Trains.com

Union Pacific (Ex SP) West Phoenix Line

28990 views
181 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    December 2006
  • 1,733 posts
Posted by diningcar on Tuesday, September 19, 2017 9:18 AM

Tree, white is a much preferred color in the Arizona since it does not "absorb" the sun like darker colors will.

  • Member since
    December 2006
  • 1,733 posts
Posted by diningcar on Tuesday, September 19, 2017 9:21 AM

Tree, white is the preferred color in Arizona as it does not "absorb" the sun like darker colors will. Silver is also a favorite.

  • Member since
    July 2014
  • 565 posts
Posted by Fred M Cain on Tuesday, September 19, 2017 9:29 AM

Yes, I think it can safely be said that the BNSF as well as the Santa Fe before it has generally taken a bigger interest in the greater Phoenix area than what the UP and SPT Co. have.  That's rather curious since the Santa Fe Line reaches Phoenix by a twisty and difficult mountain railroad branchline as opposed to the SP's generally easy grade line.

Nonetheless, the Santa Fe had a hot intermodal train that ran directly from Chicago to Phoenix (maybe it still runs?) while the SP had more of a tendency to drop intermodal cars at Tucson then add them to the daily Tucson-Phoenix road freight.

At one time through Pullman sleeper service was offered from Chicago to Phoenix with the through cars dropped at Williams from one of AT&SF's flagships and added to the local Williams-Phoenix train so that through passengers wouldn't have to change trains.

Although I'm afraid I'm getting off topic for the UP west Phoenix line, another one of the last pieces of major railroad construction in Arizona was the Drake bypass that bypassed Prescott.  That work was mentioned in this article.

http://tucson.com/business/local/prescott-area-rail-line-stirs-fond-recollections/article_ea2723d0-ae30-5aab-a4d9-8c6e6f25c0d2.html

When I was living in the Phoenix area in the 1970s, I used to hear rumors that the Santa Fe was planning to eventually add block signals and CTC to the branch.  In any event, if there was ever any truth to those rumors, this has never happened to my knowledge and the "Peavine" remains dark territory.

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

  • Member since
    December 2001
  • From: Northern New York
  • 24,894 posts
Posted by tree68 on Tuesday, September 19, 2017 9:50 AM

diningcar

Tree, white is a much preferred color in the Arizona since it does not "absorb" the sun like darker colors will.

My AZ rental this summer was black as coal.

Really, though, the observation applies here in the north country, as well.  You just don't see the variety of colors you used to, and certainly not the variety you saw years ago.

I spotted three locomotives in the area as well.  I just found it curious that the one was buried like it was.  Must be a spare...

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
My Opinion. Standard Disclaimers Apply. No Expiration Date
Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

  • Member since
    July 2008
  • 2,325 posts
Posted by rdamon on Tuesday, September 19, 2017 11:17 AM

Just like the discussion of the white cars ... I wondered why they had a locomotive painted black and felt sorry for the occupant.

  • Member since
    April 2011
  • 30 posts
Posted by Pasadena Bound on Tuesday, September 19, 2017 11:20 AM

It would be nice to remove as many trucks as possible from the I-10 corridor (LA to El Paso) and most especially within the confines of the Phoenix-Tucson Metroplex.  

 

I suspect the only valid reason for the Westside UP trackage is to service the Pinnacle West Power Systems Station.

 

 

Phoenix is NOT a very friendly place for railroads! Phoenix is more into anything which might generate an “inclusive parade” for our camera lusting Mayor and his Pom Pom squad from the city council and city manager’s office.

 

Yes, we do have the Mayor’s “Felony Foley Trolley” running in the streets like the systems in Hungary and Czechoslovak of the 1850’s!

 

 

True rail rapid transit will NEVER come to Phoenix while the local politicians are manipulated by the reality lobby. Rapid rail transit may well be served on the existing UP trackage in both the east and west valley along with the BNSF line from Wickenburg to Phoenix.

