Fall in Aledo

Today I drove the few miles to Aledo, Texas to have an early lunch at “Poquito Mas” (A Little More).  When I arrive the “79 Local” from Fort Worth to Abilene was beginning to switch the industrial siding for the Bryant elevator.  I can remember a few years back when the regular power was a pair of GP60’s, but now it is anything six-axle on the UP roster.  Today’s power was a pair of aging SD70M’s that were ready to head west with their short train when I came out of the restaurant after an always excellent meal with a view of the tracks.  I picked up my camera from the car and stepped into the open space next to the cafe to frame up this view between a tree and a church steeple as the train started to pull.

Too bad nothing passes for Fall colors around here, so you will have to take the visual cue that the leaves are on the ground instead of on the tree that winter is just around the corner.

 

   

KCS Railway Honors Its Employee Veterans

Kansas City Southern had asked me to keep it confidential and so I left the house at 5:00am on Veteran’s Day and drove to Shreveport to photograph their repaint of SD70ACe #4006 into a veterans commemorative scheme.

The locomotive was painted (not wrapped) by one man in three weeks and had not emerged from the paint booth since its completion so photos would not be leaked before this event.

Before noon in a light rain the unit was posed for me to take the first official photograph and then to capture it with a group of KCS employee veterans.

Within an hour the two main photos were sent out in a KCS Railway press release.  I have seen a lot of negative comments on Facebook about the paint scheme, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I like it and point out it was done only to honor the KCS employee veterans. Those on hand were very pleased with it, and to me that is what counts. I was proud to have been asked to take the first photos!

New Roy Hill Mining Locomotives

Living near to the new GE Plant in north Fort Worth has its advantages so for today we will stray from the Missouri trip account to show today’s catch.  This morning around 9:30 am I heard from friend Troy Minnick that two of the new ES44ACI’s under construction for Roy Hill in Australia were coupled up and looked like they would be tested today.  I met Troy on the public road at the north end of the GE test track just south of Justin around 11:00 am and we waited in the hot sun for something to happen.  The first thing that did happen was southbound Amtrak 821 just before noon.  I wanted to catch the head end just before it reached the “Justin” water tower in the background but as you can see I was a second too late.

At 12:47 pm still no Roy Hill units but now a northbound BNSF freight.

More time passed and at 1:27 pm the northbound Gainesville local came by led by B40W number 543 that itself emerged from this same GE factory not too long ago after a rebuild.

Shortly afterwards at 1:36 pm the stars of the show arrived.  ES44ACI’s number 1023 and 1024 are two of three units completed for what I understand is an order for five locomotives painted in this unique scheme to honor the Susan Komen Foundation.

The units pulled north of the crossing and stopped for the on board technicians to make changes to their sensors which gave me this opportunity.

Friend Barry Byington has been getting excellently lit early morning / late evening photos of the individual units so far but I was happy with these mid day photos of the pair.  The sun was slightly on the west side of the tracks by now back at the crossing so Troy and I took up a perch on a rock pile and were ready when the units moved back south at 2:20 pm.

We had been hoping for a southbound BNSF to come along while the units were still north of the crossing where we could get both side-by-side but naturally this did not happen until the Roy Hill units had passed by.

One more going away telephoto shot capped the photo session as I needed to get to an appointment back in Fort Worth.

For those who desire to learn more about the Roy Hill rail operation in western Australia, here is a link to their website:  https://www.royhill.com.au/overview/rail/

 

 

A Charger to Start the Day

While I was in Kansas City last December with the BNSF Christmas Special I missed getting a photo of one of Amtrak’s Siemens Charger SC-44’s by a few minutes so on Thursday April 5th I started my day in Lee’s Summit, Missouri with an agenda.  I had done my homework on Google Earth and Amtrak’s website, so I was aware that Lee’s Summit had a very nice depot and that Missouri River Runner number 314 eastbound to St. Louis out of Kansas City would arrive at 8:51 am probably led by one of the Amtrak Midwest Chargers.  I arrived shortly after 8:00 am and checked out the area.

The UP main here is oriented north-south and old Missouri Pacific depot is on the east side of the tracks and is now the local Chamber of Commerce.  The Amtrak platform is on the west side of the tracks so with the morning sun behind me I stood at the top of the stairs next to the fence on the track side of the depot.  A small crowd of passengers was gathering and right on time Train 314 arrived with Charger SC-44 #4623 leading.

Once the train stopped I moved to the head end for these two shots over the fence.

Then I quickly moved to the other side of the SE 3rd Street crossing for this sequence of the train leaving town with a good view of the local scenery.  I even had a nice clock to work into the photos.

