R&LHS Fort Worth Annual Meeting,
May 16-27, 2010

Don Winter


This trip was to attend the 2010 R&LHS Annual Meeting in Fort Worth, with a side trip to Oklahoma City. As usual, we traveled out and back on Amtrak.

The Journey East (5/16-5/19)

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

With a mid-afternoon departure, and thus a need to eat lunch in LA before boarding the train, we depart Tehachapi before 10 am, make the usual stop for coffee in Acton, and arrive at LA Union Station around noon. We take the checkable bags to the Amtrak ticket counter, get the tickets and check the bags. Then we head outside the station, running into Jim and Peggy Caballero, and go across the street to El Paseo, our usual Mexican Restaurant, for lunch. After lunch, we sit in the north quadrangle until its time to go back to the car for the carry-on bags, and then walk out onto the platform serving Track 11, where out trainset has not yet arrived. While we wait, north and southbound Pacific Surfliners come into tracks 10 and 9, and then our trainset backs into Track 11, and I collect the consist as it goes by, before walking back to the rear sleeper (at the back of the train) to board. Also boarding, in addition to Jim and Peggy, are Charles and Carol Varnes, all going to the same meeting we're attending.

Apparently, the coach yard needed to make up a trainset for this train, since some of the required materials are still being stored away as we board. The train eventually leaves over an hour late.


P42                    88
P42                    42
P42                    65
Baggage            1247
Sleeper            32064
Sleeper            32071    Arizona
Diner                38044
Lounge             33035
Coach Bagg.    31012
Coach              34056
Coach              34044*
Sleeper            32075*    Connecticut
*transfers to Train 22 at San Antonio

Train 2, 5-16-2010



Los Angeles

2:40 pm 3:43 pm
Pomona 3:21 4:49-53
Ontario 3:34 5:04-11
Palm Springs               PT 5:15 6:36-44
Lordsburg (flag)         MT 4:55 am 7:16 am (pass)
Deming 5:50 8:03-08
El Paso 7:50
Alpine                      CT 1:25 pm 3:06-21 pm
Sanderson 3:16 5:34-36
Del Rio 5:42 8:08-14

Sunset Limited route description

The last 18 minutes of our lateness is due to a UP Z-train blocking the way ahead, and because the PA in our sleeper doesn't work. The conductor says we can't leave the originating terminal with a broken PA (true), but is eventually overridden by a superior. When we do leave, we see that the garden tracks are full of private cars. Then, we stop at CP East Diamond for eight minutes, because that Z-train is still in the way.

From 4:30 pm, we run at restricting speed, because the crew spotted an unexpected yellow flag (signifying a temporary speed restriction or maintenance operation), that lasts until 4:57 pm, when the Dispatcher finally reports the flag has been removed. We run into a couple of "approach" signals as we continue, but see no opposing trains. At Rancho, we take the track around the north side of the balloon track and under the Palmdale Cutoff bridge. At 5:57 pm, near the summit of Beaumont Hill, we meet the first opposing train, which is apparently disabled.  There are three more westbound trains at the successive signals behind it, waiting to cross over and run-around it as soon as we have cleared.

The radio reports that the train crew want the police to meet the train at Indio, to remove an underage drunk. On our way to the diner, we have to pass the offender in the lounge, surrounded by crew, and as we stop he apparently passes out. He has to be removed on a stretcher though the emergency window on the upper level, which the  has to be replaced before we can continue. The total additional delay is one hour. This means that darkness has fallen before we get to the Salton Sea, and that we're asleep before the Yuma stop.

Monday, May 17th, 2010

I awake before we pass Lordsburg, two hours and twenty minutes late. (We picked up some of the lateness overnight.) We eat breakfast in New Mexico. Due to the wonders of schedule padding, we're then less than two hours late out of El Paso, where a seventh person going to the same meeting boards—Jerry Morris, President of the Southwest Chapter of R&LHS. (None of the six from Southern California is officially representing the Southern California Chapter!)

