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Sunday, August 28, 2011

PRR Main Line Survey 2009 Part 6 (CP-LONG to CP-WORKS)

Picking back up at CP-LONG just west of Lewistown you can follow along
on the track diagram here

Also if anyone is interested in the official interlocking diagrams you
can download them here. ... %20Charts/

You'll want the 1998 Pittsburgh Division one.

Next up is the 172 automatic which uses position lights and distant to
CP-LONG. A mixed freight train is seen having just passed the signal
on the opposite track.

174 automatic is also position light masts and the 1tk signal is still
displaying Approach due to the freight train.

The 176 automatic and its position light masts is another distant, this time for CP-McVEY. On CTC territory interlockings are spaced ever 8-10 miles to allow efficient single-tracking / wrong railing
operations. This has the effect of making signals that aren't distants or home signals the rule rather than the exception as in times past when interlockings were installed much more sparingly.

Like CP-THOMPSON, CP-McVEY was an infill crossover installed in the late 80's CTC project. Here are the westbound position light mast signals set to the engineer's side of the track, which was still the style at the time. CP-THOMPSON and CP-McVEY are actually named after locations (Thompsonville and McVeytown), not people. An advantage to early settlement in the New World was being able to have whatever patch you set you farm up on after yourself which was later incorporated into more interesting things such as railroad interlockings.

The generous space between the two tracks belies the right of way's 4-track pedigree. As I mentioned before, most of the turnouts on the Conrail upgraded PRR main line are #20 and are good for Limited Speed (45mph).

The 2E signal at CP-McVEY was replaced sometime after 2000 with a
grand new position light. Unfortunately I pulled the trigger a bit
too early and got a close up of the original 4E signal.

But I managed to pull in a long shot that included the new signal. Thank god for steep regulatory requirements regarding alterations to interlocking logic. Of course recently that means when an interlocking is re-signaled old signals are just replaced instead of being wired into the new plant. Oh, note the new health and safety enhanced maintainer ladder.

Replacement ties have been dropped along 2tk at the 182 position light
automatic and distant to CP-McVEY.

Color lights at the 184 automatic. The left handed placement on 1tk
is a bit odd for an automatic signal.

186 automatic position lights. Note the Hot Box-Dragging Equipment Detector which used to announce itself as Newton-Hamilton. To replace the human eyes of tower operators, automated defect detectors are spaced about every 10 miles.

182 automatic is the distant to CP-JACKS and is mounted on a classic PRR gantry. The wb tk2 signal has a full lower head backing.

CP-JACKS is named for Jacks Narrows and includes a connection to the Mt Union yard. Mt. Union was the interchange between the PRR and the narrow gauge East Broad Top railroad, which now operates as a well known steam preservation line. Although currently out of service, Mt. Union has some of the last dual gauge trackage left in North America and it is slowly being restored.

The westbound PRR signal gantry is about 6 tracks wide to accommodate the old interchange tracks. The Mt Union connection uses a dwarf signal.

The interlocking used pneumatic points until about 2003 when they were replaced with US&S M23s.

Uh oh, it looks like the eastbound PRR signal gantry has reached the end of the line. The foundation is in place for another NS cantilever mast. While the amount of rust on the signals and gantry certainly belie some structural defect, the replacement of this particular signal is a real loss because the alignment of the two main modern tracks matched the alignment of the two old westbound tracks so the signals on the gantry did not have to be altered during either of the two major re-signaling projects. They are accessed via a short maintainer catwalk and the lower heads use the original PRR economic backing on the | array only. I was lucky to get such a good photo of it as CP-JACKS is isolated and does not have many ground railfans to document changes like CP-MIFFLIN did. Also note the now disused air tank to the left of the gantry.

193 automatic and distant to CP-JACKS on a classic PRR signal gantry. Again the position of the tracks shows off the 4-track RoW.

196 automatic, PL masts. In the foreground a dragging equipment detector.

198 automatic appears to be missing from the set. I was either dozing or maybe it came out too blurry. It's a PL mast like 196. At 200 miles from Suburban Station we encounter the 90's colour light
replacement distant to CP-HUNT.

Westbound PL mast signals at CP-HUNT.

CP-HUNT uses pneumatic points. Here is the model A-5 point machine powering switch 7A.

The 7 switch in the east end of the interlocking has its own "air zone" the compressor for which is here.

There is a grade crossing within interlocking limits.

As well as the Huntington, PA station. Placement of the crossovers allow trains on 1tk to access the single platform to avoiding using the duckboards.

HUNT tower has been preserved as a museum and is the only surviving tower on this portion of the line. It lasted because it of largely brick construction. The mostly wooden towers at the other interlocking stations were too fragile to preserve. Wow, the windows on the tower are huge. Talk about high ceilings. The west end air plant is visible to the left of the tower.

The #3 switch crossover and #5 switch to an M0W yard lead. Note the #5 switch has been fitted with a spring frog.

A triplet of PL masts guards eastbound movements through CP-HUNT.

204 distant automatic to CP-HUNT with 205 milepost in the foreground.

The PRR signal bridge at the 206 automatic was replaced by NS traffic light type colour light masts around 2002, but the structure was left standing until about 2007 or 2008. Note the well known "Warrior Ridge" defect detector.

