Central California Rail News
David Epling, Editor
1997, 1998, 1999 CenCalRail Newspapers Inc.
STOCKTON TOWER AREA UPDATE
05/01/99: The former WP tracks through downtown Stockton between Fremont Street and just south of the Stockton Tower are gone or in some places in the process of being torn out. UP crews are doing trackwork at Flora Street, but I was unable to get close enough to find out exactly what. At the Tower proper, it was a eerie feeling to see the UP Crossing gone. Construction crews have been busy at work cleaning the Tower area up. the lot has been completely weeded and graded, the containers immediately next to the BNSF main have been pulled out, all of the poles, rails, and ties on both sides of the BNSF tracks have been removed. The interchange tracks on the South side of the Tower have also been torn out and removed. a BNSF MOW crew removed the 2 Turnouts that have been sitting just west of the tower. they loaded them onto a flatbed truck, destination unknown. The only train activity was all Santa Fe, the first being what looked like a Ricbar (I didn't have my scanner) it had 8 units on it, including a SD45B (MKM but still in SF blue and yellow and the old 70's style nose logo) and a GP60B. following that was a departing BNSF Sacramento local, and after that was a BNSF port job, all units in ATSF blue and yellow. Bad news....good news. Bad News: The WP through Downtown Stockton is dead. Good News??? When railfanning at the Stockton Tower and you hear the Horns blow to the North...there is no longer any question as to which (SP or UP) track the train is on. also Trains coming into Stockton on the Canyon Sub, now have to call DS56 to enter the Fresno Line, so with a scanner, you have plenty of warning to set up your camerasFIFTH SAN JOAQUIN DELAYED
11/19/98: Cal Trans has delayed the inaguration of the fifth set of San Joaquins, slated to operate between Sacramento and Stockton on the UP and then from Stockton to Bakersfield on the BNSF. Originally announced to begin service in January, the start up of service will not be sometime in February. The reason is that BNSF will be doing extensive track work between Fresno and Bakersfield in January. This would mean that the passengers would have to be bussed from Fresno to Bakersfield as there will be a work window in effect making it impossible to run the train between those two points. Amtrak decided it did not want to start a new service under those conditions. Therefore, they will delay the start up of the Sacramento to Bakersfield service until the track work is completed. BNSF said they picked January to do the track work as that is the month where ridership on the San Joaquins is the lowest, therefore the disruption in passenger train service will have the least impact on revenue passengers using Amtrak. - Don GillMAN LOSES FOOT TO TRAIN
10/18/98: A 40 year-old man was found lying between the tracks near the Stockton Amtrak Station around 4:00 PM Saturday. Railroad personnal discovered the unidentified man on the south side of the tracks, with his foot severed from his body. He was taken to San Joaquin General Hospital, where he is listed as Critical, but Stable condition, medical personnal said the chances of re-attachment was slim
UPDATE ON NEW INTERCHANGES IN STOCKTON
10/13/98: If those familiar with the Stockton Tower area haven't been around for the last month, or even the last few days, you would hardly recognize the place. In addition to the dozen or so ne single and double headed ground signals, this week UP has erected two new signal bridges (huge ones) spanning the UP double (old SP) main South of Stockton Tower. One is immediately South of the Tower, the second about a thousand feet further South towards the UP East and West Yards (the old SP yard in Stockton is now called UP Stockton West Yard). BNSF MOW crews will be installing a new crossover between the BNSF main and the passing track (secondary main through Stockton) between the UP (ex WP) main and the entrance to Morman Yard. The purpose of the new crossover is to facilitate the movement of trains making pickups and set outs as they enter the west end of Morman Yard. A work train and crane were unloading the switches and panel tracks for this project today. When will the Tower close?? Good question. One Tower Operator said he does not see how they can get the work done to meet the November 10 date. He said he expects to be operating and controling movement through Stockton into next year. However, the MOW foreman has told me that the date still stands, but it is possible all of the work might not be done by November 10. However, another