Friday, May 29, 2015

Frankford Junction History

The curve at Frankford Junction  was designed and built for the Connecting Railroad in 1864 and opened for service in July of 1867. The Connecting Railroad was later absorbed into the Pennsylvania Railroad. It was aptly named as it connected PRR tracks with railroad company tracks crossing New Jersey to the Port of New York. Operations were possible over the slightly wider gauge of the new Jersey Railroads using cars with wide treads. The PRR was standard gauge of 4 feet 8 and a half inches. The New Jersey roads were 4 feet 10 inches.

The historical civil engineering represented by the curve is totally inadequate for today or the future.

(See Churella, The Pennsylvania Railroad Volume I at page 299.)

Comments May 12 Amtrak Derailment Frankford Junction, Philadelphia

(Click on photo for full size of photo and data.) Here is a photo of the May 12, 2015, Amtrak derailment at the Frankford Junction curve in Philadelphia. Numbers 1, 2 and 3 identify parts of the fractured structural steel beam broken by the derailing train colliding with it as it passed. 4 (to the right of 5) identifies the crumpled remains of the first car behind the locomotive. 4 is in the center of the folded car with cranes to the left and right. 5 is the second car of the reaming six car string. The specially designed passenger car couplers did their job for the six cars as the cars did not separate. Had they had been connected with freight couplers the cars would have parted. Since about 1910 USA passenger cars have been designed for the frame to withstand 800,000 pounds of buff force. No other country has such a standard. 6 is the locomotive. Its right side headlight was damaged. 7 is the outside rail on the curve. It is higher than the inside rail opposite. That is referred to as the super elevated curve. Super elevation allows for faster speed through a curve like a race car track. The curve was rated at 50 miles per hour by the original owner and builder, the Pennsylvania Railroad. The current owner, Amtrak also has a 50 mile per hour speed restriction on the curve. The steel beam above and across the tracks at 8 suspends an electric wire above each track. A spring loaded device on the locomotive with a roller at the top contacts the wire and collects electric power to propel the electric motors driving the locomotive. The wires and steel beam supports are called catenary. I think that the locomotive grazed the catenary support enough for the first car to fully collide and fold. The locomotive separated and came to rest at 6. The firt car was pushed by the following cars to 4. As soon as the air brake line was severed from the locomotive the string of cars brakes activated explaining why the last two remained upright as the energy of the cars dissipated . Centrifugal force took the equipment to the right on a left curve.