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Sunset Route Two-Tracking Updates

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Wednesday, March 3, 2021 12:09 AM

There currently is no known two-tracking on the Sunset Route.

HOWEVER, at West Colton Yard in the Colton-Fontana, CA area the Precision Scheduled Railroading now in effect is taking its toll on the previous two-tracking from over a decade ago!

Trains are being made up by doubling long cuts of cars out of the east end of the yard (by Pepper Ave.) and over the new Colton Flyover, regulating the flyover (and Cedar Ave. to Mt. Vernon Ave.) to single-track status during such switching moves.

Non-Sunset Route trains to head north have dangerously been switched over the bridging over the I-10 Freeway.  In a maverick move, to avoid derailing cuts of freight cars over the I-10 Freeway, some long northbound trains have been made up on Main 2 between Sierra Ave. and Cedar Ave., regulating that portion of the Sunset Route (across from the Receiving Yard) to single-track.

Of course, the option is always present of routing thru trains over the southern Los Angeles & Salt Lake via Riverside, about 9 miles more in length than Colton-Pomona direct.  That portion via Riverside was mostly two-tracked almost 30 years ago before Union Pacific and Southern Pacific merged.

As for future two-tracking on the Sunset Route, K.P. does NOT anticipate any further two-tracking whatsoever UNTIL there is a major change in labor pay agreements.  It should be remembered that there is a management type higher-up under contract with a background from Canada, where train personnel get paid very differently than those in the United States.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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 kgbw49 on Wednesday, March 3, 2021 12:57 PM

The Swami of the Sunset Route is back!

Great to hear from you, K.P.!

And glad to know you are OK in this pandemic world!

An awesome report as always!

Stay safe!

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Posted by rdamon on Thursday, March 11, 2021 8:13 AM
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Posted by ccltrains on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 6:04 PM

There has been discussion about the status of the Phoenix west line.  Based on the proposed federal stimulus bill Amtrak has listed several passenger additions they would like to make assuming the bill passes.  One proposal is running passenger trains from Tucson to Phoenix then west over the idle track back to the Sunset Route.  Let's keep our fingers crossed. As a Phoenix suburb resident I want to see passenger service here.

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Posted by Fred M Cain on Thursday, April 8, 2021 6:23 AM

ccltrains

There has been discussion about the status of the Phoenix west line.  Based on the proposed federal stimulus bill Amtrak has listed several passenger additions they would like to make assuming the bill passes.  One proposal is running passenger trains from Tucson to Phoenix then west over the idle track back to the Sunset Route.  Let's keep our fingers crossed. As a Phoenix suburb resident I want to see passenger service here.

 

 
CCL,
 
HEY ! ! ! ! I second your thoughts here on this!  I also posted this on another thread nearby on the West Phoenix Line.
 
I have suspected from the beginning that there is a reason why the "You Pee" didn't just pull the rails up on the West Phoenix Line.
 
Although I'd need K.P. to verify this, my understanding is that the two-tracking project did not proceed east from Wellton.  Is that right, K.P.?
 
There might be a reason for that too.
 
My thoughts and guess are that the U.P. has wanted to route some traffic over the line but has not wanted to pay the entire amount for rehabbing the line.  I mean, why should they?  If Amtrak benefits, too, then why not expect a few dollars to help with this?
 
I agree with you to keep your fingers crossed 'cause this is a long, long way to being a done deal.
 
As an aside, I lived in the Phoenix area from 1967-1980.  I now reside in the Upper Midwest but would like to spend some time there during the winter.  It would be really nice if I could get there on Amtrak without a long ride from Maricopa or Flagstaff.
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Posted by MikeF90 on Thursday, April 8, 2021 2:15 PM

ccltrains
There has been discussion about the status of the Phoenix west line.  Based on the proposed federal stimulus bill Amtrak has listed several passenger additions they would like to make assuming the bill passes.  One proposal is running passenger trains from Tucson to Phoenix then west over the idle track back to the Sunset Route.

Inept Amtrak management is throwing out these proposals just to see what sticks. Any talk about reactivating the line west from Phoenix is just .... talk. When I call my cousin in Phoenix about visiting via Amtrak laughter ensues because .... Maricopa - the perfect anti-visitor town. Not even a local rental car location.