MOW employee told me today that he has heard that the Tower will be torn down by the end of the year. Regardless of the dates, work on the conversion of the signaling and operations to Ft. Worth is moving rapidly ahead and the demise of the Tower as an operating facility appears to be sooner than later. Whether it will physically remain in place a few days, a few weeks, or a few months after the signaling projects are completed is an answer that seems to vary depending upon who you ask. No matter when, the end is in sight. BNSF is putting in a new crossover between the UP main and Morman. They just unloaded the panel tracks and switches this afternoon. The new signal bridges are in place over the old SP main. In fact, the one closest to the tower has caused a BNSF MOW vs. UP MOW union labor dispute. UP build and erected the signals, but it has always been BNSF mow union employees understanding that they were responsible for all signal work in that proximity of the tower and several union grievances were filed today. I got this privately so don't publish this anywhere. That is the part about the union dispute, especially since I don't know all of the details. -Donald Gill
HAY TRUCK DIVES INTO PATH OF BNSF STACK TRAIN
05/27/98: At about 11:20 am, a fast moving BNSF double-stack train, lead by BNSF 1024, hit a large diesel truck carrying alfalfa. The truck was completely destroyed and the driver was killed. The video zoomed in. Only a flat frame is visible. The train derailed 50 loaded intermodal cars. Many of them are sitting sideways. The main line track is nothing more than long sections of bent rail and torn up ties. The locomotives remained upright and no injuries to the crew were reported. The Channel 3 helicopter crew zoomed in to BNSF 1024. The pilot and front walkway are covered with torn up bails of alfalfa. The handrails appear to be a mess, but the front of the locomotive cab did not appear to be damaged and nothing appears to have gone over the top of the nose and into the windshield. The collision took place at or near Dodds Road (Thomas Bros. 1998 Central Valley Cities map Page 4-D0). The main line is closed between Stockton and Escalon. Amtrak will be re-routed. Unknown where.PwD
CONVICTION IN BNSF HOMICIDE
04/10/98:A Jury yesterday convicted 17 year old Timothy Jonathan Hall of 1st degree Murder in the shooting death of BNSF Contract security guard Jimmy D. Murray on August 23, 1997. Murray, age 20 at the time of his death was responding to a report of rock throwers on the BNSF Stockton Sub in Downtown Stockton around 0030 hours. Upon his arrival he confronted the Suspect and a companion. Murray handcuffed the companion, and then was shot 3 times, with two hits in the head. he died later that morning. The Jury took most of one day to find him guilty and cited the multiple head shots as the main reason for the conviction. Hall who was 16 at the time of the shooting was tried as an adult after a judge deemed him beyond the help of the Juvenile system, now faces 30 years, with formal sentencing on May 7th, 1998. Other key testimony came from Hall's companion, 15 year old Lawrence Anthony Pontad, who turned states witness in exchange for a 1 year sentence for being an accessory after the fact to murder. Both juveniles are documented gang members
LATEST ALTAMONT COMMUTER EXPRESS FARE PROPOSAL
02/15/98:Once again The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commision has released yet another fare plan for the new service. under the new plan, it will be cheaper to go farther. All listed fares are based on Round Trip. From Stockton it will cost 7.00 to Lathrop/Manteca, 10.00 to Tracy, 13.00 to Livernore/Pleasanton, 16.00 to Fremont, and 19.00 to Great America/Sab Jose. the fares are based on Station Zones. A monthly pass will go, 103.00 for Manteca/Lathrop, 147.00 to Tracy, 191.00 to Livermore/Pleasanton, 235.00 to Fremont, and 279.00 to Great America/San Jose
UP SAYS IT NEEDS 7M DOLLARS MORE FOR AMTRAK EXTENSION
01/24/98: Yesterdays Stockton Record ran a story regarding the extension of service of the San Joaquins from Stockton to Sacramento, UP had already agreed to allow the trains for 30 million dollars they deemed necessary to operate them the 46 some miles one way, now however, Caltrans has put a expected start-up date of October 1998, that is when the renovation of te Lodi SP depot is due to be completed sufficiently to allow operations, since Caltrans put out the Date, all of the Sudden UP has decided that October is unrealistic and so is the 30 million dollar kitty, UP wants the 30 million upped to 37 million...to offset track improvements.
UP STACK TRAIN DERAILS NEAR STOCKTON
01/19/98:A Chicago to Oakland Bound Stack train derailed 25 platforms near Phillips (approximately 7 miles North of Stockton) This was on the Former WP line...not former SP line, the containers spilled a bunch of different items ranging from candy to paint, however the biggest worry was that the platforms as they were derailing sideswiped a parked tankcar that was loaded with some sort of Hazardous Phosphates, the good news is that the tank car spilled it's load into a standing pool of water effectively containing the spill...the derailment happened at approximately 11pm PST Sunday night. Union Pacific Crews are expected to have the line re-opened by early Tuesday Morning, no word as to the cause, however all the rains in the last week may have played a part in weakening the roadbed.
TRAIN VS. AUTO IN STOCKTON
01/08/98:A 69 Year old male, driving a 1978 Ford Thunderbird, suffered minor injuries at 8:40am when he stopped his car to look at some paperwork, he told Police that he did not realize that he had stopped between the crossing gates on the Southern Pacific crossing at Hammer Lane. The gentleman was lucky as there is a grade separation project in progress and the trains have to slow for a shoo-fly, and are going considerably slower than the posted track speed.
TRAIN VS. PED IN LODI
01/06/98:A 76 year old male was struck at 2:40 pm as he tried to cross over Union Pacific (former SP) tracks at Pine St. The man apparently did not see or hear the train approaching, The Engineer saw the man and sounded the horns and put the train into emergency, Paramedics pronounced the man dead at the scene. people who knew the man reported him to be hard of hearing.
SIERRA RAILROAD DERAILMENT IN SONORA
12/23/97:The Sierra Railroad suffered a Derailment in Sonora at 7pm monday night, The train had six loads of Wood Chips when the rail beneath two cars collapsed, the quick thinking crew was able to immediatly stop the train and the cars reamined upright. A local contractor has been blamed for causing the rails to collapse after repeatedly running heavy equipment over the rails at a non-grade crossing area. The contractor had been told on numerous occasions not to run his equipment over the rails at that spot.
NEAR MISS IN LODI
Teenage female narrowly escaped Injury when she went
around activated gates in Lodi, the incident was
witnessed by UP Police from two blocks away, the train
missed her by a mere 20 feet, when you consider that
track speed through Lodi is 45 mph, Both railcrew and
police were shaken by the incident, no word on what
happened to the female. - John Manter.
ACE PUBLIC MEETING
Commuter Express will hold a public meeting at 10 a.m.
Monday Nov. 17th at the Alameda County Fair Boardroom,
Alameda County Fairgrounds, 4501 Pleasanton Ave.
Pleasanton. The subject of the meeting is the proposed
fares for the ACE rail service.
man was injured trying to climb between the cars of a
Union Pacific train at 4:23 p.m. Tuesday. The man was
climbing between the cars when the train began to move.
The accident, near the 800 block of south San Joaquin
Street, left a deep cut in his foot. He was taken to San
Joaquin General Hospital, where he was in fair condition
START-UP DELAY ON ACE TRAINS SERVICE
11/11/97: The Altamont Commuter Express announced that the Early March Start up date is being pushed back to June 1998, Construction of platforms, parking, and the weather are the reasons cited.
WOMAN HIT BY TRAIN
11/17/98 :Shiela Jenkins age unknown was walking with a friend around 4pm Monday on Union Pacific tracks in French Camp. As they stepped onto the French Camp Slough Trestle, a Train came up from behind them. Her companion made it across the Trestle. She did not. The impact knocked her into her companion, Dan Clark, 65 knocking them both down the embankment Clark was able to flag a passing car, and call 911. French Camp Fire District Chief Ed Martell said Jenkins suffered moderate injuries.NEW BNSF INTERMODEL FACILITY IN STOCKTON BEING FOUGHT
10/13/98 :Ground breaking for the new, state of the art, 450 acre BNSF piggyback terminal, to be located in a rural area about a mile east of Stockton's Mormon Yard, has been delayed. Initial plans were to break ground in October, 1998 and to have the facility operating by late 1999. However, only two of the three farmers who currently own the land where the facility is to be built, are negotiating with BNSF. BNSF may have to resort to their right to use eminent domain proceeding to force the holdout landowners (two brother identified by the Stockton Record as Sher Afzal and Sher Mohammed) into selling their land to BNSF. Under Federal law, BNSF has the right to force condemnation of the land for railroad use in the public interest under eminent domain proceedings. In addition, residents living in proximity to the proposed facility are waging a political fight through San Joaquin political bodies to block the construction of the facility as they fear it will create noise and traffic congestion which will affect the semi-rural character of their home locations. BNSF also will not be able to have their environmental impact report ready for submission until November. BNSF now anticipates that it can overcome the legal hurdles and break ground in April, 1999 with hopes of opening and operating the facility as their major Central California intermodal facility by mid-2000. -Don GillNEW STOCKTON INTERCHANGES COMPLETED
08/01/98 :The direct connection from the Union Pacific (former SP) main line at the Stockton, CA BNSF Tower is completed and BNSF trackage rights trains began to use it Monday to enter and leave Mormon Yard. Trains going to and coming from the Feather River Route re-enter the Feather River Line at the completed connection from the former WP main to the to the former SP #2 main (the northbound track) at Flora Street, about a mile north of the tower. The third connection track, connecting the Feather River Main to the former SP main #1 (southbound through Stockton) at El Pinal, another 1/2 half mile north of Flora Street, is being completed and should be operational in a matter of a few weeks. This is a real time saver for BNSF trains leaving Mormon for the Inside Gateway. For the past several months it was necessary for BNSF trains leaving Mormon to hook the power set onto the rear of the train, pull it into UP's Stockton Yard, run around the train, reconnect onto the head end, and then wait for clearance to leave the yard. Trains coming into Stockton performed the flip side of this move. It took about an hour to do all of this. Now the train comes right out of Mormon and directly onto the main line. -Don GillACE CHOOSES HERZOG TO OPERATE TRAINS
05/28/98 :A company that operates commuter trains in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Dallas Texas, will supply engineers and conductors for the Stockton-to-San Jose train service scheduled to begin this summer. At its meeting Monday May 18 in Pleasanton, the Altamont Commuter Express Authority approved the three-year deal with Herzog Transit Services Inc., giving the company its first West Coast operating contract. The Authority will pay Herzog $1.6 million the first year to operate and maintain the Altamont Commuter Express, two 800-passenger trains that will make nine stops in San Joaquin, Alameda and Santa Clara Counties. Herzog has operated commuter trains between Miami and Fort Lauderdale since 1992. The company also runs a commuter rail service in Dallas and maintains right of way for Metrolink in Southern California. The ACE board's decision Monday wrapped up five weeks of negotiations with Herzog. "From what we understand, their track record has been very good," said Brian Schmidt, ACE engineering manager. Schmidt described the contract as a "cost-plus" arrangement. It will compensate Herzog for basic costs and also pay the company a fixed management