We have lunch west of Alpine, as a rainstorm approaches. This results in lightning and hail both before and after we stop at Alpine. We're stopped for half an hour by the dispatcher due to a weather warning, even though we're east of the weather and would be running away from it if we continued! We have dinner east of Del Rio. We're in bed by the time the train arrives in San Antonio, where out sleeper is cut-off Train 2 for latter attachment to Train 22 in the morning.

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Due to some mishap or mistake, our sleeper is disconnected from any source of power for over three hours, during the night, resulting in excessive stuffiness and heat in the rooms before the power is reconnected.


P42                        15
Dorm                39010
Sleeper              32075*    Connecticut
Diner-Lite          37009
"Lounge"            37004
Coach-Bagg.     31035
Coach                34107
Coach                34044*
*transferred from Train 2 at San Antonio

Train 22, 5-18-2010



San Antonio

7:00 am 7:00 am
San Marcos 8:32 8:32-34
Austin 9:31 9:12-31
Taylor 10:22 10:12-22
Temple 11:25 11:09-25
McGregor 11:51 11:50-52
Cleburne 1:00 pm 1:06-13 pm
Fort Worth 1:58 pm 2:05 pm

Texas Eagle Route Description

I awake just before the train departs the San Antonio station (backwards, to head for Tower 105, where it then runs forwards onto the former MKT). The Dining Car crew does not board until Austin, so breakfast is a box, for which we have to go to the Lounge Car. The train is on time the whole way to McGregor, having to wait for time at just about every station, but gets a few minutes late before Cleburne. In Fort Worth, the other five people go directly to the meeting hotel, but we stay in the Intermodal Transportation Center awaiting our train north to Oklahoma City for the night. We note that, while Train 22 departs on time, Train 21 arrives late, and doesn't depart until after 3 pm.


P42                        43
Coach-Bagg.    31044
Coach-Cafe      35004
Coach                34166
P42                        93  






  Train 822, 5-18-2010 Train 821, 5-19-2010

Fort Worth

5:25 pm 5:25 pm 12:39 pm 12:38 pm
Gainesville 6:42 6:44-46 11:05 11:09-11
Ardmore 7:23 7:31-34 10:23 10:23-25
Pauls Valley 8:12 8:28 9:31 9:31
Purcell 8:38 8:54-58 9:06 9:03-06
Norman 8:55 9:15-17 8:49 8:46-49
Oklah,ma City 9:39 9:37 8:25 am 8:24 am

Heartland Flyer Route Description

At about 4:45 pm, the cars for the Heartland Flyer are moved down from their storage track to the boarding platform, and we board. About five minutes before departure, the train sets back up the platform, to clear the switch on the connection up to the northbound BNSF line (which cannot be reached from the tracks in the main station, which are arranged for Trinity Railway Express trains heading for Dallas), so that at departure time the trains can head directly out onto the BNSF. The only dinner option tonight is the food from the cafe, downstairs, which is largely soggy bread laden with carbohydrates that will convert to blood sugar.

In Oklahoma City, we take a taxi to the hotel, only to discover it is less than a block away, just across a street intersection. Check-in is quick and easy, and we go straight to bed.

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

We get up in the morning in time to have the free breakfast, check out, and walk the one block back to the station, to find that the train is open for boarding 45 minutes before scheduled departure. The consist is the same as the night before. The Assistant Conductor has marked off about half the seats on the train for an expected party of 95 schoolchildren and some adults accompanying them, from Ardmore to Gainesville. Not long after we board the train, rain starts to fall, and then turns into a heavy thundershower. The scanner brings news of potential "severe weather", including the possibility of tornados, and so I'm not surprised to hear, a little while later, that the children's outing has been canceled. The rain continues throughout Oklahoma, but by the time we have crossed the Red River and reached Gainesville, the sun is out.

In Fort Worth, we take a taxi to the hotel, five or six blocks away, and get right into our room, which (at my request) has a view of the tracks on the north side of Tower 55. (The tracks we can see, moving away from the hote, are the newly-built (in the 2000s) TRE track from Texas & Pacific station, the Amtrak (former Santa Fe) station tracks (the former Santa Fe depot is right below our room), the former Santa Fe main and a former Fort Worth & Denver/Rock Island track, then a gap of derelict land, and the former MKT track (and some sidings).)