Capital investment required would be huge and, even as a beneficiary, UP still shows no interest in increasing service to the area (hint - too close to SoCal). The proposed Red Rock yard looked like a good idea but that project is on very long term hold.

I'd like to hear if the county has plans to improve local mass transit to serve growing work centers like the Intel Chandler campus, don't see any light rail anywhere nearby. I question what a 'commuter' rail line would serve and connect to.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Thursday, April 8, 2021 7:55 PM

If Amtrak ever pays for Phoenix west there  should be some real benefits. Track should be rebuilt for class 5 o or 6 to make maximum authorized speeds for Superliners.  Signal system upgraded and PTC installed.  Up required to keep it at Class track if UP runs freight over the route.  As well no freight cars that fail WILD detector tests.

The extra speed might allow Sunset to not loose any scheduled time ?

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Posted by SALfan on Thursday, April 8, 2021 8:09 PM

tree68

Something about roundabouts helps people reach previously unknown heights of weirdness and strange behavior, especially those that are two lanes wide.  If you sit and concentrate on thinking up the weirdest possible things people could do in a roundabout, then watch traffic in one for an hour, you will be astounded to learn that people can far surpass the weirdest possible behavior you can dream up.

 

 
K. P. Harrier
  Since K.P. last visited the area, construction people built a Barton Road roundy-round at the west side of I-215 Freeway RAMPS! 

 

An advantage of living in the northeast and occasional visits to New England.  Experience with traffic circles/roundabouts.  As they say, though - watch out for the other guy.

Those aren't the place to encounter someone who thinks they always have the right-of-way....

 

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Posted by kgbw49 on Thursday, April 8, 2021 11:49 PM

There is no telling what Amtrak might do with $80 billion with a "b".

Heck, they might even get Chicago-St.Louis Lincoln Service up to 110 mph after about 3 decades of working on it.

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Posted by Fred M Cain on Friday, April 9, 2021 12:44 PM

blue streak 1

If Amtrak ever pays for Phoenix west there  should be some real benefits. Track should be rebuilt for class 5 o or 6 to make maximum authorized speeds for Superliners.  Signal system upgraded and PTC installed.  Up required to keep it at Class track if UP runs freight over the route.  As well no freight cars that fail WILD detector tests.

The extra speed might allow Sunset to not loose any scheduled time ?

 

 
Blue Streak,
 
I believe that both Amtrak and the U.P. would benefit from a rebuilt Phoenix line.  The distance from Southern California to Phoenix is plenty short for rail freight.  However the Seattle/Tacoma to Phoenix city pairs would be rail competitive if the UP would market that.
 
BNSF has a large intermodal facility in the Phoenix area but the U.P. has kinda dropped the ball in the regard.  The S.P. once had a TOFC ramp in Phoenix but now the U.P. just has what they call a "paper ramp".  As a UP shareholder I have complained about this but I doubt they'd listen to me.
 
One sad thing about the Phoenix line was that the community of Tempe invested in rehabbing he old Tempe SP depot and was finally able to seduce Amtrak in stopping there.  Since the old Phoenix Union Depot was in a kinda rough part of downtown, the Tempe depot was much more desirable for some area residents and was also more conveniently accessable for much of the eastern end of the Salt  River Valley.
 
Sadly, after the new depot was up and running, Amtrak only used it for a few short years before having to vacate the Phoenix line altogether.
 
I'd love to live to see Amtrak return to Phoenix *IF* that ever happens at all.
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Posted by ccltrains on Friday, April 16, 2021 10:34 AM

[quote user="MikeF90"]

 

 
ccltrains
There has been discussion about the status of the Phoenix west line.  Based on the proposed federal stimulus bill Amtrak has listed several passenger additions they would like to make assuming the bill passes.  One proposal is running passenger trains from Tucson to Phoenix then west over the idle track back to the Sunset Route.

 

Inept Amtrak management is throwing out these proposals just to see what sticks. Any talk about reactivating the line west from Phoenix is just .... talk. When I call my cousin in Phoenix about visiting via Amtrak laughter ensues because .... Maricopa - the perfect anti-visitor town. Not even a local rental car location.

