Map of the Month: November 2017 TRAINS

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  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • From: NotIn, TX
  • 521 posts
Map of the Month: November 2017 TRAINS
Posted by VerMontanan on Monday, October 09, 2017 6:46 PM
The “Map of the Month” in the November 2017 issue of TRAINS is titled, “BN’s brief passenger history.” While the period that Burlington Northern operated its own intercity passenger trains was indeed short, the recurrence of TRAINS printing such maps riddled with mistakes has a long history, and this is no exception.
Starting with the east end of the railroad, these are the most apparent errors:
A block of text indicates 9 eastbound and 9 westbound “through” (i.e. non-commuter) passenger trains between Chicago and Aurora; this is evidently a sum of the 4 trains between Aurora and Savanna and the 5 between Aurora and Galesburg.  The number is incorrect.  Between Aurora and Galesburg, there were really only three trains in each direction: Trains 1-2, Denver Zephyr; Trains 11-12, the remnant of the Nebraska Zephyr, and trains 19-20, the American Royal.  Trains 15T-16T (the “T” is for Tri-Weekly) are also indicated on the TRAINS map, but this was only through cars conveyed on trains 11 and 12 between Chicago and Omaha; Trains 5-6 are also indicated on the TRAINS map, but these, too, are just through cars riding trains 11 and 12 between Chicago and Galesburg.  The through cars riding trains 11 and 12 error continues on the map between Galesburg and Omaha.
Between Aurora and St. Paul. 4 trains in each direction are indicated.  Westbound are trains 7(Morning Zephyr), 9(Afternoon Zephyr), 25(North Coast Limited), and 31(Empire Builder).  Train 7 indeed ran daily; Train 9 really only ran separately between Chicago and St. Paul on Friday and Sunday and was combined with trains 25-31 on the other five days of the week.  Trains 25 and 31 were combined and ran daily.  So except Friday and Sunday, only two westward trains were operated between Aurora and St. Paul, and it’s interesting that while the remnant of the California Zephyr west of Omaha are indicated as “15T” and “16T” due to their tri-weekly status, there is nothing to indicate that train 9 operates anything other than daily.  Eastbound between St. Paul and Aurora, trains 8(Morning Zephyr), 10(Afternoon Zephyr), 26(North Coast Limited), and 32(Empire Builder) are indicated, but the reality is that trains 8, 26, and 32 always operated as one train as did train 10 for a total of only 2 eastbound trains in this segment.  There were more trains to/from Chicago operating west of St. Paul (to Minneapolis) than east of St. Paul as the Morning and Afternoon Zephyrs operated independently from the North Coast Limited and Empire Builder, but there is no indication of this on the map.
The map shows West Quincy, MO to be roughly across the Des Moines River from Keokuk, IA, but I suppose this blatant error is covered by the notation “No Scale.”  But showing the line south from the Galesburg area toward Shattuc, Illinois as actually going from Galesburg is wrong; the junction is at Bushnell, on the line between Galesburg ad West Quincy but not indicated as such.  The freight-only line indicated from Shattuc to St. Louis is strange because the alignment more follows the current situation today where BNSF trains have trackage rights over UP from Toland to East St. Louis.   Actually, Shattuc is due east of St. Louis (contrary to how the map shows it) and the line is trackage rights on B&O, but BN at this time still had their line from Concord, IL to the Alton/St. Louis area which would be more correct (as shown on the map) than the (supposed) B&O line from Shattuc.
Between Pacific Jct. and Omaha, the TRAINS map shows passenger trains operating via Council Bluffs.  Also indicated on the map is the “freight-only” route between the two points via Oreapolis, NE.  This is incorrect.  The reality was that the Denver Zephyr operated via Oreapolis (Plattsmouth) and trains 11-12 and 35-36 went through Council Bluffs.  (Trains via Council Bluffs needed to use the UP bridge over the Missouri River, which BN – and today BNSF – tried/tries to avoid as much as possible.)
West of Fargo, ND toward Minot, the map suggests that trains 31 and 32 (Empire Builder) operated on the former Northern Pacific main track just west from Fargo (to Casselton, though not indicated on the map) before turning northwest on the ex-Great Northern line toward Minot.  This did not happen.  Trains 31 and 32 continued to operate on the ex-GN “Surrey Cutoff” all the way from Fargo to Minot through Amtrak Day, though trains on the ex-NP route west of Fargo did divert to the GN station in Fargo before the advent of Amtrak.
In Montana between Missoula and Paradise the map suggests that the passenger trains used the river-grade route along the Clark Fork River, indicated by the sharp curvature on the map.  Indeed, on this route, westward trains between St. Regis and Paradise are going largely east, and vice-versa.  However, passenger trains didn’t use this route, and instead operated over the 2.2 percent climb (each way) of Evaro Hill, a route slightly to the north.
