Catenary/Third Rail transition point move from Woodlawn Junction to Mount Vernon East

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Union Tpke
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Catenary/Third Rail transition point move from Woodlawn Junction to Mount Vernon East

Post by Union Tpke » Mon Nov 04, 2019 6:06 pm

I saw somewhere that the transition was moved in the early 1990s. Anyone know why the change was made and in what year?

Thanks.

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Re: Catenary/Third Rail transition point move from Woodlawn Junction to Mount Vernon East

Post by Rockingham Racer » Mon Nov 04, 2019 8:10 pm

I have a theory, having ridden them. There was a good uphill grade where the transition used to take place between 238th St. and 241st. Train used to lose a good amount of speed there. I think they also raised the diverging speed at Woodlawn to 45 MPH, and with the new changeover point, they can maintain that speed and help following trains going onto the New Haven to do the same.

Just my theory. Dutch may have another answer.

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Re: Catenary/Third Rail transition point move from Woodlawn Junction to Mount Vernon East

Post by DutchRailnut » Mon Nov 04, 2019 8:32 pm

it was moved further from grade and away from critical choke point around 1990
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Re: Catenary/Third Rail transition point move from Woodlawn Junction to Mount Vernon East

Post by Ridgefielder » Tue Nov 05, 2019 2:49 pm

For what it's worth, the Woodlawn transition point was where it was because that was the dividing point between New York Central and New Haven ownership. There was no logic to it being there once both lines were under the same ownership. Moving the changeover to the vicinity of the Hutchinson River Parkway overpass not only took it out of a critical chokepoint with a steep ascending eastbound grade but also allowed the railroad to remove 11.5kV catenary from under the 9 overpasses in downtown Mt. Vernon.

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Re: Catenary/Third Rail transition point move from Woodlawn Junction to Mount Vernon East

Post by NHRRJOHN » Wed Nov 06, 2019 1:01 pm

A bit more context. Woodlawn was the point at which the New Haven joined the New York Central. The New York Central used underrunning third rail. The New Haven used catenary (Connecticut prohibited the use of third rail; a possible urban legend was that a farmer's cow got fried). And at the time there were two towers controlling the junction, Woodlawn on the New York Central side and "Vern" on the New Haven side (I am using the Conrail / Metro North identifiers).

The catenary was powered by the New Haven Railroad's Cos Cob power plant. Around 1970 they decided to switch to commercial power, so they put a phase break in Pelham, built a substation in Mount Vernon, and tried it out. Later on they converted the rest of the system to commercial. The Mount Vernon substation powered the catenary in most, if not all, of New York State. Of course, when the moved the point where the transition from third rail to catenary to the Hutchinson River Parkway, the Mount Vernon substation was clearly not in an optimal location!

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Re: Catenary/Third Rail transition point move from Woodlawn Junction to Mount Vernon East

Post by Erie-Lackawanna » Wed Nov 06, 2019 9:02 pm

NHRRJOHN wrote:
Wed Nov 06, 2019 1:01 pm
Of course, when the moved the point where the transition from third rail to catenary to the Hutchinson River Parkway, the Mount Vernon substation was clearly not in an optimal location!
...but it remains in the same location, and has recently been upgraded. Power is fed from the substation via feeders to the beginning of the catenary. In addition, while the phase gap at Pelham remains, the substation in Mount Vernon now powers all the way to Harrison.

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Re: Catenary/Third Rail transition point move from Woodlawn Junction to Mount Vernon East

Post by Ridgefielder » Thu Nov 07, 2019 4:31 pm

NHRRJOHN wrote:
Wed Nov 06, 2019 1:01 pm
(Connecticut prohibited the use of third rail; a possible urban legend was that a farmer's cow got fried).
Not completely urban legend. The New Haven installed a third-rail electrification system using an exposed 700v DC third rail positioned between the running rails on their Hartford-New Britain line (now the Busway) in 1896. This was about as unsafe as possible given that the line wasn't grade separated at all and the nature of the traction motor contacts precluded even the minimal protections of, for instance, the LIRR's over-running 3rd rail. There were accidents involving people as well as livestock, and the State outlawed it in 1906.

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Re: Catenary/Third Rail transition point move from Woodlawn Junction to Mount Vernon East

Post by Jeff Smith » Tue Nov 12, 2019 11:36 am

And the very sad crash that occurred when a train stalled making the changeover, and was rear-ended by another.
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Re: Catenary/Third Rail transition point move from Woodlawn Junction to Mount Vernon East

Post by DutchRailnut » Tue Nov 12, 2019 1:29 pm

crash was after changeover, not during
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Re: Catenary/Third Rail transition point move from Woodlawn Junction to Mount Vernon East

Post by ajp » Wed Nov 13, 2019 9:52 pm

was that the 6/8/73 crash?

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Re: Catenary/Third Rail transition point move from Woodlawn Junction to Mount Vernon East

Post by Jeff Smith » Thu Nov 14, 2019 8:22 am

No, that was still PC, and I believe the trains involved were 4400's.

Jaap, I may be wrong, but I do think that the lead train on the 80's crash had stalled out coming up the hill just past the old Farrand Optical building on the changeover. This was before they moved the changeover, I thought.
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Re: Catenary/Third Rail transition point move from Woodlawn Junction to Mount Vernon East

Post by DutchRailnut » Thu Nov 14, 2019 8:47 am

It did not stall it was stopped due to loss of train makeup (door light - brake release. ) it was first revenue train operating with M-2 and M-4 coupled . train that hit it was conventional M2's
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Re: Catenary/Third Rail transition point move from Woodlawn Junction to Mount Vernon East

Post by ajp » Sat Nov 16, 2019 12:30 pm


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Re: Catenary/Third Rail transition point move from Woodlawn Junction to Mount Vernon East

Post by bulk88 » Mon Dec 09, 2019 12:57 pm

At MV/Pelham, a train that can't change over WILL NOT clog the harlem or the NEC after New Rochelle. It will just coast a while and stop and wait for a rescue train to remove passengers.

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Re: Catenary/Third Rail transition point move from Woodlawn Junction to Mount Vernon East

Post by Rockingham Racer » Mon Dec 09, 2019 2:04 pm

bulk88 wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 12:57 pm
At MV/Pelham, a train that can't change over WILL NOT clog the harlem or the NEC after New Rochelle. It will just coast a while and stop and wait for a rescue train to remove passengers.
And while that is happening, the railroad can quite easily get clogged up.

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