RF&P Train Control Systems

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This is a follow up to the series of corespondence regarding ACL and RF&P Train Control and Train Stop Signals. We have established that the RF&P started the use of continuously coded track circuits and corresponding cab signals starting in 1952. We also established that the ACL had an intermittent train stop system between Richmond and Waycross, and that 17 ACL E units were fitted with the RF&P system and an unknown number of RF&P E units were fitted for the ACL train stop system when both roads started to run through power in 1964. Now-there are some loose ends-

1. What type of train control system did RF&P have prior to 1952? Photos of RF&P steam show a prominent box on the fron t of the locomotives labeled Train Control System. We know it displayed signal indications in the cab but need to know the technical details.

2. The SAL did not have any type of train control system on its lines, yet its first diesels operated over the RF&P to Ivy City. So the assumption is that these units were equipped with RF&P train control systems. Can anyone verify this-were all units so equipped and when was the system removed?

3. The same question applies to the ACL's early E units.

4. What were the numbers of the 17 ACL E units equipped with RF&P train control systems ? What were the numbers of the RF&P units equipped with the ACL system.

5. After the merger, SAL power started to be used on the ex ACL. Which units were equipped to lead in ex ACL territory? When did the installation start and when was it completed. Were any ex SAL units fitted with RF&P train control systems after the merger?

6. When exactly was the train stop installation on the ex ACL lines decommissioned?

Lets get this information and I can then begin to prepare a hopefully interesting article on Train Control Systems for a future issue of Lines South.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak @MNR.org), September 26, 2000


Correction-RF&P restricted speed was 25 mph-not 20.

Still looking for a date when the ACL train control system was disabled, and if this was post SCL-did any ex SAL units get fitted with train stop or RF&P train control.


-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak @MNR.org), October 18, 2000.

More information has arrived-courtesy of Bill Griffin-It seems that there was a locomotive pool for the first Champions-ACL 500 and 501 and FEC 1001 and 1002. All four locomotives were equipped with RF&P 3 indication 2 speed train control as well as ACL intermittent automatic train stop. The train speed was controlled by engine mounted speed governors-high speed setting was 75 mph and low speed setting was 25 mph. This worked with the RF&P's 70 mph maximum speed limit and 20 mph restricted speed limits. Of interest is that even though the FEC 1001 was normally assigned to service between Miami and Jax, it carried the full complement of train control apparatus, except that the speed control governor was carried in a box inside the engine to prevent wear and tear. If the unit was to be sent north of Jax, then the governor would be mounted!

Now-does any one out there have photos of the interior of ACL or RF&P engines showing the postwar after 1952 cab signal set up? Of course, any interior shots showing cab signal units-pre or post war would be of interest.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak @MNR.org), October 18, 2000.

After the initial flurry of information, more data is coming at a slower pace.

RF&P had a run through agreement with the SAL in the period between 1938-1943 and one with the ACL between 1939 and 1943. During this time period, at least 17 SAL units-3000-3016 had RF&P cab signalling of the pre-war(continuous control 3 aspect) war pattern. Around 1942, SAL stoped running through on the RF&P due to a lack of diesel units, having lost several units due to wrecks(e.g.Hypoluxo). The ACL stopped running through around the same time. RF&P was quite insistant that it had sufficient steam power to cover these train services. FEC early units apparently did run through to IVY City and therefore had both the RF&P and ACL systems in place. A question exists as to how many units were equipped however. In any case, it is safe to say that by war's end in 1945, there were no further run throughs by either railroad on the RF&P and that FEC units stayed south of Jacksonville. The RF&P cab signal system was removed from the SAL, ACL and FEC units, while the ACL train stop "MAY" have been kept on several of the early units. The proof would be to locate photos of FEC power showing the right hand side of the units. Those with the reactor pick up apparatus on the unit's trucks.

PRR and ACL run throughs of power to Chicago were possible since PRR did not cab signalling on their line to Louisville. IC and a few CofG units ran through on the City of Miami so that they could run under the IC's two aspect cab signal system in Illinois.

Southern's line between Macon Ga and Jacksonville was equipped with an intermittent inductive reactor system similar to Coast Line's. In fact, the CNO&TP and the Southern proper had a train control system in place between Ludlow KY and Jacksonville FL. Since Southern's system was compatible with the New York Central's, there is some credibility to stories I heard in Jacksonville in 1963 of New York Central "lightning stripes" being seen in Jacksonville Fl after arriving on the New Royal Palm.

