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Out & About – Jan. 2, 2012

January 2, 2012

I flipped the radio on a bit before mid-day today, just to see how much traffic might be running on UP’s Glidden Sub. Within 30 seconds, the DS tells UP 8698:  “I’m ready for you at the east end of Sugar Land.”*

* Eastbound trains that get an approach signal indication at CP SA028 (west switch of Sugar Land) will  stop about a mile short of the east switch in order to not block crossings should the signal at CP SA025 (east switch of Sugar      Land)  be red. As the signal is not in view from this stopping point, eastbounds will wait for the dispatcher to advise when to proceed.  Operating rules prohibit a dispatcher from telling a crew what any signal indication is, hence the DS will tell the crew only that he is “ready” , but the crew must view the actual signal indication.  I know, I know…TMI.

Even though I had not achieved my goal of an overview of traffic, I had heard enough to grab some gear and head out to CP SA017, the east switch of Missouri City to set up for a fairly new SD70ACe on the point. Within 5 minutes, a QWCEW (Quality West Colton to Englewood) manifest came into view.

UP manifest QWCEW led by SD70ACe 8698 at Missouri City, TX on Jan 2, 2012.
UP 8698 is between switches at Missouri City, TX on Jan 2, 2012.

A quick pivot to my right provided this view of the 8698 as it neared the clear signal at CP SA017.


With traffic being light on Hwy 90 due to the New Year holiday, I was encouraged to head 5 miles east to CP SA012, West Junction, for another QWCEW photo-opp.

As I get in the car, I get the traffic overview I was interested in. I hear the DS give track & time to MOW until 1330, so this is the last train for a couple of hours. Oh well…

I got to West Jct. about 90 seconds before the 8698.

The track in the foreground is the Glidden sub main, which has just diverged from track 2 of the Terminal sub. The Terminal sub is the preferred route for Englewood-bound trains.

Once the power got by me, I got in the car quickly because it was pretty chilly and I, in my haste to get out of the house, didn’t bring a jacket. As soon as I got the car moving, I remembered that this train usually has DPU’s. Oh well, back in to the cold…

The wait was brief before UP 8486 came into view, shoving on the rear of the QWCEW.

With the DPU by me, I headed home. I was about halfway home when I realized that I had just witnessed, and documented,  a fairly uncommon event for the Union Pacific of 2012: a 3-unit power consist with not one GE locomotive!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. lcl permalink
    January 4, 2012 11:19 pm

    Sorry for the digression, but I wanted to ask if you could give some background on your radio and how you use it in your railfanning. Do you have a scanner, or some other device? I finally bought a Radio Shack scanner over the holidays, and so far my scanning of the railroad frequencies has been dissapointing. I am guessing it is due to the lack of awsomeness of the stock rubber duckie antenna. Do you use an external antenna? Maybe my scanner is just not that good, or I’m not using it to its potential, or again maybe an antenna issue. At home I think my PC is interfering with my reception, and when I listen to it in the car (on 288, or on 59 north of downtown), I get pretty choppy reception.


    • January 6, 2012 9:36 am

      My radio set-up is pretty simple. I have a Yaesu VX-150, with the stock rubber duckie antenna. It’s a ham radio transceiver, but it does scan.
      It’s about the same size as a hand-held scanner, but it has much better sensitivity and selectivity than a scanner. Plus it’s a heavy-duty
      radio. It has a metal chassis, which comes in very handy when I occasionally drop my VX-150.

      I have used it with an external mag-mount antenna, but not much anymore because the radio picks up good enough with the small antenna.

      The VX-150 is not a current model, but you can find them on ebay fairly inexpensively, less than $100. Of course you can track
      down the current model online or at a ham radio shop.

      The only con to this radio is that it’s tedious to program, but there is software out there that simplifies the programming.

      If you Google yaesu and railfanning you’ll get a lot of good information about how good the Yaesu is compared to the Radio Shack radios.

      Here’s a video a guy did talking about his experience with the Yaesu.

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