TCS Installation Begins on the Shenandoah Division
In order to move traffic more efficiently across the CSXT Shenandoah
Division, management has authorized the installation of Traffic Control System (TCS)
on the division. TCS allows a remotely located dispatcher to move traffic over
the railroad by controlling signals which authorize train movement. The
dispatcher will also have remote control of power-operated switches at each
passing siding location.
Initial operations on the Shenandoah Division began using Direct Traffic
Control (DTC) to authorize movements of trains over the division. While TCS
installation occurs, the division will be dispatched under TCS rules for the
portions which have been signaled, with the remainder of the division remaining
under DTC rules. The CATS dispatching software supports both TCS (also known as
CTC on some railroads) and DTC, so Shenandoah Division dispatchers will continue
to use CATS to authorize traffic movement.
The current plan for conversion of the railroad to TCS has the signal
maintainers beginning installation at the south end of the Covington Subdivision
and proceeding northward. On November 5, 2005, the signal maintainers
began wiring control panels for the first section of the division to be
controlled via TCS prior to any field installations of equipment. The first of
the control panels was installed near the north end of Catawba, Va. on November
20, 2005. The signal maintainers installed the first signal on the division at
the south end of Catawba on November 28, 2005, along with the first Tortoise
switch motor on the railroad at the same location. The remaining signals for the
south end of Catawba were installed on November 29.
With support and assistance from the Rodney Black, developer of CATS, crews
were able to configure the software correctly to provide the dispatcher with
control over the signals and switch motor at the south end of Catawba on
December 2, 2005. The signal maintainers then installed the signals and switch
motor at the north end of Catawba from December 5-6, 2005, placing it into
control via CATS on December 6.
Working northward from Catawba, crews will continue to install TCS equipment
on the railroad. As TCS is installed, bulletins will be issued to train
operation employees as to the limits of TCS.
CSXT Shenandoah Division management anticipates increasing traffic movement
volume efficiently and safely once the entire division is controlled via TCS.
Photos of Progress as of November 20, 2005
The first Digitrax SE8C Signal Decoder awaiting installation. All of the
wires connecting the decoder to terminal strips have been connected in this
picture. Once the control panel is installed, wires coming from layout
locations will connect to the decoder via these terminal strips. This panel
has room for a future additional SE8C or other hardware, if necessary.
Another SE8C mounted on its control panel but not yet wired. This panel
is narrower than the one above because of space restrictions at the location
where it will be mounted under the layout.
The control panel board for the third SE8C (not yet installed). Similar
to the first panel above, this panel also has room for a future additional
SE8C or other hardware, if necessary.
Location of the first SE8C near the north end of Catawba. Eventually,
this SE8C will control TCS equipment from the south end of Catawba, Va. to
Shenandoah Junction. Like the other control panels on the Shenandoah
Division, this panel will fold up to allow for storage underneath it.
Photos of Progress as of November 29, 2005
The first Tortoise switch motor and the first signal have been installed
at the south end of Catawba. The signal is a Digitrax SMBK "test" mast.
These signals will stand in until appropriate N scale signals have been
manufactured. The signal shows an indication of "clear" (Rule 281), allowing
movement to "proceed" on the mainline.
Another view of Tortoise installation at the south end of Catawba. The
wire on the Tortoise throws a brass rod crank which extends through the
subroadbed to the throw bar of the switch. The installation method was
described in the July 1997 issue of Model Railroader by Lionel Strang.
Also visible is the terminal strip used to connect the Tortoise to the SE8C
and for the turnout frog wiring.
The remaining Digitrax SMBK signals have been installed at the south end
of Catawba. The SMBK signals come with two heads, so they will be modify
later to have one head where appropriate. Both signals to the left in this
picture eventually will have only one head visible. Both these signals
display an indication of "stop" (Rule 292). The DTC block board from Catawba
has not yet been removed.
The signal cable and Tortoise control cable have been installed to the
Overall view of working conditions near Catawba during the start of TCS
installation. Working on a model railroad can often be messier than you
might think. ;-)
Photos of Progress as of December 6, 2005
The signal maintainers have now completed installation of the Tortoise
switch motor and signals protecting the north end of the Catawba passing
siding. The signal immediately to the right of the locomotives displays
"medium approach" (Rule 286), indicating medium speed through the turnout,
then proceed, prepared to stop at the next signal.
A close-up view of the mounting blocks for the Digitrax SMBK signals. The
mounting blocks are made from basswood. Double-sided tape is used to secure
the signal to the block and the block to the subroadbed. The 10 wire signal
cable also appears in this view. The Catawba DTC block board has not yet
been removed. Once again, both signals in this picture eventually will have
only one head visible.
The Tortoise switch motor and terminal strip for the north end of
Catawba. In the background is one of the BDL162 control panel boards with
its myriad wires.
The signal cable and Tortoise cable for the north end of Catawba have
been connected to the SE8C as well.
Photos of Progress as of December 11, 2005
Signal maintainers have finished wiring the SE8C connector to the
terminal strips on the second SE8C control panel board in preparation for
The signal maintainers have pre-wired 10 Tortoise switch motors for
future installation on the CSXT Shenandoah Division.
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