Capital investment required would be huge and, even as a beneficiary, UP still shows no interest in increasing service to the area (hint - too close to SoCal). The proposed Red Rock yard looked like a good idea but that project is on very long term hold.

I'd like to hear if the county has plans to improve local mass transit to serve growing work centers like the Intel Chandler campus, don't see any light rail anywhere nearby. I question what a 'commuter' rail line would serve and connect to.

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Posted by ccltrains on Friday, April 16, 2021 10:43 AM

Let me tell you a tale of woe.  About 15 years ago I was approached about being appointed th the Amtrak board.  This is something I would like and I think I could get Amtrak off of top dead center.  Our senator took my CV and was pushing it through.  Unfortunately at that time George the younger Bush was president.  He did not like Amtrak and my application died.  With our present president being a big advocate of Amreak there is potential for a couple original thinkers being appointed to the board.  Unfortunately this will not be me as I turn 81 in a couple months and out of the running.

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Posted by Fred M Cain on Friday, April 16, 2021 11:39 AM
Personally, I like the way that the Devil’s Lake Line in North Dakota was saved.  The lake water was rising and threatening to destroy the line.  BN didn’t want to spend the $ to raise the roadbed over the lake and decided to abandon it.  There were some folks that wanted very badly to keep Amtrak on that line.
 
So the approach used was to get BN, the State of North Dakota and the feds all together to fix the problem.  That approach was largely successful.  Once done, BNSF has continued to use the line somewhat – I don’t know how much.  Mark Meyer could probably tell us.
 
If the West Phoenix Line were to be revived, a similar approach could be used where the State, the feds and U.P. could all contribute.  All three entities would stand to benefit.
 
What’s gonna cost like heck is that I believe the line has 110-lb rail.  That was fine when it was built in the 1920s, it was O.K. during the Second World War but today that’s just a bit light for 286,000-lb equipment.  That could well be why the U.P. has said they would need about $2 million per mile to fully rebuild the line.  Just a guess.
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Posted by MidlandMike on Friday, April 16, 2021 8:24 PM

Fred M Cain
Personally, I like the way that the Devil’s Lake Line in North Dakota was saved.  ...  Once done, BNSF has continued to use the line somewhat – I don’t know how much. 

My recollection was that about the time the line was finally reconstructed, the Bakken oil boom hit, and BNSF was glad they had the extra capacity.

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Posted by kgbw49 on Friday, April 16, 2021 9:43 PM

Fred M Cain
Personally, I like the way that the Devil’s Lake Line in North Dakota was saved.  The lake water was rising and threatening to destroy the line.  BN didn’t want to spend the $ to raise the roadbed over the lake and decided to abandon it.  There were some folks that wanted very badly to keep Amtrak on that line.
 
So the approach used was to get BN, the State of North Dakota and the feds all together to fix the problem.  That approach was largely successful.  Once done, BNSF has continued to use the line somewhat – I don’t know how much.  Mark Meyer could probably tell us.
 
If the West Phoenix Line were to be revived, a similar approach could be used where the State, the feds and U.P. could all contribute.  All three entities would stand to benefit.
 
What’s gonna cost like heck is that I believe the line has 110-lb rail.  That was fine when it was built in the 1920s, it was O.K. during the Second World War but today that’s just a bit light for 286,000-lb equipment.  That could well be why the U.P. has said they would need about $2 million per mile to fully rebuild the line.  Just a guess.
 

Up in the Midwest, I know that WIsconsin & Southern upgraded much of their lines to 286K capacity with 115-lb continuous welded rail along with reinforcing bridges. I am pretty sure that Pan Am Railways did the same with their mainline to Maine.

However, those are both lighter-traffic-density lines. i assume if traffic is heavy enough, 136-lb or more is likely preferred.

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Posted by MikeF90 on Saturday, November 13, 2021 3:12 PM

Per a posting on another railfan site, UP appears to be grading the ROW between CP Sierra and South Fontana siding on the Alhambra sub. It is not known yet if this is prep for a second MT or siding extension; the former might suggest a new midpoint CP built near Etiwanda Ave.