In order to permit C&O and Southern traffic to enter Washington DC, RF&P installed an intermittent inductive reactor system between AF and RO towers. C&O and Southern both had the intermittent inductive system, even though the C&O system was by Union Switch and Signal. Both systems were compatible with each other. The train stop system could be used in conjunction with the later coded cab signal system since it opoerated strictly on the presence of current and did not rely upon the coded signals in the rails.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak @MNR.org), October 13, 2000.

Good question Buddy!

I haven't even begun to look at the FEC! Well, not really, but so far, just concentrating on the RF&P and ACL was taking up all of my spare time! And, I haven't even gotten past 1930!!!

I do know several things. The FEC was one of the roads ordered to install a train control system by the ICC in its so called second order, which was promptly withdrawn. Apparently, I understand that one FEC unit-the 1003, was fitted with RF&P cab signalling and ACL trainstop. Postwar, I am not sure of which units on the FEC had ACL train stop or RF&P cab signals. I would think that some FEC units had ACL train stop, but am not sure if the FEC units ran post war to Washington D.C. In any event, I have sent an E-mail to Seth Bramson, and I have calls into other sources who may be of help.

But, since FEC is part of the picture, yes, they will be covered to the extent that they can be.

Now, if we are to cover cab signal equipped units, there were three other railroads whose units regularly ran on the ACL tracks in Florida-and which were equipped with cab signals. Pennsylvania, Louisville and Nashville and Illinois Central.

L&N had a two aspect cab signal system installed under the ICC order between Corbin, Kentucky and Etowah, Tennessee, and New Orleans and Mobile. The Corbin to Etowah installation was the first one and it had a one speed, low speed limit type system, while the second system was a continuous automatic stop system. The Illinois Central had a two indication, continuously controlled cab signal system, with continuous automatic stop and it operated without permissive wayside signals. Pennsylvania had a four indication continuously controlled cab signal system, utilizing a coded system. You could tell the difference between the three types of units by the cab signal apparatus-L&N and IC units had a two aspect cab signal unit- displaying green and red only, while PRR had a four aspect unit-with 5 displays-clear three verticle lights, approach restricting three lights at a 45 degree angle to the right over three verticle lights, approach three lights at a 45 degree angle to the right and caution- slow speed two lights at a forty five degree angle facing left. The pre war RF&P unit was a three aspect, three light unit, green, yellow red, while the post war unit was a four aspect, four light unit. I am not sure of the color of the fourth aspect-as soon as I can be sure I will let it be known.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak @MNR.org), October 06, 2000.

During the early years (1939-early 40s) FEC units ran through the ACL and very likely over the RF&P to Potomac Yard. In light of the close cooperation between the ACL and FEC during the development and operation of the Champions, one would assume FEC locomotives were similarly equipped as the ACL's, but with the way this story keeps developing nothing is certain at this point. Does anyone have information ATC equipped FEC units operating over the ACL and RF&P and will these FEC units be discussed in the article as well? Thanks.

-- Buddy Hill (palmettoLTD@hotmail.com), October 05, 2000.

The 1922 order required that all installations be completed by January 25, 1925. W.D.Duke was the representative for the RF&P, while Carl H. Davis was the representative for the ACL. the limits were changed to provide for one passenger locomotive division, which resulted in the ACl being required to install such a system between Richmond and Rocky Mount. 2 of the carriers were exempted. On January 14, 1924, the ICC, under the same order #, issued what became known as the second order, requiring 47 of the first 49 carriers to install train control or automatic train stop systems on a second passenger locomotive divsion by February 1, 1926, The second order also required that an additional 45 roads, including the Seaboard between Richmond and jacksonville and the Florida East Coast between Jacksonville and Miami, install such systems by February 1, 1926. These additional roads pleaded poverty, lack of traffic, etc, and after a hearing, the ICC, on July 18, 1924, suspended its order of January 14, 1924 to the 42 additional roads, including SAL and FEC, but required that the original 47 roads install systems on a second division.

In 1928, the railroads submitted evidence to the ICC claiming that grade crosing accidents killed a vastly greater number of individuals than did train colisions and in an order bearing still the same number, dated November 26, 1928, suspended additional installations of train control devices or automatic block signals.

In pleading their case, the 42 roads submitted evidence to the ICC of their traffic levels. The SAL, stated that it operated an average of 10.9 trainmiles per mile of road in 1926, that it had 501 out of 3273 miles of road equpped with automatic block signals, and that it operated 17 passenger and 21 freight trains daily over its main line. FEC stated that it operated an average of 13.9 trainmiles per mile of road, that it had 380 out of 537 miles of track equipped with automatic block signals and that it operated an average of 27 passenger and 29 freight trains daily for a total of 56. The SAL's numbers of trains operated were amongst the lowest in the list, equalling railroads like the Wabash and the Virginian, but exceeded by railroads such as the Ann Arbor!

