Engine Terminal

Engine Terminal
CX 351 westbound at Summit Springs. August 1976

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Panel- one year in

It was almost one year ago to the day that the steel panel arrived. Before me was the daunting task of transforming it from what you see in the picture below into a functioning CTC panel. 

To be perfectly honest, I was a bit overwhelmed. There was so much to figure out, from the hardware to be used to the electrical wiring to the paint color. And I had never tackled a project like this before. Fortunately for me, there are others who have, like Gerry Albers and David Stewart, and they were more than willing to offer help and advice. 

So after a year of working on this thing, where are we? Well, the photo below shows how it appears today.

And here's a look at where all of the magic happens.

So the railroad is now under CTC control from SJ Cabin at the east end of Hollister Yard in North Pierce all the way to New Market, VA (east staging). All that remains to be done is the signal bridge at the west end of Hollister Yard and the eastbound signal just west of North Pierce. Yes- the end is in sight.

The new signals at the east end of Hollister Yard include the cantilevered bridge pictured below. These two signals control the main and siding eastbound at SJ Cabin.

As this bridge is right next to an area where the yardmaster is usually working, I installed a piece of Plexiglas to protect it from wayward forearms and elbows.

Also part of the CP at SJ Cabin is the dwarf at the east end of the yard lead.

And the last piece of the plant is the westbound signal at the entrance to the yard. This signal controls the main and the siding to the west of the turnout in the photo below in addition to the entrance to the yard.

During the last session, CTC was in place from east staging all the way to Petersburg Junction, which is just east of the signal above. As I suspected, the pace of trains over the road picked up significantly using CTC versus the old method of track warrants. It's clear that we'll need more overhead trains in order to keep the crews busy while giving the yards enough time to do their work. Which means more locos, freight cars and cabooses are needed! And that was the plan all along.


  1. Tom, what is the industry on the siding on the last 2 pictures? The panel looks great. Lots of work into that!

    1. Shannon,

      It's an ammonium nitrate unloading facility- very common in the coal fields. Depending upon the session, a covered hopper will be spotted there for unloading.

      Thanks for the kind words.


  2. Yeah! Looking great Tom. Congratulations. They are a journey to build, but you'll greatly enjoy it.

    And yes, they move traffic much faster....so we can buy more stuff-:).

  3. Great work Tom, its a real accomplishment being able to bring a CTC Panel to life!
    Glad its you doing the extra wiring and not me... Jas.

    1. Thanks, Jas- it's a great feeling to be closing in on the end of this project.