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Updates on Multi-Tracking the Two BNSF Transcons

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Updates on Multi-Tracking the Two BNSF Transcons
Posted by K. P. Harrier on Friday, April 15, 2016 8:39 PM

Updates on Multi-Tracking the Two BNSF Transcons

The purpose of this thread is to share multi-tracking updates, news, and happenings on the both the NORTHERN and SOUTHERN Transcons of BNSF.  While the southern Transcon has little left for the Los Angeles-Chicago distance to be all two-tracked, there are a few single-track pieces left, as well as triple-tracking here and there.  The northern Transcon the beginner of this thread is quite unfamiliar with.  But, reports about that northern Transcon seem to indicate many miles are two-tracked at a time, in a way that puts to shame Union Pacific’s similar efforts as covered in the “Sunset Route Two-Tracking Updates” thread.

When the founder of that Sunset Route thread and THIS ONE too has some free time, last year’s two-tracking of the southern Transcon gap in the Vaughn, NM area will be posted about.  In a very recent trip to that area little in the Vaughn area could be seen, but the photos taken suggest that that two-tracking was an impressive project.  Also, a major modification of signal appearances seem to have taken place and is taking place, but that may just be the mind playing tricks on this contributor.  When the issue is posted about, maybe others will be able to weigh in on it.

In the meantime, the forum will be left with this amusing photo from the eastern side of Winslow, AZ on the southern Transcon:

The awareness of the concept of “Transcon” apparently is becoming well known, so much so that a street has been named after the southern Transcon!

If you have news and update info to share on either Transcon, you are most welcome to do so here …

Thanks.

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Posted by STEVEL on Friday, April 15, 2016 9:15 PM

K P -- Great idea, I'm from NJ but did rt66 trips Chicago to LA in 2001 and 2012.  /there were many changes from the first trip along the transcon to the second one.  The triple tracking of Cajon the biggest.  But there is so much to see and do along the way.  On a third trip by plane to visit friends in Pomona was during the triple tracking of Cajon.  The  amount of work done under sweltering  conditions was inspiring.  I hope to see your reports as you spend time on the Transcon.     STEVEL

 

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Posted by kgbw49 on Friday, April 15, 2016 9:43 PM

In construction season 2015 BNSF restored 2nd track to an approximately 10 mile gap between Big Lake, MN and Becker, MN, thereby restoring double track from Northtown Yard in Minneapolis to the Mississippi River bridge in Little Falls, MN.

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Posted by greyhounds on Saturday, April 16, 2016 12:04 AM

kgbw49
In construction season 2015 BNSF restored 2nd track to an approximately 10 mile gap between Big Lake, MN and Becker, MN, thereby restoring double track from Northtown Yard in Minneapolis to the Mississippi River bridge in Little Falls, MN.

So, how much of the line between Northtown and Fargo is double track?

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Posted by kgbw49 on Saturday, April 16, 2016 1:52 AM

Greyhounds,

The line between Northtown in Minneapolis and Fargo is all double track with the exception of approximately 25 miles from just east of the bridge over the Mississippi River at Little Falls, MN to Philbrook, MN.

Double track then runs westerly from Philbrook, MN through Staples, MN, to Fargo, ND, and continues westerly through Casselton, ND to a point approximately 15 miles west of Casselton.

It is important to note that BNSF has paired track from Fargo, ND all the way to Minot, ND. One track runs northwesterly out of Fargo directly to Minot, and the other runs north out of Minot to Grand Forks, ND and then westerly to Minot, making "two sides sides of the triangle".

So with the exception of approximately 25 miles, between Little Falls, MN and Philbrook, MN, BNSF has double track or paired track from their Dayton's Bluff Yard in St. Paul, MN all the way to Minot, ND.

The line from St. Paul down to Galesburg Yard in Western Illinois is largely double track with the exception of short stretches on either side of single track bridge crossings of the St. Croix River at Prescott, WI and the Wisconsin River at Prairie du Chien, WI. That line runs on the east bank of the Mississippi River and is very scenic. It is also the former route of the Twin Cities Zephyrs which for many years held the title of fastest trains in America for their timetable speeds along the Mississippi on their runs between Chicago, IL and St. Paul, MN.

Traffic that goes from St. Paul, MN directly to Chicago, IL takes the single track line east from Savanna, IL through Rochelle, IL past the Trains Web Cam into Chicago.

