Tag Archives: pacific surfliner

Trains—San Diego Trolley extension work interrupts Amtrak & Coaster

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Yesterday was my day to go to the historic Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego and see what was going on. Well, nothing. Literally, nothing. There is no Amtrak or Coaster train action between the Santa Fe Depot and Oceanside, a distance of about 39 miles.

Track-a-train was showing all Amtrak Pacific Surfliners arriving and leaving from the Oceanside Transit Center. I set out to find out why, and it didn’t take me long to find that the line currently is shut down, at least through March 14, to re-align tracks and do some at-grade work for the extension of the San Diego Trolley from Old Town to University City.

Finally.

However, the extension is being built with a lot of Federal Transit Administration funds.

Uh-oh.

California voted for Clinton. Twitler knows that, and Twitler is a very vengeful person. I will keep an eye on these federal transit funds because I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Twitler will do something to exact his revenge on California by withholding federal funds.

I got quite a few interesting pictures showing the work going on. I thought it was interesting that the Mid-Coast Transit Constructors simply pulled the southbound Amtrak tracks about ten feet to the west. Presuming, then, that the Trolley is going to go down the middle of the Amtrak tracks. Now that I know about this, I can go out weekly and document process. Just south of where I was the tracks will be aerial due to a river (known as a creek in other states) and the tracks through University City and the University of California-San Diego will be aerial tracks.

Picture 1 – Abrupt break in the southbound tracks.Break in the Amtrak tracks for re-alignment

Picture 2 – Amtrak’s not going to like the excessive bends in this curveExcessive bends in re-aligned Amtrak tracks

Picture 3 – Mounds of rock showing where the track used to be.Mounds of rock indicate where the tracks used to be

Picture 4 – Southbound track re-alignment not yet complete.Re-aligned track work not completed

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

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This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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BNSF Railroad

Have fun while waiting for the train to go by!

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In my little hometown of Kingsville, Texas, the main railroad track ran through the center of town next to the main north-south highway, splitting the town into east and west.

A huge Missouri Pacific Railroad freight yard was at the south end of town, so when long freight trains were being put together, they could block downtown intersections for thirty or more minutes.

Seems it always occurred when one was in a hurry to get to the other side of town for something.

Since my granddad and dad worked for Missouri Pacific, I learned how to have a little fun watching long freight trains, and I’m going to teach you the same thing today.

Each freight car, regardless of what type it is — box car, flat car, tanker car, etc. — usually has at least one date on the car, telling you when the car was new, built, rebuilt, and sometimes even painted:

NEW 10-98

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BLT 12-03

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BLT 04-1990, PAINTED 03-2011

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

BLT 10-98

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

NEW 11-80

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The date could be just about anywhere on the car depending on the builder, the rebuilder, or the painter. The next time you and the kids are stopped at some railroad tracks waiting for a long freight train to go by, have some fun! See who can find the oldest car on the tracks.

Of course, I have to leave you with a video from my train chasing this past week with Bryan and Liz Flint. Liz is a long-time blogging buddy that I first met online in 2008. This is a 29-second video of a northbound Amtrak Pacific Surfliner just north of the Old Town Transit Station and passing over the San Diego River.

P.S. If you’re waiting for a passenger train to go by, well darn it, wave at the people on the train. There will be someone like me on the train who will wave back!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Amtrak bridge over San Diego River

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I’m Zoey the Cool Cat,
and I approve this post.Zoey the Cool Cat

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Amtrak Pacific Surfliner in San Diego

Track warrants and the Hobart Railyard

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My ride on the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner from San Diego’s Santa Fe Depot to Union Station in Los Angeles ranks as the best train ride I’ve ever been on, made specifically memorable by the engineer, who just happened to leave the door open to the cab and didn’t mind talking with me during the trip.

One of the interesting items I learned about were track warrants. Track warrants are issued to grant a train’s use of the main track between two points, and sometimes at specific times. The main track warrant used on my trip was a Form B. The engineer, Tim, gave me one:

Form B

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

A Form B is used most often when there is track maintenance going on. It would be a good idea if a fast-moving train didn’t run over any maintenance workers or their equipment, so the train engineer asks permission to move on the main line.

Since the engineer left the cab compartment door open, I stood for the whole 2h45m trip watching us roll on down the track. (I felt like I was a student back at Texas A&M University where students stand for the whole football game.) I was able to see what was coming up and get some really good videos, better than I’ve ever gotten before. The engineer also graciously told me what was coming up, where to point the camera for good pictures, etc.

One of the most exciting areas was the BNSF Hobart Railyard in Commerce, California.

Commerce map

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Hobart covers 245 acres and is the largest intermodal freight rail yard in the nation. Intermodal freight transport involves the transportation of freight in a container or vehicle, using multiple modes of transportation (rail, ship, and truck) without any handling of the freight itself when changing transportation modes. It reduces cargo handling and improves security, reduces damage and loss, and allows freight to be transported faster. So when you see a long train of containers, as in the picture below, those containers have, or will be, additionally transported by ship or truck.

Intermodal container train

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

More than 1.5 million containers move through the Hobart Railyard each year. On my trip I got two videos of us going through the Hobart Railyard, one with our northbound Amtrak Pacific Surfliner meeting a southbound Pacific Surfliner, and another with three intermodal trains, lots of containers, and several idling engines in the Hobart Railyard.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

As many times as I have made the San Diego/Los Angeles trip by rail, I never knew how fast the train goes. In some areas it is approved for 90 mph. The fastest I saw the speedometer get to was 92 mph. Here we are at 87 mph:

Amtrak speedometer

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos