced by the new LEAMAN interlocking over the summer of 2010.

592 automatic at the Irishtown grade crossing. This is one of 3 grade crossings on the line using automatic half barriers. This is a popular railfan location and sometimes you'll get an Amish horse and buggy waiting for the train to pass. The signal gantry found a new use in the Rule 562 re-signaling scheme as the distant signal to the new LEAMAN interlocking.

Here's a video

Automatic 614. Remember the overhead wire is powered by 25Hz AC @ 12Kv.

Automatic 636.

We now reach the east limits of the expansive CORK interlocking, which at this point was in the process of being re-signaled. This was known as the Conestoga section of CORK where the 4 main tracks shrank to 2 to pass over a 2-track viaduct. It was also the connection with the New Holland branch. Here you can see the new signal for the to be activated HOLLAND interlocking, as well as the 2R and 4R signals. Actually both signals are controlled from 2R when 1 switch is reverse...the pot is then 4R when the switch is normal. The signal base on the far right is for a new eastbound automatic that will be installed once CORK is re-signaled as HOLLAND will be on 4 track only.

The #1 switch is all that is left of a straight forward 4 track to 2 track shrink that was in place until at least 1954. When the main was reduced to 3 tracks between here and PARK the two switches were combined in a Y configuration. Finally when it went to 2 tracks the 1 switch was left as a trailing crossover as the other crossover east of Lancaster station was facing point only and this would compliment it. 1 switch is now removed, but in its final years it didn't see much use as the electric traction department accidently removed the overhead wire restricting its use to non-electrified movements.

Here we can see the 1sw in relation to the 16 switch to the Hew Holland branch. The switch used to be an electric locked hand throw, but was briefly upgraded to electric power operation in anticipation of the new HOLLAND interlocking. You can also see how the right of way shrinks to fit over the 2-track viaduct.  HOLLAND finally went into service in October of 2009 when the remainder of the old CORK interlocking was re-signaled.

Ok, I'll stop here. Next time in Part 4 we'll cover from Lancaster to Harrisburg.

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