Galesburg Yard is the former CB&Q Galesburg yard. It is on the double track former CB&Q that runs east to Chicago and west across southern Iowa to Omaha, NE and Denver, CO. There is a well-maintained CB&Q Hudson on display near the yard offices. But the ex-ATSF double track Southern Transcon passes through Galesburg and the two lines connect with a connecting track called the Cameron Connection just west of Galesburg. That track was put in shortly after the BN and Sante Fe merged.

Galesburg Yard receives and sends out a lot of Northern Transcon traffic, so it could be said that with the exception of single track stretches around three river crossings, the BNSF Northern Transcon has double or paired track all the way from Galesburg, IL to Minot, ND.

 

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Posted by caldreamer on Saturday, April 16, 2016 8:22 AM

Is the line from Minot, ND to Seattle, WA? 

s the northern transcon CTC all the way from Chicago to Seattle?

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Posted by billio on Saturday, April 16, 2016 9:01 AM

Regarding the Northern Transcon, I am a know-nothing, so I'll say nothing.

Regarding the Southern Transcon:  At present, the line is at least two-tracked, literally between the piers of the harbor at Los Angeles-Long Beach to Ft. Sumner, NM, where the ex-Santa Fe crosses the Pecos River on a one-track bridge.  Other sources (Trainorders) tell us that that this bottleneck will be removed by year end 2016.  We'll see.

From Ft. Sumner east, the next single-line segment (read bottleneck) is at Alva, OK, where the second track will have to span a creek, which will entail the construction of another bridge and considerable earthmoving and grading.  My "source" suggests that this bottleneck is slated for removal next year.

Beyond Alva, OK, there may remain a few miles of single track on the way east to Wellington, KS.  From here eastward, double track or paired track with directional running extends all the way to Kansas City.

From Wellington, KS west, back toward Alva, OK, one can follow two tracks on Google Earth to some unnamed to some point west of Kiowa, KS.  It's my understanding that after the last posted Google Earth aerial (11/30/2013), BNSF extended additional two-tracking to a point near Alva.

If any of this is wrong, I hope some knowledgeable BNSF'er will correct me.

East of Kansas City lies one single track segment:  across the Missouri River at Sibley, MO.  Otherwise, two tracks all the way to Chicago.

 

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Posted by kgbw49 on Saturday, April 16, 2016 9:57 AM

Regarding the Northern Transcon west of Minot, from Minot it goes across the northern tier of Montana to Spokane, traversing Marias Pass on the southern edge of Glacier National Park.

 At Spokane there are two routes to Seattle:

 1. The former Great Northern over Stevens Pass to Everett and then south to Seattle or north to Vancouver, BC.

2. The former Northern Pacific over Snoqualmie Pass to Auburn, which is about halfway between Seattle and Tacoma.

There is a third route from Spokane - the former Spokane, Portland & Seattle, which heads southwest from Spokane to the Columbia River Gorge and follows the river all the way to Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR, and then heads north from Vancouver, WA up to Tacoma.

I do not know if it is all CTC, but the Northern Transcon has very high train density so I would not be surprised at all if it is CTC all the way between Chicago and Seattle.

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Posted by kgbw49 on Saturday, April 16, 2016 10:06 AM

On the BNSF Web Site, there was a news item several months back that indicated the only single track sections remaining were at the three bridge locations mentioned above - at the Pecos River in New Mexico, the Red(?) River in Oklahoma, and the Missouri River just east of Kansas City, Missouri.

If my memory serves me correctly, once the Fort Sumner segment was double tracked, there would be only 7 miles of single track remaining on the Southern Transcon.

It is similar to the Northern Transcon between Galesburg, IL and Minot, ND in that the single track segments tend to be at larger river crossing where a second bridge would need to be constructed.

This is also what K.P. has pointed out on the Sunset Route regarding the Colorado River crossing at Yuma - that it will probably be the last segment to be double tracked on the Sunset Route.

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Posted by PNWRMNM on Saturday, April 16, 2016 12:44 PM

kgbw49

Regarding the Northern Transcon west of Minot, from Minot it goes across the northern tier of Montana to Spokane, traversing Marias Pass on the southern edge of Glacier National Park.