A little while later, we take a walk to the Water Park across the street, and then up into the downtown area, where we have coffee/soda and a pizza for lunch. The weather is sunny and in the mid-70s. At dinner time, after some train watching on the tracks a couple of block away, nine floors down, we take the free "trolley" (it's motorized, on rubber tires) service up to the "Sundance Square" area of downtown, where we eat at the Mexican Restaurant we had like so much two years previously. This time, it's not as good as we had remembered. On the return trolley trip, we meet Jerry and Nancy Angier, hosts of last year's annual meeting, in rainy Maine.

Among the trains we see from the window this afternoon are:

A TRE train headed by F59PH 570 (and several others, each way, in the course of the afternoon)
A northbound BNSF manifest with BNSF 4419, NS 8386 and BNSF 4836 on the point
A northbound empty coal train on the former MKT with UP 7089 as the DPU
A southbound autorack train with BNSF 5435 and 5178
A northbound double stack with BNSF 5371 and CSX 7825
A northbound empty grain train on the former Rock Island, with UP 7x95 and 6599 on the point
A transfer from the former RI to Davidson Yard, with UP Gensets 2612, 2635, 2616 and 2622, plus UP 9501.

At the Meeting (5/20-5/23)

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Today, we get up and walk over to the Texas & Pacific station, south of the hotel, to take the TRE train over to Dallas. Jerry and Nancy Angier take the same train, since Jerry wants to visit the JFK sites in Dealy Plaza, adjacent to Dallas Union Station..


Cab Car        1009
Coach            1056
Coach            1059
F59                  566     









Train 2918

Train 2926

Train 2929

Fort Worth T&P

9:18 am 9:18 am     4:49 4:51
Fort Worth ITC 9:22 9:21     4:45 4:43-48
Richland Hills 9:33 9:30-32     4:33 4:33
Hunt/Bell 9:39 9:37-39     4:27 4:27
Centreport/DFW 9:45 9:46     4:20 4:20
West Irving 9:51 9:49-51     4:15 4:13-15
South Irving TC 9:57 9:57     4:08 4:06-08
Medical/Market 10:05 10:06     3:59 3:59
Victory 10:09 10:11 3:35 pm 3:38 pm 3:55 3:53-55
Dallas Union Station 10:17 10:20 3:40 3:40 3:50 pm 3:50 pm

Dallas-Fort Worth route descriptions

In Dallas, we find that the DART platforms at Dallas Union Station are under construction, so we have to take a shuttle bus over to the West End station (we could have got off at the Victory station and taken the DART green Line here), where we board a southbound Red Line train on the former Santa Fe right-of-way to Westmoreland (the end of the line), returning immediately. On the return journey, heavy rain starts, so I choose to change trains at the underground City Place station onto a Blue Line train which we take on the former MKT (now Dallas, Garland & Northeastern) right-of-way out to Downtown Garland. Here, it's not raining, so we walk one block to a convenience store at a gas station (the only restaurant we can find), where we have lunch and watch with some fascination as the TV set covers a tornado to the north and an incipient tornado to the south, in the storm that had passed as we waited underground at City Place.

We then take the Blue Line back to Mockingbird, and the Red Line out to Parker Road (one stop further than we had gone in 2008), returning on the latter to St. Paul, where we transfer to the Green Line for Victory. Here, we've just missed a TRE train west (due to the lateness of the Green Line), so we take the next TRE east, which becomes the next TRE west, and ride it all the way west to T&P station (waiting at ITC for the previous eastbound TRE to clear the single track section from T&P), where we walk back to the hotel.


F59PH                569
Coach                1051
Coach                1050
Cab Car             1007       

Here, the R&LHS registration table is already set up, so we get our badges and registration materials, talk to Bob Holzweiss (meeting chair, and new R&LHS President) about our difficulty with hotel registrations for this meeting (which he makes a phone call to fix), and greet old friends. Back at our room, the keys have expired, so we have to make a visit to the hotel registration desk to get them fixed, which visibly irritates Bob.

