Simulating the Work of a Tower Operator

Being a volunteer at the former Erie Railroad WC Interlocking Tower Museum in Waldwick, New Jersey, I have keys to the place and can access it whenever I want.

I had a day off so I decided to spend a Monday morning rush hour seeing it from the tower operator’s point of view.

Between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. there were 30 scheduled movements, plus deadheads and a local Norfolk Southern freight for good measure.

These trains either passed through the interlocking on the mainline or were originating/terminating in Waldwick Yard.

Each time I watched the computer-controlled interlocking set up for each train, all I could think of was the poor operator setting up the interlocking for up to 10 trains per hour.

Even though WC interlocking was electrified early, the operator still had to throw the switches and signals individually.

When you experience the conditions first hand it makes you appreciate the workers of the past. Here is some of the variety from this morning, including New Jersey Transit runs push-pull trains with a cab car on the south end.

They are suffering from a cab car shortage right now, the result being that some trains are being led by a locomotive on the south end, making for some rare photo ops.

Being a volunteer at the former Erie Railroad WC Interlocking Tower Museum in Waldwick, New Jersey, I have keys to the place and can access it whenever I want.

I had a day off so I decided to spend a Monday morning rush hour seeing it from the tower operator’s point of view.

Between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. there were 30 scheduled movements, plus deadheads and a local Norfolk Southern freight for good measure.

These trains either passed through the interlocking on the mainline or were originating/terminating in Waldwick Yard.

Each time I watched the computer-controlled interlocking set up for each train, all I could think of was the poor operator setting up the interlocking for up to 10 trains per hour.

Even though WC interlocking was electrified early, the operator still had to throw the switches and signals individually.

When you experience the conditions first hand it makes you appreciate the workers of the past. Here is some of the variety from this morning, including New Jersey Transit runs push-pull trains with a cab car on the south end.

They are suffering from a cab car shortage right now, the result being that some trains are being led by a locomotive on the south end, making for some rare photo ops.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

 

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