Best Amtrak stations to see fast freights

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Best Amtrak stations to see fast freights

Postby Amtrak706 » Fri Dec 14, 2018 3:03 am

I will be in San Francisco for a few days next week, and I will be able to go railfanning one of those days. My goal is to find somewhere to see full speed, 70 mph intermodal action. Since I won’t have a car, it will need to be at an Amtrak station. I have narrowed my possibilities down to a few stations on the BNSF Bakersfield Sub (Madeira or Turlock-Denair) but I have no idea if these are safe/comfortable places to stake out for a few hours without a car. If anyone has info on this or other spots to suggest that would be great.
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Re: Best Amtrak stations to see fast freights

Postby Backshophoss » Fri Dec 14, 2018 5:50 pm

The stations you picked are in Farm country, BNSF Stockton sub is Single track,CTC,Amtrak,BNSF,UP trackage rights action.
BNSF has an intermodal yard near Stockton,Also has a Diamond Crossing with UP in the Downtown area,believe walking distance
from the Stockton Amtrak Depot,UP Fresno Sub Crosses there, 2 track CTC, Near by is UP's Stockton yard,UP thru trains,yard moves,Alatmont
Commuter express trains for action there,
Also Port of Stockton interchange is close by,possible interchang moves to BNSF and UP.
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Re: Best Amtrak stations to see fast freights

Postby riffian » Fri Dec 14, 2018 6:31 pm

I wouldn't walk from the Stockton Amtrak (ex-Santa Fe), or ex-Espee stations to the diamond. Very bad neighborhood. Stockton is tough to safely railfan without a car. Denair is a good place to see BNSF trains at speed, its safe, but other than the station, there isn't much around there.
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Re: Best Amtrak stations to see fast freights

Postby Amtrak706 » Fri Dec 14, 2018 7:08 pm

riffian wrote:I wouldn't walk from the Stockton Amtrak (ex-Santa Fe), or ex-Espee stations to the diamond. Very bad neighborhood. Stockton is tough to safely railfan without a car. Denair is a good place to see BNSF trains at speed, its safe, but other than the station, there isn't much around there.

Yeah, I had heard Stockton isn’t a great area and I don’t think I would see any real speed over there either. That’s good to hear that Denair is at least a safe place to be. I might end up having to go on a Sunday, do you know if there is usually any freight traffic/what time of day is best?
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Re: Best Amtrak stations to see fast freights

Postby riffian » Sat Dec 15, 2018 12:53 pm

You will get more trains East of the Stockton Amtrak and the diamond anyway, since both Mormon Yard and the Mariposa Lift are on Stockton's eastside. You will almost double your train count with the addition of the two Inside Gateway trains (Barstow-Pasco and Barstow-'Vancouver, WA) as well as the Stockton Z train and a Stockton-Barstow manifest. Richmond trains include the North Bay Z trains, Barstow-Richmond manifest (BarRic/RicBar), daily auto trains each way and the Oakland Stack (OIG) trains, which seem to run fewer than daily. If I may make a suggestion - if you want to see trains at speed the Modesto station may be a better fit. It is a new building, essentially in a cow pasture, but the trains fly through there. Modesto has grown out to the Santa Fe right of way, so the homes nearby are new tracts. There is nothing around there either, so bring a snack and a book. It has the added attraction of being closer to your Bay Area base. Sunday shouldn't be much different traffic wise, but I drove Santa Fe Ave from Empire to Madera on a Sunday morning this past September and only passed Amtrak (roughly between 9 and 11AM). Most trains run daily though, and the extras such as the Pittsburg coil steel train can show up at any time.
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