 At Spokane there are two routes to Seattle:

 1. The former Great Northern over Stevens Pass to Everett and then south to Seattle or north to Vancouver, BC.

2. The former Northern Pacific over Snoqualmie Pass to Auburn, which is about halfway between Seattle and Tacoma.

There is a third route from Spokane - the former Spokane, Portland & Seattle, which heads southwest from Spokane to the Columbia River Gorge and follows the river all the way to Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR, and then heads north from Vancouver, WA up to Tacoma.

I do not know if it is all CTC, but the Northern Transcon has very high train density so I would not be surprised at all if it is CTC all the way between Chicago and Seattle.

A couple of corrections about routes west of Spokane;

The former NP line crosses the Cascades via Stampede Pass, not Snoqualmie. Stampede lies south of Snoqualmie which was used by the MILW and still is I-90.

The route from Spokane to Vancouver WA is former NP to Pasco, where BNSF operates a large hump yard. It crosses the Columbia River on the former NP bridge and splits at SP&S junction where the former SP&S begins the line to Vancouver. The NP side is the line to Stampede Pass.

The former SP&S between Pasco and Spokane is all gone except for about 10 miles immediately west of the 1972 Latah Creek bridge that connects the former GN from Wenatchee with the former NP at the west edge of downtown Spokane. Between this point and just east if Sandpoint, Idaho the BNSF main is former NP. At Sandpoint the merger era connection connects the former NP and GN mains. The BNSF main is via the connection to the former GN. MRL lease starts just east of the junction switch.

I do no know, but am 99.9% certain is CTC from Seattle to Minot. I know is two main track CTC between Seattle and Portland Oregon. NP Spokane - Pasco is CTC, as is SP&S to Vancouver. The NP from Kennewick to Auburn is dark territory with TWC, except siding switches are controlled by the dispatcher.

BNSF is adding sidings and putting in bits of double track on the former NP between Spokane and Pasco. This is necessary because they pulled up the SP&S and gave the right of way to the State of Washington in one of the great blunders of the 'oil man' management era of the BN.

Mac McCulloch

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Posted by greyhounds on Saturday, April 16, 2016 2:02 PM

Didn't the BNSF just add a 2nd main track between Minot and Williston?

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Posted by MikeF90 on Saturday, April 16, 2016 3:06 PM

greyhounds
Didn't the BNSF just add a 2nd main track between Minot and Williston?

Most of the above trackage is now 2MT CTC with a few gaps, notably the viaduct over Gassman Coolee just west of Minot.

To add to the above notes, in 2015 BNSF finished upgrading the long, lonely Devils Lake and Hillsboro subs to CTC and added sidings on the latter. The 'paired track' arrangement between Minot and Fargo should now flow more smoothly.

Another big project also completed last year was converting ABS to CTC between Hastings, MN and Savanna, IL; many universal crossovers had to be added to the existing 2MT. Along with finishing the Staples sub CTC in MN I believe that the transcon is all CTC to the west coast.

BNSF has plans to add some second MT to the Aurora sub but the downturn seems to have slowed that up. Another probable deferred project is extending 2MT from Williston to Snowden, MT (junction with Sidney sub, shale oil central).

Further west on the Northern transcon, a second main track is being added to the Kootenai River sub (ex-NP) between Rathdrum, ID and Athol, ID. The single track bottleneck between Sandpoint, ID and Spokane, WA was created when BN stopped running through trains on the circuitous ex-GN line (not sure exactly when).

For more details see my Northern transcon map: http://goo.gl/maps/zUryP

Links to my Google Maps ---> Sunset Route overview, SoCal metro, Yuma sub, Gila sub, SR east of Tucson, BNSF Northern Transcon and Southern Transcon

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Posted by MikeF90 on Saturday, April 16, 2016 3:18 PM

billio
Beyond Alva, OK, there may remain a few miles of single track on the way east to Wellington, KS. From here eastward, double track or paired track with directional running extends all the way to Kansas City.

AFAIK this has been 2MT CTC for a while. Google Maps updating can be spotty, so I verify with ATCSMon layouts.

The single track gap near Alva, OK is down to about three miles after they extended the second main east from Avard last year.

BTW the Pecos River / Ft. Sumner project was announced by BNSF here.

There is another possible paired track arrangement with NS just east of KC (Birmingham to Maxwell Jct), or it may be just occasionally used trackage rights.

