Sunset Route Two-Tracking Updates

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, October 09, 2017 11:54 PM

Surprise Trip Found Many Surprises

October 6, 2017

Sunset Route California-Arizona

Part I (of I-X)

LAST trip the partially installed cantilever structure at Ave. 29E in Wellton, AZ and the partially installed heads on the horizontal part while on the ground gave K.P. the logical deduction that CP SP770 WELLTON to the east would be as it has been for years.
.


   PRESENT CP SP770 WELLTON


                     >
                   ------------
                  /   To Roll
                 /
                /
               /
              /
         <   /
----------- Wye
             \
              \    >
              Wye ----------------------
              /
             /
-------------
         <


.

All those signals in the new form would be red over types.  But, that did NOT prove to be the way UP planned.  It is understood that UP hates equilateral (wye) switches.  And, while it cannot be stated with certainty how the CP will be, the new cantilever structure suggests the following layout:at CP SP770 WELLTON to the east:

.


       POSSIBLE FUTURE
       CP SP770 WELLTON


  
                   ------------
                  /   To Roll
              <  /
            -----
           /
          /
         /
     >  /
--------------
              \
               \       
                \   --------------------
                 \ /    <
                  /
------------------
     >   


.

In theory, when the new signals are activated, trains should be left running.  Presently, they are right running.  But old dispatching habits are hard to break, especially since two-tracking is way from being done from the east.  HOWEVER, if a new turnout at CP SP753 DOME favors (straight track) Main 2, then Main 2 will be the predominate track.  Still, old DS habits are hard to overcome.

Continued in Part II

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 12:05 AM

Surprise Trip Found Many Surprises

October 6, 2017

Sunset Route California-Arizona

Part II (of I-X)

The latter diagram above fits the present covered heads on the newly put up cantilever part:

Southeast side looking westbound:

Northeast side looking westbound:

Above, the THIS SIDE lower heads only have one lamp each, for yellow over yellow indications, when lit as such, the train will crossover at the next CP to the west, CP SP768 WEST WELLTON, which has only 30 M.P.H. crossovers.
 
From the southwest side looking northeastward:

Key points of the last photo:  The LEFT facing background top head only has TWO lamp positions.  The left facing RIGHT signal only has a top head and is absent a lower head.

While K.P. was on site at Ave 29E, trains were constantly passing.  Such a below train was moving westward, photo shot from the east side sidewalk looking north.

Continued in Part III

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 12:11 AM

Surprise Trip Found Many Surprises

October 6, 2017

Sunset Route California-Arizona

Part III (of I-X)

The present wye switched CP SP770 WELLTON, camera position on the southwest side looking east-northeast:

Continued in Part IV

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 12:27 AM

Surprise Trip Found Many Surprises

October 6, 2017

Sunset Route California-Arizona

Part IV (of I-X)

The situation at the 30 M.P.H. universal crossovers at CP SP768 WEST WELLTON west of town:

  

A long, long time ago in SP days, this location may (“may’) have been a crossovers arrangement to get eastbound steam helpers onto westbound trains.  In modern times, even under UP, the crossovers are not used much.  K.P. has never seen them used.

Above, the cantilever structure is directly across from the new mast signal.  K.P. has no idea how UP is going to erect another new mast signal where the cantilever structure is at!

Continued in Part V

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 12:30 AM

Surprise Trip Found Many Surprises

October 6, 2017

Sunset Route California-Arizona

Part V (of I-X)

The situation by (“by,” i.e., outside of the) fenced yard in Welton, AZ:

Continued in Part VI

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 12:38 AM

Surprise Trip Found Many Surprises

October 6, 2017

Sunset Route California-Arizona

Part VI (of I-X)

More by (but not in) the Wellton railroad fenced area:

Continued in Part VII

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 12:44 AM

Surprise Trip Found Many Surprises

October 6, 2017

Sunset Route California-Arizona

Part VII (of I-X)

The Blaisdell “half of a CP” was gone by, but, as expected, nothing was new there.  The electrical boxes there remain white.

Lastly, in Arizona, we drove by CP SP743 FORTUNA, and the old target signals are still standing, and no color lights have been brought to the scene.  The west eastbound signal is hardly seen on the right.  This is a quiet zone grade crossing (note the yellow posts that hinders people going around the crossing gates).

Next, going back a few hours in time …

Continued in Part VIII

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 12:50 AM

Surprise Trip Found Many Surprises

October 6, 2017

Sunset Route California-Arizona

Part VIII (of I-X)

K.P. originally left base about 4:15 A.M., and finally got to the CP SP620 THERMAL area around dawn.  That CP has not seen new color lights yet.  UP trucks had just arrived in a dark but lightening atmosphere.

This location is the old east end of the Thermal siding, and has a speed-spoiler 30 M.P.H. between Main 2 and the Main.

A sure sign something was brewing, though, was seen with burial bases by the highway and NOT at the CP, but about a block to the east.  Will the 30 M.P.H. CP switch give way to a 50 M.P.H. one, maybe a block east to minimize track disruptions during installations?

