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Thursday, June 20, 2013

13-06-20 PHOTOS: Albuquerque Rail Runner

In Part Four of my Amtrak Southwest Chief trip across the country my train #4 turns off the BNSF Gallup Sub at DALIES and onto the Glorieta Sub which is part of the old Santa Fe Raton Pass line which follows close to the old Santa Fe trail. This part will cover the Glorieta Sub under the control of the New Mexico Rail Runner service as it runs up through Albuquerque and then continues on to Lamy, NM.

You can find the entire set of photos here and if you are interested in information on this and other BNSF Southwest Division subdivisions here.

The first part of the Glorieta Sub between Dalies and Isleta is one of those rail segments that made sense back when the BNSF still ran long distance freight trains over this route, but now only sees the daily back and forth of Amtrak's Southwest Chief. If the 60mph jointed rail track didn't remind you that you were off the main line this typical scene tends to hammer the point home.

Good news is we're back to classic signaling with searchlights and pole lines. Bad news is that the desert appears to be reclaiming the line.

At Isleta we get off the jointed rail and onto something with concrete ties. This part of the line has been recently upgraded for the New Mexico Railrunner commuter line between Belen and Santa Fe. Not long after we are across the River Big.

At this point is was time for lunch and when I was done eating my dessert the train had stopped. Getting out to stretch my legs I had no idea where we were, but looking around I saw a Mennonite farmer's market, historic ATSF locomotive shoppes, and commuter trains with a strange roadrunner theme. At that point I realized those things were indicative of the kind of bold railfanning they enjoy in...Albuquerque! Oh, and the station said Albuquerque too.

It was here that I finally got photos of our engines, P42DC #167 and #118, while they were being fueled. Compared with trains 5/6 and 7/8 this was about on part with the Builder's refueling station in Helen, MT, but well in advance of the Zephyr's of Denver.

Also hanging out at Albuquerque was protect engine #148 located in front of the old ATSF locomotive shoppes which have been out of service for some time.

The New Mexico Rail Runner were located across the trains from the station and MP36PH-3C #105 was under the maintenance shed. 

Also in attendance was Bombardier cab car #1007.

My photo loft as seen from the outside of the train. Amtrak was nice enough to have guys wash the windows on both sides of the train, but when I asked if he could wash off the end window it said he couldn't because that was a different craft or something so fuck it.

Passengers milling about on the through tracks. The Albuquerque station has a total of 4 platforms serving 4 tracks, but only two are really used for anything. 

Upon our departure we passed through the Albuquerque Rail Runner station which was separate from the Amtrak LD part of the station.

 The whole line from Belen to Lamy, NM is owned by the state for the Rail Runner service as BNSF had no real interest in the route as they shifted traffic to their less mountainous double tracked main line through Amarillo. Heading north through Albuquerque industrial district we re-entered Automatic Train Stop territory, although there would be no more 90mph running due to the lack of class V track. I am not sure if the local freight customers on this line were being served by BNSF or some shortline as I didn't see a single freight train between Dalies and Trinidad, CO.

The Sandia Pueblo station was opened in 2011 and was the second of two infill stations to be built after the original 13 stations were completed in 2008. Note the turned signal heads for the new automatic signals that will eliminate delays from the delay in block rule.

Bernalillo was the next Rail Runner stop and the original northern terminus of the line when service started in 2006. The platform is located on a siding track. Note the cute little Kiosk sign thing.

All over you could see Acequias, or small irrigation channels built by Spanish settlers to bring water to the normally dry southwestern lands. The extensive system of gravity fed channels survive largely intact to this day. Here is one next MP 869.

There were lots of bridges, but all of them passed over dry washes. Some were equipped with high rater detectors because unlike sandy soil in other parts of the country the soil here doesn't absorb water and it just runs off into the River Big. In this wash we see a cow looking for something to eat.

The Sandoval/US 550 Park and Ride station was the northern terminus of the Rail Runner line from mid-2006 to 2008 when the line was extended all the way to Santa Fe.

The Kewa Pueblo station was the first of the two infill stations to be built and opened in 2010 with a platform off the Domingo passing siding.

Sometime in the 1970's, construction of the Galisteo Dam forced the ATSF to re-route its main line between the I-25 overpass and the Waldo siding via a new alignment with significant cuts and fills

One advantage of this new alignment was realized 35 years later when the Rail Runner service built a brand new line via the I-25 median to Santa Fe, replacing a slow curvy route from Lamy, NM. The brand new line branches off the old ATSF route at the new CP-MADRID. At this point our train leaves the brand new CTC signaling and heads back onto the original bi-directional ABS signaling installed by the ATSF. Note the 0 milepost for the new line as well as the concrete ties.

Bi-directional ABS, also known as TWC-ABS or Rule 271 is bi-directional signaling without any notion of traffic control built into the signaling logic. While there are some exceptions, signals respond to track occupancy conditions which, although preventing most collisions, would do nothing to prevent trains from meeting away from passing sidings. In this case track warrants issued by the dispatcher prevent trains from getting into these sorts of impasses. Here at the east end of the waldo siding you can see how this works in practice. The tracks are all protected by signals, yet this is not an interlocking as most of them are equipped with number plates signifying automatic operation and while there is a switch, it is hand operated spring switch. Under the old train order system or today's track warrant system trains are given movement authority between siding stations with meets being arranged in advance.

Here at the east end of the WALDO siding we see the westbound signal clear to Approach as our train clears the block. Oh yeah, found him!.

A rock of Gibraltar at milepost 853.

West of WALDO we hit the first of what all the time and effort I put in to this trip was going towards...getting some photos of semaphore signals in the wild. When BNSF stopped running freight over the line they lost any incentive to continue efforts to replace the US&S T-2 semaphore signals still in service on parts of it so they soldier on into the 21st Century as some of the last active semaphores left in North America. These examples are the MP 847/846 automatics. Oh, thanks to TWC-ABS they upgrade after you pass them.

 Reaching Lamy we find Santa Fe Southern Railroad GP16 #93 laying over in the yard. The SFSR is an erstwhile tourist railroad and freight shortline that uses the old road into Santa Fe. The New Mexico Rail Runner dispatches uo to Lamy because before the new direct route was built this was the only way to access the city and if there are any service disruptions the SFSR route could again be used to get equipment in and out. The line to Sanfa Fe actually continue on behind #93 where the wye tracks come together.

The Lamy Amtrak station is used by those traveling to and from the Santa Fe area and not able to use the Rail Runner service. it is between here and Trinidad that Amtrak's two trains are the only real users of the line since BNSF pulled all through freight from the Raton pass line several years ago. Amtrak is facing intense pressure from BNSF to re-route the Chief via Belen and Amarillo so it can mothball the line between Lamy and Trinidad, CO. 

Next week we'll continue our trip on this highly endangered part of the Amtrak network to the end of the Glorieta Sub at Las Vegas, NM.

1 comment:

  1. Still running on the same historic route today...still with wood ties, working semaphores and searchlight signals.