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Sunset Route Two-Tracking Updates

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Posted by cabcar on Friday, January 9, 2009 10:25 PM

billio

As of Jan 6, 2009, has any work -- double track, grading, rebuilding old SP track to UP standards -- been done for the past 60 days?

Just curious.  Thanks in advance.  --billio

The TRT (Track Renewal Train) has been replacing ties / rails East of Banning,CA on the Yuma Subdivision, since January 1st.

 I think it's going all the way to Thermal.

--Robert

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Posted by billio on Saturday, January 10, 2009 1:00 PM

 

Thanks Robert (er, cabcar).   Outside of signal improvements -- fully signalling the new track for CTC (not sure whetner that's been done yet) -- sounds like UP is finishing off the work it began when it started double tracking from Banning to Thermal.  Huzzah! for bringing the line up to Harriman standards.
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Posted by mvs on Sunday, January 11, 2009 11:15 AM

 Update: It looks like the new bridge at Thermal is complete. On Trainfoamers, I saw a picture of an eastbound train running on it. On another website, people have reported that the old double-track-ABS between West Indio and Thermal has been cut over to two-main-track-CTC.

 On Wednesday, the Track Renewal Train was going as far east as West Palm Springs. I would imagine that it has continued eastward on Main 1, and now may be as far as Indio. I would imagine that the Track Renewal Train will stop once it is at the new end of two main tracks, East Thermal (formerly the east switch of Thermal siding).

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Posted by billio on Sunday, January 11, 2009 9:32 PM

Thanks for the update, mvs.  Here's a Track Renewal Train question:  once it's completed renewing the track (installing concrete ties and 141# CRW in place of whatever weight rail SP had laid down) on the east slope of Beaumont Hill (Garnet-Thermal??), will it be moved to Arizona to renew track east of Tucson, or has track renewal along that stretch been completed? 

Given the size (and especially, the cost) of that monster, UP cannot afford to let it lie fallow, because the cost of doing so is too high.  So where outside the Red X will it be employed?

Thanks in advance. 

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Posted by billio on Friday, January 23, 2009 5:20 PM

January 22, 2009 Update

 From UP's 4th Quarter earning announcement conference call this date, responding to a question after the formal presentation, comes word from Dennis Duffy, Exec.-VP -- Operations, that UP plans to actually complete seven (7) miles of second track on the Sunset Route this year.  Mr. Duffy did not say where along the route those seven miles lie, so we'll have to wait and see.  He did note that additional grading may take place, and if traffic perks up, UP can start slapping track down pronto.  He also noted that VERY high in UP's Sunset Route planning is the elimination of bottlenecks (meaning El Paso), so I'm guessing that as soon as the land deal(s) -- the major sticking point -- can be finalized, UP will begin construction of the terminal at St. Theresa (sp?) west of El Paso.

Mr. Duffy also noted that some 300 miles (about 40 percent) of the line remains to be double tracked.

Those interested enough to listen in for themselves can hear this on the UP website, in the "Investors" section.  Go to the end of the slide presentation, and the third or fourth questioner asks about Sunset progress. 

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Posted by mvs on Sunday, January 25, 2009 2:38 PM

 It is anyone's guess where the seven miles of second main track will be installed. My guess is the area northwest of Araz, California.

As far as El Paso, isn't the new yard planned for Strauss, New Mexico? That is about 25 (?) miles northwest of El Paso. The old Alfalfa Yard isn't cutting it.

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Posted by billio on Sunday, January 25, 2009 7:22 PM

Could the seven miles of second  main have already been completed?  In the first three weeks of January?  Probably not.  But hmmmm....

Strauss and St. Therese (sp) are, I believe, one and the same.  I called it St. Therese because I saw it called that since the Fred Frailey TRAINS article on the Sunset Route.

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Posted by MJChittick on Sunday, January 25, 2009 7:43 PM

billio

Strauss and St. Therese (sp) are, I believe, one and the same.  I called it St. Therese because I saw it called that since the Fred Frailey TRAINS article on the Sunset Route.

The "Sunset Route" article in the November, 2007 "Trains" referred to the location for the new fuel pad and intermodal terminal as Strauss, NM.

Mike

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, January 26, 2009 4:06 PM

The TWO Colton (CA) Flyovers

Reportedly, there is an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) underway scheduled to be completed in February 2010 for the ‘7250-foot long’ Colton Flyover, that would allow the UP Sunset Route to go over the BNSF Transcon   So the earliest that construction could begin is probably March or April 2010, which is not that far away anymore.