Follow along on the Southern transcon map: http://g.co/maps/dyzd3

Links to my Google Maps ---> Sunset Route overview, SoCal metro, Yuma sub, Gila sub, SR east of Tucson, BNSF Northern Transcon and Southern Transcon

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Saturday, April 16, 2016 4:33 PM

STEVEL (4-15):  Route 66

Part I (of I-II)

Your being from New Jersey, I found the word of your past couple of travels out west the last couple of decades or so along Route 66 most fascinating, as this Southern Californian is quite familiar with Route 66 in the western United States.  Perhaps to light your fire of things you can relate to, here are a few tidbits about this and past trips of mine along or related to Route 66 …

Back in 1984 somewhere (“somewhere) between Seligman and Peach Springs, AZ my wife and I were eastbound on the old Highway 66 when we saw something we both had never seen before, a big trampoline with people jumping on it in the middle of nowhere, where someone had opened a small general store!  We went back, paid our quarters or whatever it was back then, and jumped too for ten minutes!  AT&SF trains on the Transcon could easily be seen passing.  I returned circa 1999, found the spot, but everything was gone.  This past trip, the State had erected a fence along Highway 66 for miles, and the trampoline spot obliterated so it could not be found.

In dusk light, the east interlocking at Peach Springs, AZ was photographed.

The two-tracks and a siding arrangement is used often on the southern Transcon; however, it is unknown if it is used on the northern Transcon two-tracking.

Recently in Cajon Pass (CA), the Summit CP and floodlights to its east was photographed by forum contributor croteaudd and appeared in the “Cajon Pass Triple-Tracking Updates” thread, and is here reproduced in part by quoting his post.

croteaudd

Above, as a New Jersey man, you probably never have personally seen Summit at night with all those security floodlights!  But, it is something to see in person!

Continued in Part II

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- K.P.’s absolute “theorem” from early, early childhood that he has seen over and over and over again: Those that CAUSE a problem in the first place will act the most violently if questioned or exposed.

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Saturday, April 16, 2016 4:41 PM

STEVEL (4-15):  Route 66

Part II (of I-II)

In Pomona, the old “Second District” passenger line has been severely downgraded and is now owned by commuter interests.  But, by the Garey Ave. grade crossing is the site of the new Metrolink system dispatch office.

That office BNSF Transcon trains will never see, as all the southern Transcon trains now go via the old “Third District” to or from Los Angeles.

The reason Transcon trains don’t use that old “Second District” anymore is that in 1994 Southern California experience a big earthquake, and the big, rather spectacular railroad bridge going halfway over to the 210 Freeway in Arcadia was damaged, and reportedly to fix it would cost as much as a new bridge, which because of the nature of its design, was a whopping amount.  Santa Fe opted to abandon that line as a thru-route, and used the money it received to two- and triple-track the southern route via Corona (Third District).

A now rather famous “Iconic Bridge” eventually replaced the damaged bridge, but built NOT to heavy freight train standards, so is only limited to light rail traffic.

I hope all this doesn’t make your wife wonder why you have a sudden itch to visit Southern California again … But anyway, if nothing else, this posting two-part series will bring back memories of your past travels along Route 66 and the southern Trancon.

Take care,

K.P.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Saturday, April 16, 2016 9:20 PM

On the Northern Transcon, the last I heard about the LaCrosse, WI double tracking project was that it was still being legally challanged.  Was that finally completed?

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Posted by kgbw49 on Saturday, April 16, 2016 9:45 PM

MidlandMike, I am in La Crosse intermittently.

The double track project across the wetlands to the south of La Crosse yard and through the golf course was completed and in operation last time I was there in early fall 2015.

 

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Posted by MidlandMike on Sunday, April 17, 2016 8:08 PM

kgbw49, thanks.  I have another question about the Sandpoint-Spokane funnel, which is apparently mostly single track.  Since I understand UP has trackage rights in the Sandpoint area, was here ever consideration to forming a directional running paired trackage line with UP between Sandpoint-Spokane?

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Posted by Harold Jr on Monday, April 18, 2016 2:40 PM

SOUTHERN TRANSCON MISSING DT SUMMARY:

1.  Fort Sumner,NM Pecos River Bridge. Plus 2 miles of track west side.  Under construction.  Finish about Dec 2016

2.  Alva,OK  Bridge over Salt Fork of Arkansas River plus 1 mile track on west and 2 miles of track on east.  Large embankment grade on east side already built with subgradee. (2 years ago).  Probably under construction in 2017  but variables with economy and thus traffic and Panama Canal Factors.

