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Updates on Multi-Tracking the Two BNSF Transcons

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, November 7, 2017 1:54 AM

MidlandMike (10-31):

Your rather definitive Sandpoint to Spokane being the only stretch having any two-tracking taking place on the western northern Transcon was quite helpful.  If I visit the northwest I’ll know exactly the area to zero in on, though that long tunnel area Bruce Kelly visited sounds exciting too. 

Thanks.

K.P.

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Posted by billio on Tuesday, November 7, 2017 6:59 AM

K. P. Harrier

billio (9-2):

Is this the site of the Alva, OK presently single-track bridge?

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Alva,+OK+73717/@36.8132334,-98.6627543,384m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x87af6fe53e8e4b29:0x5507c579d3a68a71!8m2!3d36.8050308!4d-98.6664737

If so, it looks like access to the site is very limited, with a public dirt road going under the bridge from the northeast.

Apparently the bridge over the Missouri River at Sibley, MO (that kgbw49 very recently posted about) has a similar access problem.  Such bridges are so few and old does anyone in America know how to bid and build such a bridge anymore?

Take care,

K.P. 

KP, I must beg your indulgence.  I missed your above reply until just now.  I was preparing my Florida home for Hurricane Irma, and then left town before the storm hit.  Truthfully, it never occurred to me that anyone would ask any question related to my earlier post.  The answer to your query about the Alva segment is, "Yes."  That indeed pinpoints the Alva stretch missing the second track.  To the north (top of the map), you can make out the embankment and preliminary grading for that second track.  Probably worth mentioning is that this segment is roughly comparable to adding the second span across the Pecos River at Ft. Sumner, MN, with one key difference:  the daily train count at Alva, so I've read, runs 40-50 per day, whereas at Ft. Sumner, 80, and maybe up to 100 trains on a busy day.  So, three guesses why BNSF attacked Ft. Sumner first.  Eventually, I figure they'll get around to Alva, too.

I saw (in Trains Magazine, I think) a blurb to the effect that BNSF has begun filing environmental and waterway papers for engineering work for the second Sibley bridge, but as someone else points out, that process can drag out for years.

Sorry again for the delay in replying to you.   --billio

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Posted by MikeF90 on Tuesday, November 7, 2017 2:37 PM

billio
That indeed pinpoints the Alva stretch missing the second track. To the north (top of the map), you can make out the embankment and preliminary grading for that second track. Probably worth mentioning is that this segment is roughly comparable to adding the second span across the Pecos River at Ft. Sumner, MN, with one key difference: the daily train count at Alva, so I've read, runs 40-50 per day, whereas at Ft. Sumner, 80, and maybe up to 100 trains on a busy day.

That's an astonishing amount of traffic that splits off at Avard and possibly Amarillo and Clovis. The Memphis IM terminal has been upgraded recently; what other endpoints are getting this traffic?  TIA!

Mini transcon Google map:  http://goo.gl/maps/91eb6

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 billio on Tuesday, November 7, 2017 5:02 PM

MikeF90

 

 
billio
That indeed pinpoints the Alva stretch missing the second track. To the north (top of the map), you can make out the embankment and preliminary grading for that second track. Probably worth mentioning is that this segment is roughly comparable to adding the second span across the Pecos River at Ft. Sumner, MN, with one key difference: the daily train count at Alva, so I've read, runs 40-50 per day, whereas at Ft. Sumner, 80, and maybe up to 100 trains on a busy day.

 

That's an astonishing amount of traffic that splits off at Avard and possibly Amarillo and Clovis. The Memphis IM terminal has been upgraded recently; what other endpoints are getting this traffic?  TIA!

Mini transcon Google map:  http://goo.gl/maps/91eb6 

When you ask, "what other endpoints are getting this traffic?" you do not specify from which of the three junctions -- Clovis, Amarillo and Avard -- you meant, so I'll take a brief shot at all of 'em.  From Clovis and Amarillo, BNSF offers service to Dallas-Ft. Worth and Houston.  From Avard, BNSF service extands to Tulsa, Memphis, Birmingham and (through service on other rails) Atlanta, Charlotte and Jacksonville.  Knowledgeable BNSF'ers are cordially invited to add and correct.  --billio

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Posted by MikeF90 on Tuesday, March 6, 2018 2:45 PM

The News Line reports that BNSF plans to add a third track from Dalies to Belen Jct, about 10 miles: http://cs.trains.com/trn/f/111/p/268727/3044412.aspx#3044412

BTW I have not yet found a public BNSF announcement of this two year project.

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 rdamon on Tuesday, March 6, 2018 3:03 PM

Should we start a crowdsourcing project to fund an apartment for K.P. nearby? :)

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 6:31 PM

rdamon and all:  “Fuel Pads” (“FUEL PADS”)?

Quite an imagination you have, rdamon!

I have to assess the surprise, new development, that three tracking for about ten miles west of Belen, NM.

The TRAINS newswire article mentioned fueling or fuel pads.  That strikes me as illogical.  Such pads seem (“seem”) to go contrary to DPU practices there.  That needs to be clarified by the newswire author I think.

In light of this new development, it is wondered what that grading was on the west side of Winslow, AZ and if it is connected to the New Mexico development in some way.

Back to the Belen area, the fact that work has started opens up many possibilities for visiting.  So does aerials of the Belen area.  I wonder if Scotty would beam me and my car over there for a few hours ...

K.P.

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Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 9:11 PM

K.P., is that Death Valley Scotty you want to beam you up?Smile

Johnny

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Posted by kgbw49 on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 10:29 PM

Well played, Mr. Deggesty! Well played indeed!

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Posted by Deggesty on Thursday, March 8, 2018 10:23 AM

kgbw49

Well played, Mr. Deggesty! Well played indeed!

 

Thank youBow

Oh, you do not need to be so formal; just call me "Johnny."

Johnny

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Posted by Shadow the Cats owner on Thursday, March 8, 2018 1:23 PM

KP Eastbounds fuel up at Belen the first point they do fuel them up since leaving CA.  Westbounds are fueled up at Amarillo for the run into CA.  DPU's get fueled up via tanker trucks.  Think how the US Army fuels up their tanks in the field a truck pulls up next to the tank and fuels it up.  

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Posted by Bruce Kelly on Thursday, March 8, 2018 3:34 PM

Thanks for that info, Shadow. I was eyeballing the layout of those Belen fuel pads and it looked like only one of them might, maybe, have enough track on both sides of it for a train to fuel its head end, then pull ahead to fuel the DPUs without frogging other trains, but trucks make that point moot.

The 4-track fuel pad at Hauser, ID, is situated mid-way along the yard with enough length on all four refueling mains (numbered 3-6) for a train to fuel its head end, then re-spot to fuel the DPUs without getting in anyone else's way. In fact, once a train pulls ahead for its DPUs to fuel, the next train behind it can pull in and hold just short of the pad (at East or West Downing) and be fully clear of Mains 1, 2, and the east and west yard leads.

 

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Posted by ADRIAN BALLAM on Thursday, March 8, 2018 11:07 PM

This is the first time I have seen this blog. For me, the interest derives from the BNSF's Northern Transcon in terms of double-track expansion. In looking at the discussion, it seems BNSF is adding additional trackage that I was not aware of the last several years on the Northern Transcon. Does anybody know if BNSF has added or expanded sidings on the Lakeside Sub between Spokane and Pasco within the past two years? Also, are they now running upwards of 10,000 foot trains into Washington?

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Friday, March 9, 2018 12:45 AM

Replies

Deggesty (3-7):

Hi, Johnny!

It is not clear what you were implying or insinuating by Death Valley Scotty, but he was notorious for scams and ripping people off, i.e., taking their money.  The Scotty previously referred to in my post involved the famous show Star Trek, and the ability of moving people (and / or things) from point A to B in seconds.  In the post A would be Southern California, B would be New Mexico, and that distance would take me three days to drive.  A transporter, if possible, would save me much time.

Shadow the Cats owner (3-8):

Are you sure about those Belen (NM) and Amarillo (TX) details?

Belen looks similar to Winslow (AZ), and I don’t think they fuel the power there.

In aerials of Amarillo I found NO fueling pads.  They may be there, but I failed to see any.

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think power can run from the West Coast all the way to Chicago without refueling nowadays.  There is limited fueling here and there for local power, or for units running low on fuel for whatever reason.

Bruce Kelly (3-8):

Is this the Mains 3-6 Hauser, ID fueling location, under a light weight building covering?

https://www.google.com/maps/@47.7813624,-116.9464734,161m/data=!3m1!1e3

The fact that there are four such tracks AND two other straight through tracks (Mains 1 and 2) suggests, at least to me, that a lot of train traffic is not Pacific Northwest coast to Chicago straight through operations, but power lingers in a region and needs refueling in that region.  Is that a fair assessment, Bruce?

Thanks,

K.P.

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Posted by Shadow the Cats owner on Friday, March 9, 2018 6:46 AM

https://goo.gl/maps/CEPy51zqTZr  °4https://goo.gl/maps/CEPy51zqTZr  Is the location of the racks by the shop.  9'46.8"W

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Posted by Shadow the Cats owner on Friday, March 9, 2018 6:48 AM

Is the location of the fuel racks.  Amarillo is a 1000 mile inspection point and if needed power is switched out there aka not as much needed they will take off some.

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Posted by Deggesty on Friday, March 9, 2018 8:02 AM

K.P., I knew you were referring to the Star Trek Scotty; I simply could not resist asking if another Scotty who was associated with the area was the man.

 

Johnny

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Posted by Bruce Kelly on Friday, March 9, 2018 9:44 AM

K.P., the Hauser refueling shed services a variety of train types, most of which are fairly long-haul. PRB coal to coast, Midwest or eastern Montana grain to coast, Bakken and Canadian crude to coast or California, intermodal from Chicago, Texas, and points between to the coast or vice versa. It's not about keeping motive power close to the area, but about avoiding the need to have power removed from trains en route or at their turn-around point for servicing.

Unit trains hauling grain, coal, oil, etc., get fueled at Hauser and can make the round trip to coastal/semi-coastal terminals and back, then get fueled again heading east as empties. Saves the time and hassle of cutting those units off and shuttling them to some other facility for fueling, and lets them stay on or near their train during the unloading process. Similar process for some (but not necessarily all) stack trains heading to/from ports.

Domestic intermodals, on the other hand, get assembled and disassembled in Portland and South Seattle in such a way that their power tends to not need servicing at Hauser. Same for most manifests, of course, which are getting power serviced at Pasco and to a lesser degree at Parkwater (Spokane). Last Saturday saw a bit of a fluke with H-PASKCK going through Hauser on Main 6. I arrived there in time to see it depart behind Z-PTLCHC (which changed crews on Main 2), but I can't say for certain whether the "Pass-Kick" actually fueled on Main 6 or merely got routed that way to make its crew change without blocking Mains 1 and 2.

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Posted by samfp1943 on Friday, March 9, 2018 10:44 AM

billio

 

 
MikeF90

 

 
billio
That indeed pinpoints the Alva stretch missing the second track. To the north (top of the map), you can make out the embankment and preliminary grading for that second track. Probably worth mentioning is that this segment is roughly comparable to adding the second span across the Pecos River at Ft. Sumner, MN, with one key difference: the daily train count at Alva, so I've read, runs 40-50 per day, whereas at Ft. Sumner, 80, and maybe up to 100 trains on a busy day.

 

That's an astonishing amount of traffic that splits off at Avard and possibly Amarillo and Clovis. The Memphis IM terminal has been upgraded recently; what other endpoints are getting this traffic?  TIA!

Mini transcon Google map:  http://goo.gl/maps/91eb6 

 

 

When you ask, "what other endpoints are getting this traffic?" you do not specify from which of the three junctions -- Clovis, Amarillo and Avard -- you meant, so I'll take a brief shot at all of 'em.  From Clovis and Amarillo, BNSF offers service to Dallas-Ft. Worth and Houston.  From Avard, BNSF service extands to Tulsa, Memphis, Birmingham and (through service on other rails) Atlanta, Charlotte and Jacksonville.  Knowledgeable BNSF'ers are cordially invited to add and correct.  --billio

 

Had some time today to catch up and thought, some information here, might further show current traffic levels around the BNSF's junction at Mulvane, Ks.   My wife recently, had a conversation with one of the RFM's for BNSF at Casey's. She had asked of him the level of traffic around here, specifically, the Mulvane to Wellington traffic. He mentioned to here that currently, it was running at something over 60 trains a day. 

Mulvane is the jct for traffic out of the South& Okla.[yard at Arkansas City,Ks.] (Ark City Sub), and runs through Wichita, Newton and East towards KC area.          

The El Dorado sub [Ellinor,ks. to  East switch, and on to w/b T-con @Mulvane] Traffic is bi-directional, but seems to run as 'fleets', (or pairs of trains) in either direction.  Some of this traffic can be directed on to the Ark City sub, and South from the by-pass out on the East side of town.   

 

 


 

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Saturday, March 10, 2018 11:03 AM

Replies

Shadow the Cats owner (3-9):

I see what you were referring to, power OFF (away from) trains in for fueling.  My search of the Amarillo, TX area was for fueling pads to fuel engines ON the trains.

Perhaps my search was influenced by Union Pacific’s new Santa Teresa, NM fueling facility.  That place has seven fueling tracks with pads on each end of the couple of miles long fueling facility.

The fuel storage tanks there are full sized ones …

Both photos April 1, 2016

… unlike some smaller ones on the BNSF southern Transcon as seen on aerials.

Thus, facilities such as at Winslow, AZ and Belen, NM seem to be crew relief pads.

Deggesty (3-9):

Now that makes sense.

Did you know I have a red tail? (Just kidding …)

I did entertain visiting New Mexico this weekend, but my wife will be out of town for nearly a week taking a class for her work, so the New Mexico idea soon disappeared.

The TRAINS newswire story did mention that the new Main 1 project in New Mexico will be operational within a year, so maybe this summer visible progress would make a visit worthwhile.

Bruce Kelly (3-9):

Very good reply and quite informative!  Thanks.

samfp1943 (3-9):

60 trains a day through the Mulvane, KS area gives us a better picture of that area.