The two photos below show the area being discussed.  (All the photos herein were previously posted).  The BNSF diamonds are straight ahead a few blocks away, and Mt. Vernon Ave. is the first overpass in the distance.  The low Santa Ana River is just past Mt. Vernon Ave.  Behind the camera of the first photo is the Rancho Ave. overpass, as seen in the second photo.

Will occasional strong Santa Ana winds be a negative factor?  The fact that it is called a “flyover” suggests a long, bridge-like structure that wind could pass through unobstructed throughout its length.  And, too, would the flyover have walls above the rails (1) preventing railcars from being blown off, and (2) blocking railfans’ view of trains?  It will be quite fascinating to see what is finally built

Incidentally, only an hour’s drive away eastward, trees have long been in place to protect Sunset Route trains from high winds.  Depicted in the next photo is the two-tracking by Salvia siding, which was completed several months ago.  Salvia is by Palm Springs.

By the way, the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority (ACTA) reportedly did or is doing an additional feasibility study about a NORTH-SOUTH flyover south of the present crossing in-lieu-of the EAST-WEST flyover.  A NORTH-SOUTH arrangement would necessitate relocating the ex-SP Sunset main a mile southward, go around the south side of the City of Colton, and back up straddling the Santa Ana River to the present Sunset mains.  Such would require a much shorter flyover apparently without wind problems, have better gradients, and would seem to be way less expensive to build. (Did commuter rail have a vested interest in commissioning this study?)  Exactly who would go over who is not clear, but very likely UP would still bridge over the BNSF. 

 

Historically, Colton Crossing has been the site of some exciting times, from armed gunmen preventing one railroad from putting in a diamond to cross another, to today’s flyover cost controversies.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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 passengerfan on Monday, January 26, 2009 4:22 PM

 

Welcome back KP. Nice to see something from you once again. It has been awhile and as always your information is extremely informative and easy to understand. Your information and photos on the triple tracking of Cajon was excellent. I for one have certainly missed your postings.

Al - in - Stockton

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Posted by billio on Monday, January 26, 2009 6:55 PM

KP, it's good to see your splendid posts up and running again.  Welcome back!!!  The prospect of construction finally beginning on the UP-BNSF flyover (which must be one of the biggest, if not THE bibbest, railway bottlenecks in this hemisphere) is enormously pleasing.   Please keep us furriners updated.  --billio

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Posted by desertdog on Monday, January 26, 2009 8:30 PM
K.P., I have long wondered about the purpose of the trees that line the ROW around Palm Springs. I wasn't sure if it was aesthetic or to keep sand and debris off the tracks. Now I know. The problem is, it interferes with my trainwatching along I-10. ;=} John Timm
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Posted by cacole on Monday, January 26, 2009 10:18 PM

On Sunday afternoon, January 25th, 2009, I saw 18 gons full of fill dirt heading west through Mescal, Arizona, on the Sunset Route.  Where this dirt is coming from I have no idea, but it is probably headed to an area between Tucson and Picacho where grading and filling has been ongoing for several months.  I also saw an eastbound train of around 30 empty ballast hoppers.

New wood ties have been distributed along both Sunset Route tracks from Tucson eastward at least as far as Dragoon and possibly further, so the UP obviously has no plans to replace them with concrete here in the desert.

Areas between El Paso, Texas and Tucson, Arizona that received new second main line track last year used concrete ties, but the original line still uses wood ties all the way.

UPDATE:  I took a trip alongside the Sunset Route between Benson, Arizona and Eloy on Tuesday, 27 January, and did not see the gons full of dirt anywhere along that stretch, so they must have been heading somewhere else.

Tie replacement crews were working the line that loops south of I-10 between Empirita Road and Marsh Station Road east of Tucson.  This is the stretch of track that the UP was supposed to be relocating to keep it all north of I-10 so the low bridge over the highway can be removed.  If they are still planning to relocate the line, supposedly sometime in 2009, I don't think they would go to the expense of replacing ties.

The contractor that was working on the roadbed preparation west of Tucson has parked all of his equipment in a fenced-in storage yard in Marana and none of it has moved for almost two months, now.  There was no ongoing construction activity anywhere except one bridge being built near Marana.  It seems construction has halted since early December.

