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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Conemaugh Line Cab Signal Expansion

In what could pass for a piece of positive signaling news these days, Norfolk Southern is actually expanding it's Cab Signal System territory by installing cabs on the former PRR/Conrail Conemaugh Line between CP-KISKI and either CP-ETNA or CP-PENN.  For those who didn't know, the Conemaugh Line, a low grade main line running along the Conemaugh River between Johnstown and Pittsburgh, PA, was used by the PRR to test the concept of using cab signals without fixed wayside signals.  The system was installed between what is now CP-CONPIT on the Pittsburgh Line and CP-KIKSI, where the line had a wye junction with the Allegheny River line into the oil and coal fields on Western, PA.  Because the PRR did not want to equip these Western PA pool engines with cab signals, the remainder of the Conemaugh Line was conventionally signaled.

Westbound signals at CP-CONPIT with the original Rule 280b 'C' lamps installed.
While Conrail expanded it's cab signal territory in the 90's, adding the Boston Line, and the Fort Wayne/Cleveland Line corridor between Conway Yard and Cleveland, NS has been content with the status quo, perhaps in spite or because of the PTC mandate.  Plans to convert the Port Road and Pittsburgh Lines to waysideless operation did represent one type of change, it would not actually add any additional CSS track miles.

Same cab signals, just different packaging.
Well while I was in Pittsburgh recently I popped byCP-SHARP, which had been rebuilt from its Penn Central predecessor along with CP-ETNA as part of a siding expansion project.  You could say I was surprised when I saw new signals going up with the telltale 'C' lamps on them, indicating that since the Oil City line was long abandoned, NS saw no reason not to bring its cab signaled trains all the way to Pittsburgh on the alternate route.


As you can see the new 'C' equipped mast will lack the third head included on the existing mast as Medium Approach Medium is not considered necessary where a cab signal can be held at Approach Medium after a train diverges over Medium Clear.  This is one of the few circumstances where a PTC related re-signaling project has actually brought about more interesting signaling.

While I was not able to stop by CP-ETNA to see if the Rule 562 operation stopped there or would continue to CP-PENN, I suspect it will stop at ETNA, at least until the Conway Corridor is fully re-signaled.

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