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak @MNR.org), October 03, 2000.

More interesting stuff surfaces. I have received copies of two very interesting booklets both dated 1930. the first is a publication entitled "The Signal in the Cab" US&S Publication of 1930 which goes into some detail about the development of the continuous coded cab signal system. It has maps and photos of cab signal installations, including those of the PRR, RF&P, N&W and L&N.

The other is a publication of the American Railway Association (predecessor to the AAR) committee on Automatic Train Control dated November 1930. this publication goes into the history of train control systems, lists the various ICC orders and gives the results of the initial installations, their costs, extent, etc.

The quickie version of the history is that the US Congress instructed the ICC to investigate automatic train control and block signals in 1906. The ICC established a block signal and train control board, which actually tested five early train control systems. The work of this committee was discontinued in June 1912 after funding was eliminated.

The ICC Bureau of safety continued testing six additional systems until 1919. In 1919, the USRA established an automatic train control committee, which in 1920, with the return of railroads to private ownership, became the Automatic Train Control Committee of the ARA. additional systems were tested between 1920 and 1923.

On Janbuary 10, 1922, the ICC notified 49 railroads collectively known as the $25,000,000 roads, that it was intending to issue an order requiring them to install automatic train stop or train control devices. The ACL and RF&P were included in the list of 49 railroads. ACl was informed that it would be directed to install such systems between Richmond and Charleston SC while the RF&P would be required to install such systems between Richmond and Washington DC.

The order was issued in its final form on June 13, 1922 as No. 13413.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak @MNR.org), October 03, 2000.

I can tell you the auto-train stop inductors survived the single tracking/CTC project 1961-1963. At least on the segment (Rocky Mount to Florence) that I worked on. Not sure of the aftermath though.

As a young buck on the "bull gang" the Signalmen on the gang did not delve into the circuitry with me. Rather the tote, dig, paint, climb, and grunt portions of the work.

There were two gangs assigned to the single tracking project. Mr. Sam Young & Cap'n Bray's gang. Four signalmen and six assistant signalmen (grunts)on each gang.

-- Curtis E. Denmark Jr. (curtisd@knology.net), September 30, 2000.

Intersting stuff keeps coming up as we delve into this topic. So far, I was able to find out that the original RF&P cab signal system was a track and loop system very similar to the first cab signal system installed on the Pennsylvania Railroad between Lewistown and Sunbury PA in July 1923. It was a three aspect continuous train control system, with receiver coils on the front and rear of each engine. In addition to the track circuit, there was a parallelling line wire which was connected to the track circuit at the each end through a split resistor. The system was not coded, and because of its complexity, crossovers were not equipped. After the war, the RF&P changed its system to a continuously coded 4 aspect system, but again, the crossovers were not cab signalled. The original installations were 60 Hz systems.

I also found out something which threw me for an absolute loop. Apparently, sometime in the 1950's, the SAL did install a section of cab signalling on its main line, utilizing 100 Hz continously coded track circuits, having a low level pick up current. The current was 400 milliamps, as opposed to the more typical 2 ampere as currently used. The SAL intended to use this system only for passenger service. The ICC apparently did not approve this system because they insisted that the low level pick up was inadequate and that all of the locomotives had to be equipped. Anyone know more about this?

Can anyone out there give a year when the ACL train stop system was taken out of service?

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak @MNR.org), September 29, 2000.

One of the previous questions-numbers of RF&P units equipped with ACL train stop-Mr. JR Morton did indeed answer that-1012, 1013, 1014 and 1015. Units 1010 and 1011 were used in trailing position only.

Another question-anyone know what the speed governors on the ACL early units was used for? Were these speed governors tied into the train stop system-i.e. they were used as forestalling devices so when the train stop whistle blew, the brakes could not be released until the train speed was down to a certain level, or were they used for other purposes-Cliff Kendall informs me that the 1944 ETT indicates that trains with speed governors cut out could only operate 70 mph. If these speed governors were indeed used for forestalling devices, when were they discontinued for by the 1960's, the train stopunits had a timer mechanism. Any mechanical dept folks remember?

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak @MNR.org), September 28, 2000.

As more information surfaces, I will try to give everyone what I have come up with.

The ICC order was # 13413, dated June 1922, which required that 49 railroads install some form of a train control system over one complete passenger locomotive division by January 1, 1925. I will try to get a copy of that order and then I will share the contents with all.