From our hotel room window, we see:
A southbound grain train on the former MKT, with UP 5187, 5382, NS 2540, UP 7308, UP 5708

Later, we take "Molly the Trolley" up to Sundance Square and have dinner at Simply Fondue, which is excellent, but provides small portions for the price.

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Friday is the day set up for visiting current railroad facilities—Fort Worth & Western's Hodge Yard, BNSF's HQ and  Network Operating Center, UP's Davidson Yard (formerly Centennial Yard, née Lancaster Yard) Control Tower and Diesel Shop, and UP's Tower 55. As promised, the bus is spotted for boarding at 7:30 am, and departs at 8 am, heading north through downtown, and then turning east, past the BNSF main line, to the Fort Worth & Western's Hodge Yard, on the south side of the FWWR's line (originally Cotton Belt), just south of the former FW&D North Yard. Here, we get an opportunity to photograph the railroad's GP38-2 and SD-40-2 locomotives, the latter being spotted especially for us, while our guide tells us about the yard, capacity 240 cars, and its operations, making up both local trains and a long-distance train to go to the other end of the railroad (Brownwood, 145 miles to the southwest).

Leaving Hodge, we head to the relatively nearby BNSF National Headquarters in North Fort Worth, where we visit the museum in the lobby while each person shows a photo ID and receives the pre-prepared nametag from the receptionist (an armed special agent). Our guide is a BNSF manager in the public relations area, who takes us through two (Cyrus K. Holliday and James J Hill) of the four stuffed-and-mounted BNSF Business Cars in the forecourt, and then walks us through the building to the Network Operating Center. Here, there is a small theater overlooking the main floor, where we are shown a film on the history of the BNSF, and then the curtains are opened and we are invited to watch the activities on the floor of the NOC while the functions of the various sets of desks, each in a cubicle with keyboards and many computer screens, are described.

The most distant from the glassed-in balcony on which we stand are the Dispatchers, arranged from west (on the left) to east (on the right), then the Corridor Superintendants, Business Group Desks, and Service Desks. Thus, the Dispatcher for the Bakersfield Subdivision, whom we routinely hear at home, is off the the left, much to far to see clearly or be identified, and the Mechanical Desk, which we hear when there is a problem with a locomotive, is more or less down below us. The far wall has nine screens, which to our surprise do not show current operations, but rather an ever-changing overview of BNSF's overall traffic patterns, compensation goal, etc. (These are management information, not operational screens.) On a normal shift (which this is), there are 400 people working in this room.

From the NOC, we are taken back into the HQ office area, and shown some of the Land Grant Patents, framed on the walls, with the signatures of Abraham Lincoln, US Grant, and other US Presidents, and then visit the BNSF Shop. Returning to the bus, we head back into Fort Worth, to a Mexican Restaurant where we have a group lunch (fajitas, served family-style) at several large adjacent tables. Chris and I sit with Ken and Ann Miller, Howard Brown, and some others. From the restaurant, we head southwest, bypassing downtown, to the west end of UP's Davidson Yard, where we turn into the yard and head east to the main Crest Tower.

We're permitted up onto the operating floor of the hump tower in two groups of about 20 people each, from which we can see the humping operations. Everything that can be automated in this yard has been automated, so the only manual activities are the remote-control locomotive operator, on the ground, who also acts as the pin puller to separate cuts of cars as they reach the appropriate point on the hump. The operations of the retarders and the switches to direct each cut, then operate under computer-control from the previously-programmed switch list. This is the 9th biggest hump yard on the UP system, sorting 1650 cars per day in 2010. At present, a new road bridge is being built over the yard, and UP is taking advantage of the public funds to reconfigure the yard beneath it, and to arrange for four main track east of the yard to Tower 55. The yard builds two trains a day to go west to West Colton, with the other 30+ trains all heading east (but splitting into multiple routes, from north-northwest through east to due south, at Tower 55).

