July 2014 Union Strike

A tentative deal between the MTA and LIRR Unions to avert a July Strike has been reached. See this post for more information.

Wednesday, November 20

Interlocking Walkthrough: WOOD

WOOD interlocking is another one of the LIRR's fairly new interlockings.  It's not that old anymore, but it's a couple years younger than me, originally going into service on March 21, 1988.  These days, WOOD consists of three crossovers on the Mainline and Port Washington Branch east of Woodside station.  Here's a bird's eye view of the location.

Located in that short span east of Woodside where both the mainline and Port Washington Branch run parallel next to each other, there are three crossovers, two on the Port Washington Branch and one on the mainline.

The Port Washington Branch's crossovers, going from west to east, consist of a crossover from Track 1 (the westbound track) to track 2 (the eastbound track).  Not to far down the line there is a crossover from track 2 back to track 1.

The Mainline has one lone crossover at this location.  There is a switch that goes from Mainline 2 (the eastbound express track) to Mainline 4 (the eastbound local track).  This switch could likely be used if a train making local stops at Forest Hills or Kew Gardens and bypassing Woodside.  However, since the majority of trains that stop at Kew Gardens or Forest Hills are routed down Mainline 4 in the first place, this switch doesn't get all that much use (the LIRR likes to keep things streamlined and flowing during the rushes.  Having trains slowing for crossovers is not the best thing when you're going to be operating so may trains down the line.  This is part of the reason why there are almost no interlockings on this stretch at all, since the next one east of here is all the way at JAY interlocking near Jamaica).

In practical use now, most Port Washington Branch trains don't get all that much use out of WOOD interlocking either, since it is simpler just to sort the train onto the right track coming out of HAROLD than it is to mess with the switches at WOOD.  However, in the event of a service disruption, WOOD has come in handy on a couple of occasions.

If WOOD were expanded a little bit more to include crossovers between the other tracks, then the center platform at Woodside could effectively facilitate cross-platform transfers between Port Washington Branch trains (so after East Side Access is open they can have a train from NYP and a train from GCT meet up on either side of the island platform at Woodside and a cross-platform transfer can take place since they won't be able to exchange passengers at Jamaica like all the other branches). Setting it up in this way might lead to some capacity issues, especially during rush hours, when all tracks are needed, but I'm sure they'll [hopefully] be able to come up with something.

In 2008 for it's 20th birthday present, WOOD got a big rehab out of the LIRR.  High-speed switches were installed at the interlocking (making going from track to track more streamlined but still not as nice as just lining trains right down the branch) and new signals were installed.  The signals at WOOD interlocking are not like many of the other ones seen on the system.  The signals used here are tri-color light signals that have three colors (red, yellow, and green) arranged in a triangle pattern (not one on top of the other like some of the interlocking on the Montauk Branch like JJD, SK, PD, and WANTAGHJersey Mike's Rail Adventures has a photo or two of the new signals that were placed alongside the old ones during the project.  The LIRR billed this work as a key element related to East Side Access, so it is likely we will see the real purpose of WOOD come out in the coming years.

WOOD interlocking, along with many of the other Port Washington Branch interockings, was originally controlled from HAROLD tower until that tower was closed in 1995.  Currently, the interlocking is remote controlled from PSCC (Penn Station Central Control).

This just about wraps up this week's interlocking walkthrough.  Just some brief housekeeping remarks for the next couple Wednesdays: Y interlocking will be one of the last interlocking walkthroughs coming up next week.  At that point we would have cycled through the alphabet completely.  After Y, we'll take a look at the couple of new interlockings that will be coming online in the next couple years as part of the Speonk-Montauk Signalization Project.  After we run through those four we're on to the Amtrak interlockings which will carry us for nine more weeks.  Following that we'll be effectively done with the interlockings on the LIRR, and then we'll be off to other interesting projects!


  1. Patrick, You are much too young to remember "WIN" Interlocking. On the curve where the PW Branch splits off had a bunch of switches adjoining the main line tracks, and trains could also switch between express and local. The Rockaway Beach Branch tracks also converged there. The Grant Avenue station was just east of the NYCR overpass.

    In the late 70's, the tower burned down, they pulled up the switches, jointed rail remained in their place a number of years until new welded rail came along. A concrete stub of the tower is still there.

    1. Indeed, "WOOD" interlocking is just the most recent incarnation of Winfield Junction, which dates all the way back to the 1860s. In this sense it's not really a new interlocking at all, even if the current name and configuration may be new.

  2. WIN burned down at Easter weekend 1977. The police were very interested in a local trouble maker in connection with the fire.

  3. The official cause of the fire was the signal maintainer (initials J.M.) accidentally burned it down when an electric arc jumped out of the switch heater cut-out switch and set the wooden tower on fire..


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