PRR Interlocking Diagrams: Philadelphia to New York Main Line

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(Amtrak maps of this area available on Ken Reinert's Zoo to Fair page.

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Thanks for the many comments provided by John Cooper, Richard Makse, Philip Donnelly, and John Burlage, and to Gary Kazin and Philip Donnelly for review of geography.

Milepost numbers as per Eastern Region ETT #23, 1967-04-30.

Main Line -- Philadelphia to New York

PENN, Philadelphia, Pa., M.P. ?

Ref 1, Sheet ??; 11083x1275, 195K, 150 dpi

PENN, part 1 (6001x1275, 93K, 150 dpi)
PENN, part 2 (6002x1275, 116K, 150 dpi)

This is the interlocking which controls the Lower Level of Pennsylvania (30th Street) Station, Philadelphia and yard throats on either side. This part of the station saw mainly through trains from New York (or beyond) to Washington (or beyond). (For the Upper Level, see the map of BROAD on the Harrisburg main line page.)

Connection, southward, to Washington main line.

ZOO, overview, West Philadelphia, Pa., M.P. 88.1

Ref 1, Sheet ??; ?x?, 238K, 300->150 dpi

ZOO, part 1, West Philadelphia, Pa. (170K, 300 dpi)
ZOO, part 2, West Philadelphia, Pa. (254K, 300 dpi)
ZOO, part 3, West Philadelphia, Pa. (245K, 300 dpi)

Mileposts from here are from Jersey City (the former Exchange Place Station).

ZOO interlocking extended, and Naught Yard Track redesignated Zoo Secondary Track. An excellent example of big-mainline trackage and signalling design. #0 and #5 tracks are yard tracks that serve local industries, so that #1 through #4 tracks can be free for through freight and fast passenger traffic. The very beginnings of ZOO interlocking are seen on the left of the diagram. The high Schuylkill River bridge is just to the left of this diagram. Finally, note the extra circle, a symbol for the Train Order signal, on the home signals to NORTH PHILADELPHIA at the right of the diagram.

NORTH PHILADELPHIA, Philadelphia, Pa., M.P. 85.1

Ref 1, Sheet 21; 8008x826, 106K, 150 dpi

NORTH PHILADELPHIA, part 1 (4011x826, 49K, 150 dpi)
NORTH PHILADELPHIA, part 2 (4152x826, 60K, 150 dpi)
This used to be the only Philadelphia station stop for New York--Pittsburgh trains under the PRR. Trains would then take the so-called New York--Pittsburgh Subway around the north side of ZOO tower. Under Amtrak, and since the demise of the PRR, the area of North Philly has become quite dangerous, making a station stop there quite undesirable. Amtrak, thus, has been running trains into 30th St. Sta., usually running seats-facing-backwards from New York, then reversing the power at 30th St. This junction is also where the PRR Chestnut Hill Branch diverges. [SEPTA Chestnut Hill West] A connection to the Reading RR mainline is now unused.

Connection northward (RR-east) to the Chestnut Hill Branch.

SHORE, Philadelphia, Pa., M.P. 82.1

Ref 1, Sheet ??; 8485x868, 83K, 150 dpi

SHORE, part 1 (3627x945, 28K, 150 dpi)
SHORE, part 2 (5012x945, 58K, 150 dpi)
East (by RR and geography) from NORTH PHILADELPHIA, this is where the main line (former New York Connecting Railroad) makes a sharp turn northward to join the original main line to New York of the Philadelphia & Trenton RR. Looking at the junction, one can still see the remnant of the original P&T main line continuing straight south. The later main line to New Jersey, over the Delair Bridge (movable bridge over the Delaware River), starts here as well and continues straight east. Note the double-slip switch on the main line. Frankford Jct. station is just E of SHORE, and a footbridge just NE from there. This surrounding area is so-so as far as safety is concerned. The astute reader will note that [the original] SHORE's crossovers all go in one direction. Its crossovers were balanced by those of FORD interlocking just to the NE, later controlled by SHORE. [MDB]

Connection eastward to D.R.R.R.&B. Co. Branch leading across the Delaware River to the various lines in New Jersey. Connection northward, west of SHORE, to the Oxford branch, which ran toward the (former) Sears complex on Roosevelt Blvd., demolished in the early 1990s.