3.  Second Bridge over Missouri River at Bruckner (Sibley), MO. A real problem. Tight 30mph curve now on west side.  Needs new alignment,  BUT  a. Power Plant in way and B. Homes in Way and C. On east side State Park, State Wildlife Sanctuary, and Federal Bird Sanctuary in way  (Jackass).  I suspect they are waiting for Coal Power Plant to disband and be torn down and get that land. Very difficult.  Think more like 2020

Sum of all of these three is about 7 miles total.

 

NORTHERN TRANSCON MISSING DT SUMMARY: 

1.  Still single track Snowden, MT to West Williston, ND.  On hold. Oil down, Coal down, grain down.

2.  Trevino, WI  1 mile single track, needs bridge that needs environmental permits etc like LaCrosse.  Slow, on hold. suspect 2018 or 2019

3.  East Winona, WI    four miles single track.  Grading and ballast mostly in. Widening mostly done. Some rails ready to go.  No real land disturbance or bridges.  Possibly by fall.

4.  Ports, WI   Needs second track big bridge over WI River.  Suspect 2020 or

2021. 

5.  Montgomery, IL to Sugar Grove, IL   5 miles DT going in.  By November.

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, April 18, 2016 2:44 PM

Filling the Single-Track Gap at Vaughn, New Mexico

Part I (of I-V)

At Vaughn, New Mexico BNSF’s southern Transcon goes over Union Pacific’s Golden State Route. Previously, in Vaughn the two-track line from the east became single-track for plus or minus 10 miles to the west, where two-tracks resumed and continued west to California.  That gap was finally two-tracked last year.  The new BNSF bridge over UP’s line:

Above, unlike BNSF’s northern track at Vaughn that goes over a landfill with UP tunneling under it, the new BNSF southern track has a bridging over UP.

Aerials now show that new southern bridge route:

https://www.google.com/maps/@34.6030836,-105.2372137,198m/data=!3m1!1e3

In the latter of the above two photos, a westbound UP is stopped on the Golden State Route mainline, and can be seen through the tunnel.

Consistent with all the railroads’ grade crossing elimination efforts, a key road (at least for us) was closed.  Looking north on Mesa De Leon Road, a westbound passes:

Look how gleaming and pristine the lead unit of that westbound is!

With that grade crossing closure, if one wants to get to the other side of the tracks, one has to take a circuitous route via the east side of town.

K.P. wonders if that TWO-poled sign had a little too much to drink …

Continued in Part II

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, April 18, 2016 2:52 PM

Filling the Single-Track Gap at Vaughn, New Mexico

Part II (of I-V)

An impressive CP on the west side of town (east of the new bridging over UP’s Golden State Route) has a look more impressive than it really is.  It is only to a north side siding / yard track that is connected into by an un-signaled interchange track between the UP and BNSF.

Continued in Part III

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, April 18, 2016 2:56 PM

Filling the Single-Track Gap at Vaughn, New Mexico

Part III (of I-V)

In the downtown Vaughn area, there is a universal crossovers situation with that north siding-like track splicing into Main 1 between the two crossovers.

While the Santa Fe Super Chief and a lot of its colleagues went via Raton Pass, the Oakland-Chicago train was routed through Vaughn.  It is unknown if the Vaughn station was a stop or not back then, but high level cars were routed through here.

Continued in Part IV

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, April 18, 2016 3:02 PM

Filling the Single-Track Gap at Vaughn, New Mexico

Part IV (of I-V)

So, EAST of the UP Golden State Route track (that the BNSF bridges over) a north side siding exists, and WEST of that Golden State Route a south side siding exists.

.

           BNSF SOUTHERN TRANSCON
             VAUGHN, NEW MEXICO
               EAST OF THE UP
             GOLDEN STATE ROUTE


          TO UP
        --------
       /        \
      /          \
     /      --------------------
           /                    \
          /                      \
----------------------------------------
                               /     \
                              /       \
----------------------------------------

.

The situation WEST of the UP Golden State Route:

.