I speculate that the work is connected to the new Inland Empire Intermodal Terminal (IEIT). We'll see how far this goes! Some pictures would be nice .... Geeked

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Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Saturday, November 13, 2021 10:35 PM
 

MikeF90

Per a posting on another railfan site, UP appears to be grading the ROW between CP Sierra and South Fontana siding on the Alhambra sub. It is not known yet if this is prep for a second MT or siding extension; the former might suggest a new midpoint CP built near Etiwanda Ave.

I speculate that the work is connected to the new Inland Empire Intermodal Terminal (IEIT). We'll see how far this goes! Some pictures would be nice .... Geeked

 

UP's IEIT is a former LOUP logistics transload. It measures over 12 acres in size. The initial lift capacity will only be about 35,000-40,000/annum. Once traffic picks up they will begin to convert the Colton Hump into a much larger facility. I suspect that classification will move to North Platte. Then again could go north to Roseville if there's room. UP still has considerable carload freight out of SoCal.

Not sure if track work would be connected to IEIT. However UP will be running longer trains up from San Pedro Bay to SLC. They gained some additional stack traffic out of LBCT heading for the Utah Inland Port.

 
 
 
 
Rahhhhhhhhh!!!!
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Posted by MikeF90 on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 3:07 PM

SD60MAC9500
Not sure if track work would be connected to IEIT. However UP will be running longer trains up from San Pedro Bay to SLC. They gained some additional stack traffic out of LBCT heading for the Utah Inland Port.

That could induce more logjams if there are a lot of those stack trains, since UP likes to run them very long. The LA sub has long single track sections in addition to the 11 mile 'gap' on the Alhambra sub.

The remaining 'runt' sidings on both subs don't look very useful. Maybe we'll see some winter ROW work .....

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Posted by MikeF90 on Friday, February 4, 2022 2:54 PM

Per a post on another railfan site UP contractors are grading between CP Sierra and South Fontana siding on the Alhambra sub. Presumably a new second track will smooth access to both the WC hump yard and the new, tiny IM facility at the west edge.

So far no sight of grading west of Fontana siding to Ontario to complete the 2MT. Sad

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Posted by croteaudd on Saturday, March 5, 2022 9:53 PM

As I understand it, there is NO two-tracking anywhere on the Sunset Route.  HOWEVER, west of Sierra Ave. in Fontana (CA), on the western outreaches of West Colton Yard, between CP AL533 SIERRA and CP AL531 SOUTH FONTANA, a second track currently is being laid and prepared for use!  Personally, I would not call that ‘two tracking.’  Maybe ‘one-and-a-half’ tracking would be more realistic!  Why?

With Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) assembled trains are now so long they often exceed the currently designated Departure Yard tracks.  One solution to that problem has been to use Main Track 2 between CP AL534 CEDAR and CP AL533 SIERRA.  But even that is not long enough!  So, by two-tracking west to CP AL531 SOUTH FONTANA as described above, Main Track 2 can have a FOUR MILE long train assembled on it!  With that, the one-and-a-half tracking was coined because Main Track 2 OFTEN substitutes as a yard track!  Make sense?

It should be realized that from Colton to Pomona UP has another route (the LA&SL via Riverside), an alternate Sunset Route if you will, that in effect makes for two-tracks between said cites, sometimes three-tracks.  So, in my humble opinion, we all should not get excited that two-tracking has resumed, but what is being done should be considered ‘one-and-a-half tracking’ for practicality’s sake!

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Posted by kgbw49 on Tuesday, March 8, 2022 5:54 PM

Question for MikeF90 as our resident Sage of the Sunset Route (and thank you for all the excellent maps you have been keeping of all these various western important routes):

What would be your best guestimate of the length of remaining single track between the end of double track southeast of Thermal, CA to the end of double track at what looks to be near Estrella Road northeast of Gila Bend?

Thanks for your best "guesstimate" if you have one!

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Posted by MikeF90 on Saturday, March 12, 2022 6:21 PM

kgbw49
What would be your best guestimate of the length of remaining single track between the end of double track southeast of Thermal, CA to the end of double track at what looks to be near Estrella Road northeast of Gila Bend?

A quick total of single track between CP Thermal and CP Estrella is about 128 miles. Adding any more would depend on what bottlenecks are perceived. As you know they lengthened several sidings to ~15k feet. Further east at the VR Tucson webcam I've seen very few 'shorties' - everything seems to have midtrain DPUs.

