Stampede Pass Diary

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#1
I've been posting almost daily reports on traffic over Stampede Pass for awhile over on the Truth or Rumor - Stampede Pass and it's been suggested I move my reports over here with its own thread. So here I be. I can hear trains from about MP124 to Stampede, and the Pasco East dispatcher (otherwise noted as "PED" down to Pomona. I call the North Branch Dispatcher, who handles Ellensburg to Stampede Wye in Auburn "NBD."

I live in Portland ME, but listen via the Bristol radio over the Internet. I grew up in Washington and spent many happy days with my dad railfanning that area on both the NP and the Milwaukee. Hope you enjoy!

And BTW, anyone else who listens in, or has anything of substance to add regarding Stampede or Yakima Valley subs, or just wants to comment, is more than welcome to do so! The more the merrier. This ain't just my thread - it's anyone's who's interested in BNSF between Auburn and Pasco.
 
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#2
Stampede Pass Monday 11/22/2010

Tuning in at 1:38pm I hear a westbound talking to MofW who notes it's snowing hard, they think they heard that eastbound traffic over Snoqualmie Pass is held up - Pass that direction being closed - and "ya, you can't even tell we plowed up here." Westbound (the 205?) is just about to pop into Stampede Tunnel at 1:48pm. WSDOT reports Snoqualmie is open both directions but snowing hard, chains required on all but 4-wheel drive, and no oversize permitted. Camera image shows miserable driving conditions.

NBD answers Cle Elum radio at 1:58pm, twice, but no one's there, then "NBD out," and a moment later a MofW speaks up but he's too late. NBD is a busy guy and doesn't hang around. So the radio tones up again. One MofW fella calls another, but no answer. Another toneup. "NBD answering Easton radio, over." Fella on the snowplow wants to know if NBD has heard from another team over east of Lester. "NBD, sorry about that, answering Easton radio again, over." NBD hasn't talked to the other team in the hour since he's sat down at the desk. Plow says they'd like to plow down the west side. NBD says the other team has track and time up to Lester but not past that. "I'll see if I can get ahold of him on some of these other radios and let him know you're trying to reach him." NBD calls the plow back and tells him the other team is working down toward Kanasket.

Someone else wants to know where another team's location is, and they say they're just west of the west portal of the tunnel, then moving down to MP49.1 next. "I just got a few measurements left (to make)." "OK, we're going to move down the hill slow, if you need help, give us a hollar."

"____, we're stopped here (just short of MP50), you make your measurements then we're going to back up and side plow." "Perfect!"

(If you see a ____ like that, it's the name of a BNSF employee, and I don't list names to protect the innocent ;-).)

"Ya, I got my measurements. You backing up_____?" "Ya, backing up eastbound." "Comin' at'cha!"

PED is talking to MofW at Pomona who's giving up TW 432-30. "Ya know, they slid me last week," says PED, "and now I'm back for all the fun work, the rail detector, but ya, I'm back. PED to anyone else on this channel. TW 432-27 displayed, over. ___ reporting clear between MP87 and MP88. Dispatcher answering anyone else calling on this channel, over."

"I'll try to do that here... let me find out what the plan is here... you're the crew on the 1201, is that correct over? You're supposed to go to a hotel for a rest for at least four more. The chief put it on the call sheet but wants to make sure everyone is aware of it. The grain empties... are you guys there at Ellensburg over? OK, about 1500, talk to me when you get in and I'll find out if we need to make any changes, over." "Pasco East answering anyone else on this channel. Out." PED answers someone else who wants to release track warrants, "OK, which one do you want to start with, over."
Two TW's get released. She's asking someone if she'll need to put out some more authority for these grain empties she's going to have coming through. That far down the line I can only hear PED's side of the conversations. "Let me know as soon as you can what I have to put out to protect people on the track there, over."

At 2:33pm, "BNSF detector, MP46.0, system working, detector out." Which generally means MofW equipment moving past. "BNSF detector MP43.5, system working, detector out." At 2:42pm, someone's working eastward toward Easton.

NBD at 2:56pm talks with another MofW to verify location (MP53 westbound) and the MofW (on a HyRail) asks what's going on with the eastbound. NBD says he's still dealing with bad orders in the yard (Auburn, I assume) and hasn't asked for a departure yet.

PED answers Ellensburg radio for the grain empty crew. "I can give you a warrant down to MP92, the Columbia River Basin is working out there." "Hey, I thought you were on vacation!" No, same story about being off a couple of days then being slid, whatever that means. "Well, that was nice of them to slide you." "I won't even comment on that, over. OK, I'll tell the NBD that I'm giving you a warrant so he can let you go." "OK, appreciate that, talk to you on down the line."