The train had several dead-heading baggage cars on the rear that are supposed to assist in making sure the grade crossing warning systems would activate.

Happy with my success I drove east and north from Kansas City towards Bosworth and a few hours later caught this eastbound unit train with a 2 x 2 locomotive setup on the BNSF Transcon a few miles west of Carrollton, Missouri.

The train soon stopped for a welder to clear up and I made it into Carrollton before it reached the old AT&SF depot.

The east end of the depot has been modified for use by Maintenance of Way.

Carrollton is the east end of joint trackage with the Norfolk Southern west to Kansas City and next I heard the dispatcher talking to a westbound NS train that wanted to enter the Transcon coming off of their main line.  I drove down and caught it with these two photos as the result.

Driving out of Carrollton I took a grab shot of this caboose that more than likely came from the NS family although the Southern never ran here.

I took the back roads out of Carrollton heading northeast and next paused at an old steel truss bridge over the Transcon about halfway to Bosworth.  Here I caught two westbound trains in just a few minutes.

I drove past the job site east of Bosworth where I would start work at 6:00 am the next morning and then scoped out the roads between the site and Chillicothe 32 miles north which was the closest town that I and the video crew could find hotel rooms.  The video crew was about two hours behind me after landing in Kansas City and renting a car so I used the time to check out the town.  Nothing was moving on the CP main so I drove down by the old Wabash station that was now re-purposed as a BBQ restaurant.

With train order signals and operator bays on each side of the building I am assuming this was a joint operation by the Wabash and either the Burlington or the Milwaukee, all of which are long gone today.

I never would have guessed that Chillicothe was the birth place of sliced bread.

Parked a block east of the old depot was this ex-CNW GP7 that was obviously still in use by the Missouri North Central as it had a block heater plugged in and running.

If you look closely on the long hood you can still see the remains of the CNW “Route of the Streamliners” logo.

Later on the video crew and I came back to the Wabash BBQ for dinner and then went to bed early since we had to be on site 32 miles to the south at 6:00 am Friday morning to start documenting the replacement of the Grand River Bridge on the BNSF Transcon.

Five Trains on Two Subdivisions in Perry

In early April I accepted a BNSF assignment to photograph the replacement of the 108-year-old Grand River bridge on the BNSF Transcon just east of Bosworth, Missouri.  I elected to drive up from Fort Worth and in addition to my own equipment to carry the camera gear for the assigned video team so they would be more free to fly to Kansas City.  I left on April 4th and 64 miles north of Oklahoma City I made a stop in Perry where the old Frisco from Tulsa to Avard came into town from the west and then turned north to parallel the AT&SF Oklahoma City to Arkansas City main for six miles to Black Bear where the Frisco crossed the AT&SF at grade and then headed east to Tulsa.  After the merger BNSF installed a CTC crossover in Perry and upgraded the southeast quadrant connection at Black Bear to CTC to facilitate moves between the ex-AT&SF Red Rock Sub and the ex-Frisco Avard Sub which are controlled by separate dispatchers in Fort Worth.

When I arrived in Perry a southbound BNSF train on the Red Rock Sub was just leaving town after a northbound had cleared up.

I drove to the north end of town and spotted a westbound intermodal on the Avard Sub with just enough time to pull over for this view over the Red Rock Sub main line.  Note the inquisitive mule in the lower left corner.

I doubled back and parked at Ivanhoe Street where a quick check of the BNSF dispatcher display revealed two more westbounds approaching on the Avard Sub in the background.  Just as I finished the northbound train from earlier left town on the Red Rock Sub.

I relocated to the next crossing south and a few minutes later caught this westbound passing the Perry sign on the Avard Sub.  The Red Rock Sub is just out of sight on the right.

I moved back to Ivanhoe Street for the third westbound train on the Avard Sub with the Red Rock Sub in the foreground looking north.

Nothing else was close on either line so I drove on to Lee’s Summit on the southeast side of Kansas City for the night.

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.

WP Heritage Visits the FWWR

Vista Sand on the FWWR in Cresson and Tolar originates loaded frac sand trains that are handed over to the UP and BNSF in Fort Worth.  Often the locomotives and cars and wind up making several round trips between Cresson and the end customer.  In the second half of March The Union Pacific’s Western Pacific heritage unit ended up in the equipment pool between Cresson and Monahans, Texas on the UP out west.  On Sunday March 18th the UP 1983 was set up to lead a loaded sand train from Cresson to Fort Worth.  I went down there at 1:00 pm and found the FWWR crew putting the train together in a 2 x 2 power configuration with around 100 loads in the new sidings east of Cresson.