I haven't tracked work further east closely, but I've read that UP has or is lengthening sidings between Sierra Blanca - Houston, Sierra Blanca - Ft. Worth and now El Paso - Topeka.

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Posted by eolesen on Thursday, December 8, 2022 12:22 AM

Looks like it's been a while since this thread has been updated.  Has there been any new activity between CP Colorado and Maricopa?

Hope KP's ears are burning -- his name came up in conversation elsewhere.

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Posted by kgbw49 on Thursday, December 8, 2022 8:03 AM

KP will always be The Swami of The Sunset Route!

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Posted by MikeF90 on Thursday, December 8, 2022 6:50 PM

eolesen
Hope KP's ears are burning -- his name came up in conversation elsewhere.

Actually I really hope that he is OK - IIRC he moved to Hemet where they had a large devastating fire in the last few months.

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Posted by GreenLED on Saturday, February 4, 2023 3:48 PM

The longer consists have been a pain here on the east side of Yuma. There's a ~5 mile stretch of single track almost immediately east of the crew change facility, with that switch often blocked by a WB waiting on crew. Then immediately after the Ave 9E crossing, a double-length siding starts, but has the Fortuna Rd crossing smack in the middle. Then it's back to single track for a while. There's been numerous times in the last couple years that Fortuna has been blocked for over a half hour, and it's common to see it blocked for 10-15 minutes if one is coming in slow from one side, has to wait for one coming in slow on the other side to clear the far switch, and then get back up to speed. Even 9E gets blocked for extended periods by what seems to be backups of WBs stopped on the single track.
There's no other crossings for traffic to detour east of Fortuna, and 9E traffic has a lengthy detour of about 5 miles (partly owing to I-8 bisecting the area). I've seen ambluances on calls come on a stopped train and have to make a U-turn and that 5 mile detour back in the direction they came from. And there are six K-12 schools and a college right off the 9E crossing, so adding all that traffic plus school buses having to each stop and open their doors REALLY backs traffic up when you throw a couple slow trains in the middle of the morning rush. (And makes kids late when the bus has to detour)
I know that the stretch from Yuma proper to around the mountains to Ligurta isn't going to be easy, but something's gotta give. Even just adding a couple miles at the east end of the yard would help a little, and for sure not require any bridge work or otherwise be complicated. 

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Posted by MikeF90 on Monday, February 6, 2023 7:46 PM

GreenLED
The longer consists have been a pain here on the east side of Yuma. There's a ~5 mile stretch of single track almost immediately east of the crew change facility, with that switch often blocked by a WB waiting on crew.

Welcome to the forum, GreenLED!  Good to have someone reporting from that neck of the woods.

For context, this is the west end of the UP Gila Sub, see my map link below. I've always wondered why UP didn't fill that (cheapest to update IMO) short, flat gap in 2MT and put in a u/c at Fortuna. I have suspected that long WB 'nofitter' trains would block crossings, and now we know.

Coincidentally a reputable railfan on The Other well known forum reported a conversation with a UP survey crew further east. They stated that 2MT will be built from Gila Bend to CP Estrella 'by early 2024'.  IMO a good choice since the grade east of GB increases to 1.1%.

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Posted by MikeF90 on Tuesday, February 7, 2023 9:10 PM

Just did a little Google Street driving and discovered how surprisingly little east Yuma has changed in 40 years. IMO the city/county/state gov should fund and build grade seps for Ave 9E and Fortuna Roads, and do it before development hems in everything. C'mon, snowbird sales tax deserves some payback Big Smile.

GreenLED
I know that the stretch from Yuma proper to around the mountains to Ligurta isn't going to be easy, but something's gotta give.

IMO the west side looks easier. From CP Blaisdell to E Kinter just a long bridge next to Vulcan Materials and some grading is needed for a second track; much easier than 120+ years ago when originally built.  The geology is just, well, mostly dirt.

OTOH UP might want to straighten out that long, s l o w curve just east of Kinter, not sure about the best way to do that. The 2MT east of CP Dome could use a universal crossover near Ligurta.

