Having been stuck in a few Los Angeles area-tailbacks lately, I’ll say, it’s no fun. However, when the railroad gets jammed, it can make for some bountiful photographic opportunities.
Union Pacific owns and dispatches the old Southern Pacific route over the Tehachapis, yet BNSF (operating on a trackage rights arrangement inherited from the Santa Fe ) runs the lion’s share of the traffic. The mix of UP and BNSF plus outstanding scenery and blazing sun have the stage set.
To adapt a hackneyed Hollywood phrase; ‘Light, cameras, action . . .’
On this late July afternoon UP wasn’t having a good day. One of its northward trains developed braking problems descending near Cable and northward trains began to stack up behind it, including the BNSF ‘Earthworm’ unit grain train that we’d photographed earlier in the day (see: The Earthworm and a Joshua Tree)
UP’s southward trains hadn’t faired much better; as a very heavy manifest had struggled upgrade at a walking pace adding to more congestion.
By evening, UP’s northward train had reached Caliente, where it held the mainline short of the first intermediate signal (as instructed by the dispatcher),while a BNSF southward manifest was in the siding.
More southward trains were coming behind this train, as the loaded northward earthworm crawled downgrade and stopped at the pit of the Caliente horseshoe, short of the grade crossing.
Three trains at Caliente and nothing moving. Furthermore, a pair of UP Z-trains were making a meet at Cliff.
At this point it was like shooting fish in a barrel, to use another handy cliché, and the evening light was only getting better.
Stay tooned! 😉
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