Monday, July 18, 2011
Entering Port Perry Branch From Mainline
From Google Earth, a double stack NS freight train is westbound passing from the mainline to the Port Perry Branch in the vicinity of milepost 339.5 (40.396222N79.813836W). The image is looking northerly. The freight train blocks the other mainline track as it moves to the branch. Movement through switches from one track to another is a slower operation from the maximum speed allowable on a track. Here the the allowable freight speed is 35 mph. The NS passenger speed is 45. From milepost 337.3 to milepost 339.2 the passenger speed through the preceding curves is 54 mph.
It is the mixture of higher speed of higher speed passenger operations that amidst some 100 plus freight trains a day that is a major problem for adding passenger trains to the Keystone Corridor West.
The Woodside Consulting Group's "Keystone West Passenger Train Study" in 2005 for the Norfolk Southern Corporation and PennDOT proposed at page 11 "double tracking the Port Perry Branch in order to create a full double track bypass route around the Pittsburgh Amtrak station and the Pittsburgh Line, extednind from a points north and west of downtown Pittsburgh at CP Bell, to the junction of the Monomgahela and Pittsburgh Lines at CP Wing, at an estimated cost of $28.1 million." (Note: CP Wing is located at milepost 339.5 and and CP Bell is milepost PC 4.7.)
Imagine the Dispatcher faced with the decision for authorizing the movement of the westbound double stack freight train. How does that affect eastbound traffic? Has the westbound freight had delays causing the operating crew to be near their allowed hours of service? If the hours of service are met, the train stops and another crew is taken by a van to replace the out of service crew. If a higher speed train either freight or passenger, is in the vicinity; its schedule can be compromised by the movement from the mainline to to the Port Perry Branch.