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Posted by croteaudd on Friday, March 17, 2023 1:02 PM
Sunset Route, MikeF90, Forums and Strange Things
MikeF90
Coincidentally a reputable railfan on The Other well known forum reported a conversation with a UP survey crew further east. They stated that 2MT will be built from Gila Bend to CP Estrella 'by early 2024'.  IMO a good choice since the grade east of GB increases to 1.1%.
Somehow I get the feeling MikeF90 was inferencing, I think, the Train Omens Website, nicknamed TOW.  Or might it be Train Opium Website?  Maybe he was not thinking of either one of those websites at all!  Or I just had a bad dream … Whatever, MikeF90 indicated that, and it was unclear to me, if the Sunset Route two-tracking between Gila (pronounced HE-la) Bend and Estrella, AZ may start a two-tracking project by early 2024 or be finished by then.  Such advance teams that were reportedly seen can mean an uncertain future time period.  Considering the volitivity of the railroad industry currently, while the report of activity may have been truthful, the activity seen may have been only a ruse to divert employees’ and peoples’ attention from some internal conflicts of the railroad.  Time will tell on that.  It sure would be great if it was true, but I find such hard to believe!
 
I find, too, reports about posting at TOW unusual.  One user found a whole group of posters there to be unusually hostile, and others find that to be the case as well, very unlike the TRAINS forums here that is quite peaceful and the users respectful of others. (We should thus support the TRAINS website with purchases because of its high standards and high caliber of users.)  A number of days ago, I visited the, I think, TOW website.  Someone had started a new thread, possibly a very young poster that had no concept of distances.  I found myself becoming very, very hostile after reading his post!  Reflecting back on that experience, I had to wonder if that website is, for a lack of a better word, ‘possessed’!  Something about that website brings out the worst in some posters!  Other members chronically say nothing!  Do those quiet people know something I don’t about that site, like maybe it having a ‘dark’ side of some sort?
 
About the ‘possessed’ CONCEPT:  Decades ago, I submitted to TRAINS a manuscript for a potential feature article.  The then editor, the famed David P. Morgan, actually accepted it!  Cool!  Rosemary Entringer, a well-known TRAINS staffer at the time, sent me a proof copy to inspect and to make corrections if needed.  It was found that the titled of my article had been changed!  I thought the new title had a “possessed” insinuation, but I reluctantly went along with it.  A few months later the magazine hit the newsstands, and Mr. Morgan, who had an article in it himself, was anticipating a record-breaking all-time circulation for it!  But sales proved the opposite and absolutely horrible, and a total disaster!  Apparently would-be purchasers sensed what I had sensed, a demonic-like “possessed” association with my article’s changed title. Thus, the would-be readers passed on purchasing that magazine!  All of Mr. Morgan’s hard work on that exciting issue had gone down the drain and he was very bewildered and perplexed as to why!  He died some years later likely never realizing why sales had been so poor on that particular issue!  Society has changed very much since then, but somehow I sense society still has a general negativity about an association with the word “possessed.”
 
Getting back to the possible resumption of Sunset Route two-tracking that MikeF90 had mentioned for us, there are a number of TRAINS readers in Arizona that could update us when it resumes, if it ever does.  Hopefully, if it does, those Arizonians will have a ‘make all of us aware’ spirit!
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Posted by croteaudd on Tuesday, December 5, 2023 1:56 AM

Coincidental?

Many undoubtedly remember the update reports of K. P. Harrier, and the Sunset Route areas he reported on.  In the last few months in my personal travels, opportunities presented themselves in the Inland Empire in Southern California to check out some of the areas he reported on.  Several areas were very alarming, alarming in the sense that some areas have been made very, very difficult to check out!

Three examples:

First, Loop Road in far eastern Ontario, mostly associated with Etiwanda Ave., near the Kaiser Yard in far western Fontana.  Loop Road was repaved, nicely striped, and ‘No Parking’ or ‘No Stopping’ signs erected everywhere!

Second, just southeast of the Sunset Route and La Cadena Drive in Colton, trees have been planted by East K Street as an obvious message not to get close to the tracks.

Lastly, by Cooley Road in southern Colton and the Santa Ana River Trail for hiking, barricades (K-rails) now block access to any photography on the Sunset Route there.

No Parking, No Stopping, No Trespassing, and other similar signs are expected to pop-up in the future by the Sunset Route, and those carrying cameras should make sure it is not anywhere by them!

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