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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Aurora Line and Other News

Well I just got back from a trip to Chicago on which I captured video from a METRA express run inbound from Aurora.  This gives me the opportunity to report back on the status of the surviving Burlington searchlights as well as other news.

As with most "news" segments this one is pretty bleak as all signaling marches towards a sterile and uniform future where the only bright spot is the new standard 20 year service life because propritary microprocessors are sooooo much better than those standardized relays that could last 3-4 times as long.  We begin on the Chicago Line near MP 324 where NS is replacing some NYC/Conrail era intermediates with new Darth masts.  This part of the Chicago Line was original signaled 261 under the Central with bi-di bracket masts.  Later after the "right side" rule was lifted, Conrail un-bracketed the brackets as part of a doublestack clearance project.

In another NS related blow to signaling the famous N&W bracket mast at the mouth of the Montgomery Tunnel are being replaced.  These were hooked to new signaling logic in the 80's or 90's and should have been safe for another decade or two.  With the Thurmond signals now history there aren't many good photo locations left in the Appalachians.

The NS Southern main line resignaling project has had the new signals cut in as far as Toccoa, GA.

In a small bit of good news some NYC-era IHB signals on a signal bridge in Calumet City have gotten a fresh coat of paint.  These are of an older "long" style GRS style searchlight that NS is currently removing on some of its lines in Tennessee

I also paid a visit to DOLTON junction which last had part of its western end turned into the new CP-107.  Anyway the remainder of the core interlocking plant with its mechanical lever frame logic is still not showing signs of full replacement.  Some additional bad news however is that the signals on the new CP-107 and CP-112 gantries have 4-lamp heads with Seaboard style Lunar.  Bad omens of a CSX future or change to western style route signaling?

Onto the Aurora Line (aka BNSF Chicago Sub).  The searchlit interlockings around Eola yard are showing signs of work, but it is progressing slowly, now entering their second year.  Many of the signal appliances have yet to be installed so it is still good for photos.

The truly depressing news is that the massive UNION AVE interlocking plant adjacent to the Chicago Union Station wye is now on track to be re-signaled as well.  This was a 1990's replacement of a GRS machine in a tower and was one of the last new instals of Burlington style searchlight signals.  As such a modern and complex plant i had figured it would be resistant to re-signaling efforts, but again I was wrong.  Not sure I'll be able to get back out for "close-up" photos from the adjacent METRA station, but these projects can take a while.  The 5-track double-sided modern searchlight gantries were a true marvel.

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