This track schematic illustrates the main features of the physical plant as seen by the CTC dispatcher. Again, focus is on the section between Sinns and Braddock, in the lower right part of the schematic.
Sinns - From east to west, the first interlocking on the Pittsburgh Subdivision is Sinns, location of two crossovers. Additonally, two private sidings come off the mains here; first Durabond, a finishing plant for industrial pipes; second, Steelmet (still called ELG on the schematic), a scrap metal dealer. Both of these industries have their own dedicated switch engines, GE 45 tonners.
McKeesport - next up, the small interlocking of McKeesport has only a single switch which connects the single-track Monongahela Subdivision to the Pittsburgh Sub. The Glassport siding switch will not be modeled on the layout. The Mon Sub is CSX's outlet for coal mined in the Monongahela coalfields. Between McKeesport and Riverton a number of grade crossings prevent trains from being held on this section awaiting track space further west, so they are normally held east of McKeesport when required. During the resignaling project in 2011/2012 the EAS McKeesport which used to be a double P&LE mast signal has been replaced by a single Safetran on #2 track only. #1 track eastbound is now one single block from the EAS Riverton to the EAS Sinns.
Riverton - This is the largest interlocking on my chosen prototype. In addition to the two sets of crossovers, the yard lead for the Demmler/Riverton yard branches off #1 track (the north and westbound track) here. Off of #2 track, what remains of the McKeesport Connecting Railroad serves the old National Tube Works complex. Reduced from a large integrated steel mill, rolling mill, and tube welding plant, the last remaining customer was Camp-Hill, a manufacturer of tubes. The complex used to be served by both the MKCR using a Union RR EMD switcher as well as CSX. But after the rails were removed from the McKeesport Connecting bridge in July 2008, CSX was the only show in town until the Union returned and stationed switchers there permanently in 2011 until the plant's closure in late 2014.
Demmler/Riverton Yard - The yard complex of Demmler/Riverton is actually three yards rolled into one. From south to north, the old P&LE Riverton Yard is a small affair today used mostly for storage of bad order cars, building blocks of cars for some of the locals, and temporary storage space for engines and cabooses. The ex-B&O Demmler Yard consists of two parts, the upper and lower yards. Here, the majority of traffic is handled. Transfer moves from the Union RR tie into the yard from their own Dexter Yard located north of here inside the sprawling ET Works complex. Bisecting the yard area and running its entire length is the controlled siding, used mostly for eastbound trains working Demmler upper yard.
Demmler - Located at the north (timetable west) end of Demmler Yard right next to Union RR's Dexter Yard throat, the interlocking features a single crossover eastbound from #2 to #1 track. Demmler siding comes off of #1 track. The west yard lead for Demmler Yard in turn splits from the siding, but that switch is not under dispatcher control. West of Demmler the CSX main runs alongside ET Works. Several road crossings on the western part of this stretch, between what used to be P&LE's Port Perry interlocking and Braddock again prohibit trains from stopping for any amount of time. Trains that do need to hold do so east of Port Perry.
The below schematic shows the layout of Demmler, Riverton, McKeesport, and the MKCR as of 2010. (click for a larger image)
Braddock - The P&LE style signals at this interlocking were replaced with Safetrans in July 2008, kicking off the modernization of interlockings on the eastern part of the Pittsburgh Subdivision. It is equipped with Safetran signals on large cantilevers and a signal mast. The main line splits three different ways here, from north to south: the P&W Subdivision (B&O's original main line through Pittsburgh) which is currently only used by Amtrak's Capital Limited; the Glenwood Running Track leading to Glenwood Yard (sold by CSX to the AVR) where CSX interchanges with AVR; and the now single track Pittsburgh Sub main line crossing to the Monongahela River's south side behind the old Carrie furnaces en route to J&L Tunnel, located at what used to be the Jones & Laughlin steel works. Just east of the interlocking and not under dispatcher control is a switch allowing access to the Braddock Industrial Track, a remnant of what used to be a third track running all the way from Port Perry to Braddock, serving customers located between the railroad and the Mon River. The only customers remaining are two warehouses located on the far western end. Exit from the Braddock IT is protected by a dwarf signal located next to the switch.