Continued in Part IX

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 12:54 AM

Surprise Trip Found Many Surprises

October 6, 2017

Sunset Route California-Arizona

Part IX (of I-X)

Soon after arrival at 62nd Ave. (M.P. 621.65), a westbound came in the lightening sunrise.

Highway 86 is the overpass in the background.

It was unbelievable how many trains were seen during the day.  Is the economy getting super good now?  Is it just the Christmas rush?

Intermediate signals presently maybe a half a mile to the west are being relocated to the grade crossing with the conversion to color lights.

In the third photo up, note the just past full moon by the flashers.

Continued in Part X

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 12:59 AM

Surprise Trip Found Many Surprises

October 6, 2017

Sunset Route California-Arizona

Part X (of I-X)

At the west end of the Mortmar siding, nothing obviously new was seen.

At the east end of said siding, at CP SP635 MORTMAR, an additional new signal had been erected (background, left).

At CP SP647 BERTRAM, for the second trip in a row now a crewless train was tied down in the siding.

From here east, the next stop planned was in Arizona, which you have already seen. Thus, this will conclude the series.  However, material about the Roll Lead in Arizona and Intermodal (“Intermodal“) activity at a UP customer here in California on the line to Mexico will be posted about in a few days.

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 6:45 PM

Rolling along to Oblivion on the …

… Roll Industrial Lead --

The Far Western Part of the Phoenix Sub

Part “A” (of A-C)

Technically, it is no longer part of the Phoenix Subdivision, and is called just a “lead” now.  This posting will briefly show (with October 6, 2017 photos) what is out in Roll, AZ off the Sunset Route

Prominent in getting to Roll is the Gila River Bridge.

We go to the far northeastern area of the Roll Industrial Lead, at the County 4th Street. grade crossing, and right away fine an agricultural piece of equipment moving west across the Roll track.

Looking eastbound:

There may have been a signal here once, or at least a line side electrical box.

Continued in Part B

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 6:52 PM

Rolling along to Oblivion on the …

… Roll Industrial Lead --

The Far Western Part of the Phoenix Sub

Part “B” (of A-C)

From County 4th Street looking westbound with some sand on the dull rails

Years ago a colleague here in the office, when UP’s PET program was available to the public, traced the relatively new UP SD70M No. 4000.  It was out on this Roll Industrial Lead!

Now, at the County 5th Street grade crossing, where a siding is located, looking eastbound:

Looking westbound:

Continued in Part C

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 7:02 PM

Rolling along to Oblivion on the …

… Roll Industrial Lead --

The Far Western Part of the Phoenix Sub

Part “C” (of A-C)

An eastbound telephoto with ABS signals at the east end of the siding:

Above, note the RIGHT ABS signal only has a two-lamp head!

The west end of the Roll siding has ABS signals too.

Can you imagine many decades ago passenger trains meeting here, at lease once and a while?

Finally, the line’s owner was stenciled on the track:

Not everyone is a railroader or railfan, such as police, and such markings can be helpful in police write-ups of a train-vehicle collision …

This will end this series.  A posting about the Intermodal containers at a Calexico Sub customer will be posted in a day or two

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Posted by BNSF6400 on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 8:16 PM

A little story about the Roll Industrial Lead, back when it was the west end of the Phoenix Subdivision.  This occurred in the early 1990's, before Union Pacific purchased the Southern Pacific.

During a particular wet winter, the Gila River reached flood stage and washed out the only road directly connecting the community of Roll to the Wellton, where the kids go to school and most business is done.  Using the only other road, which goes east, turned a moderate distance trip into a very, very long one.

Since it would be a while until the road could be reopened, the Southern Pacific and Amtrak teamed up for a special train.  One F40PH, two Amtrak Amfleet coaches, a SP boxcar and an SP caboose made hourly round trips from early morning to early evening (with a break for lunch).  SP provided the crews.  The trips were free and the boxcar was used to move bulky items that couldn't fix in a passenger car.  The train ran from "downtown" Roll on the east side of the Gila River to the cattle feed lot on the west side.  Westward movements occurred in reverse with the caboose leading.

The operation lasted for a couple of weeks until the flood waters receded and the road could reopen.  It was an interesting little operation that greatly helped a small town in need.  Kudos to the SP and Amtrak for making it happen.

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Posted by Miningman on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 9:31 PM

Now that's a great story. 

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Thursday, October 12, 2017 2:32 PM

Around and Around the Intermodals Go

Part I (of I-IV)

More from the Friday, October 6, 2017 trip:

Down from the connection with the Sunset Route at Niland, CA to the border with Mexico is the dark territory Calexico Sub.  Not too far south of the center of the community of Calipatria is a goof sized circle track.  See aerial:

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Calexico,+CA/@33.1074072,-115.5138193,804m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x80d765d2aacf9b05:0x5e4e302c616fb897!8m2!3d32.6789476!4d-115.4988834?hl=en

Traditionally, that circle track has been used for agriculture.  Presently, Intermodal from an unknown direction (north or south) has been offloaded there, and containers stacked and soon afterward trucked elsewhere.

