Posts Tagged ‘signals’

Eastbound in Alliance

June 24, 2020

The photographer is standing to the east of the Amtrak station in Alliance at the far end of the interlocking.

NS 9255 leads an eastbound on the morning of Oct. 14, 2016, onto the Fort Wayne Line.

The interlocking controls moves between the Fort Wayne Line and Cleveland Line, which accounts for the majority of movements in Alliance.

The signal heads with the letter “C” on them are for trains whose lead unit is not equipped with working cab signals.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

J&LNG Seeking Volunteers to Help With Signal Work

December 30, 2019

The J&L Narrow Gauge Railroad in Youngstown is seeking volunteers who are interested in railway signaling to assist in the installation of a working signal system.

The work includes plans to install switch circuit controllers on the house track and eastern extension switches to operate signals directing movements over these tracks.

Thus far the railroad has completed installation of a searchlight dwarf signal for the house track.

It is now acquiring components for the main track signals and plans to install crossing gates at one of its road crossings.

The railroad said if there is sufficient interest it will schedule a J&LNG signaling weekend in the spring.

The J&LNG  is a part of the Youngstown Steel Heritage Museum and is a 24-inch gauge demonstration railroad that shows the type of narrow gauge railroad operations used by the steel industry.

It features a 93,000 pound 0-4-0T built by HK Porter for the Pittsburgh Works.

Recently the museum has received from CSX three more pieces of rolling stock to add to its collection.

The boxcars will be used for storage while a ballast hopper will become a coal dock for the J&L 58.

Previously, CSX has now donated to the museum a caboose, a tank car for water storage, a hopper for coal storage and boxcars for general storage.

Getting Really Lucky

November 12, 2019

At first glance this might appear to be another run of mill image of an Amtrak train.

It’s the southbound Saluki rushing through Pesotum, Illinois, on its daily trek from Chicago to Carbondale, Illinois.

But take another look at that intermediate signal. It is displaying two indications simultaneously of clear and stop.

I probably could not have planned this image if I had tried. I just happened to catch the signal head as it was transitioning from one signal indication to another and, apparently, red comes on a millisecond or two before the green goes out.

Those baggage cars, by the way, are not carrying anything. They are on the train to meet a Canadian National mandated minimum axle count.

Getting Them Just in Time

June 5, 2019

Workers have been making steady progress in removing the former Pennsylvania Railroad position light signals from the Norfolk Southern mainline between Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Pittsburgh.

Given that, Ed Ribinskas set out on May 17 for a trip to Altoona to get the venerable signals while they are still standing.

On Saturday he visited Summerhill and Cresson. He was just in time to get the signals and signal bridge just east of where Pennsylvania Route 53 crosses over the NS tracks between Cresson and Gallitzin.

Last weekend that signal bridge was taken down. It shown below with an intermodal train passing beneath it.

The trip also gave Ed the opportunity to get Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian coming back the position light signals and signal bridge at Summerhill (top photo).

This image had eluded him in a trip to Summerhill last year when he arrived just in time to see the train passing beneath him.

This time he was there in plenty of time. But if you look in the distance in that photo you’ll see an oncoming NS freight.

The timing worked this time but it might have been worse. That train is shown passing the signal bridge in the bottom photo below.

Also shown are signals at Portage and Summerhill.

Trying Something Different in Berea

February 27, 2018

I’ve been going to Berea to watch trains for more than 20 years. I’ve pretty much exhausted about every photo angle I can think of short of trespassing on railroad property.

About the only thing new to get in Berea is to catch a particular locomotive or rail car that I haven’t photographed there before. Or so I thought.

While in Berea not long ago on a rare sunny winter day, I had the idea of photographing trains splitting the signals that have been installed within the past couple of years.

In the top image, eastbound Norfolk Southern intermodal train 206 has a Canadian National unit leading. Although not visible, the trailing unit belongs to Union Pacific.

In the middle image, westbound NS manifest freight 309 is framed by the signals on the Toledo connection between NS and CSX. Behind the lead unit is the Wabash heritage unit.

The bottom images shows a westbound NS stack train framed by several signals, including the westbound home signals for CP 194 on the Chicago Line.

Golden Light

January 18, 2018

There is golden light and then there is golden light. The golden hour is a term used by photographers to describe an hour before sunset.

Sunlight during that time tends to be warm and give objects a golden glow.

Even light in the last two to three hours of the day can be warm, particularly during the winter months when there is a low sun angle.

To take advantage of golden light at its best, you have to move fast because that light doesn’t last long. If you enjoy photographing trains you have to be lucky that one will come along during that small window of opportunity.

On this particular day that type of luck was not with us. We couldn’t get a westbound when we really needed it.

But we didn’t do too bad, either. That light looks nice on those aluminum signal standards and the train working in the yard in Ashtabula.

The vantage point is from the grade crossing of North Bend Road on the west side of Ashtabula.

Straight Down the Tracks

December 14, 2017

The advance signals on the Cleveland District of Norfolk Southern for the location west of Vermilion where the connecting track to the Chicago Line diverges.

There is a group on Flickr titled Tracks Without Trains. I’ve posted there a few times because I like to make photographs of empty tracks.

I like the look of rails going off into infinity, which seems to invite you to travel.

Sure, I’d prefer to be photographing a train here instead, but sometimes the rails are all you get.

The first two images below were made of the former Erie Railroad mainline between Kent and Brady Lake. The piece of track was lying on the former right of way of the Akron, Canton & Youngstown west of New London. The bottom image is the Cleveland District of Norfolk Southern west of Vermilion.


Some Day, These Will be Classic

December 29, 2016

Amtrak at Durand 12-x

A lot of railfans are not overly fond of the modern signals that Class 1 railroads have been installing in recent years.

They don’t like how these modern signals tend to look alike and how they are replacing signals seen as classic, such as Baltimore & Ohio color position light signals and the searchlight signals found on some railroads.

Some signals are even associated with a particular railroad, adding little touches that made them distinct from other signals. Signals of the B&O, Pennsylvania, Nickel Plate Road and Chesapeake & Ohio come to mind.

Shown are a set of modern signals on a cantilever signal bridge in Durand, Michigan. The train beneath it is Amtrak’s westbound Blue Water en route to Chicago.

The first strike against modern signals is that the basic structure is similar to that used on interstate highways. This signal belongs to Canadian National, but with its generic look it could be standing guard over anywhere on any class 1 railroad in North America.

The second strike against this signal is that it replaced a set of classic searchlight signals put up by the Grand Trunk Western decades ago.

It might be difficult to imagine today, but someday this signal might be seen as classic. It might also be that this signal will not always be here, too.

Signaling technology may advance to a point where railroads no longer need lineside signals. The signal indication will be relayed by satellite to the locomotive cab through an advanced positive train control system.

We can’t say when that might come about or how long this signal will remain in service.

In time, it might be that future generations of railfans who never saw a B&O color position light or searchlight signal will have the same fondness for this technology as many today have for signal technology rooted in the early to middle 20th century.

I happen to like this image even if the signal is not classic and feature LED lighting rather than lightbulbs. It captures a scene in railroading that is timeless by showing the fleeting relationship between a train and the signals telling the crew that it is safe to proceed.

And that, in essence, is the purpose of signals. It may be that railroads no longer distinguish themselves by adding small touches to the design of their signals.

But no matter the design, signals and trains are still made to go together.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders