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Updates on Multi-Tracking the Two BNSF Transcons

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Posted by GERALD L MCFARLANE JR on Sunday, September 4, 2016 9:30 PM

You can get a pretty good idea of the alignment that would be used at Alva, OK for a second bridge just by following the right-of-way eastbound on Google Earth, in quite a few places what had been the "service" road is now part of the second main.  You could surmise from this that what looks like a "service" road on the south side of the main around the curve towards the existing bridge(going westbound) would then become the second main leading to a new crossing of the Salt Fork Arkansas River just east of the existing one...if they wanted to take the "easy" way out.  Of course this is must my opinion and it's based on extrapolation from following the map east.

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Posted by MarknLisa on Wednesday, September 7, 2016 8:36 AM
Today's RT&S email newsletter reports on the completion of the BNSF Pecos River crossing upgrade: http://www.rtands.com/index.php/freight/class-1/bnsf-completes-second-track-at-pecos-river.html?channel=&utm_source=WhatCounts%2c+Publicaster+Edition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=RGN+9.7.16&utm_content=Full+Article
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Posted by MikeF90 on Wednesday, September 7, 2016 6:26 PM

Overmod
Strange that after BNSF made so much of this in their $4.3B capital-improvement program last year, and did the 'golden tie' thing, there is no report other than SEMA's of the project completion (nominally open to traffic June 16th).

After not seeing anything about this completion on any BNSF web site, I emailed them to point this 'favorable event' out. Finally they replied today with this article posted yesterday:

http://www.bnsfmedia.com/go/doc/7090/2879938/

This is the source for the RT&S article: http://www.rtands.com/index.php/freight/class-1/bnsf-completes-second-track-at-pecos-river.html

AFAIK the new 'service road' seen near Alva, OK on Google Maps is a paved subgrade; some RRs do this in wetter areas to promote better drainage.

 

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 guetem1 on Thursday, September 8, 2016 11:35 PM
saw that done on the BNSF Ravenna Sub, was real strange to see subgrade, layer of asphalt and then ties and rails in place preparatory to ballast being added
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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, September 26, 2016 11:33 PM

Westbound Ballast Train

A plenty unit powered ballast train was westbound in the Blue Cut area of Cajon Pass (Southern California) Saturday morning September 24, 2016, in a much burnt landscape setting from the “Blue Cut” fire in August..  Some ballast cars could be seen full of ballast, others no ballast could be seen.

In light of the abundance of power for the train, it was felt that the Cajon Subdivision was not the intended destination of the ballast train.  Possibly it was going somewhere near Los Angeles and a third-track effort out that way.

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Posted by MikeF90 on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 2:47 PM

K. P. Harrier
In light of the abundance of power for the train, it was felt that the Cajon Subdivision was not the intended destination of the ballast train. Possibly it was going somewhere near Los Angeles and a third-track effort out that way.

Good eye! I'll speculate that some ballast refresh is being done along the San Bernardino sub. The three grade separation (and probable third main) projects in Orange county aren't due until 2018, and the Rosecrans Ave overpass about 2020.

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 kgbw49 on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 7:19 PM

A train that heavy would need a lot of dynamic braking going down the hill. I bet some of our friends with expertise in such things could calculate the approximate weight of the train given the capacity of dynamic braking capacity of the 5 units on the head end.

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Posted by Troop383 on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 1:03 PM

I apologize for a noob question- but I have not been able to find anything diffinitive on the web, this site or trainorders about this.

I know the southern Transcon splits at Ellinor, KS and that the two single lines- the one that goes south towards El Dorado and the one that goes west towards Newton- operate together as a double track section.  My question is, where do the two meet up again- do trains turn south at Newton through Wichita down to Wellington or do they continue west on the old main line through Colorado?  I see quite a few trains stopped in sidings on the Ellinor cutoff, so I wasn't sure how this functioned.

Thanks!

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Posted by Deggesty on Thursday, September 29, 2016 8:09 AM

They go south at Newton; the southern Transcon goes across Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle; none it goes across western Kansas and Colorado.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, September 29, 2016 1:22 PM

They meet at Mulvane, between Wichata and Wellington.  Here is BNSF's Kansas Div. map:

http://www.bnsf.com/customers/pdf/maps/div_ks.pdf

 

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Posted by azrail on Thursday, September 29, 2016 6:45 PM

Transcon Rd in Winslow was named after the long-departed Transcon Truck Lines, which had a terminal at the end of that rd.

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Saturday, November 5, 2016 3:14 PM

What is Your Take?

Winslow, AZ

On a trip from California to Texas and back in October (2016), much of it on the I-40 Freeway, Winslow, AZ was stopped at to check things out.  Something was brewing there, but exactly what is not clear.  New grading was present on the WEST end of town, as seen from the roadway overpass thereat, but it is unclear if new track-work can be expected or if it was a mere touchup situation.

Looking east piles of ballast was present, as if the switches were being touched-up with new and additional ballast, which suggests the present layout would stay the same.

For the record, no discernable track-work was taking place on the EAST side of town

If anyone has a take on all this west side work, please come forward.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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 Friday, November 18, 2016 12:49 AM

diningcar or anyone …

The southern Transcon is said to be two-tracks now from Los Angeles to Chicago, except for a couple of short sections such as river crossings, but they are being or will soon be two-tracked.  HOWEVER, AERIALS DON’T SUPPORT THE CLAIM!  They show TWO single-track routes in Kansas for fewer than two hundred miles.  The northern route seems to be longer and is used by Amtrak Nos. 3 & 4 and goes via Wichita.  The other seems to be a more direct route.  Is that latter route two-tracked now, or has BNSF played a word game by calling two different routes “two-tracks”?   

Thanks in advance,

K.P.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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 Friday, November 18, 2016 7:08 AM

K.P., those segments are operated as paired track between Wellington and Ellinor in Kansas - think of them as two tracks with really wide space in between!

The linked map gives one an idea of how that can work as they are not all that far apart:

http://bnsf.com/customers/pdf/maps/intermodal-map-large.pdf

This is similar to the Northern Transcon between Fargo and Minot in North Dakota.

Up there, some trains take the straight route between Fargo and Minot, and others are routed from Fargo up to Grand Forks and thence to Minot.

In both cases one route is a little longer than the other (and serves a population center) but gives them de facto "two tracks" along with the dispatching optionality of two main tracks just as if they were side by side.

Here is a link to a more detailed BNSF system map for reference also:

http://bnsf.com/customers/pdf/maps/carload_map.pdf

 

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Posted by diningcar on Friday, November 18, 2016 8:16 AM

I agree with kgbw49. I have recently seen the two 'separated main tracks' in Kansas in operation. The usual proceedure is - westward trains take the route through El Dorado and the eastward trains take the route through Wichita and Newton. Amtrak takes the route from Ellenor through Newton which is shared with the eastward trains.

We should understand that here the density of traffic from the west is much less than on the Barstow-Clovis segment of the Transcon; but the northward traffic from OK and Texas now shares these two 'separated' main tracks.

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Sunday, November 20, 2016 6:51 AM

kgbw49 and diningcar (11-18):

Thanks and Further Kansas Questions

Great explanations by both of you!

On aerials, three-tracks go west out of Kansas City.  It looks like three came from paralleling railroads, a double-track one and a single-track one.  Did that arrangement come about with the merger of AT&SF and BN?

It is wondered if the less density ‘paired track’ (but separated by miles apart) between Wellington and Ellinor (KS) is like the single-track offshoot from the southern Transcon at Barstow, CA northwest, to Mojave, Tehachapi, and the Central Valley to Richmond in the Bay Area near San Francisco?

Though quite a bit shorter than the Kansas paired track, the Barstow-Mojave line is a speedy one.  It uses 40 M.P.H. CTC turnouts.  While trains have to enter sidings at 30 M.P.H., they can exit at 40 M.P.H.  Because of that the line hosts a tremendous amount of trains per day.  That Barstow-Mojave line basically is straight track with mild, swooping curves with high speed desert running.

K.P. on Saturday (yesterday, November 19, 2016) had to be in the Barstow (CA) area, which he found most timely, as he was able to photograph the east switch of the Hinkley siding for this reply.

Looking eastbound towards the 40 M.P.H. east switch:

Looking westbound:

An aerials of the above Hinkley Road / BNSF grade crossing and the 40 M.P.H. switch:

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Hinkley,+CA+92347/@34.9329408,-117.1890214,197m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x80c387de7ad5daf5:0x7c75725212bad77e!8m2!3d34.9344769!4d-117.1993469

As seen in the above photos the situation was an abnormal one with much cloud cover.  Usually it is sunny, and oftentimes hot.

So, with that west of Barstow example, is that paired track in Kansas with higher speed turnouts too?

Take care,

K.P.

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Posted by diningcar on Sunday, November 20, 2016 8:47 AM

The three main tracks west from the KC Argentine Yard are all former Santa Fe. They split at Holliday where the line through Topeka to Emporia begins. The two main track Transcon line through Olathe and Ottawa to Emporia diverts south at Holliday.

Your quiry about a comparison of the Barstow - Mohave line with the sepatated paired tracks between Ellinor and Mulvane calls for two different responses. 1. the Ellinor - El Dorado - Mulvane segment where under normal conditions westward trains operate has high speed turnouts for most sidings but perhaps not through the city of El Doraro and at Augusta where the Texas traffic diverts (someone who knows more may correct me about this). 2. The Mulvane - Wichita - Newton - Ellinor line where under normal conditions eastward trains operate has more restrictive speeds through Wichita and Newton but high speed turnouts between Newton and Ellinor (where Amtrak uses operates in both directions. The Northward Texas traffic merges with the eastward Transcon at Mulvane

 

 

Anyonw with more specific or more corret info please correct me.

 

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Posted by Pete-M3 on Sunday, November 20, 2016 9:31 AM

 Interestingly, "Ellinor, Kansas" today appears to be more of a CP on the railroad than anything else. According to Wikipedia "Ellinor is an unincorporated community in Chase County, Kansas, in the United States. History[edit]. Ellinor (or Elinor) had a post office from 1871 until 1881." Not only is there no post office today, but no other buildings that I could see from the Google arial view. This search all started when I tried to approximate the railroad mileage between Ellinor and Wellington (the split trackage) with Google Maps. On Google arial view, the nearest "community" to the probable location of Ellinor is Saffordville, which appears to consist of some sort of railroad-served business, but no residences.

Pete

[/quote]

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Posted by diningcar on Sunday, November 20, 2016 10:35 AM

Pete, the approximate RR distance from Wellington to Ellinor via El Dorado is 101 miles and the approximat distance via Wichita and Newton is 124 miles. Someone with a former Santa Fe Middle Division TT or Track charts can get it exactly.

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Posted by Deggesty on Sunday, November 20, 2016 3:17 PM

Working from SFe System ETT #4 (4/10/94), I found that Elinor-Wellington via El Dorado is 101.0 miles; via Newton it is 119.0 miles.

I have discovered that some roads' ETT's do not show the exact distances by the mileposts, and you have to add the miles between individual stations to get the exact distance. The SFe was such a road. Determining the exact mileage is further complicated by the fact that in locations with split track operation, the north or west track mileage and the south or east track mileage can be different.

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Posted by Pete-M3 on Monday, November 21, 2016 10:26 AM

Diningcar/Deggesty, thanks for the replies. I suppose the next question would be which arrangement would have the greater capacity and/or flexibility: 

1. An adjacent double track line, CTC, signaled in both directions or

2. A split line like Ellinor to Wellington, with sidings. Certainly, the addition of bi-directional CTC on each line would make a significant difference in the comparison as would the number and lenght of sidings. Of course, I have no idea what the situation is on that stretch of railroad.

I realize that the 2 routes serve different towns/cities, are different in length and that a perfect comparison is not really possible. I guess the question that I have is whether the BNSF considers the current arrangement an advantage or disadvantage (tolerable or not) versus adjacent 2-track CTC bi-directional mains?

Just an idle musing.

Pete

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Posted by diningcar on Monday, November 21, 2016 11:29 AM

Pete, your question is easily answered - your  item 1 is the best.

However the options for BNSF in Kansas dictated use of the line you call 2. Both of these lines have been in existance for many decades so no new ROW acquistion was necessary. Adjustments could be made relatively inexpensively. 

The business to and from Oklahoma and Texas was what dictated this very old arrangement and the more recent developement of the "Transcon Business" only necessitated modifications - to high speed switches when desireable, upgraded signal systems and modifications in Wichita and Newton where additional trains now travel.

I am sure some finer points can be made by those with more recent knowledge as I have been retired from predecessor Santa Fe since 1990.

 

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Posted by MidlandMike on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 8:32 PM

I remember looking at Google Earth, and noticing that the north end of the shorter line thru El Dorado had started out as double track for quite a while.  I wonder if the eventual plan is to double track the entire segment.

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Posted by billio on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 7:11 AM

MidlandMike

I remember looking at Google Earth, and noticing that the north end of the shorter line thru El Dorado had started out as double track for quite a while.  I wonder if the eventual plan is to double track the entire segment. 

Because BNSF now uses two parallel unidirectional tracks for east-west traffic here, and because train counts along this segment, reflecting a lot of Chicago and Kansas City traffic diverting off the Transcon to Texas, are lower than through, say, Abo Canyon or across the Sibley (MO) bridge, thereby significantly lowering the urgency for second-tracking this segment, and because there remain significant stretches urgently needing more second track elsewhere in the system (particularly the Northern Transcon), then I'd wager, speaking as a bumpkin (formerly) from Virginia, that that track work is a long, long way off.

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Posted by samfp1943 on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 7:01 PM

diningcar

Pete, your question is easily answered - your  item 1 is the best.

However the options for BNSF in Kansas dictated use of the line you call 2. Both of these lines have been in existance for many decades so no new ROW acquistion was necessary. Adjustments could be made relatively inexpensively. 

The business to and from Oklahoma and Texas was what dictated this very old arrangement and the more recent developement of the "Transcon Business" only necessitated modifications - to high speed switches when desireable, upgraded signal systems and modifications in Wichita and Newton where additional trains now travel.

I am sure some finer points can be made by those with more recent knowledge as I have been retired from predecessor Santa Fe since 1990.

 

 

Off Topic   alittle information on the BNSF Ellinor sub and a little about the origin of "TRANSCON"

diningcar and Pete: I have been reading back in this Thread, and find the information posted by diningcar to be really interesting.  I happen to live at about the 217.5 MP on the Ellinor sub ( BNSF lists this part as Main 3). The West Switch is on the Northend of Mulvane,Ks. from there it's mostly double track, bi-directional to Wellington. Wellington to Amarillo (?).  It seems that most of the track segments around here are' pieces' that have been cobbled together, and engineered to get the capacity they currently have; this has been done through various abandonments, and re-alignments of the remnants of those towns where service had been discontinued, and segments pulled up(?) 

Last summer, BNSF and its Contractors re-worked the signals with LED lighting, and laid fiber-optic cabling along the ROW between Wichita and Wellington.

The traffic on thissegment of the Ellinor sub seems to be quite a bit westbound, less eastbound. ( Purely, unscientific observations of mine). From the East switch at Mulvane( about MP215/216(?) the track swings south to make to the ArkCity sub on the East side of town/ That traffic comes from Ark City via Winfield, and is single track but bi-directional running.  The Ark City sub joins the T-con on the SW side of town.  Traffic can go North towards Wichita or SW towards Wellington, or it can go towards Ellinor via the East switch  towards Rose Hill and Augusta. ( Augusta to Winfield is single track bi-directional running.)

And a note to KP Harrier and others.   There have been some mentions here about the origins of the term "TRANSCON". WE all pretty much the term as it relates to the current BNSF line to the East/West and its traffic.  But the photo of the 'Transcon' Road sign, I would think was mostly in reference to the long-gone Transcon Freight Lines that disappeared in the 1990's when it was merged into the former Ryder-PIE Freight Line.  Having worked for Ryder-PIE in Memphis, I was one of the ones who was caught in the mess...The whole thing was like a whirlpool sucking companies and money down...Transcon/PIE/ and eventually IU Trucking Corp (of which Landstar was involved)

See links @ http://articles.latimes.com/1990-05-01/business/fi-203_1_transcon-lines

and this, as well: @http://www.tenfourmagazine.com/2015/06/waynes-world/the-demise-of-transcon-lines-in-1990/

    

 

 


 

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Posted by diningcar on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:18 AM

samfp, you chose a very interesting location, Mulvbane, KS. Rather than attempt to explain the several options BNSF has in Mulvane I suggest to those interested that they get Google Maps up and then look at Google Earth for details. Especially look for the double track and grade separation features.

