BNSF Funnel / Hi-Line / MRL traffic levels

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#1
Three of us will be spending the week of 4th of July railfanning Marias Pass, driving to/from Oregon.

Trying to make some plans for the travel to/from.

Want to spend a day on The Funnel. It will have to be either a Sunday (on the way out) or Saturday (on the way back). I've read Friday is/was the busiest day, but would Sunday be a bust? It would be better for us to do it on a Sunday, but if traffic levels are too low, we can come back that following Saturday.

We may try to hit the west end of the MRL, even if for half a day on the way home. (unfortunately, we just can't make it to Mullan Pass this trip).

What kind of traffic volume can we expect on the west end of the MRL? On the Hi-Line?

Thanks all, less than 4 months to plan!
 

TV-14

New Member
#2
"They DON'T run like streetcars out there."

I had a buddy from upstate NY who was familiar with the kind of traffic they run on the ex-Conrail Chicago Line, and he took a vacation to Whitefish/Glacier area, and that was his only comment upon returning home.

That was more than 10 years ago, though.
 
#3
"They DON'T run like streetcars out there."

I had a buddy from upstate NY who was familiar with the kind of traffic they run on the ex-Conrail Chicago Line, and he took a vacation to Whitefish/Glacier area, and that was his only comment upon returning home.

That was more than 10 years ago, though.

I'm happy to hear that, I really don't want to go all the way up there to take photos of street cars!
 

Train Guy

UP Washy and S.I. Cond.
#4
Of course the busiest segment will be between Sandpoint, ID and Spokane on the funnel. It's been crazy busy out there today so far. July is hit and miss and it all depends on how much grain is still moving and what intermodal traffic levels are like at that point. Right now through early summer is one of the best times I think to make a trip over here to railfan the area's you want to visit, especially when the spring greenery is at its peak! The west end of the MRL over the 10th and 4th subs can be busy of you hit the fleet right. Seems like every time I go that direction i follow the eastbound fleet in the morning out of Hauser and Spokane, spend the day in Missoula and then catch the westbound in the afternoon and early evening home. Mid day along the Clark Fork can be quiet.

Hope this helps

Brett
 
#7
this wont affect your trip, but just heard that due to a slide at Pinnacle, near whitefish, BNSF will be detouring all trains via the MRL until it is cleaned up
 

Train Guy

UP Washy and S.I. Cond.
#8
You mean there is more grain moving in months other than July? I railfan the Gorge every 4th of July, and it seems like it's a constant convoy of grain trains then!
Yes all Winter and spring are the heavy months for grain. June and July can be heavy depending on the market price and how much is left to move to the ports around here.
 
#9
MRL could not handle all of our trains, I am sure BNSF will detour some but only what MRL can handle crew wise. We were staging trains tonight between Spokane and Bonners Ferry for when things open up.
Kevin
 
#10
My wife and I railfanned the Funnel back in 2005. You may want to consider a semi-sidetrip to railfan the Spokane area. We spent the better part of an afternoon just sitting at a grade crossing on North Havana Street at the throat of the BNSF yard. I heard they were going to make it into an overpass, but Google Earth still shows the grade crossing. (I live in Massachusetts and haven't been back to Spokane since 05.) Tons of trains, neat power and we didn't have to run all over the place. Marshall Canyon's a short hop away and gives you some UP in addition to BNSF.

We should have planned better for the other part of the trip, since we didn't have too many great locations between Rathdrum (ID) and Sandpoint. Try Funnelfan's website for some ideas. Photo angles in Sandpoint weren't great by the old station, but the causeway across the lake is really sweet.
 
#11
BNSF is open once agine on the northern lines. Word at work is the culprit was a broken wheel, not a slide. That would make 3 derailments caused by broken wheels in Montana in the last month. The Wild Wheel Detector's have also been hammering us on bad wheels lately... I think BNSF may have bought some bad wheels recently, and a lot of them.
Kevin
 

Train Guy

UP Washy and S.I. Cond.
#12
Since Havanna st was mentioned it would be worth while to point out that the overpass project is underway and that spot is no longer accessible
 

pedrop

A Railfan in Brazil
#13
I will be in Marias Pass in the third week of July. I will do a railfaning trip since San Francisco by Amtrak. I will spend a month railfaning in CA, NV, WA and ID states.
 



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