Present status: FORD was removed with CETC. [CJR] The Delair Bridge continues to sport 2 tracks, neither one electrified any more. [John Burlage]

Recently, Conrail purchased #0 track (Zoo Siding; Zoo Running Track) from near ZOO to SHORE so as to have their own track to New Jersey. They use the south track on the bridge. Then, Amtrak purchased #2 track of the original main (to Atlantic City) from Conrail for its A.C. trains, since taken over by NJT.

FORD, Philadelphia, Pa., M.P. 81.2

Ref 1, Sheet 13; 3672x808, 83K, 150 dpi

The "other half of the interlocking", FORD was remoted to SHORE a while ago. The trackage from the curve between SHORE and FORD westward to ZOO is "new", historically speaking, having been built to as the Connecting Railroad to connect the Harrisburg main line (originally Philadelphia & Columbia) and the line to Trenton (originally the Philadelphia & Trenton). From FORD, the P&T line continues south, through the still extant Frankford Jct. yard into the city.

On the 1969 map [coll. of Jon Roma, ref. 2], the engine tap near the 16EC signal is not present. Evident erasures on that map include FORD tower, just to the left of the C.I.L., and the table describing the mechanical interlocking machine, which if I make it out correctly, indicates:

10 Levers for 17 Signals
8  " " 8 Switches
8  " " 8 F.P.L.'s

26 Working levers
2 Spare Levers
20 Spaces

48 Lever Frame

HOLMES, Holmesburg (Philadelphia), Pa., M.P. 77.2

Ref 1, Sheet 16; 8029x945, 83K, 150 dpi
HOLMES, part 1 (2754x945, 27K, 150 dpi)
HOLMES, part 2 (2888x945, 31K, 150 dpi)
HOLMES, part 3 (3211x945, 36K, 150 dpi)
Universal set of limited speed crossovers, cut over to CETC in Nov 1992. Presently tends to be operated in 'fleeted' mode (interlocking signals acting like automatic signals).

Junction of the Bustleton Br., still in but looking barely used. This branch diverges from #4 track, northward, toward North Philadelphia Airport and Roosevelt Blvd. Still quite active (1998), with 2 trains per day or so. Rebuilt by Conrail in the late 1980s, including a long S-curved wooden trestle over Frankford Ave.

Also the junction of the Kensington & Tacony (K&T) Branch, which diverged southward from #0 track toward the river. Prior to the 1910 grade separation project, the switch was on the "east" side of Princeton Ave, but to ease bridge construction, it was moved to the west side. [Norman O Mueller] This branch carried catenary poles and high tension lines but did not carry catenary. The right of way was simply a convenient route for transmission lines between the main line and the Philadelphia Electric Co.'s (PECO's) generating station on the Delaware waterfront just south of the Delair Bridge. The 5.1-mile branch was used for local switching of industries in the Tacony, Bridesburg, and Kensington sections of Philadelphia. [JB]

The nearby Bleigh St. Yard was abandoned in the 1980s. [CJR] Tacony Yard was abandoned by about 1981. [NOM]

Page numbers are given in brackets below; pages 26-30 are found on the corresponding New York branches page, while sheet 32 is found on the Harrisburg branches page.

The division point between the Philadelphia and New York Division was usually in the HOLMES to MORRIS area. [MDB] John Burlage adds that the Division Post was at M.P. 74.6 (from Jersey City), 1.4 miles west of the Torresdale station, in the town of Liddonfield, Pa., from at least 1945 [source: CT1000E]. The same location is a Region Post (New York/Philadelphia Regions) as of the [Employe] Time-Table from 1956, listed as M.P. 77.0 (from New York). By 1969, the Philadelphia/New Jersey Division post of the Eastern Region was moved to M.P. 54.0 (from New York), 0.9 mi. east of MILLHAM tower. [JB]

GRUNDY, Bristol, Pa., M.P. 65.6

Ref 4, Sheet 24; 4567x1044, 59K, 200 dpi

Full set of crossovers and local industrial branches. After passing through Pennypack Park and relatively nonindustrialized northeast Philadelphia and the near suburbs, Bristol marks the start of light industry, culminating in the Fairless Works of U.S.(?) Steel.

