Richmond to Stockton

·        BNSF (former Santa Fe) Stockton subdivision, from Richmond to Stockton [and Calwa (Fresno)]

The Santa Fe line is single track, Track Warrant Controlled (TWC), Absolute Block Signaled (ABS), and starts with a 45 mph speed limit at its yard in Richmond, (MP 1189.0) where there are also locomotive facilities, and a wye where the branch southeast to the former SP main line at Stege heads off. The yard is located on the western edge of the Richmond, between  Richmond Parkway (Castro Street) and Richmond Parkway (Garrard Boulevard), with the locomotive facilities close to the latter, oriented southwest to northeast. There is also a branch west to the Standard Oil Refinery, and a connection over a UP line to its ex-SP main line at North Richmond. The BNSF main line heads northeast, bridging over Richmond Parkway (Garrard Boulevard) as that street turns from northeasterly to northwesterly heading, crossing 7th Street at grade, crossing the ex-SP main line on a through girder bridge, and then turning north, parallel to the ex-SP main and just a few dozen yards to its east, through San Pablo (MP 1187.7).

The line crosses Chesley Avenue and Market Avenue at grade, bridges over Wildcat Creek, crosses Brookside Drive and Parr Boulevard at grade, with Giant Highway adjacent on the east side, and passes a 5,373 ft. siding at Rheem (MP 1186.5). Passing under Richmond Parkway, and crossing Giant Highway at grade with the Richmond  Country Club on its east side, the line makes a sweeping turn to the east-northeast, with Giant Highway following on the west side, crosses that highway at grade again (or Atlas Way), and passes the UPS facilities at North Bay (MP 1184.5), where the hottest freight trains on the line terminate, as the line is briefly adjacent to the landward side of the ex-SP line again. There is a grade crossing at Tara Hills Drive, Del Monte Drive and Pinole Shores Drive bridge separately overhead, and the line turns east-northeast, passing a 5,310 ft. siding at Gateley (MP 1182.6) before traversing the area at Pinole (MP 1181.5) just above the ex-SP location of Pinole at  the San Pablo Bay Regional Shoreline, and turning east.

There is a grade crossing at Tenment Avenue, a detector at MP 1180.5, San Pablo Avenue, South Village Parkway, and I-80 bridge overhead, with a grade crossing at Sycamore beneath the latter, Palm passes underneath, there is a 5,183 ft. siding at Collier (MP 1179.1), where the line swings northeast, bridging over SR 4 and Rodeo Creek, and then southeast, past rail-connected industries at Union Chemical and Asbury Graphite, both on the south side of the line, before turning east into Franklin Canyon, where the line speed limit is 35 mph. In the canyon, the westbound side of SR 4 passes overhead, and the line bridges over the eastbound side and turns south, with Christie Road alongside to the west, passes a 4,936 ft. siding at Christie (MP 1176.0), turns southeast and then northeast through 5,406 ft. Franklin Tunnel 3 (MP 1173.6), and turns southeast again through Glen Frazier (MP 1174.4), with Franklin Canyon Road alongside to the east, and the line bridging over Avila Road. The line turns east to pass through 300 ft. tunnel 2 (MP 1171.0), and across the long Alhambra Trestle, over Franklin Canyon Road, Alhambra Avenue, and Alhambra Way, near John Muir’s house at Muir (MP 1170.6), with Muir Station Road alongside to the south, passes through 1,230 ft. tunnel 1 (MP 1170.2), heading northeast, crossing Arnold Drive at grade and bridging over Old Orchard Road, turns east-northeast past a detector at MP 1168.9 and bridging over Morello Avenue, then east, bridging over Pacheco Boulevard, and northeast again, bridging over I-680 and the Costa Canal, to the 3,456 ft. siding at Maltby (MP 1166.9), where the line speed increases to 70 mph. The line crosses over Pacheco Creek, and under Solano Way and an ex-SP branch to Concord. At Monsanto (MP 1165.8), there is a spur northwest into an oil refinery also served by that ex-SP branch, and the line then crosses Hastings Slough and Seal Creek in the marshes.

West of Port Chicago, where a munitions depot exploded in WWII, killing many people and leveling structures for a couple of miles around, the line traverses the marshes north of Concord Naval Weapons Station (now a detachment of the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station), the lineal descendant of the facility that exploded so many years ago, passing beneath its rail line between the port facilities on Suisun Bay and the munitions shelters in the hills to the south, and then reaching Port Chicago (MP 1164.0).

To the east of the junction with the Cal-P line, east of the Martinez station (MP 34.7), there is a bridge carrying the rail line to the ex-SP bridge above the ex-SP line along the south side of Suisun Bay, a grade crossing at Mococo Road, and several road bridges carrying the south connectors to the old and new Carquinez Strait highway bridges (I-680).

East of the ex-SP bridge at Martinez, there are additional refineries along the south side of the ex-SP Mococo line tracks (UP Tracy Subdivision, 2MT, CTC), with spurs to the north and south into those refineries at Mococo (MP 36.0). Marina Vista runs alongside to the south, and Waterfront Road crosses at grade, with the Shell Marsh Land Bank alongside to the south. After crossing Pacheco Creek on a through truss bridge, with Waterfront Road alongside to the north, the ex-SP Concord Branch diverges to the south with a wye at Avon (MP38.1), where the line drops to single-track, CTC (as far as the BNSF connector only, after which it becomes TWC), Point Edith Wildlife Area is alongside to the north, the line bridges over Hastings Slough, there are two grade crossings, a detector at MP 38.7 and the line passes under the Concord Naval Weapons Station bridge. There is a spur to the north on the east side of that bridge, with a wye connection into the main track. The Amtrak San Joaquin crosses over from the UP line to the BNSF line on the south side at Port Chicago (MP 41.3), where CTC-control ends.