Back on the bus, we head further east in the yard to the Diesel Shop. Here, due to the presence of a marked path to a training area, we're allowed inside without hardhats or earplugs (although the latter are provided), This locomotive shop handles overhaul for all diesel models on the UP (both EMD and GE), and perform complete locomotive rebuilds, including engine changes, for some specific models. It was once predominantly an EMD shop, when UP was predominantly EMD. The rebuilds are performed on a single shift basis, taking three to five days each, while standard overhauls, schedule and unscheduled maintenance are done on a 24/7 basis. The service tracks are a separate operation, in an adjacent building. Six tracks go completely through the diesel shop. This location has the best safety record on the UP, and is proud of it. It has twice gone a full year with no reportable injury, and is currently at 744 days without an injury.

The bus takes us east, out of the yard, following the former Texas & Pacific line east to Tower 55, where we curl around to the south of the building, walking across the 'wye' track used by Amtrak's Texas Eagle to head to and from Dallas, and climbing up to the top floor of the building. Once an operational tower, this is now manned only about one day a month. The group is able to open windows on three sides of the tower, and take photographs of the trackwork and passing trains. Once we're done here, it's but a short bus ride back to the hotel.

Back at the hotel, R&LHS Board members, who had held their Board Meeting on Thursday evening, have an added meeting, ostensibly to discuss 'Chapter Development', but in practice talking about their Membership Records and Dues Billing operations the entire time (we're later told). Chris and I take Molly the Trolley downtown for dinner at the English Pub, where the food was good, but the management was apparently having serious staff problems.

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

With some more members present, this is the day for some more railfan-like activities, with train and tram rides. Due, apparently, to some miscommunication with the Grapevine Vintage Railroad, the events have been re-arranged somewhat from the originally-announced plans, and we are now to ride on the McKinney Avenue Trolley before visiting the Museum of the American Railroad (formerly Age of Steam Museum) in Dallas, and then heading out to Grapevine for a shorter ride on the GVRR than was originally planned, and one without the announced steam haulage.

With the same times as on Friday, the bus takes us the sort distance over to the T&P station, where we board the TRE train to head into Dallas. While we're waiting at T&P, an eastbound UP manifest with UP 5052, 1379, and 2654, comes from Davidson and heads south on the Barnhart (SW quadrant) Wye, and a westbound manifest with UP 7422, 3960, 5698, and 5656, come off the former MKT and heads for Davidson. .


Cab Car            1002
Coach                1064
F59                     567

Train 2964, 5-22-2010



Fort Worth T&P

8:43 am 8:42 am
Fort Worth ITC 8:47 8:45-47
Richland Hills 8:58 8:56-58
Hunt/Bell 9:05 9:02-05
Centreport/DFW 9:12 9:10-12
West Irving 9:18 9:15-17
South Irving TC 9:24 9:22-24
Medical/Market 9:32 9:29-32
Victory 9:37 9:34-37
Dallas Union Station 9:43 9:39

While two cars is presumable the normal Saturday consist, with over 40 members of a group it should have had a second coach today. Before arriving in Dallas, some of us take the precaution of using the rest-room on board the train. Events would prove that insufficient planning had taken place in this area. At Dallas, those of us who had come here on Wednesday or Thursday were surprised to see that the DART platforms are clear and in use (as Bob had been promised, but we were skeptical about). We all board a northbound DART train and alight at City Place, riding the escalators and taking the last set of stairs up to the surface, and then walking the half block to the McKinney Avenue trolley terminus. Here, we let a service trolley leave, and wait to board our chartered trolley, 195-built former Melbourne car 369, named "Matilda" for its Australian origins.

The trolley line has been operational, in its current guise, since 1989, after restoration following a street project that uncovered some of the original trackage in the brick street surface on the eponymous street. When we stop adjacent to the street on which the carbarn is located, an offer is made for a few people to use the toilets at the carbarn, and about half the riders get off and head that way. The resulting 20+-minute delay causes the regular service trolley to back up behind us. Eventually, we continue back to City place, and take a train back into Dallas, detraining at the island platform at Pearl and taking a Green Line car out to Fair Park (one stop from the current end of the line), where we walk over to the Museum of the American Railroad. We had been assured that there were toilets here, but there are not, so it is necessary for those of us who did not use the carbarn to go to the bus (which is fortunately here) to use its facilities.