MORRIS, Morrisville, Pa., M.P. 58.6

Ref 4, Sheet 23; 3999x1032, 65K, 200 dpi

Connection, westward, to Morrisville Yard and the Trenton Cut-Off. Pennsy in typical fashion implemented this junction as a flyover. The freight tracks fly over two westward passenger tracks. One of the few places in the East where the PRR employed interlocking-exit signals (2L, 4L).

FAIR, Trenton, N.J., M.P. 56.8

Ref 4, Sheet 22; 5772x1033, 99K, 200 dpi

Large junction on either side of and through the Trenton passenger station. Under PRR there was a large yard slightly NE (RR-E) of FAIR on the NW (RR-N) side of the tracks. This yard was overgrown but still under (catenary) wire as of 1988. Under SEPTA and NJT, Trenton station is the termination point of Philadelphia and New York local commuter service, respectively. [MDB] Under PRR, some locals ran through, though with a substantial layover at Trenton. Layovers ranged from 8 to 42 minutes, with 15-30 min. being usual. One train, #268, left Suburban Station, Phila. at 5:20 pm and arrived at Penn Station, N.Y. at 8:20 pm, the 3-hour trip (with 38-min. layover at Trenton) averaging 30 mph. [JB]

Connection, northward, to the Belvedere-Delaware Secondary. Connection, southward, to the Bordentown Secondary. Both of these are shown, partially, on this map. Note the various symbols for grade crossing protection, manual block signals, etc. [MDB] The Bordentown Secondary/Branch was originally part of the Camden & Amboy, having been authorized in 1837 and opened a year later. The first 2 parts were South Amboy to Bordentown and Bordentown to Camden. [JB]

From FAIR northeastward [RR-eastward] to COUNTY is the fastest section of the entire ex-PRR main line and often has often been the location of high speed trials over the years. Proceeding from FAIR, there is a slight curve at the end of the platform at Trenton and a barely perceptible kink about 3 miles west of Nassau. It is then dead straight all the way to MIDWAY, about 10 miles. A long, gentle 'S' curve awaits east of MIDWAY, then it is dead straight again, almost 5 miles, to another slight curve west of COUNTY. Really, the only curves of note from Trenton to New York are the reverse curves at ELMORA and the ones just west of the North River tunnel portals. [John Cooper]

Trenton at one time had 3 platforms. The third platform serviced the New York-to-Atlantic City trains, including engine changes. It also serviced the Freehold, Redbank, and Camden locals. It may have serviced the Belvidere locals. [Michael F. Ginder]

MILLHAM, Trenton, N.J., M.P. 54.9

Ref 4, Sheet 21; 3822x1047, 57K, 200 dpi

No longer an interlocking under Amtrak; building is used as a signal maintainer's shed. Under Pennsy was the end of #0 and #5 tracks, coming from downtown Trenton.

NASSAU, Princeton Jct., N.J., M.P. 47.3

Ref 4, Sheet 20; 3814x1052, 55K, 200 dpi

Universal 4-track crossover and connection, westward, to the Princeton Branch. "PT" on some signals stands for "pedestal type". [MDB] A wye previously existed at NASSAU, with the west leg of the wye being west of the station. This was used primarily during football season. [JB]

Princeton Branch still sees local service extending only 2.7 miles to the university campus, the country's shortest scheduled passenger service. Trains were previously termed PJ&B (Princeton Junction & Back, and no doubt a spoof of PB&J, peanut butter and jelly). The newer moniker is "the Dinky". Branch was formerly 2 tracks and hosted special trains on football weekends.

Present status: the interlocking plant has been removed by Amtrak, though the tower, shorn of its sign, stands. In usual fashion, the catenary remains intact! [JB] (Catenary structures are complex anyway, and triply or quadruply more so at interlockings -- a topic in and of itself. Suffice it to say that each crossover is generally _2_ separate catenary wires, and the stringing of these is very complex. -MDB) The substantial brick tower still stands.