           BNSF SOUTHERN TRANSCON
         WEST OF VAUGHN, NEW MEXICO
               WEST OF THE UP
             GOLDEN STATE ROUTE


     
----------------------------------------
    \    /  
     \  /   
----------------------------------------
            \               /
             \             /
              -------------

.


Continued in Part V

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- K.P.’s absolute “theorem” from early, early childhood that he has seen over and over and over again: Those that CAUSE a problem in the first place will act the most violently if questioned or exposed.

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, April 18, 2016 3:07 PM

Filling the Single-Track Gap at Vaughn, New Mexico

Part V (of I-V)

West of the UP Golden State Route is a south side siding, the west end of such is shown here west to east:

All the above photos, aerials, and information was an effort to convey to the forum the new two-tracking in the Vaughn area that took place last year.

A stop was made in Winslow, AZ this trip, and a brief review of that area will be posted in a few days, as well as a comparison in signaling here in the Vaughn area in contrast to the far western part of the southern Transcon will be made.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- K.P.’s absolute “theorem” from early, early childhood that he has seen over and over and over again: Those that CAUSE a problem in the first place will act the most violently if questioned or exposed.

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Posted by PNWRMNM on Monday, April 18, 2016 3:51 PM

Mike,

As of 2005 trackage on the funnel was as follows, from east to west with MP 0 at the former NP division point of Kootenai.

MP 2.9 ca. 1972 connection to former GN main line, trailing point westward.

MP 3.1 Sandpoint depot.

MP 0.0 to 5.0 East Algoma single track. Includes long bridge over Pend Orielle River.

MP 5.0 East Algoma to MP 14.1 West Algoma 2MT

MP 14.1 West Algoma to MP 16.5 Cocolalla Single track

MP 16.5 to MP 33.5 Athol 2MT with universal crossovers at CP 223 at MP 22.3.

MP 33.5 to MP 36.7 East Ramsey, Single track.

MP 36.7 to MP 38.8 West Ramsey, 2 MT.

MP 38.8 to MP 44.5 Rathdrum Single track.

MP 44.5 to MP 53.9 Otis Orchards 2MT. This segment includes Hauser Yard and Hauser fuel facility MP 45.6 to 49.9. 

MP 53.9 to MP 63.0 Irvin single track.

MP 63.0 to MP 71.5 Spokane Depot 2MT. Includes Yardley Yard, Parkwater mechanical facilities, and Erie Street yards with old main between Yardley and Erie Street. Connection to former GN main line to Dean near east end of Erie Street.

2 MT track continues west of depot to single track Latah Creek bridge which connects with the former GN to Wenatchee and the former SP&S to Lakeside Jct (about 10 miles of SP&S). The NP and SP&S lines comprise 2MT, each on a separate right of way.

As to the UP, the local politicans want UP on BNSF through the Spokane Valley. I am unaware that the railroads have any interest in that, but since I do not live in the area I have no idea what anyone is up to. UP has rights on GN from near the east end of Erie Street Yard and over the former SP&S to their connection which is just east of Lakeside Jct.

Mac 

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Posted by MidlandMike on Monday, April 18, 2016 8:49 PM

Thanks Mac.  I started following the line on Google Earth from Sandpoint south.  I see the long single track bridge across Pend Orielle (it looks like ther is a swing span near the south end, is that still active?) and the single track along the small lake between West Algoma and Cocolalla.  However, the 2 mile single track between Athol and East Ramsey seems to be over flat open country, although I recall that one of the other posters indicated that this area thru Rathdrum was planned for double track.

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Posted by PNWRMNM on Monday, April 18, 2016 9:36 PM

Midland,

Everything west of Athol is relatively open so adding a second main would not involve the major earthworks required east of Athol in the ca. 1965 line change that eliminated about three miles of slow crooked track, and when put second main through in the late 1990's. Deep fills and cuts were required as part of both projects.

Mike F90 on 4-16-16 in this thread said BNSF doing second main between Rathdrum and Athol. That is 11 miles less 2 between East Ramsey and West Ramsey. I did not check BNSF website. BNSF tends to do earth work first summer, let it sit over the winter, and lay track the next summer.

Bruce Kelly lives in the area and I would rate his reports as highly reliable, should he comment.

