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subway track designations

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As I mentioned some of the tracks are designated as A1, B2, B3, B4, etc.

Therefore the signals next to them have the numbers.


On the Brighton line the number associated with the signals go in ascenting order from North to South. On culver line, the ascending order is kept from south to north.


Will be interesting to know that do these track and signal designations stand for, and what do they mean?

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1. On a signal you have the track designation i.e. A1, B2. The first letter is known as the line letter. The number next to the letter is the track letter. A is for the Brighton and the Broadway lines for the BMT. B is for the 6 Avenue and Culver line for the IND. Local tracks are 1 and 2 and express tracks are 3 and 4. Northbound tracks are even and Southbound tracks are odd.


2. The number under the track is the chaining code number. That number shows the distance in feet from the zero point divided by 100. i.e. a signal with A4/701 is the northbound express track 70,100 feet (aprox 13 miles) from the zero point which is the 57 Street station.


3. The reason why the Brighton line ascends southbound is because the zero point is the 57 Street station. The Culver line ascends from northbound because it uses the IND zero point which is "a theoretical point in the New York Bay at the intersection of the extension of the West Fourth Street Station and the NY-NY stateline in the Bay." (Tracks of the New York City Subway, Third Edition). The original Culver line was line C.

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thanks for this information, and now I can tell that all the mystery of signal numbering is resolved.


I guess that both Brighton Line, and Sea Bache Line, as well as West End Line use the 57th street as an original point. Because the original IND line in Brooklyn is only the Culver Line.


However its interesting. What do the other lines like the IRT lines, & (A,C,E) IND lines use as a starting point.


What about signal numbering in PATH?

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1. Yup all of the South BMT lines use the 57 Street Station as the zero point. If you want to know, the South BMT line letters and their lines are:

A- Broadway Brighton

B- Montague Street Tunnel (from DeKalb to Canal Street)

C- formally the Culver line but not used

D- West End

E- Sea Beach

F- Fourth Avenue

G- Astoria (also has a zero point of 57 Street)

H- Manny B south side

O- Franklin Shuttle


2. I don't think any IND line has an actual point on the tracks as 0. RTOMan might be able to answer that. However, I do know the IND line letters though:

A- 8 Avenue (from 207 Street to Euclid)

B- 6 Avenue (from Coney Island to 57 Street/ 6 Av)

B- 6 Avenue (from the Manny B to 59 Street)

C- Concourse

D- Jamaica

E- Crosstown

F- Rockaway (zero point is in LIC on the LIRR Montauk line since the Rockaway line was formerally LIRR)

K- Liberty Avenue (old BMT Fulton Street line)


3. The IRT is entiertly different so I'll explain it in the next post.


4. I don't know about PATH's signaling. Pablo might know.

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Intervale Avenue, photo by Steve Zabel


The number on the top row is the distance from the zero point divided by 100 and the last digit is the track number. The bottom letter is the line letter. The track number is odd northbound and even southbound. 1 and 2 are the express tracks and 3 and 4 are the local tracks. So in the picture, the signal is 26,900 feet (about 5 miles) from the zero point which in this case is 96 Street and Broadway. The track is the southbound local track which is track 4. Line F is the Lenox- Bronx Park line. Here are all the line letters for the IRT, excuse the abbrivations:


B- Broadway- from Times Square to 96 Street- zero point Brooklyn Bridge Station


BB- Broadway- from 96 Street to 242 Street- zero point just north 96 Street


C- Corona Flushing- from Times Square to Main Street


D- Nostrand Avenue- from Franklin Avenue to Flatbush Avenue- zero point Brooklyn Bridge station


E- Eastern Pkwy- from Boro Hall to New Lots- 0 pt. BB


F- Lenox- Bx Pk- from 96 St to Bronx Park (just north of Tremont Avenue)


J- Jerome- 125 Street to Woodlawn- 0 pt. Park and 38th


K- Clark Street Tunnel- Chambers to Boro Hall 0 pt. Bway and 44th


L- Lexington- Grand Central- 125 Street 0 pt. Park and 38th


M- Man-Bk- BB to Boro Hall- 0 pt. BB


MM- Manhattan mainline- BB to Times Sq 0 pt. BB


P- Pelham- 125 to PBP- 0 pt. Park and 38th


V- 7 Avenue- Times Square to Rector 0 pt. Bway and 44th


W- White Plains Road- Tremont Avenue to 241 0 pt. north of 96


Note that the 7 Avenue line going uptown descends going towards Times Square (line V) and once the tracks reach the shuttle tracks, then it starts going up on line B

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I mean that for IRT the Odd tracks are northbound while for BMT and IND the odd tracks are southbound.


For IRT local tracks are numbered 3 and 4, and 1 and 2 tracks are the express tracks. Its just reverse for IND and BMT.


I guess that the answer why, is just hidden in History. IRT lines ran originally from northward from City Hall. That's why their outcomming (odd) direction is North. While for BMT lines, intended to run from Manhattan southward to Brooklyn ... it can also answer the questions why are the Brooklyn bound routes odd

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Actually, the track numbers on the SIGNALS are odd northbound, even southbound. The track numbers according to RTO are 1, 2, 3, 4 and that is from left to right, looking northbound.

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