The museum's three tracks are so crowded that it is impossible to take useful photographs of any of the locomotives or rolling stock, which include:

UP 4-8-8-4 "Big Boy" 4018
Frisco 4-8-4 4501
Dallas Union Terminal 0-6-0 7
Eagle-Picher Mining 2-10-0 1625
Santa Fe FP-45 97
Santa Fe F7 49 (repainted from its CN origins)
Western Railroad VO-1000 1107
TXI Industries Alco diesel 8000
Southwestern Portland cement FM H12-44 115
PRR GG-1 4903
Santa Fe motorcar (doodlebug) M-160

Three Amtrak lightweight sleeping cars
Two cabooses
Seven heavyweight passenger cars (including three Pullmans)
Two freight cars

Santa Fe Tower 19 (from South Dallas)

Houston & Texas Central Dallas Depot

Box lunches are served on the bus, as we head for Grapevine, where Bob Holzweiss discovers that he had been misinformed, and there had, indeed, been a GVRR train to the Fort Worth Stockyard today, at 1 pm, as he had originally planned. Bob is also informed that he will have to pay $15/head for entry to the Grapevine Street Fair just to ride the short distance we will be able to ride! (in fact, it would have been necessary to pay that, just for people to use the toilets on the other side of the parking lot, inside the temporary fence for the street fair. Bob is out-of-sorts (to put it mildly) for the rest of the day. The group rides the three miles each-way east from Grapevine (a shorter distance than NRHS had gone in that direction, in 2008, and NRHS then went all the way to the southwest side of Fort Worth, with steam!), in a train using rebuilt GP-7 2199, and soon after our return, Bob decides we should return to the hotel. On our first departure, we leave behind one participant (a Board member!), and have to come back for him.

Back at the hotel, there's time for some train watching, and we see:
A parked train of tank cars on the former MKT, with UP 5946 and 6292 (patched SP), which will be there all weekend
A northbound empty coal train on the former MKT, with UP 4683 & 5702 on the point and 5798 & 6544 as the DPUs
A southbound coal train off the former Fort Worth & Denver with BNSF 9186 & 8934 on the point and DPUs 9170, 5719
A northbound BNSF manifest headed by BNSF 5071, 4056, 5520, 1041
A southbound grain train on the former MKT with UP 5778, 2358
A northbound empty grain train on the former Rock Island,  with UP 9700, 9759
Several TRE trains each way, during the course of the .afternoon

(Amtrak  13 and cabbage 90229 bracket a coach on the Amtrak storage track the whole time, although we see the coach changed out one day.)

Later, the promised book vendor is available, and I buy some books from him. Then, it's time for the banquet, Ken Miller has promised to save a couple of seats for us, and to our surprise, they're at the same table as departing President, Parker Lamb, incoming President, Bob Holzweiss, and the evening's speaker, Mike Iden, Director of General Mechanical (Locomotives) for Union Pacific. We have some interesting conversation with these folks, and Mike gives an interesting after-dinner presentation of the UP Heritage Locomotive program.

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

This morning is the R&LHS Annual Meeting, held in conjunction with breakfast (at which neither we nor the Millers are at the same table as the Presidents), after which Cary Poole, soon to be the webmaster for the revamped R&LHS website, gives a talk on Santa Fe's CF-7 program, on which he had written a book several years ago. After the meeting, I offer my help with member-supplied content for the members section of the website, when such is set up.