fee. Near the close of the first year, the parties will negotiate a budget for the second year and repeat the process for the third year. The ACE Authority has two one-year options to cancel the agreement, if it's displeased with service, Schmidt said. After three years, the agency will review the contract and could consider bids from other contractors. Herzog was deemed the top choice, after a selection committee sent requests for proposals to 11 interested companies in December. Amtrak also put in a strong bid, local rail officials said. The weather continues to hamper construction of passenger rail platforms in Stockton, Lathrop-Manteca and Tracy. ACE trains are slated to hit the tracks in July at the earliest, although continued foul weather could push back service to August or later. "We never anticipated rain through the middle of May," Schmidt said.UNION PACIFIC DERAILS IN SACRAMENTO
05/27/98 :A Roseville - Oakland Union Pacific train derailed @ 12:01am Tuesday morning just south of Elvas Tower at MP 135.9 on the Fresno Line. The train was reportedly crawling along at 9mph when 6 cars (4 empty, 2 loads) derailed due to a broken switch point. The 2 loaded cars which were carrying powdered cement, ended up on their sides. No hazardous materials were involved in the derailment.From my vantage point, it appeared the train was either backing out or making a set out in the center siding on the Fresno line. By 12:00pm Tuesday (perhaps earlier) UP had track #2 open for trains going to and from the Fresno Line. At 9:00pm last night the UP MOW people were very close to opening up the #1 track. According to neighbors in the area this was the 2nd derailment in the exact same spot in the last 6 months. The last derailment was caused by a broken rail. The track in this area is located on a tall levee with houses lining the ROW along the River Park side. In a major derailment cars could potentially roll down into people's houses. PwD and Dan ColbyBNSF RAISES IRE OF RURAL RESIDENTS
04/15/98 :Residents of an area east of Stockton are upset over BNSF plans to build a 450 acre Rail yard and Intermodel facility. While most of the residents realize the plans to build the facility were in place before they bought thier adjoining property, they are threatening legal action against the railroad. BNSF is in the process of obtaining the land that they don't already have through negotiations with other farmers. The railroad already has the ability to use Eminant-Domain ability granted by the federal and State Governments, but would prefer not to use it. BNSF has expressed a willingness to discuss methods of noise suppression with area residents. Construction is scheduled to begin in Fall of 1998, with a late 1999 opening. The railyard has been deemed necessary to relieve congestion at Stockton's current Railyard, and BNSF's railyard in Riverbank. Congestion levels increased with new business generated by trackage rights obtained as concessions for not opposing the Union Pacific takeover of the Southern Pacific in 1996.ACE BREAKING GROUND ON TRACY STATION
04/10/98 :Ground will be broken on the first of three ACE station in San Joaquin County on Monday April 13, 1998. The station will be located at Linne Road and Tracy Blvd. When completed there will be parking for 500 vehicles. Service is scheduled to begin "sometime this summer" depending on the weather and how fast the other stations are completed. To date all of the necessary rail equipment with the exception of Locomotive #3104
CENTRAL CALIFORNIA TRACTION SUFFERS MINOR DERAILMENT
02/17/98:Yesterday at approximately 2:00pm, a outbound CCT train derailed 2 boxcars at the Waterloo Road grade crossing, when the El-Nino soaked sub-roadbed gave away and derailed the cars, by 6:00pm the road had been re-opened and the cars re-railed
CURRENT STORMS BRING SAN JOAQUINS TO A STANDSTILL
02/05/98:Beginning yesterday, Amtrak halted all San Joaquin Service between the Bay Area and Bakersfield, and the Coast Starlight between the Bay Area and Southern California. the Current band of Storms have caused widespread flooding. and is forcing the host railroads to restrict speeds on thier respective lines. A phone call to Amtrak (1-800-USA RAIL) this morning revealed that the San Joaquins would not be running today either, and that service will be evaluated on a day to day basis aslong as these current band of storms continue to pound California.
WAS UNION PACIFIC WARNED?