PED talks to the grain empty at 3:34pm, gets their fuel readings, and PED tells him the CBRW should clear up within an hour. They relate weather information, suggesting this crew has just come up from Pasco and is flipping back. PED calls a MofW fella at 3:36pm, asking if he needed to talk to the PED, since his phone dropped off. "Well, I got a...10:30, then another few miles... guess about 16:50 for starters, I guess I would need the track back. Well, I guess everyone figured they were working until 16:30 or 17:00..." then she gets stepped on by a detector somewhere. "Well, like I said... I... have some second thoughts. It might be later than 1700. I was trying to determine what Mr. ____ said, but I'm not sure, over. Well I'll try to get ahold of someone and see what their plan is and be governed accordingly, over."

At 3:48pm, NBD calls _____ to let him know there's a car stuck on the tracks at MP36.9 at Cabin Creek Rd. NBD says the eastbound hasn't departed out of Auburn, and the plow will run out ahead of him. There's at least 12" of new snow at Lester, 30" on top. Heavy, heavy!

NBD and PED are stepping all over each other and it's just a radio jumble at 4:28pm. Did catch that the eastbound grain train is out of Auburn. PED has an empty at Pomona and wonders if she dare have him come down to MP84. Gets affirmation to do that from the MofW crews. So this must be a westbound? No, talking now with the 5460E asking where would be a good place to have them hold for 45 minutes or so.

NBD reports to MofW that the eastbound is just pulling into Kanasket at 4:56pm. NBD adjusts track inspector's TW's to 7pm, saying it will be a couple of hours before the eastbound gets over his way.

Enough. Off to Leo Tolstoy on Netflix... See you tomorrow.
 
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Tuscor

Don't be Ignorant
#4
hey! love the new place!
I agree. I'll be looking for your "diary" first thing when I get on the computer. (and hopefully be posting photos of some of the movements you report from time to time)

Just drove from Everett to Renton and while there is about 2" of snow here in Renton the roads were pretty much just bare and wet. I looked at a few of the I-90 cameras and it does look like a mess up there. Glad I'm at home and not trying to cross Snoqualmie Pass!

Brian Ambrose
Renton, WA
 

East Of Easton

Wester Than Lester
#5
Went up to the pass on Saturday after the eastbound lined out Auburn around 8:00 A.M., or so. Just reached the east portal, Tunnel 3, before it emerged. Decided to wait around for the westbound, which wasn't long on the crew flip. Decided to make do at East Martin for the day. Should have tried to go over the pass. It was probably still doable on Sunday; quite a lot of traffic, snowmobilers and such. About seven inches at Martin, snowing and wet. Thought about trying to catch the eastbound during the day Sunday but a look at the Snoqualmie web-cam made football a little more appealing!

Here's a couple shots my brother took with his pocket digi; the rest is on cellulose acetate.

#1 East Martin, westbound M-PASVBT (sorry, a little dead space in the foreground).

#2 DPU's

#3 Brother Tom (the ugly one on the left) and me at East Portal, Martin.
 

Trackside

Plays Well With Others
#6
I like the new thread! Nick also glad to see you and Tom made it out! Great snow pics, did you snowshoe to Martin or ride a sled?
 

East Of Easton

Wester Than Lester
#7
Snowshoes?!? What are those? They sound cold.:) No, rode the great sled Cherokee to the power lines at Martin and just hoofed it, Burwash style, back and forth. Roads were doable due to occasional back and forth traffic. Ran into the caretaker for Meany lodge, parked where we were, and jawed about the weather awhile. It's probably a little more difficult after today.
 
#8
Went up to the pass on Saturday after the eastbound lined out Auburn around 8:00 A.M., or so. Just reached the east portal, Tunnel 3, before it emerged. Decided to wait around for the westbound, which wasn't long on the crew flip. Decided to make do at East Martin for the day. Should have tried to go over the pass. It was probably still doable on Sunday; quite a lot of traffic, snowmobilers and such. About seven inches at Martin, snowing and wet. Thought about trying to catch the eastbound during the day Sunday but a look at the Snoqualmie web-cam made football a little more appealing!

Here's a couple shots my brother took with his pocket digi; the rest is on cellulose acetate.

#1 East Martin, westbound M-PASVBT (sorry, a little dead space in the foreground).

#2 DPU's

#3 Brother Tom (the ugly one on the left) and me at East Portal, Martin.
What, no picture of us coming out of the tunnel?

Brought the empty grainer over the pass today, it snowed all the way from Auburn to Thorp. There was about 2 1/2 feet of snow at Lester, just over my knees, and about the same at the top on both sides. We were plowing from Eagle Gorge to Lester, there the regulator had plowed ahead of us all the way to Easton. Snowy and cold, temp was 10 at Cle Elum.
 