Many people are leaving right after the meeting, whether by airplane on on the northbound Texas Eagle (or by car), so we say a lot of goodbyes, and then retreat to our room, where I watch the passing show of trains for the remainder of the afternoon:
A southbound grain train on the former MKT, with UP 6055, 7011
A transfer from Davidson to the former RI, with UP Gensets 2622, 2616, 2635, 2612, coupled as before
Amtrak Train 21, with P42 49, backing in at 12:38 pm
An empty coal train headed for the former FW&D, with BNSF 8819, KCS 4115 on the point and DPUs 8174, 8882
A transfer cut on the former MKT, headed by FWWR 2014, 2000, 2019
A northbound BNSF empty grain train, with BNSF 5367, 4763, 1107, 5070 on the point
Amtrak Train 22, headed in by P42 76 (1:48 pm)
A northbound BNSF empty grain train, with BNSF 5290, 4861, KCS 4022, BNSF 8240
P42 76 pushes Train 22 south, before heading east (2:23 pm)
A northbound BNSF empty coal train for the FW&D, with BNSF 8836, 9461 and DPUs 5823, 9369
A southbound BNSF autorack train, with BNSF 1011, 4078
P42 49 leads Amtrak Train 21 south, at 3:10 pm, an hour late after a very early arrival
A southbound rock train on the former MKT, with UP 9634, 9683, 9722
a southbound coal train from the FW&D, with BNSF 4531, 989, 786 and DPUs 9379, 5798
A northbound empty grain train on the former MKT, with UP 7164, 7146, 5847
A southbound BNSF manifest, with BNSF 4585, 4961, 4305, 2331.

In the evening, we take Molly the Trolley up to Sundance Square, and eat at PF Chang's..

The Journey West (5/24-5/27)

Monday, May 24th, 2010

This morning, we get up quite late, and have breakfast at the hotel (since we'll be skipping lunch to plan for our required early dinner). We eat at a table adjacent to Adrian and Carol Ettlinger, who are flying out today, and I take the opportunity to have a chat with Adrian about his giving up being webmaster for R&LHS. We see Charles and Carol Varnes in the restaurant, also. After breakfast, we return to the room for a couple of hours, and go down to the lobby with the luggage, to check-out, right at noon. Although we had reserved the hotel shuttle for 1 pm, the driver offers to take us over to the ITC right away, and we accept, checking two of the bags as soon as we get there. Charles and Carol come over just a few minutes later. A little after 1 pm, Train 21 is in the platform, so we walk out and board it, with me collecting the consist as we walk along the train. The sleeping car attendant suggests we go to lunch, but we tell him we're avoiding lunch to have available appetite for an early dinner, and he smiles.


P42                        80
Dorme               39044
Sleeper               32025*
Diner-Lite           37007
Lounge               33015
Coach-Bagg.      31026
Coach                34005
Coach                34035*
*transfers to Train 1 at San Antonio

Train 21, 5-23-2010




Fort Worth

2:10 pm 2:13 pm
Cleburne 2:52 3:05-08
McGregor 4:00 4:24-26
Temple 4:43 4:52-58
Taylor 5:36 5:44-47
Austin 6:30 6:25-38
San Marcos 7:12 7:21-24
San Antonio 9:55 pm 9:03 pm

Unlike the trains we had observed on several days since our arrival, this instance of Train 21 departs almost on time! (Its departure is limited by Train 22's late arrival.) We have a 10 mph slow order at MP 345.8, just north of Tower 55, costing four minutes, and a two-minute stop right at Tower 55. Somehow, we lose seven more minutes by Cleburne, and ten more after that, by McGregor, clawing that back by the magic of schedule padding

As predicted, the one seating for dinner is ridiculously early, but all the sleeping car passengers (which also includes jerry Morris) are in the diner to eat. Dinner is done in plenty of time for the dining car staff do get off the train at Austin. In fact, the train is early enough on the approach to San Antonio that I can record route description details in the daylight/twilight all the way to Tower 112, where the line joins the Sunset Route, reached before 8:45 pm. We stop for ten minutes to throw the switch to the platform track at San Antonio. Train 2 arrives at 9:15 pm.

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Overnight, the usual car switching among trains occurs, and Train 1 departs San Antonio, on time, at 5:40 am (we hear later), in the rain. I awake at 7am, at Seco, in heavy rain. At Knippa, around 7:30 am, the dispatcher (heard on my scanner) tells our crew to take an east-facing UP locomotive at Uvalde, put it on the east end of the train, and take the train back to San Antonio. This is due to flooding (3 ft. of water over the track) at Del Rio. At 7:45 am, we stop at Uvalde, take UP 2000 off the freight in the siding there, and depart eastward at 8:53 am. (Chris and I eat breakfast between these two times.) The initial word is that passengers will take buses west from San Antonio, after the train gets there. Jerry Morris thinks there's a Train 2 in El Paso this morning, but I eventually convince him that Train 2 ran though here Monday! By the time we get to San Antonio, we hear that the line will be open by evening (once the washout resulting from the flood has been repaired), and we will have the option of staying with the train. We see one rock train going westward before reaching San Antonio, another soon after getting back there, and a third about 12:30 pm.

