Amtrak Petitions FRA to Retire Maryland Fixed Wayside Signals

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor, Railway Age
Jim Blaze photo
Amtrak train on the Keystone Corridor
Jim Blaze photo

Amtrak is seeking Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) approval to retire fixed wayside signals as automatic block points on the Mid-Atlantic Division’s Philadelphia-to-Washington, line (a Northeast Corridor branch), according to a notice in the Federal Register's Jan. 17 edition.

“Specifically, Amtrak requests permission to retire fixed wayside signals between Bridge Interlocking at milepost (MP) 99.2, Baltimore, Md., and Grove Interlocking at MP 112.4, Severn, Md.,” FRA reported in the Federal Register notice (download below).

Under part 235 of title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and 49 U.S.C. 20502(a), the petition (download below), which FRA assigned as Docket Number FRA-2022-0096, states that Amtrak plans to “convert approximately [14] miles of its cab signal with fixed automatic block signal system to a signal system having cab signals without fixed block signals, operated under NORAC Rule 562.”

Therefore, according to the petition, Amtrak determined that “the automatic block signals are not necessary and require additional maintenance.” Amtrak seeks permission to remove wayside signals at automatic block points in three locations: 1) 994 and 1014 on Track Nos. 1, 2, 3, and A Track; 2) 1031 and 1034 on Track Nos. 2 and 3; and 3) 1054, 1078, and 1102 on Track Nos. 1, 2, and 3. Amtrak adds that all locations “will remain in service as block points without wayside signals.”

While interested parties may submit comments by March 20, 2023, on Amtrak’s petition to FRA, FRA reported it does not anticipate scheduling a public hearing since “the facts do not appear to warrant a hearing.”  

On Dec. 7, 2022, Railway Age reported that, with Positive Train Control (PTC) operational, Amtrak filed a petition to FRA to remove automatic wayside signals serving as distant signals to existing interlockings on the Mid-Atlantic Division’s Philadelphia-to-Harrisburg, Pa. line.

According to the petition, Amtrak specifically seeks permission to remove 10 signals between Park Interlocking at MP 46.3 and Roy Interlocking at MP 94.3. However, as Amtrak has fully implemented PTC, which imposes “updated standards for cab, no-wayside signal territory to remove all automatic signals[,] including distant signals,” Amtrak states that the removal of the signals will “eliminate maintenance and operation of unnecessary hardware [that is] no longer needed.”

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