Trains at Creston

Tuesday, June 27

Byron and I agreed to meet in Creston this morning, for a day of train-watching on the BNSF.  I got away from the ranch on a 56 degree morning at 5:00.  From the radio I learned that there was a southbound already moving along the UP's Spine Line.  Just after I got through Melcher they passed the detector in town with a report of 422 axles.  I hurried south to Williamson and got to the tracks at dawn, just in time to see the train's headlights coming under the highway overpass near the north end of the Williamson siding.  They came through town at 5:40, with UP 8095, 8110 and 6841 on the point of 101 loaded covered hoppers.

Although I'd heard a CN powered southbound get a warrant behind 8095, I decided to go on down to Chariton and start intercepting BNSF traffic instead.  I'd heard a couple of eastbound trains go through the Russell detector on my drive down.  Once in Chariton, at 6:10, I heard that detector report a 456 axle train on Main 1, so I went to the west end of the Chariton yard and waited for them to come through town.  The train arrived at 6:17, a GEAX empty with BN 9716 and 9548.

I called "Julie" and was informed that Amtrak's California Zephyr was six hours and sixteen minutes late.  On the drive on westward along Hwy. 34, I heard a track inspector report a broken rail on Main 2 at MP 344.  I went to the Stephen's Forest overpass and found the highrail truck parked at the point of the defect.  I made one other stop along the way, to check out some "buckled" coal gondolas that were parked in Woodburn.  There were six cars set out, three of which appeared to be damaged and to have been emptied of their coal.

On the radio, the KC desk dispatcher said that there were five or six called out of Creston before 9:00, but that none were out yet.  I got to Creston just after 8:30 and found some activity at the east end of the yard.  A westbound intermodal was stopped waiting to come in for a crew change, while a crew boarded a CEFX load with BNSF 8964 leading.  The rear unit on this train, BNSF 9742, was still at the depot when I met Byron there.  A couple of other sets of locos were at the east end, BNSF 8943 with 4044, and BNSF 4260 with 2410.  8943 was on a set of new BNSF hoppers, some of which had been doubled over to a south yard track.

Dispatching assignments have been realigned west of Creston.  A portion of the route west of Creston is now referred to on the air as the "Omaha Split", and the dispatcher's radio is on 160.905.  The old frequency, 161.415, is still used west of Hastings.  The Omaha Split man was trying hard to get a grain train out of the way of his westbounds and to thread trains around several other obstacles.  Two trains were tied down waiting on relief crews, one at MP 408.9 and another at 412, and there was a work train in the picture as well.  At least Amtrak helped out by being profoundly late.  Although "Julie", in response to "Get Details" said that No. 6 was out of Omaha at 9:45, the same automated report kept lengthening its delay.  Eventually a bus was to come through instead.

At the west end at 8:50, a coal load nosed up to New York Avenue for a brief wait and then came in after 8964's departure.  This was a DP train with BNSF 5740 leading a set of recently built PSTX cars, and 8985 trailing.  The next eastbound was right behind at 9:10, mostly DEEX cars with BNSF 7758 on the point and 5947 in back.  An eastbound empty vehicle train with one unit, BNSF 985, was next at 9:28.  They made a quick crew change at the depot and then pulled down so that the yard crew could fill the train with cars from the yard.

As the vehicle train was moving east, a coal empty made its crew change and pulled.  This train had BNSF 5639 in the lead and 5814 trailing.  There was now room for the intermodal Q-CHIDEN to come in and stop at 9:46.  The crew reported a 6:30 arrival to the dispatcher.  They changed crews and moved out with BNSF 5168 and FURX 8134 pulling the stack cars.

Activity at both ends of the yard took our attention next.  The yard crew headed out with their power, BNSF 2913, while at the east end 8943 and 4044 were doubling a coal load, all new BNSF "swoosh" logo cars, together.  Since they'd vacated the track blocking the view, I got a shot of the two ex-SF freight units on the next rail.  Back at the west end around 11:15 the yard crew was trying to fill the vehicle train, but after their first couple of moves, realized that they needed to rearrange the cars, and had to reduce their cut and put the east cars on top of some of the west ones.

Byron and I got some takeout and returned to the west end of the yard.  At 12:47 the empty I'd seen in Chariton at 6:15 got a crew change and pulled.  Five minutes later another load arrived, this one with a seriously ugly new loco from EMD, BNSF 9399, an SD-70ACE.  On the rear of the train's BN tub gondolas was another new unit, BNSF 5990, an ES44AC from General Electric.

The next empty came through for its crew change at 1:18, another set of BN tub gons with BNSF 9952 and 9450 on the head end.  That train met an eastbound stopped at New York Ave., so we drove down there to get a shot of it.  We also found there a Herzog rail testing truck waiting for a chance to get on the tracks.  At 1:40 another empty pulled with a fresh crew, BNSF 5034 led and 5375 trailed.

We then had more than an hour break before anything else moved.  At 2:50 the Galesburg-Lincoln freight arrived and departed.  They had a fairly short train with three units, BNSF 5343, 5306 and 8953.  At this point, the load that had been waiting at New York put on the lights and rolled by us.  This was a long (135 car) set of BN tub gons led by BN 9625 and CEFX 138 in a simple paint scheme, and with BNSF 9838 in the rear.  Before Byron and I decided to head for our respective homes we saw one more empty, BNSF 9808 with 5843, 5851 and a set of EXEX cars.

On my way home I kept track of 9625's progress past the detectors.  They left Osceola just ahead of me and I was in position as they came under Hwy. 34 at Chariton to get a few more shots of 9625, the CEFX unit and the rear motor at 4:36.

That's It!