Continued in Part II

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Thursday, October 12, 2017 2:37 PM

Around and Around the Intermodals Go

Part II (of I-IV)

The operation in photos:

A train was slowly starting and stopping backwards (away from the camera) with Highway 111 on the west side of the property.  On the east side of the property Intermodal containers were being offloaded.

Unloaded well cars were being pushed and stopped, pushed and stopped, and following the engines on the looping track (coming towards the camera).

Continued in Part III

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Thursday, October 12, 2017 2:39 PM

Around and Around the Intermodals Go

Part III (of I-IV)

The empty Intermodal cars were passing through a building adjacent some type of grain-like storage cylinders.

As time goes by the power backs farther around the loop:

More and more containers are offloaded.

Then K.P. leaves heading to Arizona …

Continued in Part IV

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Thursday, October 12, 2017 2:44 PM

Around and Around the Intermodals Go

Part IV (of I-IV)

Holtville and that Loop Again

On return to California from Arizona in the afternoon, a different way was traversed, through Holtville, to see an old abandoned line that K.P. believes saw the very engines that went by his childhood residence.  An old bridge was found, that looks like had a fire.

Putting nostalgia aside, K.P. now returns past that grain Intermodal place and finds the train parked by the buildings on the northeast side of the property:

That train and power was in that vicinity all day, and now it looked like it would be parked overnight.  It is unknown if the train was crewed by UP trainmen or property personnel took command of the train.  But this train and probably more like it are adding some traffic to the Sunset Route via the connection at Niland, UNLESS it came up from Mexico.

This will conclude the series

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Posted by Fred M Cain on Friday, October 13, 2017 7:45 AM

K. P. Harrier

Rolling along to Oblivion on the …

… Roll Industrial Lead --

The Far Western Part of the Phoenix Sub

Part “C” (of A-C)

Above, note the RIGHT ABS signal only has a two-lamp head!

The west end of the Roll siding has ABS signals too.

Can you imagine many decades ago passenger trains meeting here, at lease once and a while?

K.P.,

A couple of thoughts on this:

On the two-position signals:  This does not surprise me.  Back when the semaphores were in vogue on the line, many of them had only two positions.  I once saw a fascinating article that explained how this worked.  It was an ingenieous system that was intended to prevent two trains from meeting between sidings.

On the trains meeting there on that siding:  Back when the Sunset Limited was still running on this line, Train # 1 was due to leave Phoenix around 11:00pm, if I recall that right.  Train #2 was due to arrive Phoenix around 6 or 7 am.  (I don't have a timetable in front of me anymore).

Anyhow, this was a thrice-weekly operation with train #1 going west on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sat and #2 east on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturday (I think it was, I'm going partly by memory - Amtrak has since changed the days of operation)

So, If tuesdays train #1 was running very late (not unusual) and Wednesdays train #2 was on time, a meet would have to be scheduled somewhere between Welton and Phoenix!

What's really unbelievable, was that in the Second World War days, there were SIX scheduled trains through Phoenix (in each direction) and some of them would often run in multiple sections!  How they managed to keep this line fluid is beyond me.  But they did it!

After around 1971 or so, the SPT Co went through and pulled up a number of sidings on the line and only kept about three or four.

Regards,

Fred M.Cain

 

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Posted by Fred M Cain on Friday, October 13, 2017 8:09 AM

The Imperial Valley

 

 

 

K.P.,

 

I’d like to make some comments about this.

 

First of all, the Niland-Calexico line actually had an automatic block signal system (SP searchlights) right up into the mid 1980s sometime.   I do not know the exact year they were removed and the line went dark.  I can distinctly recall seeing the searchlights off in the distance where old U.S. 80 crossed the line near downtown El Centro.

 

This always puzzled me.  Why would this line have block signals?  Well, onetime I was riding overnight on the Sunset Limited between L.A. and Phoenix (this was still pre-Amtrak) and I got to bee-essing with the conductor who was a really nice guy.  I asked him about the block signals and he told me that old train numbers 39 & 40 once used the line.  That would be the Imperial Limited.  It stopped at Brawley, El Centro and, I think, Calexico.

 

It then entered Mexico and went on east through extreme northeastern Baja California to Algodones where it reentered California and once again entered the main line at what was known as Araz Junction.

 

When I was a kid, in pre-Interstate 8 days, we made many, many trips from Arizona to San Diego along old. U.S. 80.  There was a really rickety looking trestle at Araz where this line passed over U.S. 80.  The bridge and tracks were pulled out in the early 1960s, I think.

 

Further west, U.S. 80 ran right alongside the line to Holtville that you mentioned.  This was also known to some as the “Holton Interurban”.  (I don’t believe it was ever actually electrified, though).  In the 1960s and into the ‘70s this line still saw heavy use with all the big packing houses in the area.  I distinctly recall the bridge you shot.  When we’d drive along there it was not at all unusual to see a train on the branch.

 

Ah yes, those were the days.  The Southern Pacific was still in its glory days!

 

Regards,

 

Fred M. Cain

 

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