As of December 2012 all remaining P&LE style searchlight signals had been replaced with Safetrans between Sinns and Braddock.
In addition to the CSX facilities, the Union Railroad maintains extensive in-plant trackage at ET Works, including what is called their Valley Yard located right next to the CSX main line. It is used primarily for inbound scrap metal and limestone brought down from the Union's Port Perry crossing of the Monongahela River via the Cinder Bridge. Also using the yard tracks are intra-plant hot metal moves being pulled from the cast houses of the two blast furnaces and shoved up the ramp to the BOP shop located at the western end of the facility. These moves are made with USS' own remote-controlled switchers labeled "Mon Valley Works".
Customers located on or served by the Pittsburgh Subdivision are:
Tagart - a scrap dealer located in Versailles immediately east of the Youghiogheny River bridge off of #2 track.
Durabond - located near Sinns, just west of the Youghiogheny River bridge across from Versailles, this plant chemically coates pipe products. Pipe is being shipped both inbound as well as outbound. A significant portion of the pipe shipped by Camp-Hill travels the relatively short distance to Durabond. A Turtle Creek GE 45 tonner provides plant switching services. Durabond actually sits on what used to be the old P&LE main line. The previous triple-head searchlight signal at that location was replaced with a Safetran during 2012. Definitely not your average solution for an industrial spur.
As of 2013 Durabond has moved to a large facility at Duquesne on what used to be part of the large steel mill there. A large outdoor storage area for pipe has been created. The firm has acquired a GE 50-ton side-rod switcher, ex-Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co. 41809, to work the plant. The Sinns facility has largely seized operations as of 2014. The effect Camp-Hill's shutdown has on Durabond remains to be seen.
Steelmet - formerly known as ELG Metals, also located at Sinns (Port Vue, under the 15th Street bridge), Steelmet is a scrap processor receiving inbound scrap for sorting and processing. Contrary to the track layout schematic above, their switch was reversed (facing east) early in 2008, eliminating the tail track and making it possible for a main line move to shove into the facility off of the #1 main track. Steelmet has a track scale and also a 45 tonner for local switching.
Camp-Hill - a pipe manufacturer located on the south side of the old National Tube Works property in McKeesport. Receives inbound coils and ships out pipe and scrap metal. Most of the pipe output travels the short distance to Durabond for coating/finishing. Camp-Hill is also the only remaining customer of the McKeesport Connecting Railroad. The McKeesport Bridge had its rails removed in June 2008, effectively isolating the MKCR from the Union RR. For a while afterwards CSX was switching Camp-Hill, but as of early 2011 Union RR SW1500 switchers were back on the property handling switching chores.
As of 2012 USS had reacquired Camp-Hill and promptly exchanged their sign on one of the mill buildings (which itself was positioned to blank out the old National Tube Works signage). The plant was advertised as "U.S. Steel Tubular Products - McKeesport Tubular Operations". To their credit, the old buildings also received a new layer of white paint, looking sharp.
Pipe was in high demand due to the fracking for oil and gas everywhere and consequently the plant (and Union RR plant switchers) were kept very busy until mid-2014 when in a surprise move USS announced the plant's closure by the end of the same year. Whether this was due to the general slowdown in fracking pipe demand or an anti-competitive market grab is anybody's speculation. The effect on Durabond as a pipe finisher is as yet unclear.
Bell Transfer - located on the Braddock Industrial Track.
Bluestone - another scrap dealer, located on the Monongahela Subdivision.
Glassport Transportation Center - also located on the Mon Sub, this is a large former industrial site where coal is transloaded between barge and rail. TTC has their own EMD switcher.
With the sale of Glenwood Yard to the AVR, Demmler became the main center of operations for CSX in the southern Pittsburgh area with a number of train starts per day in addition to several road freights setting out and picking up. Below is an overview of operations. Refer to the Bullsheet for more details on each train schedule.
Regular road freights setting out and/or picking up blocks of cars at Demmler are:
Q353 - w/b Cumberland, MD - Willard, OH. This train usually picks up coke loads on the headend and sets off a block of "shorts" (cars for the locals) from the rear.
Q640 - w/b Cumberland, MD - Buffalo, NY. Picks up misc. cars as well as pipe loads at Demmler.