Fred M Cain

Yes, I think it can safely be said that the BNSF as well as the Santa Fe before it has generally taken a bigger interest in the greater Phoenix area than what the UP and SPT Co. have.  That's rather curious since the Santa Fe Line reaches Phoenix by a twisty and difficult mountain railroad branchline as opposed to the SP's generally easy grade line.

Nonetheless, the Santa Fe had a hot intermodal train that ran directly from Chicago to Phoenix (maybe it still runs?) while the SP had more of a tendency to drop intermodal cars at Tucson then add them to the daily Tucson-Phoenix road freight.

At one time through Pullman sleeper service was offered from Chicago to Phoenix with the through cars dropped at Williams from one of AT&SF's flagships and added to the local Williams-Phoenix train so that through passengers wouldn't have to change trains.

Although I'm afraid I'm getting off topic for the UP west Phoenix line, another one of the last pieces of major railroad construction in Arizona was the Drake bypass that bypassed Prescott.  That work was mentioned in this article.

http://tucson.com/business/local/prescott-area-rail-line-stirs-fond-recollections/article_ea2723d0-ae30-5aab-a4d9-8c6e6f25c0d2.html

When I was living in the Phoenix area in the 1970s, I used to hear rumors that the Santa Fe was planning to eventually add block signals and CTC to the branch.  In any event, if there was ever any truth to those rumors, this has never happened to my knowledge and the "Peavine" remains dark territory.

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

 

I suspect “we” have missed those windows of opportunity by sinking tons of dollars into a trolley which primarily acts as a connecting “bus” system for Arizona State University, i.e. Tempe to Phoenix.

  • Member since
    July 2014
  • 565 posts
Posted by Fred M Cain on Tuesday, September 19, 2017 11:44 AM

Pasadena,

I know, I know, light rail transit is actually a somewhat contravercial subject with some very hard-core, outspoken opponenets and some equally hard-core and vehement advocates.  However, I would like to say that I agree with you about the truck traffic.

But this whole subject of the Phoenix line presents itself as somewhat of a mystery to me.  Here is what we know:

The Union Pacific Corporation is actually maintaining block signals between the Phoenix yard and Arlington.  Even stranger is the fact that they have even gone so far as to replace some older signals with new ones.  I could understand keeping the signals EAST of Phoenix since that still has barely enough traffic to justify an automatic block signal system. (i.e. at least one daily road freight + several local switch turns).  But, Phoenix - Arlington?  Huh? 

But what is now incredibly bizarre is the fact that the UP is evidently also maintaining signals on the Welton-Roll segment which has very little local traffic. I'm not even sure if it runs daily or not.

What can be made out of this?  I actually have several theories that I'd like to share but unfortunately I do not have the facts.  The facts would be nice.  But right now, we don't have them.  There's nothing to do but to be patient and wait.  Meanwhile, the Roll-Arlington segment of the line continues to bake in the sun and gather rust.  Sleep well!  Maybe someday you'll see traffic again - or not.

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

  • Member since
    January 2007
  • 595 posts
Posted by azrail on Tuesday, September 19, 2017 2:42 PM

BNSF has too much freight business on its line for light rail, and the Sun City folk don't go downtown very often.

  • Member since
    July 2008
  • 2,325 posts
Posted by rdamon on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 4:14 PM

I found a derail in Roll on this 2011 street view image ..

 

  • Member since
    December 2004
  • 707 posts
Posted by tdmidget on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 6:47 PM

rdamon

Just like the discussion of the white cars ... I wondered why they had a locomotive painted black and felt sorry for the occupant.

 

The autos are covered with white plastic sheet to protect the paint. There are more colors than you can imagine there.

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: Somewhere in North Texas
  • 1,080 posts
Posted by desertdog on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 7:43 PM

I am going to venture a couple of guesses on this. First of all, the population of Arizona is growing rapidly. Phoenix is outpacing the rest of the country in job creation by a wide margin. The Phoenix metro has become a warehousing center for not only Arizona, but Southern California, as well. The cost to preserve the line is small compared to its future freight potential. Secondly, while Amtrak may not be in a position to restore service, there has been talk about some kind of bi-state cooperation on passenger rail to the L.A. area. It may be years away, but never say never.

