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Tuesday, April 30, 2024

RF&P Cab Signals Out of Serice Mid-June

When CSX first announced in plan to discontinue cab signal rules on the RF&P in 2021 I went into some detail about the possible motivations. A year later when the FRA petition was approved (despite a national spotlight on rail safety issues) I again explored some possible timelines for the process. Well it seems that we have our answer and the cab signal system will be taken out of service on June 15th, 2024. 

As a result of the process, I had to assume the worst and I embarked on a program to document the remaining RF&P intermediate signals that somehow survived the great 2010's re-signaling effort. Between 2023 and 2024 I didn't notice any changes on the physical plant so it appears that so far the discontinuation of the CSS has consisted of adding the PTC integration to all of the intermediate signal locations and hand throw switches. Because CSX does not use large visible antennas at every signal location, the process was largely invisible to outside observers. 

What this means on a technical level is that for the near term the cab signal codes will still be present in the rails to transmit block state. CSX in its filings indicated that moving to ETMS PTC for ABS speed enforcement will allow it to remove the mid-block code change points where Approach drops to Restricting. Since these are all less than 10 years old and theoretically reliable, it will be interesting to see if this is given any sort of priority. It will also be interesting to see if VRE has to retain the cab signals on its locomotives for the Washington Terminal area, which I heard is planning to actually install cab signaling in the 1st Street tunnels between CP-VIRGINIA and A interlocking. With VRE looking to purchase the Manassas Line, who knows, CSS might make a return. 

PS: Also keep an eye on the patches of former Conrail/PRR cab signaling around Philly. CSX does not have to run equipped locomotives on this territory so they might keep it active for the benefit of NS.

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