This time, it takes only four minutes to throw the switch at the platform track, and we're back in San Antonio at 10:45 am. This time, I notice that there's a sleeper and a coach parked at San Antonio. Three buses arrive to take passengers west, but only two people form our sleeper take them. (Many more coach passengers do so.) I take the opportunity to collect the consist from the platform, and take photographs of the freight locomotive which hauled us back, and of the stuffed-and-mounted SP 2-8-2 adjacent to the platform. The opportunity exists to visit San Antonio (with instructions to be back by 4 pm), but since its raining, Chris and I elect not to do so. The Dining Car does serve lunch to those who have stayed. Charles uses his laptop to check with Amtrak, and reports that we're expected to leave here somewhere between 3 and 6 pm. In the event, it's 6 pm.



Train 1, 5-24-2010




San Antonio

5:40 am 6:00 pm (2nd)
Del Rio                     CT 8:35 am 10:23-35 pm
El Paso                    MT 4:15 pm
4:40 pm

6:05 am
Deming (flag) 6:11 pm 7:29 am (pass)
Lordsburg (flag) 7:06 pm 8:18 am (pass)
Benson (flag) 8:11 pm 9:05-08 am
Tucson 9:40 pm
10:50 pm
10:02 am
10:39 am
Maricopa 11:47 pm
11:57 pm
12:08 pm
12:29 pm
Yuma 2:44 am 3:04-06 pm
Palm Springs 4:54 am 5:30-37 pm
Ontario 6:21 am 7:14-17 pm
Pomona 6:31 am 7:25 pm
Los Angeles 8:30 am 8:08 pm

At 5:16 pm, blue flag protection is removed from the east end of Train 2, and from the west end at 5:22 pm. The conductor comes to our car to release the handbrake (which had to be on while the train was stopped here with no operating crew but passengers on board). At 5:25 pm, UP 2000 is removed from the rear of the train. By 6:05 pm, we're clear of the platform tracks, the switch has been returned, and the crewman is back on board. From 7:30 to 7:39 pm, we stop for eastbound manifest UP 8572 at Sabinal. From 8:16 to 8:20, we meet an eastbound freight at Uvalde, at from 8:32 to 8:36 pm, an eastbound BNSF freight at Obi. Dinner is during the latter two events.

The track at the washout is still "out-of-service", and our conductor and engineer  initially disagree on the rules to be followed to let us (and other trains) pass through the area. In the event, the track is placed back in service before we cross it. From 9:38 to 9:54 pm, we stop east of Del Rio, with the work trains to our west. The radio covers the actions as these trains are moved, in turn, west of the siding, and then back into it (eastward) to clear our passage. At 10:07 pm, the track is placed back into service. From 10:07 to 10:18, we're stopped at SA 377, before entering the station. There's no custom for us here, but it's still a smoke stop!

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

I'm briefly awake at El Paso, and get up after the slow passage of Deming. We're eating breakfast during the slow passage of Lordsburg, and lunch during the long stop (due to track construction inhibiting passenger loading and unloading) at Maricopa. Having covered this track 12-hours off the schedule a couple of years ago, I'm not even getting additional route description details! Ultimately, there's one seating of dinner, at 4 pm, to permit serving free food to the coach passengers before arrival in LA. On arrival in LA, Chris and I are too tired to continue on home, so we spend the might at the Metro Plaza Hotel (as do many of those who should have made onward Amtrak connections this morning, and were lodged for the night by Amtrak).

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Arising in time for the included breakfast, we observe some of the people from the train before driving home, making the usual stops, and reaching the house before noon.