An Era Comes to a Close

March 31st, 2018 marked the end of an era stretching back fifteen or so years at Metro, TX near Denton.  The KCS would bring a block of loaded intermodal cars from Dallas in the morning to add to the BNSF’s northbound Alliance, TX to Willow Springs, IL “Z” train.  Then the KCS crew would wait and in the afternoon pick up a block of loaded intermodal cars from the counterpart southbound “Z” train from Willow Springs to Alliance.

I could not be there for the last outbound interchange on the morning of the 31st, but with friends Dave Steckler and Troy Minnick I was able to be there the day before on March 30th.  In this first photo the KCS local out of Wylie is on the approach to Metro.

At Metro the BNSF’s ZALTWSP has already arrived and stopped on the main while the KCS stops on the east leg of the wye where the KCS and BNSF conductors swap paperwork.

The ZALTWSP makes a cut and pulls the rest of their train ahead into the Metro siding, then KCS crew pulls their cars down close to the west end of the Metro siding.

The KCS power leaves its cars and clears up on the main at Metro.

Now the ZALTWSP backs up and couples into the KCS pickup.  Then they pull ahead again and clear up in the siding.

At this point the BNSF conductor rides the rear end back south to couple into the cars they had left on the main.

Once the BNSF train is ready to move it pulls forward into the Metro siding  and the conductor reattaches the FRED before getting a ride up to his locomotive from the KCS power waiting on the main line.

After delivering the BNSF conductor back to his locomotive at the east end of Metro, the KCS power comes back to pick up its conductor and their FRED before heading back up the east leg of the wye.  It is determined the southbound BNSF “Z” train will not arrive until early evening so the KCS crew runs back to Denton to eat and switch local customers there.

The northbound BNSF ZALTWSP is stuck in the Metro siding until Amtrak 821 out of Oklahoma City passes by on the way to Fort Worth.

With other commitments looming I could not stay until evening for what turned out to be the last southbound version of the intermodal interchange.


  1. Scott Speed July 7, 2018 at 8:56 pm #

    Nice series Ken. Is this traffic going some other direction or just going away?

  2. Ken July 7, 2018 at 10:41 pm #

    Shippers must now road the trailers to and from BNSF’s Alliance Intermodal. I am not sure if KCS assists or participates in that process or not.

  3. TXCOMT March 25, 2019 at 10:53 am #

    Back when I was in BNSF DS training, we were required to go on some road trips out of Alliance; my partner, who was not a railfan, had no clue what a pain it was to get through Tower 55 to Temple, so I suggested we take the first of our two trips north to OKC. Wouldn’t you know we got a Z-ALTWSP (or alt-wisp, natch) and that gave us the chance to experience the pig dance firsthand! One of the GCOR rules that gave some in our class fits was Rule 6.6 (back up movements), so we were fortunate enough to see this, too, as our Z train had to back up a little to get the conductor. When I told him we were in the middle of “the pig dance,” he just looked at me. It didn’t mean much to him!

    Thanks for the pics, Ken…brought back some memories!


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