Stampede Pass Diary

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Correction, there are indeed 3 SD70ACe's on the front of that train. That brings the total to 8 locos on the one train. If I heard the scanner correctly they will be tying it down for the night. Never seen that many locos on a train here ever. Odd, especially considering it's just an empty coal drag.

I was only able to snap a quick pic with my phone and could not get a good angle of the the front 3 units.

IMG_20150310_165554368_HDR.jpg
 
In at least two different years BNSF evaluated moving loaded grain trains west bound over Stampede Pass. In 1999 it was apparently DPU technology with 8 locos arranged 3X3X2.

In 2008 it was 2X2X4, with the 4 unit manned helpers added at Easton.

I saw both of these at Monahan Road, just west of Easton.
 
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Been quiet on this thread for a long time! Anything new on Stampede, or is it just doing its thing with almost all eastbound empties? Does anything go west over the hiil yet?Anyone know of any interesting developments or changes in use? From what I can tell, traffic is holding fairly steady.
 
Still mostly EB empties. Mostly empty grain right now, a few empty coal (mostly RD-4's, only seen a few Bethgons), and a few empty oil. Every once in a while there is an empty feed/fertilizer....at least that's what I assume. Those trains are made up entirely of gray LO's, mostly 4 bay but also includes some 3 bays.

I did see a couple of oddities though. During the fires in Wenatchee there were a few trains rerouted over Stampede. I saw an EB stack train with all wells containing a single container due to the height restrictions on Stampede. There was also an empty stack train held in the siding for a couple of days at Ellensburg.

There were a couple of WB's, but they are all MOW. Ballast and rail trains. I've only seen one or two of those over the past few months.

-Kevin
 
Interesting. Depending on what the winter rains bring and wreak havoc along Puget Sound, could be even more so.
Meantime, I have wondered why they don't run single stacks over the hill when Stevens gets too backed up. I understand that such trains are not uncommon back east where low clearance tunnels abound. Certainly not a shortage of wells, but I surmise maybe a capacity issue on the Lakeside Sub, even after recent double tracking and siding work... which suggests that once that is brought up to better capacity, maybe we'll see more go over Stampede. And then there's always the recurrent notion of UP doing some sort of routing over it, too.
 
I don't think Stevens gets so backed up there would be any reason to do something as drastic as running single level stack trains. I say this simply based on the observation of how many empty coal, grain and oil tank trains are running over Stevens Pass currently. It is not uncommon to randomly see two coal trains or two oil tank trains per day on on Stevens. Is it fair to assume if the intermodal traffic was running at capacity these trains would get bumped to a southern route first before the stack trains?
 
I have noticed an uptick in traffic this week though it might only be me noticing it here in Maple Valley. From roughly 8pm-11pm last night (10/6) I heard three EB's about an hour apart. I"ve heard several more since then, including one around 5pm and another around 8pm. Grain seems to be running pretty solid right now so that might be why.

In Auburn yard tonight there is a grain train with what I think was a CitiRail/CP/UP trio on the point. There was also a southward facing unit tank train (oil?) sitting in the yard with a CN unit on the north end and two units - I think also CN - on the south end. It was dark so hard to see while driving.

-Dave
 
I have noticed an uptick in traffic this week though it might only be me noticing it here in Maple Valley. From roughly 8pm-11pm last night (10/6) I heard three EB's about an hour apart. I"ve heard several more since then, including one around 5pm and another around 8pm. Grain seems to be running pretty solid right now so that might be why.

In Auburn yard tonight there is a grain train with what I think was a CitiRail/CP/UP trio on the point. There was also a southward facing unit tank train (oil?) sitting in the yard with a CN unit on the north end and two units - I think also CN - on the south end. It was dark so hard to see while driving.

-Dave
The second wave of grain has hit just in last week or two. But even before this stampede was 4 or 5 trains a day. Usually not more than one empty coal and or empty oil per day, the rest all grain. I wouldnt be surprised if there are 8 a day now in total.

That might have been one of those CN oil trains to tacoma that have started running recently, once in a while. The empties from tacoma go over stampede and sometimes the empties from fidalgo get routed that way. The empty coal are out of centralia typically.

The all white grainers yes are from the PSAP.
 
Yesterday was 9 trains, today was about the same. Nearly all empty grain now, with maybe one or two others mixed in during the day....an empty oil or empty coal. Looks like the grain rush is in full swing. How long is it supposed to last?

-Kevin
 
Soon the rainy season will be upon us, and will bring the usual flurry of passenger closures on the Scenic Sub.
I've often wondered why Amtrak and BNSF don't simply detour the Empire Builder(not to mention Z trains that would fit through the tunnel) over Stampede when this happens. Maybe someone knows.
This also begs the question: Why isn't the thing routed over Stampede in the first place? Seems they could pick up a lot more passengers between Tri-Cities, Yakima, etc., and Seattle, and free up slots through the Cascade Tunnel.
 

BNSFEng

Locomotive Engineer!!!
Soon the rainy season will be upon us, and will bring the usual flurry of passenger closures on the Scenic Sub.
I've often wondered why Amtrak and BNSF don't simply detour the Empire Builder(not to mention Z trains that would fit through the tunnel) over Stampede when this happens. Maybe someone knows.
This also begs the question: Why isn't the thing routed over Stampede in the first place? Seems they could pick up a lot more passengers between Tri-Cities, Yakima, etc., and Seattle, and free up slots through the Cascade Tunnel.
The Portland leg of the Builder does pick up/drop off in Pasco of the Tri-cities. Yakima is not too long of drive down to Pasco on the 70 MPH Interstate 82. There is definitely passengers at Edmonds, Everett, Leavenworth (big tourist area), Wenatchee and Ephrata that want to go east so there is a good amount of population the train over Stevens goes through.

Oh, the BNSF has almost completed a $16.1 million mitigation of slides along the route. I see it every weekday and two of the four sections are done now. No more days off in the commuter service unless some slides find new areas to come down.
 

BNSFEng

Locomotive Engineer!!!
Yesterday was 9 trains, today was about the same. Nearly all empty grain now, with maybe one or two others mixed in during the day....an empty oil or empty coal. Looks like the grain rush is in full swing. How long is it supposed to last?

-Kevin
Usually through the end of the year. It slows down in January unless there was a really big harvest.
 
Hopefully the slide mitigation project works. Nature has a way of ignoring our "improvements."
The real focus of my question though, has little to do with long haul passengers. It has everything to do with in-state passenger service between Seattle, the Tri-Cities, and Spokane. I rather doubt the route change would have much impact, if any, on long haul passenger use.
Driving Snocrummie in the winter can be a real thrill, yes... But a the present, that's the ony cost effective practical way to get to Seattle from south central Washington. Flying is damned expensive, and saves little precious time because of security demands and getting to and from the airports...
Of course, in ideal world, the State would set up a Cascades type service for the route...
Could the real reason be that BNSF would charge Amtrak more to use Stampede?
 
Tonight (Thanksgiving) it sounded like an eastbound was stopped short of the crossing at 216th between Covington and Black Diamond. I thought it was just a really quiet train passing a bit earlier but it must have just been pulling up to the crossing. Anyhow, just before 10pm there were a couple of short toots and then you could hear them start to move. Immediately thereafter they blew for the crossing and accelerated east.

Any ideas why they were stopped there? Crew change at the crossing? I heard something similar the other night but wasn't sure what to make of it.

-Dave
 


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