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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Classic Towers Closing on the Queens Boulevard Line

With electro-mechanical interlocking machines in terminal decline on North American main line railroads, the NYC Subway stood out as a bastion of classic signaling with more GRS Model 5's and US&S Model 14's than could be found throughout the entirety of the "real" railroad network stretching from coast to coast.  Unfortunately, this appears to be coming to an end.  Last I addressed this subject the system had just closed two towers at 4th Ave and Church Ave on the Prospect Park Line.  This week I learned that three additional towers have closed on the Queens Boulevard line with one to follow shortly.

First I need to catch up on some old news.  Way back in 2013 the NYCTA closed the fishbown 5th Ave tower that worked the junction between the Queens Boulevard the 6th Ave trunks.  This tower was notable for being able to watch the operator line up alternating straight and diverging movements between E and M/V trains on a 40 lever GRS Model 5. 

The Queens Plaza complex had already been re-signaled in support of the 63rd St connection, but just past it was the Roosevelt Ave crossover complex with another GRS Model 5 equipped tower at the east end of the eastbound platform.  Only open as needed, I got some photos of the 60 lever machine back in December of 2015 after someone had left the lights on.  I had known that the Queens Boulevard was on track for a CBTC capable re-signaling project, but I had expected that to take years if not decades to complete.  Unfortunately I just found out that the tower closed less than a year after :-(

After Roosevelt the normally GRS equipped IND line enters US&S country.  Although hard to get photos of due to the presence of a manned dispatch booth, the Continental Ave tower held an 83 lever US&S Model 14 that was also visible from the platform.  This interlocking contains not only crossovers, but access to Jamaica Yard from the west.  I just learned that its duties were recently transferred to a new N-X style area interlocking panel located in somewhere in the station.

Union Turnpike tower contains a 43 lever US&S machine and mirrors Continental Ave's function for trains accessing the yard from the east.  Apparently this tower is still open, but will close soon.  For sch a complex signaling project that involved at least a wiff of CTBC I really expected it to take many more years than it did :-( 

I'd say I should have tried to get more photos, but the paranoid staff I really did the best I could.  As I learned from Church Ave, it's really tough to provide a good "feel" for old NYC Subway towers since there is just so much that is behind the scenes.

In related news, I also got word that the PATH smashboards protecting the DOCK drawbridge at Harrison have been removed.  This was not unexpected as both the DOCK complex and PATH in general are being re-signaled.  It's a shame that the smashboards did not make the cut as PATH is keeping its pneumatic trips and switches, but in the age of CBTC there probably isn't as much of a need to get in the operator's face. 

Anyway, sorry for the bad news.  Visit NYC while the towers last!

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