Pennsylvania Railroad

by Mike Brotzman

Track Plan

Another 6.3 miles north of COUNTY is LINCOLN interlocking located in the town of Metuchen (Meh-touch-en) NJ. Originally HU interlocking, LINCOLN was so named because it controlled both ends and the middle of the electrified freight yard serving a large Ford automobile assembly plant where they built their Lincoln brand of luxury automobiles. LINCOLN was located to the north of the lineside yard complex and immediately south of the Metuchen train station. In face, a good deal of the crossover is located within the platform length of the station.

Lincoln tower
Photograph by Mike Brotzman, 2002

Built in 1942, LINCOLN is an exact sister to MORRIS and a precursor to the later "corridor" style of towers. LINCOLN contained a 51 lever US&S Model 14 electro-pneumatic machine with 37 working levers. In addition to its full four-track crossover and some freight spurs, LINCOLN also had direct control of EDISON interlocking, some 6600 feet south, right off of its own Model 14 machine. EDISON interlocking was in service on tracks 1 and 2 with southward facing semiautomatic signals 50L and 30L, that could be set to give permissive indications. Northbound freight trains bound for the automotive plant would enter the yard at this point. The yard contained several turnouts, home signals and semiautomatic signals for the various wye's, stubs and spurs, all of which were also controlled from LINCOLN's machine. Trains entering or exiting the yard from the North would come in on the 19 turnout, just south of LINCOLN's home signal and protected by the 16L semiautomatic signal on track 1 6600 feet to the south (talk about an overlap!). Moves over the 19 turnout would use LINCOLN's crossover to access any of the 4 mainline tracks. Today, Amtrak has installed a supplementary mast mounted home signal on #1 track a few hundred feet south of LINCOLN's main home to remove the hassles created by such a long overlap.

Lincoln tower
Photograph by Mike Brotzman, 2002

As time went on LINCOLN acquired more duties in addition to EDISON. In the 1980's it was given control of the new MENLO and ISELEN interlockings that allowed Amtrak trains on tracks 3 and 2 to make stops at the suburban Metropark station that only had platforms serving tracks 1 and 4. LINCOLN lasted until March 23, 1997 when, like FAIR, its duties were transferred to the CTEC dispatchers.

M-3 point machine at Lincoln
Photograph by Mike Brotzman, 2002

The last great change to happen at LINCOLN was its conversion from a pneumatic interlocking to an all electric interlocking in late 2001. Like most of the 40's modernized interlockings, LINCOLN has 45 mph turnouts and therefore used dual interlocked US&S A-5 pneumatic machines to move the switch blades. In an effort to cut costs, Amtrak replaced the dual A-5's with the single M-3 electric machine featured here. Force is transmitted along the length of the switch blade by means of the bright yellow bar running along the turnout. The position of the second point machine has been replaced by a simple point detection unit to ensure that the entire blade has fully executed its range of motion. The Metuchen station platform is visible at the top of the photograph.

About the photographs

Comments about this article should be addressed to Mike Brotzman