Between Sandpoint and Spokane, the map shows one route. This is incorrect for the time frame given (October 25, 1970).  As this time, the infrastructure changes through the city of Spokane (associated with the merger and Expo ’74) were not complete and both the ex-GN and ex-NP routes were used between the two cities until the start of Amtrak.
No train numbers are given for the route on the map between Spokane and Pasco.  The route indicated looks more like the ex-SP&S route between the two cities, but in reality both it and the ex-NP route had two passenger trains in each direction until the start of Amtrak.  Pasco is shown as a “passenger train terminal” which I suppose is open to interpretation, but is generally incorrect.  While that trains 21 and 22 handled the Portland cars of both the Empire Builder and North Coast Limited is indicated with footnotes, the map suggests that trains 23-24 operated only between Pasco and Portland, which is incorrect.  These trains also ran from Spokane to Portland and before the merger were SP&S trains 3 and 4, which were the Portland connection to the GN Western Star and NP Mainstreeter at Spokane and Pasco respectively.  In the “Trains and Equipment” section of the map, it indicates trains 29&30 and 23&24 as the Mainstreeter, but the reality is that an Official Guide from October 1970 shows no Portland connection to the Mainstreeter at all; by the date indicated they were generally considered to be the Western Star connection in Spokane (through not indicated as such on the map, as is incorrectly shown with the Mainstreeter).  The connection from the westbound Western Star to train 23 at Spokane was pretty much equally as bad as that to the westbound Mainstreeter at Pasco, but the connection from eastbound Portland-Spokane train 24 to the eastbound Western Star at Spokane was only 80 minutes and there was NO connection AT ALL to the eastbound Mainstreeter which mysteriously departed Pasco 40 minutes BEFORE train 24 arrived from Portland.
UP trains 457 and 458 are indicated in the equipment listing between Seattle and Portland as “Operated by the UP over BN trackage” but they really only did so between Reservation (Tacoma) and Portland.  BN and UP trains used different stations in Seattle.  The errors for the equipment listing are many and difficult to quantify, but suffice it to say that whoever at TRAINS doesn’t know that the “Lounge in the Sky” on the North Coast Limited was really just what the tables in the dome section of the sleeping cars were called (not a separate car) and that a Vista-Dome coach really did go to Portland on the North Coast Limited.  And while BN actually did show “Vista-Dome” coaches on the Empire Builder equipment listing, those in the know wince at such a representation other than the correct “Great Dome” terminology.  Also, the listing of equipment on the SP “City of San Francisco” between Ogden and Oakland (though not indicated by name or train number) is perplexing as there were no through cars between the BN-D&RGW “California Service”/”Rio Grande Zephyr” and the City of San Francisco.
And finally, at least two mixed trains operated by BN to the beginning of Amtrak are nowhere to be found on the map: Wishram, WA to Bend, OR and Bainville, MT to Opheim, MT (to/from Williston).
So, in summary, another mistake-ridden “Map of the Month.”  One does wonder when the powers-to-be at TRAINS will realize that their staff simply does not have the historical and geographic knowledge and experience to even attempt such projects.



Mark Meyer

  • Member since
    June, 2003
  • From: South Central,Ks
  • 6,167 posts
Posted by samfp1943 on Monday, October 09, 2017 7:00 PM

To Mark Meyer..... WHAM de BAMM BAMMMM!SoapBox 

    HELLO, TRAINS? Bang Head

        This ain't the first time....Knock Knock....WhistlingWhistling





  • Member since
    August, 2005
  • From: At the Crossroads of the West
  • 9,440 posts
Posted by Deggesty on Monday, October 09, 2017 7:45 PM

Yes, whoever prepared the map should definitely have carefully studied the BN passenger timetable and the BN map before preparing the map. Just looking at the timetable that showed all of the service between Chicago and the Twin Cities should have broght the realization that the three name trains were operated as one train.

As to the Chicago-Twin Cities service, I rode in the dome cars of all three trains while on my first trip to the west coast--and I ate in the diners of two roads the same day (lunch in one and dinner in the other).

As to Council Bluffs-Omaha, on one of my trips east on Amtrak #6, I was astounded to find the train crossing into Council Bluffs and not going down to Oreopolis; that track down to Pacific Junction is now a very slow track, and not really suitable for passenger service. I do not know how it was before 1 May 1971.


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