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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Sunset Limited Trip Report

Well I just returned from my annual cross-country Amtrak trip and this year's target was the Sunset Limited running eastbound between Los Angeles and New Orleans.  Unfortunately, I was unable to take most of my usual photos because Dan Akroyd parked his private car on the rear of my train and blocked most of the usable view.  Nevertheless I was able to still observe the state of signaling along this route and if there was a silver lining I really didn't miss much photo wise because almost all the classic signaling has already been removed.

Because the scheduled departure for Train 2 is 10pm (and sometimes brought forward to 8pm as was the case with my train) there really wasn't anything to photograph on that leg of the journey anyway.  The train used to depart at 3pm so if you want to see the state of the line this YouTube rear-end video before the schedule switch in 2011 will have to suffice.

Between LA and Pomona I did happen to spot a couple of surviving searchlight signals, but there were only about 2 or 3 locations.  Everything else, including the entirety of the Colton terminal has been re-signaled.  Moving east of Tuscon onto the Lordsburg Sub there are pockets of surviving Southern Pacific style target color light signals, but only in mountainous areas with low track speeds.  On the flat desert the route has been completely resignaled for higher speed 50mph turnouts.  You can see much of this re-signaled territory documented at  The new train timing allows for photographs in the SP zone so that is a plus.

These searchlights are no more.

 While the large El Paso terminal featured two surviving interlocking towers and a number of SP style target signals, all of the searchlight signals have been removed.  Continuing onto the Sanderson Sub, UP has completed its work in scrubbing the hooded SP signals and searchlights over the entire route to San Antonio.


Has become this.  No exceptions.

Moving onto the Glidden Sub, SP style targets still prevail, but many have been removed at any location that has been modified.  Preserved interlocking towers still stand at Flatonia (Tower 3) and Rosenburg (Tower 17) so keep an eye peeled for them.  In the Houston Terminal area a few searchlights can still be found, but those on the Glidden Sub will soon fall due to a double track project.  On the Terminal Sub, none appeared to be currently threatened, but re-signaling projects are ongoing at a number of junctions previously re-signaled with Darth Vaders so look forward to cheaper LED Darth Vaders in those instances along with multi-interlocking diamond crossing complexes replacing single interlocking complexes.

In the Lubbock area the major junctions in town sport a number of searchlight signals along with US&S transit style signals at some of the more complex junctions.  Many of those are controlled by the KCS so they might hold on a bit longer.  Moving into Louisiana the entire route through and past Lafayette has been re-signaled, however the BNSF trackage is still using TWC-ABS operation with the brand new Darth Vaders.  A smattering of searchlights are in service at some diamond crossings and movable bridges.

Entering New Orleans both East Bridge Junction and West Bridge Junction interlocking towers are doing strong with no signs of re-signaling or closure being apparent. The Amtrak terminal has of course been resignaled for years, however the old Clara St tower is still standing.

Well that's pretty much it.  Not much to report, but I would have still liked to get a good photo set of things.  I might try again next year since my subsequent day in NOLA was so fun ;-) Remember to check out Redoveryellow for 2008 photos taken before the route was completely sterilized.

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