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Western Railroad Discussion > Around Houston this past week

Date: 06/02/13 11:24
Around Houston this past week
Author: SP8595

I was in Houston this past Wednesday through Friday (May 29th-31st) and only had an hour or two each day to head out but got a couple of things even though the weather was very cruddy for the most part!

On Wednesday afternoon I decided to do some exploring in a part of Houston I wasn't familiar with and came across this BNSF-UP crossing at Arcola, TX. The BNSF line is the Galveston Subdivision running between Rosenberg and Galveston and the Union Pacific line is the Popp Sub. running from Pierce Jct. South to Smithers Lake, TX. I believe Smithers Lake is the location of the huge Houston Power & Light coal fired power plant where BNSF delivers many unit trains of coal. At one time, rumors were flying that UP was going to get this contract away from the BNSF but if they did, some Major work would have to be done on this line!

1)The signal box states Arcola MP 12.10 (UP milepost) as well as UPRR X-ing MP 42.9 (BNSF) and also has what looks like lock boxes, one lettered for the UPRR and another still showing SFRR!

2)Looking South from the diamond along the UP line, nothing has ran through here in quite awhile!

3)Unbelievably, the signal protecting the diamond for a Northbound UP movement was still lit up! Looks like it should be in a garden or something:}

Three More Posted Below.......................

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/02/13 11:24 by SP8595.

Date: 06/02/13 11:33
Re: Around Houston this past week
Author: 6088

Wow... pretty nice set of photos. Any idea how long that diamond protected by that signal has been out of service?

Date: 06/02/13 11:41
Re: Around Houston this past week
Author: SP8595

I then followed BNSF's Galveston Sub. South to Alvin, TX where BNSF's Mykawa Subdivision meets this line. There is a nice restored Santa Fe depot at Alvin but I noticed a BNSF local switching the yard West of the depot and went there first.

4)A pair of BNSF's 3GS21B's, the 1261 and 1222 put away their short train in the yard.

5)While shooting the local, a Union Pacific train came South on the Mykawa Sub. and headed East on the Galveston Sub. I was not sure how many UP trains use this line (which turned out to be a bunch!) so I gave chase East. I was totally out of position at Algoa, where Union Pacific's Angleton Sub. diverges when the UP 4338 leading the QEWFO-29 (Priority Manifest-Englewood Yard-Formosa,TX) came wheeling around the curve.
Notice the BNSF sign on the right that states "BNSF property line" thus the beginning of this UP line segment.

6)The UP 4338 met a Westbound Union Pacific train at Algoa so I tried chasing that to get it passing the Alvin depot but just missed it:{ But at Pearland, I noticed a Southbound approaching that was another UP train, the UP 7713 on the MEWFP-29 (Manifest-Englewood Yard-Freeport,TX)

Three More Posted Below................

Date: 06/02/13 11:49
Re: Around Houston this past week
Author: SP8595

7)Union Pacific 4233 leads the MOLEW-28 (Manifest-Olmito,TX-Englewood Yard) North along BNSF's Mykawa Sub. approaching T&NO Jct.

On Thursday, I only had an hour to spend so I went to Union Pacific's Glidden Sub. which wasn't far from where I was staying and caught this pair of trains.

8)BNSF 7645 leads a Westbound empty Ethanol train West of West Jct.

9)Union Pacific SD70m 4626 leads the Eastbound MKBHO-30 (Manifest-Kirby,TX-Houston) past Houston's Rubble Mtn.:}

Last three Posted Below......................

Date: 06/02/13 12:05
Re: Around Houston this past week
Author: SP8595

On Friday, I went down to Galveston Island with my wife and had a very enjoyable couple of hours at the Beach. On the way back to Houston, I noticed a BNSF train heading North on BNSF's Galveston Sub. just North of the causeway with a GEVO running long hood first! Since I wasn't that interested in shooting that train, I decided to follow Union Pacific's Galveston Sub. back up to Houston and we did not see one train!

Anyone know why the BNSF's Mykawa Sub. is so busy with both BNSF and UP trains running in both directions and Union Pacific's Galveston Sub. is so dead? I thought that they would have some sort of directional running set up or something.

Anyway, I had about one more hour free before my flight so I went to T&NO Jct. and saw some headlights North of there at New South Yard.

10)I found CSXT 206 leading Southbound UP train MEWFPB-31 (Manifest-Englewood Yard-Freeport, TX) but could not get any sun on this thing!
This shot coming at me was cloudy but turning around on the going away, the sun was out! Here it is passing BNSF 1254 at Double Track Jct.

11)The sixth location shooting this train I finally found some sun! CSXT 206 and Canadian National 2145 provided a nice lash-up!

12)Heading back to the Hotel, another Southbound Union Pacific train led by SD70ACe 8571 heads down the Mykawa Sub.
This train was the MPBBL-30 (Manifest-Pine Bluff-Bloomington,TX) which I think means that it would have to turn West at Alvin on the BNSF's Galveston Sub. but I did not see a Westbound connection at that location. Anyone know what this train routing would be after leaving Houston?

Thanks for any help and looking in:}

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/03/13 00:06 by SP8595.

Date: 06/02/13 12:33
Re: Around Houston this past week
Author: DNRY122

That interlocking signal reminds me of the SP-PE crossing in El Monte (about ten miles east of downtown Los Angeles). The ex-PE track was removed in the early 1970s but the signals remained for at least a year afterward because A) There was some section of Public Utilities Commission or ICC regulations that had to be followed before retiring interlocker signals, or B) The Signal Dept. engineers have to revise all the circuitry for that location, and this was probably not at the top of their priority list. If this location sounds familiar, there was a disastrous collision on the SP just west of this site in 1972 or 73 caused by a "false clear" signal indication. No knowledge of whether this collision was related to the reconfiguration of the signal system to remove the interlocking function.

Date: 06/02/13 12:56
Re: Around Houston this past week
Author: waycar_rider

I think the two boxes that are marked UP and SFRR are release boxes, so you can cross the diamond. The two boxes on the bungalow are probably phones connecting to the dispatcher. At least, this is what I think they are.


Date: 06/02/13 13:55
Re: Around Houston this past week
Author: Milw_E70

It's been a year and a half since I spent anytime railfanning in Houston but that last train would go south on the BNSF to Algoa and west on the Angleton Sub to Bloomington. Think the only traffic using the UP Galveston Sub would be whatever UP is running to/from the island.

Date: 06/02/13 21:33
Re: Around Houston this past week
Author: wesleygreer

Another great series! Crazy how many manifest symbols UP has in Texas.

Date: 06/08/13 08:26
Re: Around Houston this past week
Author: yak23flora

Most traffic on the UP Galveston Sub runs at night these days. They just laid new welded rail on much of the line (if not all of it) so MOW closings have been common for thelast several months too. I now hear traffic at night again but its a low traffic line, 4 to 10 trains a day max, estimate. Maybe with new track the speed will be better and it will be more efficient. Talk of building a conection to the port are near Ellington Field at one time, not sure where that idea stands.

Your photos are fantastic, this is my stomping grounds. Would you be able to locate the Arcola signal on a map?

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