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Sunday, February 12, 2023

Amtrak's B&P Tunnel Related Signaling Work

Amtrak recently filed with the FRA to replace its Rule 261 signaling between BRIDGE interlocking in south Baltimore and GROVE interlocking near Odenton with Rule 562 cab signals without fixed wayside signals. A recent article from Trains Magazine provides some insight on why Amtrak has chosen this particular stretch to convert. Part of the prep work for the B&P Tunnel replacement involves a new high speed turnout at WINANS interlocking south of the Halethorpe MARC station. When Halethorpe gained high level platforms in 2013 it forced all northbound stopping trains to switch over to Track A at WINANS, resulting in a 2 mile long 45mph cab signal restriction for the standard speed turnout. The 80mph high speed turnout will mitigate this source of delay.

WINANS Interlocking Medium Speed turnout.

Converting to the 80mph turnout, as well as any signaling work to support the new tunnel at BRIDGE will require signal changes and Amtrak has decided to perform a general signaling conversion from Rule 261 to Rule 562. I suspect these these changes will be lumped in with the tunnel project and thus paid for with B&P tunnel money.  Artful use of adjacent state funded capitol projects to pay for state of good repair items is a common trick among the cash starved rail public transit sector. 

4x2 Signal Bridge at GWYNN

The 562 project will eliminate the 2 4-track automatic signal locations between BRIDGE and WINANS and 3 3-track automatic signal locations between BRIDGE and GROVE. Of course just because Amtrak has filed to carry out these changes doesn't mean they will happen tomorrow. In 2018 I reported on a similar NEC Rule 562 application to convert the segment between OAK and BUSH. I recently found out this application was related to a similar externally funded capitol improvement projects to install high level platforms and Metropark style crossovers for the Aberdeen, MD station. As of 2023 this project has yet to break ground.

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