01/21/98:The California Public Utilities Commission is teaming up with the FRA in the Investigation of Union Pacific's Derailment Sunday night. Local Residents reported calling the Union Pacific's hotline to report a loud Clacking noise (this is welded rail territory) whenever trains passed over the spot where the derailment occurred. Mike Furtney, UP spokesman said that a check with the Dispatcher and emergency crews revealed no warning, but he also said that UP was checking other records.
PASSENGER SERVICE UPDATES
01/09/98:Yesterday's meeting at the Stockton Amtrak station, the public was told that ACE was again re-tooling the proposed fares. under the current plan it would cost a commuter 221.00 for a monthly round trip pass from Stockton to Santa Clara. Under the new plan, it would cost 181.00 using a "zone pricing method", This being that a person going from Stockton will pay 4.00 to get to the next station (Manteca-Lathrop), and then 3.00 for each successive Zone, with each station being a separate zone, with the two Livermore stations being one zone. ACE authorities also are expecting the first of thier equipment to arrive for storage at the UP yard here in Stockton by the end of January, watch this website for pictures. ACE officials have also stated that service is on track to begin June 1st, with platforms and parking scheduled for completion in early May.
MEETING ON RAIL ISSUES
01/07/98:The Steering Comittee of Caltrans' Rail Task Force with representatives from 14 counties stretching from Sacramento to Los Angeles, and Including San Francisco, will hear reports from Caltrans officials on ridership and revenues of the San Joaquins and the progress made on establishing rail service between Stockton and Sacramneto. The meeting will be held from 1 to 4 pm on Thursday Jan 8, 1998 at the Stockton Amtrak station, 735 S. san Joaquin St. The meeting is open to the public, I will try to attend, and should have a follow up for CCRNews by this weekend.
UNION PACIFIC BAILS OUT AS ACE OPERATOR
01/02/98:Citing various reasons such as problems with thier merger with Southern Pacific, The Union Pacific Railroad has officially withdrawn from operating the ACE trains. Ace trains are scheduled to start March 1st 1998, ACE officials have already started receiving bids from other companies to operate and maintain the trains, among those sending bids are Amtrak and two other companies, one of which currently operates the Florida Tri-Rail System. ACE officials continue to insist that operations will begin as scheduled with 2 trains each way daily beginning March 1, 1998.
ONE CONVICTION IN BNSF GUARD'S MURDER
12/18/97:19 Year old Lawrence Anthony Pontod, agreed to a one year sentance for his part in the Homicide of BNSF Guard Jimmy Murray, in return for the light sentance he has turned State's witness against fellow gang member Anthony J. Hall age 16. Hall is the alleged gunman in the incident. On Aug. 24, 1997 somewhere around Midnight, Jimmy Murray age 20 was a private security guard whose company was under contract to provide security for BNSF Stockton operations when he was summoned to the California Street Grade crossing for a report of vandalism, upon arrival he found the two suspects, he detained Mr. Pontod, and was subsequently shot several times, he died two days later.
ALTAMONT FARE INCREASE
11/18/97: The Altamont Commuter Express board met yesterday and determined that the proposed 12 cents a mile base fare would be insufficient, the remedy? hike it to 15 cents per mile, this will make the monthly round-trip fare from Stockton to Milpitas somewhere around $236, for a overall $40 increase. This is at this point only a proposal
BICYCLIST KILLED TRYING TO BEAT TRAIN
A bicyclist was killed apparently trying to beat a Union
Pacific train over the Calaveras River just after noon
Monday. San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office spokesman
Mike Padilla reported that the bicyclist was a male
between 16 and 20 years old. He was trying to cross the
river on the train bridge near the West Lane Racquet
BNSF COMPLETES TRACKWORK
11/11/97: BNSF crews over the last week completed major grade crossing work through downtown Stockton, included in this trackwork was the removal of 2 of the 3 interchange tracks with the UP, and a smooth realigning of the third, this is to facilitate the transfer of BNSF trackage rights trains going to and from the UP.
check again real soon!!!
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