4 At Wintler

East of Vancouver 2 main tracks ends at the station of McLoughlin.  East of there single track is in effect up the gorge to Pasco.  In the last mile of 2 main tracks are two grade crossing which prevent eastbound trains from pulling up to the signal at McLoughlin unless they are less than .4 of a mile long.  Since most trains around here are much longer that means holding back of both crossings to wait for anything coming west. Operationally the Vancouver terminal dispatcher will usually warn trains so they don’t get into a situation where the crossings are blocked.

Last weekend an empty grain train left town and was told to hold up for 4 west bounds at Wintler Rd.  While that may sound ominous when there is that many trains they are usually back to back.  Still the train crew found it a good opportunity to get out and check things out.  While one crew member was inspecting the passing train the other worked on fuel readings for all the power.

Fuel Readings

I’ve often wondered why the city of Vancouver and BNSF haven’t partnered to close this crossing.  The road that crosses from the south side to the north side could easily (easy from a non civil engineer point of view) be connected with the road used to access the condos located near this crossing.  From what I can tell only a few hundred feel of road would need to be constructed to connect Columbia Way and Beach Dr.  Take a look at the aerial image below.  Seems pretty simple doesn’t it?

I’m sure there are other factors controlling this like property ownership, budget dollars, and necessity.  That’s why its not done.  Still I think it is a perfect mix of operational improvement for the railroad and road simplification for the city.

What about the other crossing?  Chealsea Ave. doesn’t have a convenient road alternative available.  Also trains can see the signal at McLoughlin from the crossing while still being clear of Eavan behind so operationally closing it isn’t a big benefit for the railroad.

So for the time being east bounds will continue to get instructions on what to do at Wintler Rd. which ends up being a great tool for railfans…especially when there are 4 west bounds!

The Albina Conference

Like a ritual, BNSF’s Everett, WA to UP Albina yard manifest train stops at the Vancouver depot on every trip.  This stop is primarily to pick up UP orders but usually turns into a conference of sorts as the yard master and conductor review the paper work and delve into other issues of the day.  For unqualified crews, the UP will supply a pilot to help them through the maze of radio contacts and unfamiliar tracks but since this has been a regular train for a few years now fewer BNSF crews need guidance.

After this day’s conference the conductor climbed back aboard the train to go down through the contact list.  Albina run through yard master, Albina tower, Vancouver Terminal dispatcher, and finally the Columbia Draw.  Ten minutes after the conference is over the M-EVEABN is finally on their way again.

Sixth Street

Sixth Street

Amtrak train 27 passes over the venerable 6th St. overpass

Modern, elegant, and stylish or old, boxy, and crumbling.  How would you describe the railroad underpass at Sixth St. in Vancouver?  I’m afraid I’d have to go with the latter three descriptions just based on appearance.   Each time I drive under it I question its strength though I’m sure that its design and construction is sufficient because the trestle still does its job just fine.  I guess I’m spoiled by more modern construction that looks far more substantial and overbuilt…especially in the railroad arena.

I thought it would be a good idea to start capturing some images of this structure since over the next few years it will be replaced as part of the re-development of the former Boise Cascade paper plant site.  From what Aaron and I gathered at the open house last winter there will be a shoo fly in place for several years while the new structure is constructed.  The new lead for the Port of Vancouver is being built with a very nice overpass structure at 6th St. and 4th St. which should allow for two 10-12 ft. auto lanes plus a bicycle lane.  Oh, and the clearance appears to be much more modern than the current 8′ 8″ height.  It will be nice to be able to pass under this without having to remove the railroad radio antenna from my rig!

[tags]  trains , railroad, railfan, photo, photography, amtrak, vancouver, washington [/tags]

A Different POV

Its good to railfan with others because you usually get another point of view…if you listen.  Take this photograph of the M-SPOEVE descending from Quincy towards Trinidad.  I’ve passed this point at least one other time but until someone said “hey this is a neat spot, check out the curves” I didn’t notice them.  Once I did I was convinced this location was alright.  Now if only I had an 8,000 ft. stack train!  I find it funny that if you would have asked me what was between the crater and WSS Quincy I would have said “oh just a long straight with a slight curve”.  Live and learn!


[tags] bnsf, columbia river, photography, photos, quincy, railroad, trains,  washington [/tags]