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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Well Somehow I missed This Site

Today I was made aware of a new interlocking tower related website, and by new I mean it was started around 2011, the same year I launched this blog.  It is, get ready for it:

Yup, exactly what it says on the tin.  The site amalgamates photos from the collections of many prolific railfans, including midwestern tower enthusiast John Roma, and pretty much just makes a list of towers, sorted alphabetically by state, with direct links to the high res photos.  Most of the photos are from the 1960's through the 1980's, although some are from the "pre-historic" period before World War 2.  There are especially good collections covering the New Haven and other railroads that used wooden towers that never made it into the modern era to be photographed. 

SS79 MILL RIVERwith active New Haven catenary.
Some of the towers have diagrams included and some of the photos are extremely rare and interesting interior shots.  This will surely come in handy as a historical reference for some of my line surveys.  For example, I re-discovered photos I had lost links to when the old JD Tower website died.

Time to update my CARROLL interlocking page again.
Anyway, I highly recomend this site and make sure you leave yourself some time as you'll quickly lose a few hours clicking on non-thumbnailed photo links, itching to see what secret they hide.  If you make this site a recurring habit, there is also a "what new" page.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Amtrak Signal Diagrams Courtesy the Feds

So when Amtrak made regulatory filings to alter the signal system both on the Southern NEC and Springfield Line, it appears that they also submitted pdf diagrams, which now turn up when one searches through the FRA website. 

Rule 562 BACON to PERRY
Rule 562 BUSH TO OAK
Springfield Line Double Track Project Signal Changes

In addition to just being plain interesting there are a few key takeaways.  First, the 562 project that is currently going in between BACON (North East, MD) and OAK (Aberdeen, MD) will extend to BUSH, at the Bush River drawbridge.  This will eliminate three additional automatic block signal locations, each covering 3 tracks with back to back colorized position lights :-(

NEC ABS Signal 652 north of Aberdeen Station.
Second, the Springfield Line 562 scheme will include an island of 261 around Hartford with a single remaining wayside automatic block signal and the first two phases of the project will not include additional work between a point north of Hartford and Springfield, MA, leaving it pretty much un-touched from a signaling perspective.  Although the Springfield line has already lost all of it's interesting H-5 searchlights, the remaining wayside block signals were at least something extra.

The Springfield Line actually stands to gain a number of interesting features as interlockings in North Haven, Hartford and Berlin are all being expanded with gantries, cantilevers, 'C' boards and industrial track dwarfs.  There are still some puzzling instances of Rule 562 being in place between back-to-back interlockings with no obvious intermediate signaling points.  The diagrams are not very clear on that point.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

NS/Conrail Buffalo Line Alert!

Well things are going downhill fast on the northern portions of the former Conrail Buffalo Line.  About a decade ago, declining traffic on the line prompted NS to turn over much of the middle portion of the former PRR main line over to two regional short lines via a long term lease arrangement.  Between Driftwood, PA and the outskirts of Buffalo, NY, the rare first generation PRR CTC instillation was switched off, but generally left in place as a "temporary" signal suspension.  Fast forward a decade and it appears that NS is not pussy footing around anymore.  About a week ago the PRR interlockings of CP-NORTH DRIFTWOOD and CP-DRIFTWOOD were completely ripped out, with the northern limit of Rule 261 now being at CP-SOUTH DRIFTWOOD.

CP-DRIFTWOOD (seen above) was notable for its PRR signal bridges and pneumatic switch plant.  Probably the last in operation on the former Buffalo Line.  With it's removal there are rumblings about NS wanting to completely de-signal the line north of Lock Haven, which recently sawit's interlocking re-signaled back in December.  Moreover, new signals are appearing between Lock Haven, PA and Williansport, PA, which was a major holdout of PRR signaling with a number of interlockings and a few photogenic two track automatic signal bridges.

So get up there while you can.  I have the portion between Harrisburg and Northumberland covered, but above there I just have a few photos from 2006.  Hopefully I can return before it is too late.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Grafton D Tower, D-Stroyed

Well this was a bit of unfortunate news to start the new year.  D Tower in Grafton, WV was one an icon of the CSX Mountain Subdivision.  Built by the B&O in the 20's or 30, it was later upgraded to a CTC panel operation in the post war years.  Ultimately it was closed in the 1990's as CSX begrudgingly put money into the failing coal country rail line. However the sturdy brick tower was left standing, serving as an office for local C&S or MoW crews even as other Mountain Sub towers at Keyser, Terra Alta and Rowlsburg, were demolished.

Well it looks like the payout from E. Hunter Harrison's life insurance payout provided the Baltimore Division with enough spare pocket change for the tower to be demolished.  In all seriousness it possibly was some sort of management dictate, perhaps intended to reduce employee perks or simply eliminate whatever crew base it supported. 

While typically "slow" parts of a large corporate organization are neglected and thus preserved, sometimes the knife can cut the other way with extreme cost cutting.  Hopefully, with CSX's experiment in railroad management a complete failure, things will go back to the way they were.