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Saturday, June 24, 2017

2017 California Zephyr Trip Report

Time for another trip report. This will be my third time covering the California Zephyr Route after previous trips in 2012 and 2014. Unlike before I only rode the train between San Francisco and Denver, but there was quite a bit going on. However, let me begin with some Bay Area news.

On Caltrain the supplementary signal automatic signal locations have been placed in service since my last visit to the peninsula. This has resulted in some remarkably short (for North America at least) main line signal block distances. For example from Redwood City, one can count up to 6 Clear signals in a row in the southbound direction.

Over on BART, the replacement of transit type gooseneck Unilens signals has been gaining speed with the Millbrae complex having its supply replaced by generic traffic light types. However Unilens signals were still in service at a number of other locations.

In the Capitol Corridor a new station is under construction at Fairfield, CA, which will result in the replacement of a number of SP style target signals, however the remainder, including the searchlights at DAVIS, appear to be safe.

The CTC is now active on the Roseville Sub between Colfax and Switch 9, however no new interlockings have been added and a number of the old ABS signals have been left alongside the RoW with the heads turned.

Over the Donner Summit, classic signaling remains in service between Shed 10 and Norden. Elsewhere old SP signal bridges have been generally left in place. This is also true along the old reverse running section between Truckee and Reno with almost all the old center mount signal bridges having been left in place.

All searchlights on the Nevada Sub have been replaced, however the SP tri-lights are safe. WESO interlocking and the Elko sub have been re-signaled, however it appears that the old single direction ABS tracks have been converted to bi-directional ABS. Old SP and WP ABS masts have been removed.

On the former DRG&W route, everything has been resignaled except the stretch between Green River and Grand Jct. This retains the 1960's era DRG&W CTC and pole line. This is all the more remarkable as replacement signals have been up since 2012! However the seemingly safe stretches of searchlight signals on the Moffatt Tunnel Sub have been replaced. On approach to Denver both Utah Jct and Fox have retained classic Rio Grand signaling.

Finally, the new Denver RTD commuter rail uses a Metro North style Rule 562 system with *G* Cab Speed signals placed only at interlockings. Cab signal speeds are Restricting, 15, 30, 45, 60 and MAS with 15 being given departing terminals and Restricting heading into them. This indicates use of a 50ppm slow speed code instead of just relying on a 0 ppm code in all slow speed situations. Also, Amtrak LD trains using tracks 4 and 5 in Denver Union Station only get *R* Restricted Proceed entering the terminal interlocking from non-RTD tracks.

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