MIDWAY, Monmouth Jct., N.J., M.P. 41.6

Ref 4, Sheet 19; 3295x1043, 54K, 200 dpi

Universal crossover and connection, eastward, to the Jamesburg Branch. The latter branch was probably the last Conrail trackage unused by passenger trains to lose its catenary wire -- the wire was still up as late as 1990. [MDB] This branch was double track to Jamesburg at one time. [MFG] Electrification on this branch allowed electrically powered mineral trains to access the coal dumpers at South Amboy without changing power. [JB]

On the north side of the main line, connection was made to the Kingston Branch, a remnant of the original main line. Built by the Camden & Amboy, this original line ran along the south (or berm) bank of the Delaware & Raritan Canal between Kingston and Trenton. A connection was made with the New Jersey Rail Road & Transportation Co. a few mies west of New Brunswick, forming the original trans-state route. The present alignment between Trenton and Monmouth Junction was implemented during the Civil War.

COUNTY, New Brunswick, N.J., M.P. 33.2

Ref 4, Sheet 18; 4597x1040, 75K, 200 dpi

The tower is the most architecturally boring structure on the NEC: a low concrete-block building, clearly not built in the day when people cared about building aesthetics. COUNTY was so named becaues New Brunswick is the county seat of Middlesex County. A small yard used to exist here as well. [Philip Donnelly]

Union Switch & Signal Model C CTC machine with 5 ft. center panel and two 30-deg. angled wings. The left wing at COUNTY was bare, but put in for proposed Studebaker plant 'coming soon' to Adams, N.J. Yard tracks and a yard lead were installed, wired with catenary, but never used. The yard still exists as an Amtrak Maintenance of Way facility. [Bill Strassner]

Connection westward to the present Jersey Avenue station. At the time of the map it was still the Millstone Branch. This was the Millstone & New Brunswick Railroad Co., chartered in 1837 to connect New Brunswick with Flemington to the southwest. Dormant for years, it was revived in 1853 with the financial backing of the New Jersey Railroad, and completed from here to East Millstone, 6.63 mi., in 1854. No use of the charter's authorization to build to Flemington was ever made. [Why was Flemington so important? -MDB] At East Millstone, freight was exchanged with the D&R Canal. [JB] The Millstone Branch is (geographically) related to the Mercer & Somerset Rwy. This line ran through Hopewell, N.J., and was the location of the famous "Hopewell frog war with the Reading R.R.". The M&S ran from Somerset, 0.8 mi. south of Washington Crossing on the Bel-Del, to Millstone, a distance of 22.5 miles. It was completed in 1874 after about 3 years of construction. Its raison d'être was to block the Delaware & Bound Brook RR from constructing a railroad across New Jersey in competition with the PRR's lucrative New York--Philadelphia traffic. The M&S ran its last train in 1880 and was torn up later that year. A contemporary account indicated that the M&S did indeed connect with the Millstone Branch, so through service was possible. Today, very little is left of the line. On the east end, a stone abutment can be seen in East Millstone at the canal, and a stone pier still stands in the Millstone River. There are (at least) two extant stations on the line, Hopewell and Pennington, both of which are in excellent condition. [JB]

EDISON, LINCOLN, Metuchen, N.J., M.P. 29.3, 26.4

Ref 4, Sheet 17; 5021x1027, 93K, 200 dpi

Another universal crossover, as well as local industrial branches and a remotely controlled interlocking. Note the unusual spacing of automatic signals from COUNTY through LINCOLN. This appears to have been an elimination of every other signal in any given direction, but in such a way that alternate signal bridges were affected.

UNION, Rahway, N.J., M.P. 20.0

Ref 4, Sheet 16; 5431x1022, 103K, 200 dpi

One of the widest locations on the main line to New York, sporting rather unique, parallel duckunders, starting between parallel main tracks.