Q352 - e/b counterpart to Q353, Willard, OH - Cumberland, MD.
Q641 - e/b counterpart to Q640, Buffalo, NY - Cumberland, MD; occasionally works Demmler.
The road crews don't work Riverton Yard, all switching is done in Demmler Yard. Eastbound trains will enter the siding at Demmler interlocking and pull down to the upper yard. Westbound trains will enter Demmler Running Track at Riverton interlocking and pull up to the lower yard. Pickup will be by the road power at the head end, setout at the rear by a switch crew.
Coke trains running under K-symbols usually get called out of Connellsville. Crews will taxi to Demmler Yard and build the train there. The coke usually comes from the USS Clairton plant and is interchanged from the Union RR via Dexter Yard.
K311 - runs daily, Demmler - Chicago, IL
K381 - runs daily, Demmler - Chicago, IL
K387 - runs irregularly, Demmler - Cleveland, OH
Other bulk commodity trains run through on the main under K symbols, for example ethanol unit trains such as K676. Every now and then ICE and D&ME power will run through on ethanol traffic. As of mid-2013 eastbound crude oil traffic has picked up significantly, in line with the increased oil production in the US. A typical symbol would be K057. These trains also frequently have western run-through power from BNSF, CN, CP on them.
There is only one regular K-train on the Mon Sub as of 2/2012; the K211, salt loads from R&S in Rochester, NY to Monessen, PA. It travels in solid covered hopper consists, made up of Genessee & Wyoming and leaser cars. The empties return under the K212 symbol. Shipments of salt can be made year-round without a fixed schedule.
A large amount of coal traffic traverses the Pittsburgh Subdivision daily. Loaded they will usually carry U, T, or V symbols, while returning empties for loading are E symbols. The primary traffic flow patterns are:
Monongahela Coal - Trains load at loaders located on the old Monongahela Railway (now Norfolk Southern) south of Brownsville. Empty trains are dispatched to the staging yard at Newell where Mon crews take over and run to the loaders. Loaded trains backtrack up the Monongahela Subdivision and gain Pittsburgh Subdivision tracks at McKeesport. Westbound loads continue their journey westward. The U994 (Colona - Chicago, IL) is a typical symbol. This train is handed to BNSF in Chicago.
Trains bound for eastern utilities or carrying export coal have to change direction to run eastbound on the Keystone Subdivision. To do that, they will first run westbound on the Pittsburgh Subdivision to between Riverton and Demmler interlockings, parallel to Demmler Yard. This is the only stretch on the Pittsburgh Sub west of McKeesport where trains can hold without blocking any road crossings. The power then cuts off, the crew places an EOT device on the first car, runs around their train, takes the EOT off the former rear, and recouples to the rear. The train then becomes an eastbound and continues to its destination. This can be observed several times per day, typical symbols are U324 (Emerald Mine - Cross, SC), U881 (Loveridge Mine - Baltimore/Penn Mary, MD), U883 (Bailey Mine - Baltimore/Penn Mary, MD), V610 (Emerald Mine - Brunswick, MD), V630, V634 (Bailey Mine - Benning, DC). Empty trains (usually operating under E-symbols) returning via the Mon Sub execute the manoeuver in reverse. Examples include the E759 (Baltimore/Curtis Bay, MD - Newell, PA).
Loaded coal drags from mines further south, for example loading on the Cowen Sub (now A&O) or on the Shortline Sub, and headed to eastern destinations follow the same routing if they are over 80 cars in length. Shorter trains will generally use the shorter but more demanding Mountain Sub via Grafton and Keyser to Cumberland. A typical train would be the U878 (Consol 95 mine on the Robinson Run IT to Brunswick, MD). Their empty counterparts have no problem tackling the heavier grades on the Mountain Sub and will take the shorter route.
Several times since 2009 and regularly starting in the second half of 2012 the Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railway has been operating runthrough coal trains between loaders on the old MGA and the Homer City power plant. They operated under the V701 (Bailey Mine), V703, and V705 (Emerald Mine, Waynesburg) symbols between the loadouts and Homer City by way of New Castle over CSX trackage until late 2013. In 2014 they switched to the N228 symbol; since the Emerald loader shut down at the same time they began to load at Bailey exclusively. As of mid-2016 the symbol changed again, to U065 for the empties and T065 for the loads returning from the loader. These trains used to rate three of B&P's rebuilt SD45s, and then SD40s after most of the 45s were sidelined in 2012. They present a welcome spot of color on CSX's rails.