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Posted by desertdog on Monday, February 16, 2009 7:29 PM
I took advantage of Presidents' Day to check out progress on the Sunset two-tracking project between Enid and Picacho. Overall, it appears that construction has slowed down considerably but has not stopped altogether. At Enid I found a tamper and a track alignment machine, both unoccupied, on what apparently will be a third track at that point. Further east, an Ames water truck was filling up, leading me to believe that some grading is still taking place. I also saw other Ames trucks on the highway in the area. There was nothing going on east of Maricopa to Casa Grande. I did note that the grain unloader at Cowtown has been repaired since the explosion late in 2008. At Casa Grande, they have recently rough graded a new roadbed from the C.G. siding north to Thornton Road, a distance of a few hundred feet. In town, a private contractor was busy picking up ties alongside the R.O.W. that were left after several unused sidings were torn up this past summer. At the I-10 overpass east of town, an Ames crew has been working to reinforce the bridge pillars on either side of the tracks. Perhaps this is an attempt to make them less vulnerable in case of a derailment. East of Toltec, most of the crossings now have been double-tracked. Sunset Blvd. is the only one left that I could see and it is well under way. That's it! John Timm
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Posted by narig01 on Wednesday, February 18, 2009 5:02 PM

 

Could the seven miles of second  main have already been completed?  In the first three weeks of January?  Probably not.  But hmmmm....

Strauss and St. Therese (sp) are, I believe, one and the same.  I called it St. Therese because I saw it called that since the Fred Frailey TRAINS article on the Sunset Route.

Santa Theresa, NM. A few miles into NM from El Paso.

Rgds IGN

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Posted by bubbajustin on Wednesday, February 18, 2009 5:14 PM

Do RR's alway's put up the signals before laying down the track?

The road to to success is always under construction. _____________________________________________________________________________ When the going gets tough, the tough use duct tape.

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Posted by ilikeplanes on Tuesday, March 31, 2009 10:52 PM

the 7 miles should be maricopa.  the work has started 4 days ago after nothing for months from the new crossovers enid east to the new crossovers maricopa.  grading is complete to tucson with the exception of the second rillito wash bridge.  all the remaining work being done is for adding second tracks through the crossings and added large rocks in the culverts for water control.

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Posted by ilikeplanes on Tuesday, March 31, 2009 11:00 PM

bubbajustin

Do RR's alway's put up the signals before laying down the track?

sometimes.  usually the track guys put the track together, ballast, and tamped then signal follows with signals, signal suspention, then open to the public.  there are some areas in maricopa AZ where the signals are in position before the track showed up but i believe that was only due to track laying being halted at the time.

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Posted by desertdog on Tuesday, March 31, 2009 11:16 PM
Ames Construction was working both Friday and Saturday when I went down to Tubac last week. As you point out, it looks like they are mainly doing clean up work such as rip-rap along the washes and grading the areas along the tracks up to the highway for water drainage. Quest was doing some digging at Eloy, apparently moving their underground lines away from the tracks. There are still about a dozen pre-cast bridge sections stacked up near Picacho Peak. These may be rejects. I saw several over the last year that had a big "reject" scrawled on them. John Timm
ilikeplanes

bubbajustin

Do RR's alway's put up the signals before laying down the track?

sometimes.  usually the track guys put the track together, ballast, and tamped then signal follows with signals, signal suspention, then open to the public.  there are some areas in maricopa AZ where the signals are in position before the track showed up but i believe that was only due to track laying being halted at the time.

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Posted by cacole on Wednesday, April 1, 2009 11:16 AM

 I drove the route from Tucson to Eloy on March 27th and saw a few Ames crews working on culverts and bridges, but all other activity seems to have halted since last October or November.  The area near Marana where they had a large pool of construction vehicles is empty, as is the large staging area near Picacho.  In between those two locations is a small area where some pre-stressed concrete bridge parts and steel beams are stored, but that area seems to be inactive at the present time.

I saw only two east-bound trains along the route, and Tucson yard is almost empty.  The economic downturn and loss of traffic seems to have curtailed UP's double-tracking efforts considerably.

They have been carrying out a lof of tie replacement east of Tucson as far as Willcox, and perhaps further.  They even replaced a lot of ties on the loop south of I-10 which is supposed to be rerouted so the low bridge at Marsh Station can be removed.

The Arizona Department of Transportation has announced that I-10 reconstruction is going to commence this year to alleviate the constriction at the Marsh Station / Cienega Creek area, which will involve moving the west-bound lanes 50 to 100 yards northward and the removal of the UP bridge, but the UP has not done anything on the rerouting of their eastbound track to allow the bridge removal.

 

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Posted by mvs on Friday, April 3, 2009 7:55 PM

 Thank you for the updates everyone! So, the 7 miles of double track will be from Maricopa eastward? I thought the double-tracking from Estrella to Maricopa was complete.

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Posted by Railway Man on Saturday, April 4, 2009 10:47 AM

bubbajustin

Do RR's alway's put up the signals before laying down the track?

 

Usually it follows, except sometimes at cutover locations or where there's good reason to put it in first and it won't be in the way of track laying machinery or likely to be damaged.

