Friday, November 18, 2016

History of Santa Fe's Intermodal Service

When I "canalfan" the Sanitary and Ship Canal in Lemont, Romeoville, Lockport and parts of Joliet, I also see trains that use the former Santa Fe route. I have observed in previous postings that almost all of the traffic on that route is stacks, pigs or racks. The BNSF must move the other types of trains going to Chicago to the former-CB&Q route at Galesburg, IL.

Steve Rippeteau provided a history of the LA-Chicago intermodal service on the "transcon" as a comment on a posting. The posting is "Attachment Unavailable," but, fortunately, Steve's comment is still available.

Steve Rippeteau comment on a posting
This would be Train #99 the Super C that started running with a few cars or "pigs" from Chicago to Los Angeles, CA in 1968 at passenger train speed of 79 MPH max. The eastbound was train #100. It was named the "Bullet" by crews because it looked like a bullet with an F unit and a few pigs. Later it was called the "mail train" after the USPS started running pigs loaded with over flow air mail. That is when the ATSF started running the train with about 20-30 pigs with FP-45 & F-45 units with passenger speed gearing. Oh, also with the U-28CG & U-30CG units too. So it only ran as the "Bullet" for a couple of years, roughly 1968-70. This photo was taken at Lincoln St in Galesburg, IL from the CB&Q viaduct over the ATSF. Latter, it was combined with other intermodal hot freight and the extra premium charge was dropped as well as the speed down to 70 as the 198 and 891 train. It got the attention of the shippers and the ATSF was able to out run the truckers in the midwest to west coast market. Even team drivers could not match the pace of the ATSF fast freights. By the time of the Arab Oil Embargo of October, 1973 the ATSF had most of the infrastructure to handle the massive increase of intermodal traffic. They were still swamped with TOFC traffic. Here is one of the few shots I took of the Super C at Joliet, IL as we waited in the clear for 99 to pass the House track at the freight house downtown Joliet so we could come back out with the FM units on the Lorenzo Turn.

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