Search This Blog

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Alright, I have an fairly major update of my METRA BLUE ISLAND Tower page to announce.  I had an opportunity to visit Blue Island in December, 2015 and was able to add a good number of exterior tower photos as well as interlocking layout photos.  Please go and check it out.

I also recently lost my long time web hosting mirror.  You might remember the problems I was having a few years back with photo hosting.  I actually went and swapped some of my posts over to use the backup host.  I believe I was able to change them back, but the occasional photo might still link to the old, palter,org site so if you see any broken links pointing there, please let me know and I'll fix them post haste.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Caught on Camera - Episode 8: Chinese Cab

I noticed this photo taken inside the cab of a Chinese HXD1C electric locomotive and immediately a number of interesting tidbits caught my eye.  Let's take a moment to step through them.

First my eye is drawn to the center of the cab and if I know my cab signal displays, that's a cab signal display with 8 bulbs.  Now each cab signal aspect may use multiple bulbs, so I can't tell how many cab signal indications this unit can display, but I believe it would be more than four.  There is one purple lamp lit and I know that, like France and the NY Central, China does does purple as a Stop indication at least on dwarf (shunt) signals.  By looking out the window we can see that the train is moving along the track at a good clip, however by looking at the centenary structure and condition of the concrete we can infer that the line has seen some years.

So what does this all tell us?  Well, we have a new model locomotive running at speed down a moderately old rail line with the most Restrictive cab signal indication displayed.  While China isn't big on safety, I don't this we're seeing a stop signal violation, instead the line is not equipped with cab signals.

In summary, China is a lot like the United States.  It has deployed an aspect based cab signal system with many new locomotives being equipped with the hardware, but for whatever reason the system has not seen universal adoption, or even adoption on all major rail lines.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Spring Newsbreak

I collected a number of additional news items over the last few weeks.  First and foremost, it appears that we might have a new contender for the "What Took You So Long" award.  Many many Newses ago (in 2014) I reported that NS was re-signaling the VRE portion of the Southern Main Line.  I even rushed out to photo document the line. Well the new signals were cut over about two years later! 

Elsewhere on the former Southern, searchlight style signals continue to be replaced in Kentucky.

Re-signaling on the former NKP lines continues in Ohio.

It might not be NS anymore, but new interlockings are going in place around Port Jervis as part of the Port Jervis Line re-signaling project.  This interlocking will replace the old 'PA' manual crossovers west of the station in what is now a surviving portion of double track ABS.

PTC antennas are up at the former PRR Main Line Fostoria signals, but not to fear because there won't be any replacement signals.  This is partly because of long term NS plans to convert the line to 562 operation, something I consider preferable to Darth Vader heads.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the NS Marion Branch out in Indiana.  This former NYC line was actually re-signaled with Rule 261 and PRR Position Lights by Conrail in the 1980's.  In a crushing loss low cost Vader masts are already in place :-(

Amtrak continues its slow project to re-signal STATE interlocking in Harrisburg.  The slow speed terminal is being upgraded for normal speed movements.  One casualty is the sole remaining double slip switch, here seen partly removed from service. In an odd twist, a new double slip was installed at the Albany-Rensselaer station terminal complex where one had not existed previously.

Also, Amtrak has just installed new Colorized Position Lights both east and west of the interlocking.  To the east is a two track cantilever mast.  To the west is this many track DIY gantry with more high PL signals.  This gives new evidence that PRR pedestal type signals are unavailable for new purchase and also that these passenger upgrade projects aren't trying to save $ buying used.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Russell's Teapot

If I were to tell you that on the hundreds of miles of former C&O trackage between Cincinnati, OH and Norfolk, VA there is still an island of C&O signaling with 3-4 track signal bridges displaying all the quirky old C&O signals, would you believe me?

Well you should, but not for much longer because it appears that despite plunging coal revenue and threats to downgrade the Cardinal route to 25/30mph operation, CSX has nevertheless found some money to make sure not a single signal without a Darth Vader helmet survives. 

The existence of this  strange island of misfit signaling is due to CSX's efforts to close RU CABIN, which controlled the eastern end of the giant Russell Yard complex, around the year 2000.  At that point the decision had still not yet been made to completely phase out the C&O signal rules so the new Darth Vader signals installed at RU and RACELAND interlockings were both of the C&O style.  

 RU Cabin westbound gantry
As seen at FOSTORIA, I believe the placement of a red lamp in the middle of the lower head was to allow for R/Y/R Slow Approach or R/R/G Slow Clear without using a third head, but I've seen no direct evidence of this.

Raceland westbound Passenger Track Mast
Moreover, NC CABIN, one interlocking east of RU, was re-interlocked with the existing signals left in place, sort of like as was done on the B&O Philly Sub and on many other rail lines before the cost of labour to splice and test overtook the cost of new signals.

NC Cabin westbound C&O masts.
Anyway, I guess someone had to spend a capitol improvement budget or risk losing it and with nothing left to re-signal, this island of the C&O was the only available target.  No word on if RU CABIN and its C&O Darth Vaders are also being modified, but I wouldn't be surprised.  If you happen to live in the area both RU and NC are a must see.