John Timm

  • Member since
    July 2008
  • 2,325 posts
Posted by rdamon on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 9:19 PM

That and there is a fiber optic route along the ROW that is probably paying a few bills. 

  • Member since
    July 2014
  • 565 posts
Posted by Fred M Cain on Thursday, September 21, 2017 6:18 AM

desertdog

I am going to venture a couple of guesses on this. First of all, the population of Arizona is growing rapidly. Phoenix is outpacing the rest of the country in job creation by a wide margin. The Phoenix metro has become a warehousing center for not only Arizona, but Southern California, as well. The cost to preserve the line is small compared to its future freight potential. Secondly, while Amtrak may not be in a position to restore service, there has been talk about some kind of bi-state cooperation on passenger rail to the L.A. area. It may be years away, but never say never.

John Timm

 

 

John,

I think that's an excellent theory.  It also tends to jibe with what the P.R. rep in Southern California told me in an e-mail that they fully intend to "keep the line for future transportation/development".

Your idea about passenger service on the line might also not be too way-out.  After all, the response I got back from the guy in Omaha back in the late 1990s also mentioned the potential for a future LA-Phoenix passenger route.  Obviously the UP would not be interested in offering the public such a service but they might get some other kind of a benefit out of it. Either in usage payments or $ from the government to upgrade the tracks which would also benefit freight service. That is what has basically happenend in Illinois in the "Lincoln Corridor".

I can see some analagies between the Phoenix line and the sad loss of the Douglas Line - which I have always lamented.  Had D.J. Russell had a better crystal ball and X-Ray vision, he might've seen future potential in the Douglas line and mothballed it.  With all the heavy traffic nowadays perhaps that line could've been used in some kind of a directional traffic operation.  A nice side benefit is that it would've also preserved local rail freight service to extreme southeastern Arizona.

 

Yeah, too bad it's gone.  I hope that doesn't happen with the Phoenix line but it looks like the UP is a little more future-oriented than D.J. Russell was.  But I don't hold it against him.  He was only human.  Based on the info Russel was give in 1960, I mighta done the same thing.

 

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

  • Member since
    July 2014
  • 565 posts
Posted by Fred M Cain on Thursday, September 21, 2017 11:55 AM

rdamon

I found a derail in Roll on this 2011 street view image ..

 

 
Damon,
 
Looks to me like a temporary or "removable" derail.  It was probably put there as a visual aid to remind T&E crews that they are not supposed to go beyond that point without authorization from the track department.
 
Not sure how those rules work but it'd be my guess that a foreman from track would have to come out and remove it - or at least authorize a trackworker to do it.
 
 
Nice picture, though.  I don't know when they took it but it looks like it had rained quite a bit.  Or, could that be irrigation overflow?
 
Regards,
Fred M. Cain
  • Member since
    July 2014
  • 565 posts
Posted by Fred M Cain on Thursday, September 21, 2017 12:31 PM

Here is something kinda interesting.  Inspired by Damon's view of the derail, I tried to do a similar thing.  Now, if I do this right, we should see a Google street image of the west end of the old Hyder Siding.  You can clearly make out the set of automatic block signals with their heads removed.  (Click on the picture)

Although it doesn't show here, the Google satelllite view taken from space clearly shows what looks like some desert shrubs growing OVER the rails on both the siding AND the main track!  This answers some questions for me.  Yes, the line is clearly out of service and no, the UP does not run an occassion hot train over it.

I hope the line gets revived but I dunno.

 

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

  • Member since
    July 2014
  • 565 posts
Posted by Fred M Cain on Thursday, September 21, 2017 12:50 PM

P.S.  I found something else now.  The Google Satellite view taken from space of Harqua which is about 2/3 of the way from Hyder to Arlington, show a long string of stored cars.  Can't tell what they are but they might be double-stack wells.  Does anybody know?