Mac

  • Member since
    August 2006
  • From: NEPTUNE NJ
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Posted by STEVEL on Monday, April 18, 2016 10:03 PM

KhsP, thanks for update pics and info. I have been to summit at night with the light field.  Spent several days there during triple tracking.  Liked the area off  RT66 ai a little stream where locals wIould cool off.  UP is just uphill from BNSF there, good photo ops.  On the day  those runaway freight cars rolled thru Pomona and crashed in Industry, I arrived at the Pomona station 10 min after they went thru, for photo shoot. Its great how free I was to get upclose for pics  with no hassle.  In Jersey they have fences everywhere to block access.   THANX AGAIN, STEVEL

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Posted by Bruce Kelly on Monday, April 18, 2016 11:28 PM

Of the roughly 70 miles which comprise BNSF's "Funnel" between Sandpoint Jct., ID, and Sunset Jct. (Spokane), WA, less than 18 miles are currently single track. No work is currently under way to add second main track at any of these gaps, though plans exist.

Grading through a heavily-wooded area for the 2nd main between Rathdrum and West Ramsey, ID, was begun a year or two ago, but further work there has been suspended. Roadbed is pretty much in place for 2nd main between East Ramsey and Athol, but no current work there either. 

Sources have told me that adding a second main along Lake Cocolalla would require the relocation of U.S. Highway 95 to higher ground away from the current rail line and lake shore. Between the difficulty of permitting and actual construction (translation: time), and the fact that it's only a 2.3-mile gap, don't expect to see BNSF bother with that one any time soon.

The gap between Otis Orchards and Irvin, WA, would require massive fill work and construction of a second bridge over the Spokane River. But it would be a very welcome place for having a second main. It's not uncommon to see trains depart Hauser Yard westbound, only to stack up three or four deep from Otis Orchards clear back to the WA/ID state line, waiting for their turn across the Spokane River and through the Parkwater/Yardley terminal area. Not to mention the cloggage that happens when an intermodal train stops on either main at Parkwater to pick up or set out cars at the ramp, backing up traffic for miles in both directions.

Some years ago, the pipe dream among local officials and a few folks in the rail biz was this thing called the Bridging the Valley Project. Details with interactive map here:

http://www.srtc.org/btv.html

A few of BTV's goals have been accomplished in the form of overpasses and crossing closures on BNSF. But the grand idea of closing much of the UP line between Spokane and Athol and shifting that traffic onto a 3rd main parallel to BNSF's proved to be increasingly distasteful to both companies from both a cost and logistics standpoint. The new signals and CTC islands which UP has been adding to its dark/TWC line (not to mention all the PTC poles) northeast of Spokane into Idaho are a pretty good indication they intend to stay on their side of the valley for quite a while.

 

 

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Sunday, April 24, 2016 11:05 AM

Apparently, BNSF doesn’t see a Complication …

… as a Complication

Winslow, AZ … and a Thought about up North

Part “A” (of A-D)

On the southern Transcon at Winslows, AZ is a crew relief point.  It is a bit more of a complicated relief point than most in that biases reverse there.  To the east normal train operations is left running, but to the west it is right running, though because of CTC any track can be used at any time.

The below diagram is a simplified, key tracks only presentation, with arrows showing the general biases.

.

            --------------------------->
           /                      / \
          /                      /   \
<--------------------------------------<
   \   /                      /
    \ /                      /
>----------------------------

.


The basic concept is for eastbounds (left, west side) on the lower diagram track to get over to the uppermost track to continue east (rightward).

That worked fine for 40 trains a day passing through in the past (like 40 years ago), but with 75-100 trains now a big complication arise as trains start getting in each other’s way, especially if a train is so long it hangs into a key interlocking or control point (CP).

The above photos were shot back on July 12, 2014.

As in other places on the BNSF system, trains are often slowed or stopped by other trains in the interlocking ahead negotiating through those CP’s, i.e., crossing over.  But, the railroad (and railroads) doesn’t seem to want to do anything to make things better.  Why?  Managements resist things that cost money AND directly affect THEM.  Let’s say, hypothetically, the railroads changed from paying trainmen per mile to an hourly wage.  Suddenly, railroad managements everywhere would be confronted by high cost AREAS, and flyovers and bridges would suddenly proliferate as the solution to quickly lower costs, costs that suddenly became forcefully obvious to them.

Continued in Part B

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- K.P.’s absolute “theorem” from early, early childhood that he has seen over and over and over again: Those that CAUSE a problem in the first place will act the most violently if questioned or exposed.

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