Western Coal - A number of interline movements of western coal operate over the Pittsburgh Subdivision, usually headed for export coal piers in the Baltimore area. BNSF runthrough trains usually originate in the Powder River Basin, while Union Pacific trains usually carry Colorado and Utah coal. Union Pacific symbols include U830 (UP/Rose Lake, IL - Curtis Bay, MD) and U839 (UP/Proviso Yard, IL - Curtis Bay, MD).
Southern Coal - Rounding out the mix is coal coming up from Kentucky via Cincinnati and destined for export or eastern utilities. These run eastbound over the Pittsburgh Sub. One symbol would be V674, exchanged to Norfolk Southern via the Lurgan Sub.
Y301/2/3 - Three yard jobs operate in Demmler Yard three shifts a day. The first-trick Y301 runs to Glenwood Yard to interchange with the AVR. First-trick Y302 and Y303 build the Y10x locals. The second and third trick Y30x jobs will also pull and place the Union RR's Dexter Yard as outlined below. The yard jobs use whatever power is available, anything from a GP38-2, a GP40-2, or - most commonly - a mother and slug set (GP40-2 with a slug rebuilt from either a GP30 or a GP35).
The locals build their trains in Riverton yard. Westbounds will usually back out onto #1 main at Riverton, protected by one of the old cabooses kept around as shoving platforms.
Y101 - This is the main local operating out of Demmler Yard serving the industries located in Braddock, McKeesport, Sinns, Port Vue, and on the Mon Sub. It will operate multiple shifts if required.
D768 (Riverton Switcher North) - runs on the Monongahela Sub Demmler - Monessen - Newell - Brownsville and back; operates daily; usually leaves Riverton around 9.30 am and returns around 5 pm.
D769 (Riverton Switcher South) - runs from Demmler to Neville Island and Aliquippa and back; operates Su-Fr; usually leaves Riverton around 9 pm and returns around 1.15 am.
B781 (Neville Island Switcher) - runs from Neville Island to Demmler and back; daily; scheduled to depart Neville Island around 8.30 pm and return around 2.30 am but usually makes the round trip in about 3 hours.
CSX interchanges with two roads in the Pittsburgh area: the Union RR at Demmler and the Allegheny Valley Railroad at Glenwood Yard.
The Union RR has their Dexter Yard inside the ET Works plant. Cuts of cars and entire trains are interchanged to CSX by the CSX crews reaching into Dexter Yard and pulling the train into Demmler Yard. Likewise, trains are shoved into Dexter with the CSX utility man guarding the shove on the rear. The Union RR does not operate onto CSX tracks at Demmler.
Interchange to and from AVR at Glenwood Yard is handled by the first-trick Y301 yard job, see above.
The CSX yard jobs and locals will operate with whatever power is available. For the most part, that means slug sets composed of GP40-2 slug mothers and road slugs rebuilt from GP30 and GP35s. Occasionally, lone GP38-2s and GP40-2s are used. In 2010 Gensets were also being spotted.
The through freights are powered by pretty much everything on the CSX roster. As of this writing the Q300-series freights tend to have a veritable dogs breakfast of power on them, including frequently dead-in-tow engines being ferried between terminals and shops; oftentimes these units are going to the Cumberland shops for their Q inspections. Coal trains almost invariably are powered by duos of GE AC4400CWs, EMD SD70MACs, GEVOs, and also GE AC6000CWs as the high-horsepower units are being displaced from high-speed merchandise trains by the new GEVO units.
The Union RR continues to operate their trademark lashups of up to 5 EMD SW1500 and MP15DC end-cab switchers. One or several SW1500 model switchers (as of Q2/2011: URR #6 and #8, both SW1500s) are used as power for the McKeesport Connecting RR switching for Camp-Hill.
Both Steelmet as well as Durabond use GE 45ton switchers on their premises.
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