Friday, April 27, 2012

Duty Calls

And I answer.

First off was a trip to Austin early Monday morning. Staples didn't have a whole bunch to offer other than the couple of sets of coal cars that seem to have taken up permanent residence and the occastional bare table train that is stored there. The only out of the ordinary thing I spotted that morning was a bare table with power intact-in this case a pair of AC units, overkill for the train it was tied up to.

Oddly enough, I encountered this very same train eastbound on Wednesday, during my trip home. They were sailing along between Randall and Darling going one way and I was sailing along going the other way. No photos that time.

Thursday morning it was off again, this time to Duluth. Now it seems to me that the DEEX trains have been a little less common lately. I've read where coal traffic is down for the railroads, not sure if that applies here or I'm just imagining it. Either way, the Brainerd Sub was quiet almost all the way to I-35. Eastbound loads caught me a bit off guard when I came upon them about with about 10 miles to go. The trusty Escape sprinted ahead in time for a shot at the last crossing available. And I'll tell you what-I was glad to get the shot. The trees, the MAC, the cars-it came out nice in my opinion.

Given the ACe's I got on a manifest train last weekend and the MAC and GEVO AC on the baretable above, I have to wonder if the AC units aren't starting to spread out if coal business is actually slowing. It's been a while since I saw an SD40-2 as well. Maybe it's time to get out and shoot the Dash 9's while they're still here, before they go the way of the 60's?

Here's a question for all of you. We know that crude oil trains were unkown in this area just a few short years ago. And it seems that 2 bay covered hoppers are becoming more and more common through the area, I'm guessing with sand for fracking and other drilling tasks. Nationwide, natural gas production is up and prices down, to the point that gas is displacing coal in some electrical generation service. Given all the above, are the changes a positive or a negative for the railroad industry? For the Staples Sub?

One thing about railroading, blink and things change. That goes for Staples, too, as overpass construction continues and will soon change the landscape there forever.

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