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Reading Signals – A Visit to the CSX Riverline

One our favorite places to watch trains is on Iona Island, where the CSX NY Riverlive cuts through the small island.

Located at milepost 41, there are these rather odd two headed automatic signals.   They are situated about half way between two interlockings.   In other words, they are the approach signals that tell the engineer the condition of the interlockings ahead.

These signals are approach lit (normally dark).  We just happen to catch this on a day when there was a northbound train approaching this signal.   This northbound signal is displaying yellow over green or Approach Medium (approach the next signal at medium speed).   The next northbound signal at CP43 (Fort Montgomery – Mind Dock Rd) is probably set for either Medium Clear or Medium Approach.  It doesn’t matter.    We do know for certain that the dispatcher has set up a meet, and this northbound train must slow down and take the siding at CP43.   The engineer has two miles to slow down to 25 mph.

Sure enough, here is our northbound.

The signal will display yellow over green until the train actually enters the track circuit beyond the signal.

Signal has changed to red over red will remain lit as long as there is any part of the train in the circuit preceding the signal.

Well, it didn’t take long.   The southbound train has just cleared CP43 and has entered the track circuit causing the southbound signal to light up and display Approach.   The next interlocking is at CP38 and must be set to Stop.   By the way, CP38 was created about 4 years ago when the existing siding that ended near Stony Point Battlefield was extended north.   The track was already in place to service the Tomkins Cove generating station, but was no longer needed.   I remember seeing strings of coal hoppers parked there.   Also note the insulated rail joints adjacent to the signal, which separate the track circuits. 

Well, the dispatcher must have cleared the southbound signal at CP38 for the main track, and this signal now shows clear.

The bottom line here is if a signal is lit and displaying anything other than Red over Red, stick around.


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