Connection, southward, to the Perth Amboy & Woodbridge (PA&W) Branch (see New York branches page). Later, the New York & Long Branch RR was built, which PRR and CNJ jointly owned. A connection with the CNJ was then built. [Philip Donnelly, Mark Bej]

ELMORA, South Elizabeth, N.J., M.P. 15.0

Ref 4, Sheet 15; 3973x1040, 60K, 200 dpi

Site of an S curve, the only significant speed restriction between Trenton and Newark. [MDB] The curve between South Elizabeth and Elizabeth stations was eased in 1973. The tower has been razed. [JB]

LANE, West Newark Jct., N.J., M.P. 12.6

Ref 4, Sheet 14; 3891x1036, 65K, 200 dpi

Connection to the Passaic & Harsimus Branch freight tracks, which lead to Waverly Yard. Part of this yard is seen on the map. The branch ultimately leads to the other north Jersey freight yards: Kearny, Meadows, and ultimately Greenville. For interlockings along that line, see the Branches and Yards page. Another copy of LANE is available. [from Rails Northeast, on Jerry Britton's site].

The two tracks on the north, off of "5 running" are the leads (tracks A & B) to Durant Yard, named for Will Durant, founder of General Motors which has a major major presence in the Linden area. After all, GM had its foundation in NJ, not in Michigan. [Richard Makse]

Present status: the tower is gone. [JB]

HUNTER, West Newark Jct., N.J., M.P. 10.8

Ref 4, Sheet 13; 4156x1025, 73K, 200 dpi

Junction with the Lehigh Valley main line, which passes over the PRR on a massive iron bridge to Oak Island Yard. The nearly parallel P&H Branch tracks now veer off to the east, along Oak Island, to BAY (now UPPER BAY) interlocking and Greenville Yard, while others proceed northeastward to Kearny and Meadows yards.

Connection, westward, to Lehigh Valley Railroad.

Present status: the tower is gone. The connection to the LV has been recently improved by NJT. [JB]

DOCK, Harrison (Newark), N.J., M.P. 8.8

Ref 4, Sheet 11; 7492x1047, 171K, 200 dpi

Though the tower is in Harrison, most of the trackage it controls is in Newark. Very complicated interlocking on both sides of and through Pennsylvania Station Newark. Note particularly the signals with smashboards (and train order lights indicated) on either side of the movable bridge "east" of the station.

PATH is Port Authority Trans Hudson, a local commuter authority, and a subsidiary of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Though geographically quite small, its ridership is quite high. Many commuters transfer at Newark station from trains on the ex-PRR main line to PATH's line for its more direct access to Manhattan's downtown financial district.

PATH runs trains on the former right of way of the Hudson & Manhattan RR, which was the first successful attempt to tunnel a railroad under the Hudson River. Between Jersey City (Journal Square) and Newark, PATH runs over the former PRR Jersey City Branch, itself the PRR's former main line to Exchange Place. Much of the branch was equipped with both third-rail DC and AC catenary.

PATH's movable bridge is higher than PRR/Amtrak's -- they don't have nearly the grade restrictions -- and can be raised and lowered separately. There are occasions when the PRR/AMTK bridges are raised but PATH is able to continue operating.

HUDSON, Harrison, N.J., M.P. 7.1/8.6

Ref 4, Sheet 11; 7492x1047, 171K, 200 dpi

Same map as DOCK above.

Point of divergence of the old PRR right of way to Exchange Place Station in Jersey City. Exchange Place was, of course, the station where one would detrain and board a ferry for New York City. The station was rendered much less useful by the North River [Hudson River] Tubes. The RoW is now used by PATH trains to their own (underground) Exchange Place station, where PATH turns north before using the old Hudson & Manhattan tubes to enter N.Y. City. See maps on the New York branches page.

M.P. 7.1 at HUDSON, and all mileposts from here west to ZOO, are measured from the old Exchange Place station. M.P. 8.6, and all mileposts east of here, are measured from Pennsylvania Station, New York.

PORTAL, Secaucus, N.J., M.P. 6.0

Ref 4, Sheet 10; ?x?, ?K, 200 dpi -- map is missing from this set

North River Tubes, ?Union City, N.J. - New York, N.Y.

Ref 4, Sheet 9; ?x?, ?K, 200 dpi -- map is missing from this set

A, KN, C, JO, New York, N.Y.

Ref 4, Sheet 8; ?x?, ?K, 200 dpi -- map is missing from this set

[Sheets 7, 6, and 5 are believed not to exist in this edition; see Ref 4 description.]