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#10
This new thread does seem to be good thing; let's keep it on track by posting observed action, much like Beverly Helper. Speculation, etc should be on the other string! :D
 
#11
sunday night, an EBD arrive ellensburg around 23:30, for monday, 1 EBD over the hill, arriving ellensburg around 7am,

also a move between bristol and easton -- might have been snow equipment.
 
#13
Stampede Tuesday 11/23/2010

Tuned in at 1:25pm. Other than a brief comment from the snowplow which told me n-o-t-h-i-n-g!! everything is pretty quiet until...

2:05pm, a radio tones. "BNSF PED answering Yakima radio, over. BNSF PED answering Yakima radio, over. Last time, BNSF PED answering Yakima radio, over. OK, there you are, I have 432-79 on the screen _____. MP 69 to CTC East Toppenish, no switches were used, no entries required, is that correct, over? Have a good evening PED out." Guess it was busier earlier to get up to 79.

Another long period of quiet (or maybe not - I did visit with the neighbors for a few minutes). AT 3:32pm, "Pasco East answering Yakima radio, over. Pasco East answering Yakima radio, over." "Yes I am, over." "The 432-77, ah, just a second here. Hold on a second, my computer isn't giving me the right box here, over. 432-77's on the screen, go ahead, over. CPRW12 (CBRW? Columbia River Basin RR?) reporting clear on 432-77 between MP89 and MP92," etc. Can anyone clarify?

More MofW start turning in their TW's, next with TW432-58 from CTC West Toppenish to MP58 at 3:57pm.

Took a several hour break to hang out with my very cute neighbor (can't pass that up!) then back at 6:07pm to hear PED give TW 432-87 to 4148W PASVBT CTC Toppenish to CTC Ellensburg, and that crew will flip back on an XTAC coming out of Auburn, but no time yet on the XTAC's arrival. PED will get back to the PASVBT when he has more info. All for tonight for me!
 
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#15
Stampede Pass Wednesday 11/24/2010

At 1:05pm, the detector at MP20.5 reports 454 axles moving past in 3 degree weather. Brrrrr!

At 1:25pm PED answers Yakima radio to get back TW 432-25 and 432-26, covering MofW from MP92 to MP69. "There's no Form D up today. Are the gangs working out there, over? I've got some traffic called. I'll try to contact ____ and see how long he's going to be out there." She tries to reach another MofW fella with no success.

Radio tones, frequent and seemingly impatient at 1:37pm. NBD answers Ellensburg radio for the 5419E who gives back TW431-5, CTC Stampede Wye and CTC Easton (maybe a meet there? Though I didn't hear anyone going up the hill) TW431-7 is next: CTC East Easton and CTC Ellensburg. "Is your ride there, over?" "Yes it is." "OK, and have a good night, over." 5419E crew says "in between," which is usually a train tie-down, but how quickly this one gets out east belays that suspicion.

At 2:27pm, PED is calling various MofW crews in the area of Toppenish to see who's working. "I did show an occupancy at W Toppenish. Just had an alarm go off in that vicinity." Doesn't seem anyone's working directly there, so she says "OK, I'll get that turned in."

PED talks to another MofW,saying she has a grain empties leaving Ellensburg around 3:10pm, asking if they have finished up all their work. "OK, I'll talk with you again when you're clear, over."

The eastbound grain empties is past the detector at MP124.2 with 454 axles at 3:23pm, and PED takes back TW432-27 from someone working between MP89 and MP92 (Yakima yard area). Then someone else wants some action. "OK, just a minute, I have to answer someone over on the Lakeside Sub, I'll be back with you in a few minutes, over." PED is back at 3:32 to clear TW432-22 and asks if there are any slow orders. "I'm just going to verify something here, you have a crossing at MP82.67, 2nd Avenue, is there a maintainer out there working with you, over." Says she'll show that that crossing is working at this time.

PED calls the 5419E grain empties at 3:35pm, says that in about 10 minutes she'll be able to give a warrant all the way in, and asks for fuel oil. "36, 36, and don't know what the DP is, is that correct, over? OK, will get back to you guys in a few minutes, over." At 3:53pm she's back and gives them marching orders down to SP&S Jct. and asks "Is 19:30 about right into Pasco for you, over? OK, I'll split the difference and call it 19:15. Let 'em know you're coming, over."

Then all silent past 6:50pm - winding down for the holiday, I suspect. Off to other things...
 
