Discussion relating to the Penn Central, up until its 1976 inclusion in Conrail. Visit the Penn Central Railroad Historical Society for more information.

Moderator: JJMDiMunno

  by JJJeffries
In what year did PC start the CTC project on the Buffalo Line from Rockville north through Olean?

I remember the line being double track in 1969-70. Any help will be much appreciated.

  by ChiefTroll
Traffic Control System Rules (Rules 261-264) and single tracking were essentially complete from Rockville to Buffalo before the Penn Central merger. My PRR Central Region Timetable No. 4 of October 29, 1967, shows mostly single track on that line. Some fairly long stretches of double track remained, as between south of Lock Haven (Lane) and north of Driftwood (HY), and between Sizerville and north of Keating Summit (NR).

Some open block stations were Kase, Newberry, Rich, Drocton (Renovo), DF (Driftwood), JN (Emporium Jct), NR (between Keating Summit and Wrights), CR (Clermont Jct), Machias, and GJ, DM and FW near Buffalo.

Most of those block stations controlled several remote interlockings (controlled points). The work was not complete in 1967, however, and much more of the double track remained to be converted and retired.

  by JoeS

Don't know if you have discovered this web site yet but here is some information gleaned from it:

CTC was installed between:
West Miller and Stoney 12/30/57
West Boyles and West Miller 11/26/57
Creek and West Boyles 11/5/57

Kase ad Molly interlockings were placed in service 9/58

So it would appear that the stretch between Lane and Stoney was done in the late 1950s.

North of Olean the line was single track roughly between Machias and East Aurora, with sidings and switches controlled by the operator at Machias.

Now, I have a question: Sometime between 1957 and 1965 there was a change in routing through Williamsport. I have been assuming that this was due to a bridge washout between Allens and Williamsport on the single track, is this correct? Or was the bridge condemned and never replaced?
  by JJJeffries
You mention the 1950s. I have a PRR manual from 1966 and most of the line was still double track.

The bridge over the Susquehanna at Williamsport was taken out of service as the PRR was interested in cost cutting and two thru routes...one through Williamsport and the other thru South Williamsport were one too many.

Thus they used the upper bridge at Linden/Nisbet to access Williamsport.


  by JoeS
One of my references is Central Region Timetable 2, effective October 31, 1965. Section 1151-A1 (p. 137) shows single track between Rockville and East Allens, between West Allens and East Linden, and between Linden and Pine. Sidings were at Ferry, Millersburg, Boyles, Kase, Northumberland, Fair, Muncy, West Linden and East Linden.

It shows two main tracks between East Allens and West Allens, and between East Linden and Linden (which was 0.3 miles of double track - why bother?)

I've not been able to determine what the track configuration was between Linden and East Allens; I've been looking for track charts for a while and have found nothing.

I guess I can understand the cost cutting aspect of removing the second river bridge, although the removal resulted in Buffalo line passenger trains having to back up a couple of miles to the Newberry wye so they could get turned around after the Williamsport station stop. This undoubtedly added time to the passenger schedules, but by then the handwriting was already on the wall regarding the future of passenger operations.

By the way, in my first post I mentioned that the Buffalo line north of Olean had CTC between Machias and Elma. This was in effect in 1945. The track configuration stayed essentially unchanged between Ebenezer and Emporium from 1931 to the PC merger at least, according to track charts and timetable reference materials I have seen. I find it interesting that this section of the PRR remained unchanged for so long in an era in which other cost-cutting measures (removing bridges, single-tracking in higher traffic areas) were being undertaken.

  by Roscoe P. Coaltrain
Re: these early 1950s CTC projects on the Buffalo Line, where were the boards located for these early installations?

  by JJJeffries
The main CTC board was located in the old Railway Express building called (LYCO) in Williamsport. Which was next to the old PRR passenger station.

  by 2nd trick op
I can confirm that the first section of the line to be converted to CTC was between the B&O (BR&P) crossing at MACHIAS and Ebenezer Yard at Buffalo. This was handled by the operator at MACHIAS because of the requirement in those times for an operator when two railroads were involved.

As an aside, PRR was interested in limited applications of CTC at a much earlier date than is often recognized, operating a substantial stretch of its St. Louis line immediately west of Indianapolis as single track under the control of the operator of the Monon crossing at LIMEDALE (near Greencastle) in a similar fashion, so the 1931 installation date is quite plausible.

The next step involved construction of a new one-story cinder-block KASE Tower in Sunbury, which controlled three sidings (FERRY, MILLER and BOYLES) between Rockville and Sunbury, and several interlockings serving the junctions between the Shamokin and Wilkes-Barre Branches plus Northumberland Yard. This was completed around 1958. FIDLER Tower, near BOYLES, was closed at this time, but the grade crossing of the Reading at SF Tower in Sunbury continued as a manned interlocking, with the Reading furnishing the operators.

At one time, plans called for the Wilkes-Barre Branch to be controlled from KASE, but PRR reportedly took exception to the price, and the right side of the USS board at KASE was never used.

Around 1959, another phase of the operation began, with another one-story cinder-block structure at NEWBERRY, which was actually located on the old Williamsport line. New sidings were installed at FAIR and MUNCY, the old passenger line through Wiilamsport was truncated and the two daily passenger moves in each direction backed into Williamsport. PINE and RICH interlockings near McElhattan were also incorporated into the system at this time. Towers at MONTANDON, ALLENS, LINDEN and RICH became casualties, but the Reading Crossing at MU in Milton remained manned and controlled several interlockings on the Reading via a GRS CTC board.

The remaining manned interlockings survived into the late 1960s, and were consolidated into a new board run from LYCO (as in Lycoming County) sometime around 1968-1969. I'm not sure when LYCO took over Newberry's functions. SF and MU were closed shortly after the Conrail consolidation, but KASE continued in operation somewhat longer before being incorporated with LYCO into a centralized system.