No street view available at Harqua.  Although the long URL will probably be broken, here it is anyways:

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Hyder,+AZ+85333/@33.2476598,-112.9955309,148m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x80d4ff3ac2bbb40f:0x88b3f862e4fd4844!8m2!3d33.0163889!4d-113.348056

 

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

  • Member since
    July 2014
  • 565 posts
Posted by Fred M Cain on Thursday, September 21, 2017 1:21 PM

And here we have a classic Union Pacific "Darth Vader" hooded signal on the west side of Roll.  Note that the hooded head appears to be installed on the base of a much older signal.  Also that there is no signal for westbound movements.

I suspect this signal might be permanently set to stop or perhaps approach.  There might be one more signal further east but this is the only one I could find on street view.

Also, images taken from space show a large shipper on the east side of Roll.  That is probably as far east as trains go nowadays.

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

  • Member since
    June 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 6,871 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Thursday, September 21, 2017 2:06 PM

Does UP have any Container yards in or around Phoenix?     Kind of surprised the West Phoenix line is not used for Intermodal.

  • Member since
    July 2014
  • 565 posts
Posted by Fred M Cain on Thursday, September 21, 2017 2:14 PM

CMStPnP,

 

Ah, yes, there is.  It is what the UP calls a "paper ramp" on Phoenix's west side.  I don't know how busy it is.  Does anybody know?

It is indicated on the UP's website here:

https://www.up.com/customers/intermodal/intmap/phoenix/index.htm

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

  • Member since
    July 2014
  • 565 posts
Posted by Fred M Cain on Thursday, September 21, 2017 2:26 PM

Fred M Cain

CMStPnP,

 

Ah, yes, there is.  It is what the UP calls a "paper ramp" on Phoenix's west side.  I don't know how busy it is.  Does anybody know?

It is indicated on the UP's website here:

https://www.up.com/customers/intermodal/intmap/phoenix/index.htm

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

 

This is really sort of a puzzle for me.  Looking at Google satellite it does not appear that any containers are being loaded or unloaded from rail cars at this site.  Perhap by "paper ramp" they mean that the UP will have them picked up there but then taken by rubber to another location for rail shipment.

Can anyone on our forum clarify this?

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

  • Member since
    January 2007
  • 595 posts
Posted by azrail on Thursday, September 21, 2017 2:35 PM

BNSF seems to have most of the intermodal traffic into Phoenix..the former Desert Lift yard in Glendale. Most of what UP brings in are covered hoppers, there are a number of bakeries, plastic plants, and feed mills on the west side.

  • Member since
    September 2010
  • 2,515 posts
Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Thursday, September 21, 2017 3:45 PM

Most Fiber easements are single payment long term and don't provide continuing revenue. 

  • Member since
    July 2008
  • 2,325 posts
Posted by rdamon on Thursday, September 21, 2017 6:15 PM

Been involved with several that were 20 year terms with annual lease payments, but I do not know the details on this one as it is probably legacy Sprint for at least one of the conduits.

I am sure there is also questionable underlying railroad easments that would come into play if they decided to pull the line.

 

 

 

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 25,005 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, September 21, 2017 8:11 PM

rdamon
Been involved with several that were 20 year terms with annual lease payments, but I do not know the details on this one as it is probably legacy Sprint for at least one of the conduits.

I am sure there is also questionable underlying railroad easments that would come into play if they decided to pull the line.

Remember the origins of Sprint were in the Southern Pacifics's communications department.  Lord and the lawyers only know what the legacy agreements that were drawn up over the Southern Pacific's territory and that carried over after Sprint was spun off on it's own.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

  • Member since
    July 2008
  • 2,325 posts
Posted by rdamon on Friday, September 22, 2017 5:41 AM

If there were any agreements drawn up ...

I think we saw some of that surface with the Kinder Morgan pipeline relocation as well.

I know KP had a lot more photos of the Phoenix line on his Sunset Route thread, but they are now locked in Photobucket prison.