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Tuscor

Don't be Ignorant
#17
BNSF suffering from Tryptophan today - v-e-r-y sleepy.
I did head down to Auburn this morning (11-25-10) to get a few snow shots before it warms up and melts. While there an XTAC toned up the Centralia North for a signal out the Stampede Wye to set out BO's and work on the DPU. After the setout the XTAC was told to go ahead about 60 cars so I drove out to East Auburn and shot the 5360 at least out on the Stampede Sub a little bit. I am standing on the old passenger platform as BNSF 5360/732 pulls by me out to the grade crossing before backing onto their DPU BNSF 4516 and shoving back into the yard. The crew then got into a van and left. So much for the "Stampede Sub excitement" for the day!

I am guessing this XTAC will be heading out onto the Stampede Sub later tonight or tomorrow.

I wasn't surprised it didn't head east as it is Thanksgiving after all. And I am hoping everyone here is having (or has had) a great Thanksgiving Day!

Brian Ambrose
Renton, WA
 
#18
I did head down to Auburn this morning (11-25-10) to get a few snow shots before it warms up and melts. While there an XTAC toned up the Centralia North for a signal out the Stampede Wye to set out BO's and work on the DPU. After the setout the XTAC was told to go ahead about 60 cars so I drove out to East Auburn and shot the 5360 at least out on the Stampede Sub a little bit. I am standing on the old passenger platform as BNSF 5360/732 pulls by me out to the grade crossing before backing onto their DPU BNSF 4516 and shoving back into the yard. The crew then got into a van and left.
thanks for the pix. i love snow, but hate slush even more.

is this normal that they are running the x-trains over stampede with (mid-train?) DPUs now?
 

Tuscor

Don't be Ignorant
#19
thanks for the pix. i love snow, but hate slush even more.

is this normal that they are running the x-trains over stampede with (mid-train?) DPUs now?
DPU was on the rear of the train. They'd already pulled ahead 40+ cars to set out the bad orders so just had over half the train left to pull out to get the DPU on the rear.

Brian
 
#20
Stampede Friday 11/26/2010

PED calls MofW at 12:32pm saying he needs a rollup so a signal maintainer can get out and take care of some crossing work. TW432-7 CTC Pomona to CTC Toppenish, and TW432-7, West Topp to East Topp are given back.

Track inspector calls NBD to get TW431-5 from CTC East Bristol and CTC Ellensburg, "one box marked, 4, over." Complete at 1:08pm. "Did you want 431-2 back, over?" From CTC Lester and CTC West Easton, and CTC East Easton to CTC West Bristol, showing clear at 1:09pm. "Do you want track and time at Ellensburg?" "Yes, pretty please, yes on both switches." "All right. OK, 431-6, granted on main track between eastbound control signal, and westbound control signal." Complete at 1:11pm. "Anything close, over?" "No, nothing close."

Detector at 1:16pm, at MP13.9, "You have a defect, system working, out." Track inspector gets nervous and calls the signal maintainer, and says "I just wanted to make sure we didn't have a runaway train, over." "No, we're just leaving 13.9, heading for Ellensburg." "Well, I heard the scanner go off, and you know me... Have a nice New Year's, or Christmas, or what was it, Thanksgiving."

NBD calls the track inspector at 1:25pm, then the track inspector answers, but they miss each other on the airwaves. Track inspector talks to another inspector, asking "Can you hear me clearly, over?" "Unfortunately, yes." "Ah, you're killing me with that." "The dispatcher called you a couple of times and you're supposed to answer right away." "I was out of my truck."

NBD finally connects with the track inspector and NBD says he's been answering Kanasket radio but there doesn't seem to be anyone there, and asks who might be working over that way. Track inspector tells him, and NBD says "OK, I'll try it again."

At 2pm, detector at MP9.2 goes off, "detector working, out." And I don't see these (13.9 and 9.2) on my Altamont schedule. Has BNSF installed a number of new detectors along Stampede Sub? Anyone got a clue?

Track inspector gives up TW431-5 from Bristol to Ellensburg at 2:37pm. And then gives up TW431-4, Bristol. "And then I have 431-6 when you have it displayed, over." And gives that up as well. "And was that Mr.____ on the Kanasket radio, over?" "No, it was a train at Interbay trying to call Mechanical and somehow they connected with the Kanasket radio." "Well, that's certainly strange." NBD then asks what snow conditions are up on Stampede, and the track inspector says about 6" at Martin, 3" at Easton, and 4" at Lester. NBD asks if it's melting at all, and track inspector says, no, it's 17 degrees up there. NBD says the Stampede weather station went off line a week and a half ago when they had high winds up there. Track inspector says he has photos and asks for NBD's email address, which he gives him and track inspector will send him pix.
 
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