Except for the junction with the UP connector, the BNSF line is TWC ABS as far as the start of two main tracks at Oakley. East of Port Chicago, where there are new signals turned sideways in June, 2012, the line speed increases to 79 mph for passenger trains and 70 mph for freights, the connector carrying the Amtrak San Joaquin joins from the northwest at UP Connection (MP 1163.5), there is a grade crossing, and the BNSF line crosses above the UP line on an overbridge at Nichols, with a grade crossing on the overbridge, and another grade crossing to its east. For a while in this area, there are three lines, with a former Sacramento Northern line south of the BNSF and ex-SP lines. At McEvoy (new signals turned sideways in April, 2012), there are sidings on the BNSF and both UP lines, with spurs full of tank cars serving the Shell Refinery there. The ex-SN line has a connection to the ex-SP line at Shell Point, and then turns to go under the ex-SP and BNSF lines, heading for its erstwhile ferry crossing of the Sacramento River, between Mallard and Chipps. On the west side of Pittsburg, the UP line then heads away to the east-southeast, and the BNSF line continues directly eastward, with a spur from a riverside power plant trailing in from the north. There are Intermediate Signals at MP 1160.1, a bridge over a road, a housing estate on the north side of the line, and three more bridges over roads. There is a yard on the south side of the line and two connectors north to the yard of the US Steel plant on the riverside, north of the line, destination of many cars of steel coil coming from mills much further east. At the east end of Pittsburg (MP 1155.8), there is a connector south to the ex-SP line’s Pittsburg Yard via a wye at Los Medanos on that line. The East Bay hills now fall away to the south.

There is a rail-served industry to the south, at Hillyard (MP 1155.3), between Pittsburg and Antioch, and a detector at MP 1153.3, with a marina alongside on the north side of the line west of Antioch station. The passenger station is in Antioch (MP 1151.9), with platform and depot on the south side of the track. East of Antioch, the ‘river’ (a part of the San Joaquin Delta) is alongside to the north. A footpath crosses the line at grade to reach a pier and restaurant on the north side. There is grade crossing, and a rail-served industry on the south side of the siding at Sando (MP 1150.3), where there is also a 4,805 ft. siding, and the line passes through Zee (MP 1149.8) and East Antioch (MP 1149.2), a detector at MP 1148.6, , a grade crossing, a road overpass, extra tracks on the north side of the line, another grade crossing,  more extra tracks on the north side of the line, and an industrial facility at Du Pont (MP 1147.6), after which the line turns southeast and passes through the bedroom community of Oakley (MP 1146.4). There is a road overpass (for a highway that continues north across the combined rivers), more extra tracks on the north side, a grade crossing, and another road overbridge. Here, line control changes from Track Warrant Control Absolute Block to two main tracks, CTC. Oakley’s built up area reaches as far east as a grade crossing just west of the detectors at MP 1144.5, after which there are Intermediate Signals at MP 1143.x, two more grade crossings, Knightsen (MP 1141.9), and detectors at MP 1139.4.

Before Bixler (MP 1139.2), the line turns east again and becomes single track, CTC, passing through Werner (MP 1138.8). At Orwood (MP 1136.8), where there is a 3,558 ft. siding, there is a large through truss bascule-type lifting bridge east of the siding carrying the line across one of the streams of the San Joaquin River, followed by another, still operational, at Middle River (MP 1134.8), across the eponymous fork, and a detector at MP 1134.6. West of Middle River, the line runs through the low-lying San Joaquin Delta area with water on both sides of the track and a pipeline (carrying the water from Hetch-Hetchy dam to San Francisco) running alongside to the south. (This pipeline started to leak (i.e. Delta water leaked in) during floods in the early 2000s, and needs major repairs.) There are two main tracks again from Trull (MP 1133.6), past detectors at MP 1130.9, to Holt (MP 1128.9), where the pipeline passes under the track and emerges on the north side, a detector at MP 1127.4 on a single track through Gillis (MP 1126.6), where there is another large area of water on the south side of the tracks. East of Woodsboro (MP 1125.0), there is another large through truss bridge, across the San Joaquin River itself, a grade crossing, and then the rail-served industries of the inland Port of Stockton appear on both sides of the track.

There is a detector at MP 1123.0, where the port facilities are clearly visible on the north side of the line and there are industrial spurs on the south side. There is a bridge over a river channel, and two main tracks start again (new signals turned sideways in April, 2012), at West Stockton (MP 1122.2), where the line speed drops to 60-55, the port trackage and those spurs connect in, there are two bridges over roads below, and there are more connections with the port trackage a little further east. I-5 crosses overhead, and there are three grade crossings, a street over pass, another grade crossing, and the station parking lot to the west side of the depot. Amtrak trains on the Oakland route use the former Santa Fe depot in Stockton (MP 1121.4), on the north side of the tracks, west of the former location of Stockton Tower. After passing the former location of a crossing with the Tidewater Southern, and two more grade crossings, the line reaches the former location of Stockton Tower, now known on the BNSF as UP Fresno Sub Xing (MP 1120.7), where the Santa Fe line crosses the former SP line and used to cross the former WP line, now removed through downtown Stockton. The speed limit is 30 mph across the flat crossing.