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Monday, January 11, 2016

METRA TOWER A-5 (Pacific Jct) Closed

Again this is a bit late, but I recently confirmed that METRA's famous Tower A-5 was closed, effective November, 17th, 2015.  This is the third major METRA tower to have closed in the last year or so as long simmering capitol improvement projects begin to chip away at what traditional signaling remains in the Chicago area (the others were UD in Joliet and Rondout).

 A former Milwaukee Road Tower, it controlled the busy junction between the northern route to Milwaukee and the western main line to Bentonville Yard.  The line is technically owned by Canadian Pacific, although METRA employed the operators at what were the three towers on the route, A-2, A-5 and Rondout. 

Much of the CP Chicago and Milwaukee Subdivision has been undergoing a re-signaling effort resulting in the closure of the towers and a loss of much late model searchlight signaling.  At Tower A-5 the old school interlocking suffered from crossovers signaled at Restricted speed and a lack of parallel moves.  The new scheme included splitting the former A-5 territory into three new interlockings, A-5, A-6 and B-6, so if there is a silver lining it is CP/METRA maintained the MILW naming scheme.

It wasn't entirely certain that Tower A-5 would be closed since having the route controlled by CP dispatchers has its downside when there are conflicts between revenue producing freight trains and moey losing commuter trains.  Before this METRA had effective control of the route from Mayfaire interlocking, all the way through Union Station.  Now, they only control from south of Tower A-5 interlocking.  Remember, even thought the tower operators worked under the CP dispatcher, there is always an advantage in having the passenger operator signing their paychecks.

Farewell Tower A-5. 

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