Friday, August 13
Byron and I arranged to meet in Creston on Friday morning, so I left
home at 5:45. Iowa has been soaked with rain and flooded lately,
and it was 81° with high humidity this morning. I drove down
to Chariton, headed west and got to the bottom of Whitebreast Hill in
time to see a PNJX coal load starting up the grade. I turned
around and drove back to the "HyVee" crossing west of Chariton to
intercept them. The light was excellent and I got several shots
as the train emerged from the trees and approached the crossing at 7:00. Leading were BNSF 6420 and 5961. BNSF 5777 brought up the rear as the train entered Chariton. Later, I heard the Russell detector report 79° and 558 axles for this train.
I resumed my trip toward Creston, meeting two more loads along the way,
though missing photo opportunities for them. There was quite a
bit of discussion with dispatcher JBB about westbounds waiting to get
into town. JBB was rolling up her eastbounds, which included BNSF
5830 and 9174, and encouraging them to keep moving ahead of Amtrak.
I called "Julie" and was told that today's No. 6 was expected
into Creston at 8:35.
I got to Creston at 8:10. There were two loads
stopped at the east end of the yard with BNSF 8841 and 9601 on FEPX
cars, and BNF 6192 and 5982 with NS cars. This image shows a bit
of fog on the lens from the high humidity Friday. There also was
an empty that we'd see pull later hanging out the east end of the yard
with no rear end power. I met Byron at the west end of the yard
and we decided to hang out near the depot. While we waited, I
took this shot of the rear of one of the loads - an NS "TopGon", apparently converted from a hopper at some point. This car was just ahead of the rear unit, BNSF 5804. The west end of the yard was being worked by BNSF 1068 and 4433.
The Zephyr finally arrived (timetable is 7:44)
at 8:55. I'd called on Thursday evening and was told that this
train had been 40 minutes early into Denver. Leading
elephant-style were AMTK 160 and 192. Conductor "Doc" Livingston dropped down from the Transition Sleeper and walked forward to confer with the engineer Ogundipe and a group of deadheading BNSF employees. After a short time, the passenger train pulled down a few cars to drop and load a the passengers. In the California Zephyr consist today:
AMTK 160 and 192
Within a few minutes, a westbound that had been waiting to use the
single track and for the Zephyr to clear, pulled. This train had BNSF 5788 and 8973 leading and no rear end power.
Transition Sleeper 39043
Sleepers 32000 and 32025
Sightseer Lounge 33015
Coaches 34047, 34096 and 31009
We noticed that BNSF operating personnel are now required to wear safety vests
when working over the rails or on equipment. I've been told that
these may be removed when one is inside a locomotive. Another new
thing that I'd not noticed before is that track authority is now being
given across the CTC at Albia. That is, warrants are issued with
limits like, "east bound control signal IC&E to east yard limits
Creston"- essentially all the way from Ottumwa to Creston. In the
past, warrants were surrendered and issued to all trains at the ends of
the Albia CTC, locations named Maxon and Halpin. Listening to the
radio, it seemed to me that there might now be a bit more "roll up"
traffic than there used to be.
As soon as 5788 was out of the, about 9:20, the next westbound pulled
up for a crew change. This train had a single lead unit (two in
the rear that we would see later), BNSF 6054. The crew reported to the dispatcher their arrival time at Creston as 05:20!
At 9:36 a DEEX load came in with BNSF 6244 and 5939 on the point. It was trailed by the DENGAL,
with very colorful power, which stopped west of New York Ave just
before 10:00. The DENGAL's third unit was to be dropped by the
outbound crew. At this time, the 6054, with UCEX hoppers, started west, but it needed the rear units inspected and the cards signed, so they arranged to stop with the rear end power, BNSF 5861
and 6217, positioned so that the DENGAL crew could inspect them.
As it turned out, 6217 had 1000 gallons of fuel and 5861 was dead
account low lube oil pressure.
Through the last half hour or so, we'd been having a lightning show to
the northwest. Byron looked up the radar weather map on his
phone, and it was obvious that we would soon be in the rain. At
10:20, the first two units, BNSF 1813 and 8025, were cut off and pulled forward. A couple of minutes later, BNSF 2803,
the unit that was to stay in Creston, pulled into the clear and 1813
and 8025 returned to the train. By this time the rain had
arrived, and we watched westbound BNSF 5972, along with "executive" paint scheme units 9699 and 9706, go by in the downpour.
At 10:50, the DENGAL had its air and moved on east with just two antique SD's in charge. Shortly, BNSF 9246 with fading 9481 pulled by with BN/BNSF empties. Bringing up the rear was BNSF 9957.
One more image from Creston - a long, long line of "Oakways"
parked at the south side of the yard. With the radar showing more
rain on the way, Byron and I split up and headed for our respective
homes. I drove through the showers to Osceola, got some lunch and
waited at the depot for a number of westbounds that I knew were coming.
These trains were running behind one that needed to be recrewed
at Woodburn. For a while, I thought the rain would let up, but it
just kept raining harder, so I gave it up for this day.