Friday, March 2, 2012

Plodding Places Pittsburgh to Harrisburg

Using Youtube postings, the operational limitations of the Pittsburgh to Harrisburg line can be demonstrated. Rather than upload the postings, the url will be given.

Starting with a video recording made in 2004 at Tyrone, PA at milepost 222.3, a westbound trailer on flatcar intermodal trains passes at 35 mph on track one through a 5.6 degree curve. The enthusiast making the video recoding was surprised to see a faster moving westbound private passenger train passing the freight train on track 2. The passenger train was allowed 40 mph on the 5.6 degree curve. The camera pans to the west as the passenger train accelerates through a short tangent  into 1.9 degree curve that transitions to 2.7 degrees. The passenger train in the area being recorder is permitted 55 mph. At milepost 223.3, out of view, the passenger train can operate at 79 mph while the freight train is limited to 50 mph. At the beginning of the videotape, there is a glimpse to the right of Wilson Road's crossing light signals. It's grade crossings like Wilson Road that will have to be eliminated or improved in order to operate higher speed passenger trains. The passenger train seen on the video recording is privately owned by the Juniata Terminal Company at Penn Valley near Philadelphia. That company has restored the historic passenger locomotives and passenger cars seen. Note the heavy diesel exhaust as the 1950 era locomotives accelerate. The url is:

This video recording was made in 2009 at milepost 253.2 at Risbin's or also known as Carney's Road near Lilly, PA. Seen is a 130 car loaded coal train eastbound. It is rounding a 2 degree curve. It has 130 aluminum PPLX hoppers in tow. The trains weight is 18,590 tons total carrying 15,879.5 tons of coal. The number 2 track that it occupies allows 50 mph for freight and 79 mph for passenger trains. The way to make money moving coal is to have enough horsepower to move the train and not much more. The train is probably moving at 10 mph. Pulling the coal train are three SD60 locomotives rated at 3800 horsepower each. That's 11,200 horsepower pulling. Pushing on the rear are 4 SD40 locomotives at 3000 horsepower for a total of 12,000 horsepower. So, a total of 18,590 horsepower or a little over 1.25 horsepower per ton is required to plod.
The trains 130 cars are 6,890 feet in length. The sound of the engines and the stiff exhaust express the work that is being done. The ascending grade at milepost 253.2 is 1.05%
The videographer then moved to Gallitzin, PA to record the train descending the Allegheny frontal. The vantage point is at a place nicknamed the "slide" as the grade is 2.28%. This milepost 247. The very heavy train must be operated slowly in order to keep it under control. Its speed appears  to be about 5 mph. The Horseshoe Curve is beyond at milepost 242. Here the highest freight speed is 30 mph and passenger trains are allowed 44 mph.
 The url is:

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