Creston Congestion

Thursday, July 27

Byron and I decided to take advantage of a break in the hot weather and meet at Creston today.  I left Pleasantville around 5:40 under a clear sky with the temperature at 55 degrees.  Driving south on the way down to Chariton, I heard BNSF 9449 West getting a warrant at Albia at 5:46 and figured that I might be able to catch them in Chariton.  I was just coming into the north side of town when I heard the Russell detector announce the passing train.  I turned off the highway and drove toward a grade crossing near the old depot, but when I was a couple of blocks from the crossing the gates started down.  As it turned out, there was an eastbound train coming as well!

I jumped out of the Jeep at the crossing just in time (6:20) to catch the head end of a loaded set of COEH tub gons, BNSF 5655.  This train later counted 532 axles on the Russell detector.  In just a couple of minutes the westbound I expected arrived, DETX cars with BNSF 9449 and 4458 on the head end.  The eastbound was a distributed power train, but the rear unit went by while the westbound was still blocking my view of the south track.

I drove west on Hwy. 34 to Osceola and caught 9449 again as it went through town at 6:56. The empty registered 448 axles on the Osceola detector.  Back on the highway, I began hearing radio conversations that indicated my westbound was meeting some other trains.  At 7:17, 9773 reported out of Creston, and at 7:30 another load started.  Around Murray I could hear discussion between crews and figured that I'd missed one or possibly two eastbound trains.

Since Byron and I were supposed to meet at 8:00, I called to check on the number he'd see leaving town and to tell him that I was going to try to catch one or more at the old overpass in Thayer.  After turning around, chasing, and missing an IPEX load, I went back into Thayer and waited on the overpass for a set of EXEX tubs that arrived at 8:02 with BNSF 5164 and 5608.  The detector at 378.8 reported this one at 488 axles.

Assured by Byron that there was yet another eastbound out of Creston, I went to the above detector, just east of Talmage, and waited.  Main 2 near the detector had an "interesting" appearance - the steady parade of coal loads along here really wears the rails.  The next of them came down across the bridge and worked its way toward me at 8:26.  On the point was BNSF 8910 and bringing up the rear, BN 9710.

I finally arrived at Creston around 8:45.  At the east end of the yard BNSF 8874 was on the overpass, apparently doubling a CEFX coal load together.  Down in front of the depot I found BN 9637 and BNSF 9868 on the west end of a couple of yard tracks.  Byron and I parked at the west end of the yard and waited for traffic.  At about 9:45 the yard crew backed an empty on Main 1 to the east so that they could work the north side of the mains.  Just after 10:00 BNSF 1500 came out of the yard with a couple of tank cars and crossed over to head down Main 1.

At 10:30 an eastbound arrived with BNSF 9824 on the head end.  The detector just west of Creston read this one at 524 axles.  The consist was mostly BNSF hoppers, including a few carrying the new BNSF logo.  The rear, with BNSF 9828, came by as 1500 worked on the north track.   They came back at 11:09 with a scale test car that they shoved into the yard.

The next train, arriving at 11:19, was a UCEX coal load with BNSF 9778 in front.  The rear of the DP train was handled by BNSF 8938.  By this time, the train that I'd seen at Chariton around 6:30 was finally ready to leave Creston.  BNSF 9449, DEEX cars and BNSF 4458 came by at 11:30.  Another westbound was waiting to recrew and pulled down to "the sidewalk" at 11:48.  This train had COEH tub gons with BNSF 9954 in front and BNSF 9744 shoving on the rear.

At 11:50 eastbound 9778 called the Kansas City desk dispatcher to say that they were in emergency in Afton.  They'd "gotten a knuckle" 54 cars deep in the train.  Another train stopped to drop off one, to save the conductor walking all the way back to the head end and returning with it.  However, that coupler wouldn't fit and the walk was necessary after all.  After installing the coupler they had some trouble getting the train started on a hill, but were eventually under way again about 2:00.

Meanwhile, another empty with BNSF 8956, which had been waiting east of town since 10:25, pulled in for its crew change.  Behind it, another with BNSF 5333, BN 9418 and PSTX cars was pulled into a yard track.  This train had trouble clearing the east end and was pulled ahead to just barely clear Main 2.  Clearing the east crossover was necessary so that Amtrak #6, overdue shortly, could cross over at "Bullocks" to get around broken-down 9778 and then return to Main 2 at Thayer.

The Zephyr appeared at 1:09, led by AMTK 71 and 63.  The train, with Denise Degner at the throttle, was to pick up ten "deadheads" today.  In the passenger train today:

AMTK 71 and 63
Baggage 1269
Sleepers 39010, 32043 and 32056
Diner 38015
Sightseer Lounge 33022
Coaches 34027, 31033 and 31026
They reported their stop as ":12 and 20".  Byron and I decided to go east on the highway and see if we could catch the train again out in the country.  Our first thought was to go all the way to Thayer for the crossover move, but we chickened out and waited at a county road overpass just west of Talmage.  The train reappeared at 1:40 and passed under us on its way to the bridge.  Denise gives good horn!

Back in Creston at 2:00, we caught another eastbound pulling in, this one with BNSF 9509, 5026 and new (built 06-05) FEPX cars.  By this time, things were getting a bit crowded at Creston.

The westbound on Main 1 pulled at 2:19.  This train had BNSF 8956 on the head end and pulled ALMX and UCEX cars.  They stopped near us at the west end of the yard and tossed us a couple of bottles of BNSF water.  The rear unit was BNSF 9762.  At 2:45 another westbound pulled in, this one with BNSF 9991 in front, UCEX cars and 9883 in back.

I had to leave for home and started east on Hwy 34, meeting plenty more westbounds as I drove.  One at Afton called in to say they had 53 minutes left to work and were out of fuel on their lead unit.  I saw another on the bridge at Talmage.  I stopped in Thayer to get pictures of one more, coming down the hill and under the overpass.  On the point were SF 149 and BNSF 8703, behind them GEAX and CEFX cars.

That's it!