AS interest-I have a copy of a book entitled "The Search for Safety" published by Union Switch and Signal in May 1981. On page 154, there is an in cab shot of a E type unit, showing a US&S cab signal display unit, mounted on the front window center post. The upper aspect of the unit appears to be lit. What is interesting is that the train is on a main line track, and on the adjacent passing track, in an obviously deep south location, most likely southern Florida, is a Seaboard painted engine, with its headlight off. Now the cab signal unit has most likely been lit in the darkroom( it is obviously dubbed in)since we all know that the SAL lines in Florida were not equipped with a US&S cab signal system. Since the ACL train stop system never penetrated south of Waycross GA., and that system did not have a cab signal unit, it is apparent that the interior photo was shot of in one of the 17 ACL units equipped for RF&P cab signals, or one of the RF&P units equipped with ACL train control, operating on trackage rights on the Seaboard post 1963.

If anyone is interested, I will make a copy of the shot and then lets see if we can identify a location.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak @MNR.org), September 28, 2000.

The ICC orders should indeed contain some valuable information. I have personally never read a copy of them and have also started looking for a copy. When I started paying attention to the RF&P it struck me as unusual that although they were cab signal equipped, they had a 70 MPH maximum for passenger trains (The 70s and 80s). I made some inquiries to the RF&P folks and discovered that one of the primary reasons (in addition to the obvious advantages of all weather operation and increasing route capacity) for the application of cab signals was that it allowed them to operate against the signaled current of traffic with a signal system in place and not under manual block system rules. At that time they had wayside signals in the direction of traffic only for each track. If one operated counter current one did so on cab signal system rules (at 70 MPH as opposed to 50 MPH). If memory serves me, they had wayside signaled the railroad in both directions by the mid to late 80s and had (or intended to soon) apply to the FRA to remove the cab signal system. That was about the time of the Conrail/Amtrak Chase, MD incident and the FRA could not possibly take the position of allowing any railroad remove the cab signals from lines which operated a number of passenger trains.

I may know how to find one of the former RF&P guys I worked with. I'll give it a try. I'll aslo see if I have any technical data on RF&P cab signals. I don't believe I do but I may have put some in with my old Amfiles. I'll check. Regards,

-- Clifford P. Kendall (cpkendall@aol.com), September 27, 2000.

No problem. I think that is a good idea so that we are all on the same track so to speak! Horrible to be a punster so early in the morning!

I have the technical data from GRS on the ACL train stop installation.

One more interesting question came to me after I made the posting yesterday.

The 1920's order by the ICC that railroads install a form of cab signalling, train stop or train control on at least one division was complied with by ACL but not by SAL. The only reasons that I can come up with was an assumption that the ICC order applied to lines with some form of automatic block signal already in place, while SAL at that time was just in the process of installing automatic permissive block signalling on its main line. So-does anyone out there know why SAL did not comply with the ICC order? I will of course try to get a copy of the 1920's era order as well as the 1947 order and determine where the orders applied, but any assistance on this would help.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak @MNR.org), September 27, 2000.

Sounds like a great project and I'll be more than happy to help as I can. In order to minimize confusion, we may want to agree on some basic nomenclature before we start. May I put forward the following suggestions?

Cab Signals - Continuously Coded Cab Signal - A signal present in the rails with pick-up bars normally located behind the pilot of the locomotive. Replicate the indication of wayside signals inside the operating cab.

ATS - Automatic Train Stop - Intermittent Inductive Train Stop - An inductor which is located in advance (beyond by direction of travel) a wayside signal with a pick-up shoe normally located on the engineman's side at the leading or center axle position of the front truck sideframe. Sounds a whistle and/or lights a lamp inside the operating cab but does not replicate the indication of the wayside signal.

Speed Control - Requires the engineman to control the speed of his train in accordance with the signal indication or a penalty application occurs. (Train is brought to a stop)

Train Stop - Requires the engineman to acknowledge a change in signal to a more restrictive indication or a penalty application occurs. (Train is brought to a stop) This differs from speed control in that he is not forced by the system to reduce speed but only acknowledge that a more restrictive signal has been passed and observed.

One can have Cab Signals with Train Stop only or with both Speed Control and Train Stop.

With ATS one has only Train Stop.

The RF&P had Cab Signals and the ACL had ATS.

Does this sound agreeable to everyone?

Please not that "he" is used only for purposes of clarity and not as a gender based statement regarding persons in engine service.

-- Clifford P. Kendall (cpkendall@aol.com), September 26, 2000.

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