Please thank your wife for her presence of mind to ask that RFM the train count.  What is RFM?  Some type of manager I suppose …

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 ChuckCobleigh on Saturday, March 10, 2018 2:57 PM

K. P. Harrier
Perhaps my search was influenced by Union Pacific’s new Santa Teresa, NM fueling facility.  That place has seven fueling tracks with pads on each end of the couple of miles long fueling facility.

If one believes the Google Earth ruler, the racks at each end are about 10,000 feet apart.  Gee, wonder where they came up with that number?Surprise

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Posted by MikeF90 on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 3:01 PM

The Trains Newswire has alerted us to a new TIGER project along the northern transcon: "Bridging the Valley: Barker Road Grade Separation Project, City of Spokane Valley, Washington, $9,020,149 – to replace an existing at-grade crossing at Barker Road with an overpass, close a second at-grade crossing at Flora Road, and replace the intersection of Barker Road and Trent Avenue with a roundabout."

Barker Road is just west of the end of 2MT; next step, build a new bridge over the Spokane River!

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 MidlandMike on Monday, March 19, 2018 7:29 PM

Now that BNSF is starting the process to twin the Pend Oreille bridge, will they double track the rest of the "funnel"?

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Posted by Bruce Kelly on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 8:19 AM

Adding a second main between Irvin and Otis Orchards, WA, was officially announced earlier this year. This will require a second bridge over the Spokane River. In the permitting process now; BNSF says it would like to begin construction next year.

Adding a second main between Cocolalla and West Algoma, ID, might seem like a snap, just a couple miles of track. But it could face almost as much environmental resistance as the Lake Pend Oreille bridge because it would be right along the shoreline of Lake Cocolalla (or Cocolalla Lake, depending on which map you look at), and very close to U.S. 95 in most spots. There was once talk of relocating the highway onto higher ground away from the railroad and the lake, but that would entangle a lot of private land and existing roads and homes on the hillsides.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 7:23 PM

After the presently planned projects are done, will the Lake Cocolalla section be the last single track bottleneck ?

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Posted by Bruce Kelly on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 11:12 PM

Last single track bottleneck on the Funnel...yes. There will still be several single track bottlenecks east and west of there, not just the ordinary gaps between sidings where track speed is high enough to make up for the single-lane flow, but places like the slow, twisting coulee between Connell and Hatton, WA, roughly ten miles with two-dozen curves, half of them 6-degrees, on a grade that reaches 0.91%.

https://www.google.com/maps/@46.713385,-118.8503536,17721m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en

It saw some preliminary grade work for a second main done several years ago but nothing more. Early on, BNSF was considering a new alignment on a higher, straighter elevation skirting the ridgetops, similar to what it did at Abo Canyon, but that plan was apparently canned. 

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Posted by ccltrains on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 7:29 AM

With all the permitting and NIMBY activity on BNSF double tracking one has to wonder if the UP and CP had to jump through similar hoops we could still waiting for the golden spike ceremony.

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Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 8:03 AM

ccltrains

With all the permitting and NIMBY activity on BNSF double tracking one has to wonder if the UP and CP had to jump through similar hoops we could still waiting for the golden spike ceremony.

 

From what I remember about the construction of the UP, one group of NIMBY's helped in the layout--when they chased a group of the UP people, the UP people found a grade that is still used--Sherman Hill.

Once in a great, great while, NIMBY's could help.Smile

Johnny

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Posted by MikeF90 on Saturday, March 24, 2018 3:33 PM

Bruce Kelly
<snip>There will still be several single track bottlenecks east and west of there, not just the ordinary gaps between sidings where track speed is high enough to make up for the single-lane flow ....

IIRC last year Bruce reported some possible prep work for a new bridge near Lakeside Jct (west of Spokane). Perhaps when the weather warms up someone will revisit.

Can't remember if posted elsewhere, but BNSF announced some planned signaling improvements RR east of Sandpoint. Not a second main, but it will speed up movements at sidings.

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 ADRIAN BALLAM on Saturday, March 24, 2018 4:01 PM

Hello KP and other railfans,.

I recently commented asking if anybody has seen any 10,000 feet trains on BNSF in Washington. Well I found something interesting the other day from the Youtube Channel of The Northwest Seaport Alliance that dates back to November 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Fo_Fdv6CkA.

According to the video back in November 2017, they started loading 10,000 foot intermodal trains between Tacoma and Chicago and this will be daily occurrence. I see a lot of K'Line containers so that may be Union Pacific in this case, but BNSF has extensive contributions to the Port of Tacoma and since I now know they added 9,800 foot siding on BNSF's Falbridge Sub in the Columbia Gorge, these long trains may mean it is for them as well.

Has anybody seen any 10,000 foot trains in the past five months along BNSF's Northern Transcon?

Tags: Long Trains

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