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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The NS Bridge Line PTC Adventure

For years concerns of PTC interoperability drove all manner of decision making at freight and passenger railroads. For example's CSX decision to isolate itself from SEPTA's Regional Rail network, NICTD choosing not using the cab signal codes present on its line because Metra Electric wanted to use the freight-centric ETMS and MARC dumping ACSES for reasons. However one common thread is that when push comes to shove, equipping locomotives with multiple PTC systems is not a big deal (although it certainly isn't free).

Case in point are the SD60E locomotives that are always leading certain Norfolk Southern intermodal and manifest trains traveling on its New England Bridge Route between Harrisburg and Ayer, Mass. Between Harrisburg and Sunbury its on ETMS, then its off PTC entirely all the way to Binghamton. Then it on CP's ETMS all the way to Mechanicville, NY. From there it hits the former Boston and Main which is again PTC-less, but at Wachussetts it enters MBTA territory which uses Rule 562 cab signals and ACSES the last few miles to Ayer. These SD60E's are dual equipped for PTC and ACSES and although less needed on the NEC due to Amtrak dual-installing ETMS, they found a new home on this run. If I ever get close to one I'll see if I can get a photo of the antenna. 

Anyway, I heard that due to the shift of NS New Englande route internodal trains to the former Conrail Boston Line, this unique PTC situation will soon be obsolete as manifest freight might terminate at East Deerfield or something. If you're a fan of oddball leading equipment quirks, get your photos while you can.

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