BNSF Traffic

Saturday, January 25

It was cool and clear Saturday morning in southern Iowa and I had most of the day open to do as I pleased.  An early morning call to Amtrak's "Julie" found No. 6 a little over two hours down.  I left Indianola around 7:20 and headed for Osceola.  The Jeep's thermometer showed just 12 degrees this morning.  I heard the Osceola detector report a 506-axle train on Main 1 at 7:33, but I was still at least 15 minutes from the depot.  As I came down Hwy. 69 into town, I could hear EOT buzzes on the scanner and thought that I caught a couple of syllables from "Okay on..." messages.

I'd just parked at the depot when the gates started down.  I hopped out of the car and just had time for a quick shot as an eastbound UCEX coal load hit the highway crossing.  The sun was still low in the east and lit up the interior of the cab on BNSF 9414.  One of the crew had tied a red flag to the handrail of the unit.  9414 and 9545 led the 476 axle train this morning.

It was less than 20 minutes before another coal train came around the corner and headed for the depot.  This time I heard the horns and was ready for them.  On the point were BN 9669 and BNSF 8878.  The train had DTCX tub gondolas and was reported by the detector east of Osceola to have 484 axles, equivalent to 118 cars.

I waited in the car and soon started hearing the telemetry for a distributed power train on the scanner.  At 8:33 this one appeared.  On the head end was BNSF 9924 and bringing up the rear of 124 CEFX tubs was BNSF 9744.

Three trains in rapid succession.  This morning was going well so far!  On the radio I heard dispatcher SLY say that Amtrak was "finalled" at Creston for 9:45 and I also heard dispatcher KRS on the Ottumwa desk clear the warrant for a westbounder at Albia.  Since I had an hour, I decided to head for Creston and catch the Zephyr over there.

I was on Hwy. 34 near Murray when I heard the dispatcher giving a warrant to Track Inspector Jack Ellis to work east from Creston on Main 2.  His warrant included a, "Do not foul limits ahead of BNSF 9935", apparently another eastbound I'd not seen yet that was out and running.  I decided to make for Thayer and wait for this train.  Impatience is its own reward - I never learn.  After sitting on the overpass in Thayer for a few minutes waiting for the detector at 378 to announce my train, I got impatient and decided to move further west.  Near the east end of Talmage Hill, the head end got by me and I had to turn and give chase back to the east.

I went over the head end of the train on the Hwy. 34 overpass and kept a steady 60 mph until I got to a short section of Old 34 just west of Osceola.  I got into position on the outside of a broad curve here and waited for 9935.  In the meantime, I'd heard the dispatcher discussing what to do with their train when 9935 reached the ISU switch - this coal load was headed for the electric plant near Chillicothe, Iowa.

9935 came into sight at 9:33.  Just as I stepped from the Jeep to take pictures I heard the Osceola detector, about seven miles to the east, report a 536 axle westbound train.  The silver and pink OGSX cars approaching me from the west had BNSF 9935 in front and BNSF 9957 in the rear.

I moved a couple of miles on to the east to intercept the westbound.  This was a surprise train, a DEEX empty (not surprising), but powered by Union Pacific engines!  UP 5842 and 8263 were in the lead, and passed me at 9:38.

By now it was too late to get to Creston for the passenger train, so I went on east to the depot in Osceola.  I ran into a couple of "buffs" there, Brian Oakley and Ed Truslow, waiting to board for a trip into Chicago this morning.  Before the Zephyr arrived, at 9:55, another westbound came through the station.  This was a set of FSTX/ESCX cars pulled by BN 9610 (with smiley face and peace sign) and a CSX unit, 8589.

At 10:15 the CZ came whistling into town for a short stop.  In the cab of AMTK 178 this morning was engineer Rich Fertig.  The passenger train made a two-minute stop and highballed out of town again at 10:20.  In today's 84-axle consist:

AMTK 178, 54 and 60
Baggage 1203
Transition Sleeper 39006
Coaches 34049, 34088 and 31592
Sightseer Lounge 33040
Diner 38000
Sleepers 32042 and 32021
MHC 1415
Box, 2 XpresTrak, Box and 7 Roadrailers
I'd heard earlier on the radio that the next call at Creston after Amtrak was for 11:00 and figured that I would just have time to make it over there in time for the departure.  In fact, I made the east end of the yard just as the train was starting to roll, but didn't have much of an angle for pictures, so I once again turned around and started back east.  This time I stopped in Afton and waited for them to show up.  This train came by at 11:15, BNSF 9468 and BNSF 8290 with a set of PSTX loads, 484 axles altogether.  After watching them pass, I drove back to Creston.

At the east end of the yard, a DP coal train was just pulling to a stop with a set of BNSF hoppers.  The head end power was BNSF 9894.  I drove toward the other end of the yard, passing a nice clean set of locos, BNSF 4525 and 4995, coupled to a set of empty coil steel cars, and parked at the south side of the yard.

At the west end of the yard the switching power today was BNSF 2537 and 2278Two rear-end units for DP trains were parked there also, BNSF 9901 on the BNSF set, and BNSF 9954 on a set of AEPX cars that had no leader.  The BNSF set with 9894 and 9901 pulled at 11:55 and was reported at 500 axles by the detector near Talmage Hill.

Just before noon the Creston yardmaster told the yard crew that there were two more eastbounds coming.  I got some takeout lunch and dined near the New York Avenue grade crossing.  I was back at the west end of the yard by the time the next coal load arrived at 12:33.  This was a set of FSTX hoppers pulled by BNSF 9533 and BN 9587.

The hopper train was followed by a grain train that pulled up at the east end of the yard at 1:10.  This train brought a unit for the head end of the AEPX distributed power load parked in the yard.  After they stopped the conductor walked back to cut the engines off the train.  As they pulled ahead, I got pictures of each unit, BNSF 7005, 8038, 7020, 8037, and the coal train power, BNSF 8921.  The set of engines was backed onto the coal cars and 8921 was cut away from the SD40-2's powering the grain load.

At this point the Creston yardmaster called the next eastbound and told them to stop short of New York Avenue and "throw out the anchor", since the yard was plugged.  About the same time (1:40) I heard the KC desk talking to a westbound that was at Chariton.  I decided to start back in the general direction of home and try to intercept this train at Osceola.

I got to the Osceola depot in time to hear the detector east of town announce my westbound - 516 axles.  They appeared at 2:06 with BNSF 9836, 9908 and a set of empty BNSF hoppers.  I watched 9836 head into the corner west of the depot and then started north for Indianola.

That's It!