The UP 1983 had not been washed in a while but was still interesting enough to hang around in the hopes of getting a few pictures of the train stretched out on the way down grade to Mustang Creek.  Putting the train together was going to take a while so when I heard the 403 Job arriving in Cresson from Dublin I headed to the west side of town to catch them coming in with five units and one car at 1:30 pm.

Third in the consist was the NREX 4321, a National Railway Equipment “SD40-4” that FWWR is testing.  More information can be found in an official You Tube video at this link.

The 403 Job had a fair-sized train to build in the yard, but not before the 503 Job departed for Cleburne.  I hastily relocated to the southeast side of Cresson to catch the two units as they left town at 1:42 pm with cars for Cleburne customers.

I drove back over to where the sand load was nearly assembled and got the not so great to me news the train would be waiting here for the Cresson Turn (FWCR) that was just then leaving Hodge.  At least the sun was coming out now even though it was behind the lead unit.

At least I had thought to bring reading material with me and I caught up on my magazines until the shot I was set up for with both trains came together at 4:55 pm.

I am an avowed opponent of graffiti on freight cars but even I have to admit the Rug Rats depiction on this hopper on the Cresson Turn is pretty good.

The conductor on the sand train needed to walk the train for an air test which was going to take another hour.  Now that it was after 5:00 pm I needed to head home for dinner and with sunset approaching the shots of the train heading down to Mustang Creek were not going to work anyway.  I took one more photo of UP 1983 with a large thunderstorm down around Hillsboro in the background.

I may be primarily a train photographer but I cannot ignore a good landscape when I see it on the way home.

A little more than a week later on the afternoon of Monday March 26th I happened to catch this unchanged train set coming back empty eastbound on the UP at Iona on the Baird Sub near the house.

I wonder which heritage unit will turn up in Cresson next?

The Road to Amarillo

One of the projects on BNSF’s capital expenditure list for 2018 is adding over four miles of a fourth main track west from Amarillo towards Canyon and other terminal improvements.  The project was due to begin on February 27th with several switches being cut into the existing main lines.  February 26th found me driving from Fort Worth to Amarillo carrying photo gear from BNSF headquarters to cover the event.

The first train I encountered on the Wichita Falls Sub was an eastbound loaded coal train holding at Herman where the siding in the foreground is being extended another 2000-feet to the east.

At the west end of the siding I paused to capture the new replacement signals turned away that indicate the upgrade of the Wichita Falls Sub to CTC from ABS signalling.

The loaded coal train holding the main at Herman met a westbound intermodal.  Since the westbound was coming out of the sun I stopped at the east switch at Decatur for get a better lit side view.

There was another eastbound loaded coal train waiting for the intermodal at Alvord, so I made my way to the County Road 2395 crossing between Decatur and Alvord in time to catch the coal train accelerating for the run up Decatur Hill.

From here I had a long run to my next stop at the tiny town of Harrold where ex-MKT GP7 #118 sits waiting for any future work.

Pulling over in Vernon I found three for-lease switchers also cooling their heels.

Parked in the shadow of the elevators was ex-PRR GP10 #1005.

About twenty miles further west up Highway 287 made a stop at the long abandoned ex-KCM&O then AT&SF depot.

The old depot looks worse on the inside.

As I prepared to continue my journey an eastbound intermodal train roared through town as I looked north up the now empty right-of-way to where the diamond crossing the ex-FW&D then BN once existed.

West of Quanah at Acme I pulled over on the shoulder of 287 where this westbound intermodal was waiting at the west end of five miles of double track.  The intermodal is holding on what used to be the Quanah, Acme & Pacific mainline with the ex-FW&D on the right.

At Childress ex-FW&D 4-6-2 #501 is on display between the fire station and the tracks.

West of Memphis the radio alerted me to the fact three westbound intermodal trains were approaching.  I pulled over and caught the first one a few minutes later as the sun was now low in the sky.

A few miles further west I pulled down a dirt  road and captured the second eastbound.

I made it to the east switch at Hedley for the third intermodal train in the last few seconds of light here.  In the distance you can see the headlight on the DPU of a westbound empty coal train in the siding.

West of Hedley I pulled own the first road that went to the track and captured the two SD70Ace’s up front on the empty coal train.

The two going away shots were exactly what I wanted in the last rays of sun for this day.

