Now at first I was worried that the bridge's extended outage would result in a trip ruining bustitution. However, I should have had more faith in Amtrak because when Plan A isn't available, it's time for Plan B! That's right, instead of a ruined trip I was treated to that that wonderful Amtrak event, a rare mileage detour. Instead of rolling into Houston on the Glidden Sub as I had the year before, my train would be rerouted at the famous Tower 17 south on the BNSF Galveston Sub to the town of Alvin, before then heading north on the BNSF Mykawa Sub to T&NO Jct where the line would change into the UP Houston West Best Sub that would then deliver us to Tower 26 where we would then make a backup move into the Houston Amtrak station.
You can find all the photos from this incredibly rare train movement here. Just goes to show that riding Amtrak can really turn delays into
Movements from the eastbound Glidden Sub to the southbound Galveston Sub are not typically needed so the only direct connection available at TOWER 17 interlocking is west to north. This, and having to travel over BNSF, prompted Union Pacific to detour its freight off the Sunset Route at Flatonia, TX. On the other hand, long backup movements are just a regular part of doing business on LD Amtrak trains. Here we see a Diverging Clear signal displayed westbound at TOWER 17 for a route onto the northbound BNSF Galveston Sub.
TOWER 17 was the site of Texas's last active classic interlocking tower. The tower was closed about 10 years ago, but it and its Taylor Model 2 interlocking machine were preserved in a local railfan park.
Passing the diamond in the other direction. The multiple relay huts is due to the joint ownership and maintenance of the interlocking and its diamond crossing.
These KCS ES44AC's #4680 and #4859 distracted me sufficiently so that I missed out on more photos of TOWER 17. However, in its stead I managed to capture the local BNSF crew base.
KCS SD70ACe #4027 was providing tail end power as the unit train of covered hoppers waited in the siding for us to pass by.
Despite the 1980's vintage ATSF signaling being in relatively good knick, a replacement programme was under way because I guess anything with moving parts is bad.
Sometimes it seems that all of Texas is a highway construction zone. Here some sort of ramp or frontage road is bring added to Interstate 69.
This southbound unit grain train had passed over the diamond at TOWER 17 ahead of us, but we had the last laugh as we passed it on the Manvel siding (even limited to the freight train speed of 50mph). Unlike the popular belief, freight dispatchers do a pretty good job of routing Amtrak trains through freight traffic. Engines are BNSF ES44C4 #6803 and SD70ACe #8598.
What I assume is some sort of old feed mill in Alvin.
Because of Houston's notoriously bad air quality, genset style switchers are typically assigned here by the big Class 1 railroads. Here we see a pair of National Railway Equipment 3GS21B-DE's, #1245 and #1287, shifting cars near Alvin.