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SEPTA New K Interlocking Cut-In on D-Day at ZOO

Posted by Jersey Mike on Fri Jun 5 08:47:09 2009

For those of you who didn't know, the famous ZOO Tower (with its formerly 230 lever Model-14 power frame) is getting cut down again. The old "K Tower" section, named for one of the 4 towers closed in the 1934 ZOO consolidation, is being transfered to the local commuter rail authority SEPTA. Shown in the upper corners here and here the K section consists of the 25, 27, 39, 45, 47 and 53 turnouts and 28, 30, 32, 40, 42 and 168 signals. One very surprising development is that the 64 signals and 65 switch (seen here) were included in the re-working. This means that Amtrak will have to get permission from the SEPTA dispatcher for trains entering or leaving the Rundown track to Amtrak's own M of W yard. The Cuttover is scheduled for midnight on Saturday morning so if anyone has time they should go ride SEPTA today to take some final pics of the remaining old hardware.

While originally part of the Pennsylvania Railroad K funneled trains to the upper level of 30th Street Station. In fact Milepost 0 of the famed PRR Main Line is at the end of the platform at the downtown Suburban Station Since the 70's these trains have all been commuter lines run by SEPTA. SEPTA owned trackage starts at the eastern limits of ZOO interlocking and the old K section of ZOO handles only SEPTA movements. While most movements are straight rail through K movements out of the west end of Powlerton Yard and any special circumstances for trains coming out of SEPTA territory involve special handling. Since SEPTA closed the old PRR BROAD tower and centralized dispatch functions communications with ZOO have become more complicated and for a while after BROAD closed in 2003 misroutes were somewhat common and once I had to be "sent round the Berry" when my Trenton train came out track 4 instead of track 3 w/o ZOO being notified.

Both Amtrak and SEPTA have found this arrangement irritating as Amtrak dislikes being responsible for tracks that doesn't handle any of its trains and SEPTA for having to hear Amtrak complain about this and refusing to put in any capitol investment (the tracks through there have grown extremely bumpy). SEPTA finally found 5 million dollars to re-signal and re-build this section of ZOO as the new K interlocking, controlled by dispatchers at SEPTA HQ and over the last year have been implementing this project.

Anyway, I was expecting the worst when it came to the re-signaling of K with its PRR amber position lights and pneumatic point machines. I was hoping they would leave the signals in situ and just re-wire them, but I was in for a pleasant surprise as SEPTA decided to install brand new Amber PRR Position Lights!! Here are some early pictures I found on Railroad.net:



Granted since US&S PL-3's aren't made any more they are Safetran units and the new point machines are going to be electric, but neither of those are real surprises. It seems that there are some cracks in the overly "managed" SEPTA C&S department. Perhaps there's some hope that the retarded signaling on the Reading lines might be altered or at least not continued on the few un-re-signaled lines. I guess it makes up for the color light signals being installed on the normally PL friendly Long Island Rail Road at WOOD interlocking. I am still trying to determine if the new signals use LEDs or incandescent bulbs as the colour is definitely not the sickly LED yellow, but the brilliance is reminiscent of LED's. SEPTA also installed new Amber PL's at ARSENAL interlocking and a flashing LIMITED CLEAR aspect looked like an LED flash than a bulb flash.

Anyway, for your reference I have posted a PDF of the Bulletin order describing the change.

The cutover has been a slow motion affair with new signals and switches put in place, but wired to the big Model 14 machine in ZOO. This has provided the opportunity for ZOO to have one last hurrah controlling some brand new signals. I recently traveled on Amtrak's Pennsylvanian and managed to take a number of the ZOO-attached new signals.

Here's a new Cantilever with the old 30R and 32R signals for 3 and 4 track westbound.

The big signal gantry with the old 40R and 42R signals on track 1 and 2 westbound.

Big gantry with the 181 and 182 exit signals as well as the to-be-removed 32L signal. It's interesting to note that many of the new signals show more aspects than their former counterparts. 181 and 182, for example, both have new lower heads.

Here is the new 54L signal. This one makes no sense as now Amtrak will have to call SEPTA to gain access to its own MoW yard. This, the 64 signal and the 65 switch should have stayed part of ZOO as they were all already independent from the SEPTA K section.

Here we have the K-Ladder double slips with ZOO signals on the 36th St Connector and to-be SEPTA signals leading into the K interlocking.

Here's a slightly different angle showing a clear view of the 64L signal on 4 track eastbound. The new K interlocking will not have equivalents for for old interior 32L and 64R signals, the latter can be seen in this picture in the background.

Here's a view looking down 4 track showing the new 64L signal on 4 track and the 40L and 42L on 4 track and 3 track showing clear.

I had one other picture, but it looks like I failed to upload it, but I am sure you all get the drift.

Anyway, if anybody can get out and ride an R7, R8, R6 or R5 train out the PRR side and get some pictures out the front or back that will be great because after tomorrow all the ZOO-ness will be forever gone.

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