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Sunday Before Last in Sugar Land

October 19, 2010

I was able to get out twice the Sunday before last, prompted both times by the dispatcher making reference to several trains running closely together.

First up was a UP ALDLI (Autos Laredo-Livonia) train, led by SD9043MAC 8136.

SD9043MAC 8136 leads an ALDLI train through Sugar Land, TX on Oct. 9, 2010

I relocated a mile to the west, wanting to work the old Imperial Sugar mill into the shot.  Less than 10 minutes later, KCSM 4569 East appeared.

KCSM 4569 is the only unit on-line on this eastbound at Sugar Land, TX on Oct. 9, 2010

As the lead engine approached me, I noticed it seemed to be working pretty hard. As the lead engine got by me, I discovered the reason it was notched out: the other 5 engines were DIC (dead-in-consist).

Another power balancing move by the KCS due to motive power accumulating in Mexico due to the imbalance of tonnage in the KC to Mexico corridor.

A quick pivot allowed a going-away shot.

KCSM 4569 East at Sugar Land, TX on Oct. 9, 2010

There was more traffic out there, but as I had some “grown-up responsibilities” that prevented any more pictures.

Fast forward about 6 hours. We had some errands in Houston, so why not grab the camera just in case?

We were in Stafford (MP 20) when I heard the “no defects” message from the detector at MP 15.6. The only problem was I didn’t know if the train was coming or going. If it was eastbound, it was  already by me. Westbound, it was coming at me.

I found a spot near MP20.6 and waited for the westbound that might be coming. After a 10 minute wait, it became apparent that the train was going.

I packed up and started heading toward errand #1. I hadn’t gone more than a mile when the Glidden sub dispatcher tells a crew “I have to hold you at Sugar Land. The terminal wants to run 2, maybe 3 westbounds, before they can take you.”

That’s more like it! My chores aren’t going anywhere, so I make a quick u-turn, heading back to the spot at MP 20.6 to await the fleet.

First up was a KCS grain train, 4592 West.

It was nice to see a loaded KCS grain train with a proper motive power consist, configured as God intended. All of the locomotives on the point.

8 minutes later, the next train comes into view.

Union Pacific IHOSA train (intermodal Houston-San Antonio) at Stafford, TX on oct. 9, 2010.

This power on this train is a real blast from the past: a C44-9W and 2 SD60M’s. The lead unit’s paint was pretty tired, but the two trailing units looked great.

I relocated to the curve at MP 19.7. Thanks to the TXDOT geniuses that program the traffic lights on this stretch of Hwy. 90, it took me 9 minutes to go less than one mile. On a Sunday afternoon. With virtually no traffic.

The next train was in view before I could even get out of the car. Thank goodness for the 25mph slow order.

UP 8498, a QEWWC train, traverses the long curve at Stafford, TX on Oct. 9, 2010

With the passage of the QEWWC, the dispatcher was going to run his east man out of Sugar Land. Hmmm. I’ve been wanting to shoot some trains that are strongly back-lit, but errands await me.

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