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PC: electrified ops -Reply

Thomas K. Trower wrote:

Currently striving to add more items of a technical nature to my website.
Would love to receive insight from RR employees that worked/work over
PRR/ex-PRR lines under the wires on day to day operations. Would like to
document block tower operations, trainmen, engineers, catenary
maintenance, and the like. Please contact me offlist.

Although you asked that replies be sent to you privately, I decided to
send this to the list because others may also find it interesting.  The
chairman of my committee worked for the PRR from the mid-1950's to the
mid-1960's (and quit because he thought the PC merger would flop.)  He
eventually reached the post of yardmaster at Edgemoor Yard,
Wilmington, DE.  Through my conversations with him I learned some
interesting things about the PRR (and later PC electric operations).  The
yardmaster at Edgemoor Yard was the second highest paid yardmaster
on the entire PRR system (and I suspect PC too).  Although places like
Enola, Conway, and Pitcairn come to mind as bigger, more complex
operating headaches, when he explained why Edgemoor yardmasters
received more, it made sense.
At Edgemoor the yardmaster deals with a variety of problems that are
either absent from other locations or are more manageable.
1. Edgemoor is on the North East Corridor, a busy passenger line that
CANNOT be clogged with freight.
2. Electric operations added a great degree of difficulty to the
yardmasters job.  Depending on a trains routing and to maximize
equipment utilization, a particular train could only take steam/diesel OR
3. Most of the yard tracks were NOT energized so each electric
powered freight could only use certain tracks which had to be cleared
immediately so the following train could clear the corridor.
4. At the time there was both hump and flat switching at Edgemoor.
5. Time sensitive freight from the nearby Chrysler plant always took
priority and had to be delivered ASAP.    
6. Wilmington served as the main repair facility for the PRR electric fleet,
electrics in need of work would deadhead on freights and need to be
switched out of consists.  Repaired electrics were then
added/substituted on the head end.  All this had to take place under the
limited amount of trackage under wire.
7. Add to this mix a heavy duty secondary main line (Delmarva) which
originated at the yard.  As late as early Penn Central, there were four
freights each way per day on this line with time sensitive freight that
was floated across to Norfolk, VA.
8. Like all other PRR yards, Edgemoor had to take orders from the PRR
nerve center at Enola.  If they said no trains over 50 cars destined for
Enola, that was it.  You needed to figure out how to move 100 cars in
blocks of 50 or add them to trains coming through your yard (with
minimum delay) etc,...
You may be wondering what the highest paid yardmaster position on the
PRR (and probably PC) was.  Bet you would not guess Harrismus Cove
in New Jersey.  Many of the same problems of Edgemoor except
subtract electric repair and add complex float operations, interchange
with several other railroads, acting as a terminal (rather than a through
yard like Edgemoor) for NEC freight, and conducting extensive terminal
Finally, although there was always a lot of talk about priority passenger
and freight trains on the NEC, THE priority train was the wire train.  When
the wire train was active (every day) it added a new level of complexity
because of deenergized catenary and a reduced number of tracks.  ALL
yardmasters and tower operators took their cue from the wire train and
adjusted their schedules around it.  
Just some thoughts for the list.  Hope this helps.

Bob Holzweiss
"Robert.Holzweiss -AT- bush.nara.gov"

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