For a project such as this one that involves a second main track, the construction sequencing steps are typically as follows:

  1. If instrument houses will be in the way of the new track, relocate to the side and dig in temporary cable to them from the track.
  2. If pole line is in the way of the new track, install HD/Links between instrument houses and retire the pole line.  Alternatively, run direct-burial cable in lieu of the pole line and avoid the HD/Links.
  3. If signal masts are in the way, and they are paired, put the head from the mast that's in the way on the mast that's not in the way, and retire the mast that's in the way.  Cable over.  If it's already a single-mast installation and it's in the way, relocate to the other side of the existing track.
  4. Grading can now commence.
  5. Utility power supply installation commences.
  6. After grading and structures are complete, dig in all the new track wire and conduit, and, if not in the way of turnout pads or heavy equipment access, set the signal mast and instrument house foundations.  Complete the utility power up to the meter.
  7. Lay as much new track as possible up to the control points where cutovers of old to new will take place.  Assemble turnouts on turnout pads.
  8. Erect new signal masts and set instrument houses if not in the way of the cutover.  Generally all the intermediate signals can be installed at this time, and some of the absolute signals at control points, but not all.  Test as much of the signal system as possible.
  9. Get everyone into the right position, make sure the equipment, tools and materials are all in the right place and working, and when everyone is ready, make the track cutover -- cut the existing rails, drag new turnouts into place, bolt up and weld joints.  Simultaneously and as quickly as possible, set the masts that were in the way of the cutover, install the insulated joints and track taps, and terminate the signal wiring.
  10. Cutover from old signal equipment to new, and start testing the signal equipment.
  11. Complete the signal testing -- new track goes into service.
  12. Retire the old signal equipment.

The goal is to try and make the cutover from old to new happen in 12 hours or less to avoid train delays.  In some complex cases the new track will have to run as signal-suspension territory (at restricted speed or using track warrants) for several days while the signaling system completes installation and testing.  This is to be avoided.

In sum, install all the signal equipment possible that's not in the way of the cutover before the cutover begins, to reduce the delays to trains.

RWM

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Posted by bubbajustin on Saturday, April 4, 2009 6:49 PM

Thanks for explainig RWM.

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Posted by ilikeplanes on Monday, April 6, 2009 12:50 AM

desertdog
Ames Construction was working both Friday and Saturday when I went down to Tubac last week. As you point out, it looks like they are mainly doing clean up work such as rip-rap along the washes and grading the areas along the tracks up to the highway for water drainage. Quest was doing some digging at Eloy, apparently moving their underground lines away from the tracks. There are still about a dozen pre-cast bridge sections stacked up near Picacho Peak. These may be rejects. I saw several over the last year that had a big "reject" scrawled on them. John Timm

the bridge sections you see are for the replacement of the washes for the existing mailine. those will not be installed until there is a second track to run on.  Ames was suppossed to be complete and gone last week but i'm sure all the bickering between u p and the state it caused some minor delays.  from prince road to ina road still have to get a layer of gravel and the invisible rillito wash bridge is still....... well, invisible

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Posted by ilikeplanes on Monday, April 6, 2009 12:59 AM

mvs

 Thank you for the updates everyone! So, the 7 miles of double track will be from Maricopa eastward? I thought the double-tracking from Estrella to Maricopa was complete.

double track is only complete from estrella to new crossovers enid. which is about 9000 feet east of the west swith of the siding enid.  the doubletrack work is starting again from crossovers enid to new maricopa crossovers which will be approx 9500 feet east of maricopa siding.  when that is done the siding enid and siding maricopa will disappear. which sucks cause now we'll get to pull all the way into the smells of cow town to wait for west trains

mvs
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Posted by mvs on Monday, April 6, 2009 12:30 PM

ilikeplanes
double track is only complete from estrella to new crossovers enid. which is about 9000 feet east of the west swith of the siding enid.  the doubletrack work is starting again from crossovers enid to new maricopa crossovers which will be approx 9500 feet east of maricopa siding.  when that is done the siding enid and siding maricopa will disappear. which sucks cause now we'll get to pull all the way into the smells of cow town to wait for west trains

Thanks for the clarification. Do you know when they will finish the stretch from Enid to Maricopa? It will be interesting to see that crossing there in Maricopa be double-tracked.

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Posted by john_edwards on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 10:11 AM

 Could someone here update or enlighten exactly how much of this route is doubletracked now, between El Paso and LA.  I have read the whole thread but for us Northeasterners the geography (even with road maps) is a little unkown.

Thanks,  John

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Posted by Railway Man on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 11:24 AM

There's lots of bits and pieces:

Starting at Colton Tower, and moving eastward:

  1. 2 main tracks to Thermal, MP 618 (much of this 2nd main dates to 1956-57)
  2. 1 main track Thermal to Araz, MP 726
  3. 2 main tracks Araz to Colorado, MP 732 (2nd main dates to 1928)
  4. 1 main track Colorado to Yuma MP 733 (across the Colorado River Bridge)
  5. 2 main tracks Yuma to East Yard MP 738 (ABS double track, dates to the 1920s)
  6. 1 main track East Yard to Fortuna MP 743
  7. 2 main tracks Fortuna to Blaisdell MP 747 (dates to 2006)
  8. 1 main track Blaisdell to Dome MP 753
  9. 2 main tracks Dome to Wellton MP 771 (dates to 1926)
  10. 1 main track Wellton to Stanwix MP 819
  11. 2 main tracks Stanwix to Sentinel MP 831 (dates to 2002)
  12. 1 main track Sentinel to Estrella MP 875
  13. 2 main tracks Estrella to Maricopa MP 899 (dates to 2008-09, Enid to Maricopa eta June)
  14. 1 main track Maricopa to Stockham MP 979
  15. 2 main tracks Stockham to Tucson 38th Street MP 988 (dates to 1920s)
  16. 2 main tracks 38th Street to Vail MP 1000 (dates to 1952)
  17. 2 main tracks Vail to Mescal MP 1923 (dates to acquisition of EP&SW 1924)
  18. 2 main tracks Mescal to El Paso MP 1298 (constructed 1995-2007 in various sections)
RWM
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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 1:42 PM

I need my daily "math fix" - one of my former employers maintained that for engineers, "crunching numbers" is a form of therapy (Barry, you're right !) - so here goes.

In RWM’s list below I've inserted the mileages* of 1 or 2 main tracks, based on his “MP” (“Mile Post”) values – such as this “ = 108 miles” - to help understand and figure out the configuration and percentages.  For this, I’m presuming that the MP numbers are continuous and properly spaced – no gaps or changes in the numbering system, etc.(* except for the 1st, which is estimated due to "NSD" = "iNSufficient Data") Hope this is informative.- Paul North.

Railway Man

There are lots of bits and pieces:

Starting at Colton Tower - est. MP 536 - and moving eastward:

  1. 2 main tracks to Thermal, MP 618 = 82 miles (est.) (much of this 2nd main dates to 1956-57)
  2. 1 main track Thermal to Araz, MP 726 = 108 miles
  3. 2 main tracks Araz to Colorado, MP 732 = 6 miles (2nd main dates to 1928)
  4. 1 main track Colorado to Yuma MP 733 = 1 mile (across the Colorado River Bridge)
  5. 2 main tracks Yuma to East Yard MP 738 = 5 miles (ABS double track, dates to the 1920s)
  6. 1 main track East Yard to Fortuna MP 743 = 5 miles
  7. 2 main tracks Fortuna to Blaisdell MP 747 = 4 miles (dates to 2006)
  8. 1 main track Blaisdell to Dome MP 753 = 6 miles
  9. 2 main tracks Dome to Wellton MP 771 = 18 miles (dates to 1926)
  10. 1 main track Wellton to Stanwix MP 819 = 48 miles
  11. 2 main tracks Stanwix to Sentinel MP 831 = 12 miles (dates to 2002)
  12. 1 main track Sentinel to Estrella MP 875 = 44 miles
  13. 2 main tracks Estrella to Maricopa MP 899 = 24 miles (dates to 2008-09, Enid to Maricopa eta [ ???] June)
  14. 1 main track Maricopa to Stockham MP 979 = 80 miles
  15. 2 main tracks Stockham to Tucson 38th Street MP 988 = 9 miles (dates to 1920s)
  16. 2 main tracks 38th Street to Vail MP 1000 (dates to 1952) = 12 miles
  17. 2 main tracks Vail to Mescal MP 1923 [sic – should be MP 1023 instead ?] = 23 miles (dates to acquisition of EP&SW 1924
  18. 2 main tracks Mescal to El Paso MP 1298 = 275 miles (constructed 1995-2007 in various sections)

Total: 762 miles, of which:

1 main track is 292 miles = 38.3 %; and,

2 main tracks is 470 miles = 61.7 %;

 
RWM

 

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Posted by john_edwards on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 1:43 PM

 Thank you RWM.  If my meger math skills still work this equates to 100% of the (approx) 173 miles in New Mexico is double track; 53% of the (approx) 390 miles in Arizona is double track; and 50% of the (approx) 239 miles in California is double track.  Looks like lots of miles to go.

 

John

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