Sunday, February 26, 2017

Jefferson Connector and turning Amtrak trains

Mark Hinsdale posted
Taken from the "steps," @ MH, westbound Amtrak Train #3,
 the "Southwest Chief," begins its trek to Southern California,
 as UP #1938 patiently waits for a signal to cross over the 
BNSF Chicago Subdivision and return to Global One at Wood Street.
Seldom is a connector so important that it is named. Normally they are referred to as a quadrant of a junction. But Bob Dietz comments in Mark's posting taught me that the south leg of the wye that Amtrak uses to turn its trains is called the Jefferson Connection. It connects the BNSF/CB&Q route with the Metra+NS/Pennsy route. Another indication of its importance is that it is double tracked. It might be as heavily used today as it was back in the heyday of railroading.

(More photos of trains being turned on this connector)
Bob Dietz commented on the above posting
Here is an Amtrak using the Jefferson Connection to head south across the Canal Street RR Bridge.

20150513 1491
That train had previously backed out of Union Station onto the BNSF/CB&Q tracks. (Note the train washing building on the right side of this picture.)

Below is a closeup of the above picture so that you can also see the BNSF commuter train under the viaduct for the St. Charles Air Line Bridge. You can also see the two tracks of the Jefferson Connection in the foreground.

The Amtrak train stopped on the bridge while the turnout behind it was thrown.

Closeup of the picture on the right

Then it backed up north to Amtrak's service facility (below). And then I discovered the camera would not take any more pictures because the battery was low. (I'm learning that it goes from "two bars" to "won't work" rather quickly.) I think it was heading to the train washing building, but, since I couldn't take any more pictures, I did not wait around to confirm its destinations because these trains movements are slow.

Another Amtrak turning movement from Ping Tom Memorial Park on May 13, 2015
As Mark's photo illustrates, the Jefferson Connection is also used by UP to transfer intermodal cars between its Global One and Canalport yards.

The Jefferson Connection is also used for runthroughs between BNSF and NS. This was an eastbound oil train crossing the bridge with three BNSF engines. It also taught me that you need to go to Ping Tom Park during the morning. May 13 was a special trip to retake pictures of this bridge with a morning sun and blue sky.

20150502 0685rcb +50+50
A later picture showing it was an oil train. (Actually, it could have been an ethanol train. There is no way I'm going to read the placard from this distance.)
Update: This is the west end of the connection taken from Canal Street.
20170421 8717
Steven J. Brown posted
Metra F40PH 112 heads for Aurora at 16th and Canal in Chicago - August 12, 2017.
[The track in the foreground is part of the Jefferson Connection. The train is going under the viaduct for the St. Charles Air Line Birdge]

Steven J. Brown posted
Amtrak B32-8WH's 505 and 500 (built 1991) on a wye move at 16th and Canal in Chicago, Illinois - April 2, 2019.

20161021 6536
The green tinge is because this photo was taken from an upper seat in a commuter car as it went around the north leg of this wye. We can see the two tracks of the Jefferson Connection on the right. Obviously, the middle of the why is used for storage of ballast and ties.
Douglas Wood shared Thomas Hawk Flickr 2017 Photo, CC BY-NC 2.0
Dennis DeBruler This is in Chicago looking north from 18th Street over the former Pennsy tracks, now Amtrak. Amtrak's locomotive service facilities are to the right. The two tracks curving to the left connect to BNSF/CB&Q.

Mike Breski posted
GTW/PC, Chicago, Illinois, 1971
Dick Jensen's ex-Grand Trunk Western 4-6-2 steam locomotive no. 5629 on Penn Central at 18th Street roundhouse in Chicago, Illinois, on July 5, 1971. Photograph by John F. Bjorklund, © 2016, Center for Railroad Photography and Art. Bjorklund-79-09-21
[The comments are about the steam engine being scrapped by Metra. But I was surprised that there was a roundhouse here. It turns out the "roundhouse" is a rectangular building. The building on the left is CB&Q Commissary and Crooks Terminal Warehouse at 15th and Canal.]
USGS 1972 Englewood Quadrangle @ 1:24,000

Steven J. Brown posted
Chicago and North Western GP38-2 4607 (built 1979 became UP 372 to GMTX 2307) at 16th and Canal in Chicago, Illinois - May 20, 2000.
Dennis DeBruler This connection between BNSF/CB&Q and Amtrak/Pennsy is so important that I have seen it named the Jefferson Connection.

Steven J. Brown posted
BNSF SD70Mac's and an Oakway SD60 with a coal train cross Canal Street on the St Charles Airline in Chicago, Illinois - December 4, 2003.
Steven J. Brown shared
[The track in the foreground is probably the Jefferson Connector.]

Previous notes show pictures of the turning movement with timestamps so that you can get a feel for how long it takes. (And because I forgot I wrote them.)

Arthur Gross Flickr Photo showing Conrail and BN engines pulling a train onto the BN. (source)

cmraseye Flickr 2010 Photo caught a UP special on the connection. It is probably headed south on the CN+UP/GM&O because he caught it again on the Kankakee bridge in Wilmington.

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