At this point picture-wise I thought I was done for the day, but as I paced the westbound empty coal through Clarendon in the increasing darkness I suddenly spotted a dream shot.  The old movie theater marquee down a side street leading to the tracks was all lit up as the head end of the train passed by.  Thinking quickly I turned right at the next block and then two more rights to a parking space past the theater.  The train was speeding by in the background and I had less than 30 seconds to choose the best manual settings to preserve this scene as the DPU’s exited stage left.

It is too bad that the marquee was not advertising a film but I am still happy with the results as February 8th is a special day to me!   

 

 

 

Seconds to Spare at 4:35pm

February 13th here is a cloudy and chilly day with a few drops of rain now and then.  I ran a few errands in Fort Worth this afternoon and when I pulled up at home, just as I hit the button for the garage door the previously silent railroad radio came alive.  The UP Baird Sub dispatcher called the UP 3053 East to give the train a slow order and the train reported they were approaching Aledo.  In the old days the first thing that would have come to mind would have been a SD40-2, but now that number belongs to a new EMD Tier 4 SD70AH.

I had unloaded all my camera gear this morning for cleaning and charging after working TEXRail yesterday, so I made a snap decision to catch it and raced in and grabbed by camera off the counter.  Luckily I had already put in a charged battery and memory card this morning so it was ready to go.  I jumped back in the car and headed out for Iona siding on a gamble that I would get ahead of it. I was about 1/2 mile from the turn onto Aledo-Iona Road off of FM 1187 when the head end passed the west end of the siding at around 40 mph.  

Eastbound traffic on the paralleling road was non-existent and I passed the train as it topped the grade in the middle of the siding running on the main line.  I could see the train had a green signal at the east end and I pulled to a stop at the crossing gate just as it reached the bottom of its arc.  I had already set the camera for ISO 800, 1000/second shutter priority and had only a few seconds to frame, focus and then hit the button as the train passed now doing 50 mph or better.

Now less than one hour after taking the photo here you go!

What a Difference a Day Makes

Yesterday when Dave and I were out shooting the Amtrak diversion we were in shirtsleeves and the temperature was up around 60 with sunny skies.  Now less than 24 hours later on Saturday the skies are grey and the thermometer is hovering around freezing.  I went to the gym this morning and then ran a few errands.  When I was done I spotted a green signal at the west end of Davidson Yard that I guessed was up for the ZAILC Atlanta to Los Angeles “Laser” intermodal train.  I decided to catch it at the horse farm crossing in spite of the fact I just had a coat on over my workout clothes.

While I was waiting I heard the UP Terminal Dispatcher talk to the UP 3039 South, a new Tier 4 SD70AH about changing crews.  I knew what I was about to catch would probably not be as good as the new clean unit, but hey, you can’t catch them all!  Then the terminal dispatcher called the ZAILC and told him someone had spotted a defect on a passing car and to stop in Bypass One for an inspection.  The carmen arrived quickly and determined the car would have to be set out.  This would take a while so I drove back to the yard and saw the lead unit was the old and dirty UP 6505.  Well, time to head home.

But next I heard the dispatcher talk to the UP 3039 South and ask him if they were going down the Midlothian Sub or the Fort Worth Sub.  The answer was the Fort Worth Sub and the train was told they would have to meet a northbound before leaving.  I started to think that since I had waited this long I should not go home with a blank memory card.  I hit I20 East and then I35 South to Burleson so as to be sure I was ahead of the target train.  I set up at the same spot just north of Renfro Street where I took the going away shot of Amtrak 22 on Wednesday in much nicer weather.  Less than ten minutes later at 1:46 pm I captured what turned out to be a loaded coal train later identified as a CNRRE9-07 with its nice and clean leader.  I worked in the Burleson Feed Mill sign to give it a presence.

The going away shot of the DPU’s was also the reverse of my shots from Wednesday.

I headed west on FM 1187, and as I came through Crowley I heard a horn and looked ahead towards the BNSF overpass.  I could see an intermodal train with J.B. Hunt containers sitting still as a string or northbound merchandise cars streamed by.  I guessed I was looking at the southbound Z-ALTROB out of Alliance Yard going to Mexico via the KCS at Robstown.  I immediately headed south and pulled over at a recently closed crossing about a mile south of the siding.  I could see the headlight already catching up to me and in a minute I took this photo of the BNSF 7245 South at 2:04 pm with trailing containers and auto racks bound for Mexico.

The lead unit was an ES44DC and the trailing unit was one of the unique rebuilds of a ex-Santa Fe C44-9W into an AC44C4M as the BNSF number 615.

Hard to tell for sure without hearing it but that looks to me like a Nathan P5 horn up there instead of a “K” model.  Not the greatest weather to be out in, but I cannot complain about turning one missed train into two better opportunities!