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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.

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 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

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 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 .....

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 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

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 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.

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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