A, New York, N.Y., M.P. 0.2

Ref 8, Sheet 8, 19__; ?x?, K, 200 dpi

Easily the largest of the 4 towers controlling Pennsylvania Station, New York trackage. Controls the southwestern set of tracks, including the approach to New York from the North River tubes. Spans 3 (?) platforms, 2 spiral staircases either side to enter tower. Model board quite unique in that tracks were displayed as raised pieces of brass. When switches were thrown, the corresponding brass piece on the model board moved to show the new switch configuration. By the time I saw it (1984 or so), not all of the model board worked properly.

Platform/track map of Penn Station (208K, 200 dpi). [Collection of John Cooper.]

KN, New York, N.Y., M.P. 0.1

Ref 8, Sheet 8, 19__; 1892x1045, 56K, 200 dpi

Controlled northwest side of station, mainly Long Island Railroad (commuter train) movements. Small building just off the end of the platform.

C, New York, N.Y., M.P. 0.1

Ref 8, Sheet 6, 19__; 1912x1038, 65K, 200 dpi

Companion tower to KN on the northeast side of the station controlling mainly LIRR movements. Small building just off the end of the platform.

JO, New York, N.Y., M.P. 0.1

Ref 8, Sheet _, 19__; ?x?, K, 200 dpi

Companion tower to A, though much smaller, controlling movements on the southeast side of the station.

East River Tubes, New York, N.Y. - Long Island City, N.Y.

Ref 4, Sheet 4; ?x?, ?K, 200 dpi -- map is missing from this set

[Sheets 3, 2 believed not to exist in this edition; see Ref 4 description.]

F, R, Q [Sunnyside Yard], Long Island City [New York], N.Y., M.P. ?

Ref 4, Sheet 1, 1968; 7900x2100, 291K, 200 dpi

Sunnyside Yard on one sheet. This is a 1968 diagram from the set of Randy Mower which can be compared with the individual scans, just below, provided by Dick Makse.

F, Long Island City, N.Y., M.P. 3.0

Ref 8, Sheet 4, 1947; 3765x1030, 113K, 200 dpi

First in the series of towers controlling Sunnyside Yard. Passenger trains coming east out of the East River Tunnels would pass through F interlocking and proceed either toward HAROLD tower and the Long Island RR or to the loop track toward R tower. Note the number of flyovers. Also note the signals beginning with the letter "R" which are duplicate signals. (I suspect that R stands for "repeater".)

N.Y. Penn Station is a through station. Trains arriving from the west proceeded through the station, under East River, and around the loop track to the coach yards of Sunnyside Yard. There they would be cleaned and serviced in preparation for their next run. The train would then proceed west back into Penn Station where it would receive its first passengers on its westbound trip.

R, Long Island City, N.Y.

Ref 8, Sheet 3; 3781x1066, 81K, 200 dpi

Second in the series of towers controlling Sunnyside Yard. R controlled much of the loop track (coming in from F) and the entrances into the coach yard tracks. The coach yard tracks are not visible on the diagram, but the yard leads to them are labelled as "Trks. 51 to 55", etc.

Q, Long Island City, N.Y.

Ref 8, Sheet ?, 19??; ?x?, ?K, 200 dpi

Third in the series of towers controlling Sunnyside Yard. Q controlled the exits from the coach yard tracks and the early portion of the approaches to the East River Tunnels, where control was passed off to F tower briefly before being given over to C or JO towers, as appropriate.

Main Line -- Long Island Rail Road

HAROLD, Sunnyside [New York], N.Y., M.P. 3.7

Ref 4, Sheet 0; ?x?, ?K, 200 dpi -- map is missing from this set.

HAROLD, Ref 8, Sheet ?, 1947; ?x?, ?K, 200 dpi

Jointly used by PRR and LIRR, ?connection to Hell Gate line.

Mark's Railroad-Related Stuff
The Broad Way: A Pennsylvania Railroad Home Page
Maps of the PRR
Interlocking Diagrams
Philadelphia to New York: Main Line

Mark D. Bej
+1 216-444-0119