  • Member since
    July 2014
  • 565 posts
Posted by Fred M Cain on Friday, September 22, 2017 6:28 AM

azrail

BNSF seems to have most of the intermodal traffic into Phoenix..the former Desert Lift yard in Glendale. Most of what UP brings in are covered hoppers, there are a number of bakeries, plastic plants, and feed mills on the west side.

 

I looked at a view of the Desert Lift on Google Satellite and it appears to be a fairly good sized facility and they are lifting containers on and off of rail cars directly.

It kinda appear to me as though the SPT Co. wrote Phoenix off for some reason, disinvested in it and let the Santa Fe have the business.  The Union Pacific Corp appears to have just continued that policy. 

If the Santa Fe and the BNSF after it can do a thriving business carrying double stacks over the "Peavine" torcher track, one has to wonder what the UP could do if they really invested in an intermodal facility directly in the Phoenix area somewhere.

Instead they have relocated all the intermodal lifting to the Tucson area.  That is a long way to dray the containers especially if they're headed to somewhere on Phoenix's north side.  It is my understanding that they will soon have a new intermodal facility in Picacho but that still seems like  cop-out.

Maybe I'll write to the UP and see what their thoughts are on this.  I think a big lift facility on the UP on Phoenix's west side right on or near the Arizona 202 Loop would be a worthwhile investment.  Sadly, they might not see it that way.

As a UP invester myself, I can't complain too loudly.  They have actually been doing rather well financially.

Regards,

Fred m. Cain

  • Member since
    July 2014
  • 565 posts
Posted by Fred M Cain on Friday, September 22, 2017 6:31 AM

rdamon

I know KP had a lot more photos of the Phoenix line on his Sunset Route thread, but they are now locked in Photobucket prison.

 

Yeah, I use "tiny pic" but it has the same issue.  It seems like they only store the images so long and then they expire. All you see then is a smal "X" where the image used to be.

 

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

  • Member since
    July 2014
  • 565 posts
Posted by Fred M Cain on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 10:16 AM

Here's something kinda interesting that I stumbled across while "Googling" for "Phoenix-Welton rail line".  There was a post on trainorders.com three years ago here: https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?4,3364791 where it was claimed that the UP was actually installing new blocks signals on WEST of Arlington and was actually approaching Hyder at that time.

I can not respond to this 'cause I'm not on Trainorders.com but it would allow me to read the post as a guest.

Here is the copied and pasted post:

"Actually there's reason to believe they are restoring the line now (not necessarily for passenger service, however). New signals are in place west of Buckeye. When I spied a signal construction gang working on the signals in November, I stopped and chatted. One gentleman told me they were installing new signals at a slow pace but were already near Hyder. No reason to go beyond Arlington if they had no plans on restoring the line (eventually)."  End quote.

I can't help but wonder if this is actually true or whether there might've been a misunderstanding.  Is anybody on Trainorders.com that can respond to this and try and fish more more information?

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

  • Member since
    July 2008
  • 2,325 posts
Posted by rdamon on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 10:24 AM

Last comment on this page (2016)

Seems a little more accurate.

http://www.abandonedrails.com/Roll_to_Arlington

 

  • Member since
    July 2014
  • 565 posts
Posted by Fred M Cain on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 10:42 AM

Damon,

Interesting.  I don't know who that Stan guy is but it seems like he might possibly have additional information since June of 2016.  His post on "Abandoned Rails" raises a couple of questions as well as answering the one about block signals in the Hyder area.  I do think that was a misunderstanding.

But Stan seems to wonder if the UP hadn't started the initial preparations to revive then line only to have the plug pulled.  Most people on this forum know that the railroads including UP were badly hurt by the downturn in King Coal.  Even though no coal was carried over the Phoenix line - nor had they planned to that I'm aware of - the general downturn could've forced the UP to tighten their belt a bit and push some things off.

However, I believe that the website manager for the abandoned rails site is incorrect about the line being "abandoned".  It is NOT abandoned at the present time.  That much we do know.  That's not to say that the UP might not abandon it afterall in the future although I hope not.

 

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Search the Community

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy