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Nostalgia & History > Tuesday Conrail Tales


Date: 08/13/19 18:00
Tuesday Conrail Tales
Author: overniteman

Taking advantage of some beautiful Summer weather, a railfan buddy and I decided to head out to shoot some action on Conrail's ex-Reading line West of Allentown, Pennsylvania.

We figured that Blandon, Pennsylvania would be a good starting point.
It's where the line, which is all double track, goes into a single track section called the "Blandon Low Grade LIne".  Even though it is called low grade, there's still a nice ruling grade for Eastbound trains.

Soon after arriving, scanner chatter from the dispatcher let's us know that two Eastbound's were close by.
The first up was ENAL (Enola-Allentown).
Sure enough, we hear him working up the hill and a matched set of Conrail EMD SD40-2's (6494 & 6498) crawl by.

The two EMD's were down to walking speed as they pounded by when the engineer keys up the radio and calls the dispatcher. 
He says they're not going to make it up the hill with the train and he's stalling out.
Sure enough, ENAL stops right next to us. 

The dispatcher comes on and says hang on and I'll get right back to you. He then calls the PIOI (Pittsburgh-Oak Island) who is right the behind the ENAL to stop and wait for instructions.

A few minutes later, the dispatcher comes back on and tells PIOI to tie his train down, cut off the power, come up behind the ENAL and shove him up the hill to Fleetwood (next town East on level ground)
PIOI's engineer isn't too happy, but he agrees and it's a go...................

Blandon, Pennsylvania. 
July 19, 1989.

 




Date: 08/13/19 18:07
Re: Tuesday Conrail Tales
Author: overniteman

Now my buddy and I are like "YES! Helpers"

After what seems like ages (probably a half hour), the slack gets loudly bunched up on the ENAL and it starts to move.
Soon we can hear the roar of PIOI's power as it nears us. It's three units and they're really cranking............

Blandon, Pennsylvania.
July 19, 1989




Date: 08/13/19 18:11
Re: Tuesday Conrail Tales
Author: overniteman

The three "helper" units (or PIOI's road power) are a GE B36-7 and a pair of GE B40-8's and they're picking up as most of ENAL is back on level ground.

Blandon, Pennsylvania.
July 19, 1989.




Date: 08/13/19 18:15
Re: Tuesday Conrail Tales
Author: overniteman

Turning around and backlit, the trio of GE's continue to shove on Eastbound. Ahead is CP Blandon where the line goes back to two tracks.

Blandon, Pennsylvania.
July 19, 1989.




Date: 08/13/19 18:19
Re: Tuesday Conrail Tales
Author: overniteman

The train clears up and my buddy and I are speechless (which was rare). 

Now we had to wait for PIOI's power to cut off of ENAL and return West to it's train. 
Minutes later, it appears and sails by,

Blandon, Pennsylvania.
July 19, 1989.




Date: 08/13/19 18:25
Re: Tuesday Conrail Tales
Author: overniteman

After another half hour, PIOI comes on the radio and says he's ready to head East. The dispatcher gives the OK and then gives him a big thanks for his extra work. 

And minutes later, the three GE's come back up the hill making plenty of noise with their own train.
Needless to say, Conrail rocked that morning! 

Blandon, Pennsylvania.
July 19, 1989

 




Date: 08/13/19 21:25
Re: Tuesday Conrail Tales
Author: perklocal

Very Cool ! You can see what's left of the "Hill Track" connection which had been recently removed.



Date: 08/14/19 07:02
Re: Tuesday Conrail Tales
Author: SP8595

Great series!



Date: 08/14/19 11:47
Re: Tuesday Conrail Tales
Author: TRACKENGR

Fantastic series.
​That had to have at least a half dozen crossings tie up for a while.

Steve



Date: 08/15/19 09:16
Re: Tuesday Conrail Tales
Author: bobdavis

Conrail "dress blue" - IMHO one of the simplest, but most photogenic, paint schemes ever.  Those were the days.

Bob



Date: 08/20/19 13:18
Re: Tuesday Conrail Tales
Author: Gonut1

Actually they probably had only one grade crossing tied up, Wesner Road, the Blandon Low Grade was virtually all grade separated. But again depending how far the engines got they probably activated the PA Rte 73 vrossing gates? The Hill track was the original line east out of Reading, it had a real grade that always got helpers out of Reading's Spring Street Yard. It had a few road crossings. I was shocked the day I drove down past the mushroom houses and the junction switch and Hill Track were gone! the Chestnut Street crossing was between the former switch you see in the photos and the switch to the double track Reading Line. It crossed right through the middle of the interlocking!
Gonut



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