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Thursday, November 24, 2016 11:36 AM

Question Related to Mulvane, KS

In studying the Mulvane, KS movable aerial (and others) off and on for some days now, it has been noted that BNSF has one track going over the other (apparently a non-Transcon BNSF track).  It is presumed that arrangement came about close to a century ago, or at least three quarters on a century ago.  Obviously, the one track going over the other mentality has changed, such as with the present 1959-60 line relocation related biases shift at Window, AZ – right running to the west now becomes left running to the east (generally) -- where switches semi-accomplish the same thing as a flyover.  Did AT&SF, predecessor to BNSF, many decades ago convert to switches in lieu of flyovers / fly-unders because of the great reduction of time sensitive passenger trains, or was it purely for cost reasons?

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Posted by samfp1943 on Thursday, November 24, 2016 1:57 PM

[quote user="diningcar"]

samfp, you chose a very interesting location, Mulvane, KS. Rather than attempt to explain the several options BNSF has in Mulvane I suggest to those interested that they get Google Maps up and then look at Google Earth for details. Especially look for the double track and grade separation features.

 

[/quote] Diningcar and kgbw49:

First, I really appreciate the information and the Google Map. Thanks !

NOT TOO SURE ON THE DATE OF THE MAP(?) I may be misreading iot, but trying to follow from Mulvane across the Arkansaw R towards Wellington, it seems to show all single track (?). Currently, that is all double track that is signaled for bi-directional running on both tracks.  Not sure when that additional track was added [I suspect it was prior to 2000, but uncertain as to when it was improved. ]  Just recently, the BNSF added a bridge enhancement to the bridge just to the NE of the N.Oliver crossing.

The line North from Mulvane towards Wichita is signaled for bi-directional running, and has some double track, but also some segments of single track {Through the Derby,Ks. area] For urban running, the trackspeed seems to get about 50 mph, give or take, for traffic through there.  Even the Watco, and B.N trackage right trains move through there as well.

K.P. You asked about an elevated line on the south end of Mulvane [The Ark City sub leaves the main route just south of the former Mulvane Station (nee: Santa Fe type brick structure], as it[Ark City sub] heads Southeast towards Udall and Winfield} It is elevated to the point that a road crossing under it has approx. a 20' clearance from the lower road surface, to the bottom of the bridge]. it is single track and signaled for running in both directions.

The line from the East switch towards the Mulvane-Wellington line  swings around the East side and joins that line South, just North of the Arkansas River Bridge.   It too, is single tracked, and signaled for bi-directional running. 

Northbound [and Eastbound] traffic off the Ark City sub from Winfield must go to the West side of Mulvane, and either go North to Wichita and Newton, or take Fhe Ellinor sub towards the Northeast towards Gardner, Ks. and on to K.C. [BNSF has a large Intermodal facility, and Industrial Park at Gardner .]

 

 


 

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Posted by diningcar on Thursday, November 24, 2016 4:22 PM

KP and all: The grade separation at the south side of Mulvane is the Transcon crossing over the Newton-Wichita-Winfield and on to Oklahoma line and has been there for many years. The Transcon switches on the Wellington end are CTC and were 40MPH in 1995 TT's and the Transcon switches east of Mulvane are also 40 MPH.

In the 1995 TT the Transcon line that goes to the north of Mulvane and intersects the Newton- Okla. line is called the NORTH track and its intersection with the Newton-Okla line has a 10 MPH turnouts onto and exiting the Newton- Okla line as it continues west as the Transcon. So in 1995 the double track Transcon via El Dorado split east of Mulvane as described above and rejoined west of Mulvane. Rather than elaborate further about Mulvane at this time I will await responses to wehat I have just furnished.

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