There seem to be some issues with short signal blocks here at the 208automatic as both directions feature the Approach Medium aspect even
tho 208 is not a distant.

211 automatic is distant to CP-TUNNEL.

To follow along switch to this diagram now.


CP-TUNNEL used to be more complex as it dealt with tunnel clearance
issues, but since the 80's it has been reduced to a simple crossover.
Here are the westbound PL masts.

CP-TUNNEL still uses pneumatic points despite the simple layout. Here
my train is crossing over from 2 to 1 track to run British Style due
to some MoW work.

Eastbound masts and the fairly simple interlocking.

The Spruce Creek tunnels used to support 3 tracks in a 2+1 configuration, but in the 1994 clearance programme the left tunnel was re-bored for doublestacks and the right tunnel was abandoned. 

215 automatic signals, distant to CP-TUNNEL. The RoW here is now 3 tracks wide. Note the pointed finials to both the signal masts.

Three track wide PRR signal bridge at the MP 218 automatic.

At the 221 automatic the RoW re-expands, but I am not sure if there used to be an interlocking here or not. This is distant to CP-GRAY.

My train resumed normal side running at CP-GRAY via the 7 switch. From the east there is a connection to the Nitny and Bald Eagle RR, to the west a third track begins, although it is officially a 46,000 foot controlled siding.

The two original signals on the eb PRR gantry at CP-GRAY are a rare example of an early PRR Position Light mounting design where each head was affixed to a separate mounting post and the bottom head was mounted slightly forward of the upper head. This signal gantry was also placed on new foundations during the 1980's CTC project. Talk about a commitment to recycling.

The classic PRR signal bridge at the 225 automatic presides over 3 bi-directional tracks. Notice the 2252E signal is already displaying Clear indicating the dispatcher has already lined an eastbound
movement after we vacated the single track segment.

My train is on the triple track raceway eating through the remaining distance to Altoona at 80mph. It is here we come to my very favorite signal on the PRR Main Line, the 227 automatic at Fostoria. It's a new tubular gantry installed in the 80's featuring 6 position light signals, 3 of which support Approach Medium due to the high speeds and downgrade heading towards CP-GRAY. Usually you'll pass this displaying a pair of approach mediums in the eastbound direction, but today the 2272E signal is Clear for that eastbound train.

The grade crossing makes the Fostoria signal a popular trainspotting location.

There is another "new" style PL gantry at the 230 automatic, but this one is far less accessible.

CP-ANTIS marks the start of the Altoona terminal complex and also the beginning of ALTO tower's supervision via a US&S pulse code CTC panel. The westbound PRR gantry features full signals on tracks 1 and 2, but a diverging only signal for the controlled siding as it's only route options was to crossover or head against the flow of traffic into yard lead track B1.

Here we can see the east end of CP-ANTIS with the 13 switch from the siding to main track 2, the 9 switch connecting the Antis dump track, the 7 switch crossover from main 2 to yard lead B1 and finally a crossover from main 1 to main 2.

Moving a bit farther to the west we can see the Antis dump track on the far right, then yard lead B1, used mostly for eastbound movements, the 5 switch crossover from main 1 to main 2 and then the 3 switch from main 2 to westbound yard lead B2

The eastbound signal gantry spans 4 tracks, but only has 3 signals due to yard track B2 getting a reverse direction dwarf signal.  Yard track B1 gets a full high PRR signal as it turns into the signaled siding track.  Both yard tracks are Rule 251 ABS signaled for two more blocks before a fixed end of block marker.

CP-HOMER provides an additional access point to Altoona Yard, but is only in service on #1 track. On #2 track we see the 2340 automatic on a 1970's installed tubular cantilever mast. The automatic signal has reverted to the PRR numbering system. Trains diverting at CP-HOMER get a Slow Approach, which requires an Approach Slow on the wb signal at CP-ANTIS. The 2340/2341 automatics are distant signals to CP-ANTIS and CP-WORKS on #2 track.

Eastbound mast signals at CP-HOMER. I don't know where the name came from, but its not Simpsons related :-)  CP-HOMER's single switch was converted from air to electric since 2005.

CP-ROSE is not in service on any main tracks and sorts trains entering and exiting Altoona yard via the HOMER connection. The air plant for the pneumatic points is in the foreground.

Dwarf signals and points at CP-ROSE.

Westbound PRR signal bridge at CP-WORKS. Third track on the left is the connection to the Altoona Shoppes complex. It's pot signal is mounted on the leg of the signal bridge.

CP-WORKS 9 switch to the Shop track with its pneumatic point machine. Note a spring frog has been installed.

Here we have 7 switch to the yard and the 5 switch crossover.

You can see the complexity of CP-WORKS as it controls the west end of the Altoona Yard acting as a combination of CP-ANTIS and CP-HOMER. Again, this interlocking is remote Alto tower.

Like CP-HOMER, works received a tubular steel cantilever mast in the 1970's supporting its eastbound position light signals. Note the lineup of former Southern RR SD40 locomotives in the yard. Probably in storage due to the 2009 recession.  Unfortunately this relativity modern structure is set for replacement in 2011 by a tubular Darth Vader cantilever, however the rest of CP-WORKS appears to be safe at this time.

I would continue through to ALTO tower, but since I have a little something special for that planned I'll cut things off here.

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