Railroading in Central Texas

Discussions related to "real" railroads. Post your recent railfanning photos here!
User avatar
Peter Kazmir
Chief Dispatcher
Posts: 108
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2016 12:37 am
Location: Austin, TX

Railroading in Central Texas

Postby Peter Kazmir » Sat Apr 09, 2016 6:01 pm

Hi,

Does anyone have any ideas where I could get some information about traffic on our local railroads? The Austin Western, UP, BNSF - what customers do they have on line around here? What kind of trackage rights and interchange traffic?

I'm thinking of the entire run of the Austin Western (Llano to Giddings and branches?) plus the UP/BNSF traffic in the area, say from Taylor and Georgetown down to Buda?

(I'm also gathering information about Austin & Texas Central (i.e. ASTA) and Cap Metro, but I have that info already.)

Thanks!
Peter

gzapalac
Engineer
Posts: 83
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2016 9:30 am

Re: Railroading in Central Texas

Postby gzapalac » Sun May 01, 2016 10:59 pm

This is what I can tell, based on Google Earth, as well as observations from driving along the tracks and riding on the Texas Eagle, Hill Country Flyer, and MetroRail:

UP has very few if any rail customers remaining within the city of Austin. Most of the rail spurs which once served individual shippers have been removed. The Bergstrom spur, which used to serve several warehouses and a lumberyard off Burleson Rd, has been dormant and ripe for abandonment for years. It is overgrown with vegetation and there are vehicles parked on the tracks. In Buda there is a large cement plant south of Centex Rd., and just north of it is a lumber distributor. There don't appear to be any other active customers between Buda and McNeil, where the Austin White Lime facility is located just north of the interchange with the Austin Western. In Round Rock there is the interchange with the Georgetown RR, and in Hutto there is a grain elevator. In Taylor there are a couple more grain elevators and the connection with the former Katy line to Temple and Smithville. I heard a report several years ago that of the 25-30 UP trains that pass through Austin daily, only 2 stop here. My guess is that that stop is at McNeil.

As for the Austin Western, its primary traffic consists of granite, lumber, aggregates for concrete and road construction, and paper. Again, most of the customers within the city of Austin are now gone, except for maybe a couple of warehouses near Rutland Dr. and Kramer Lane. At McNeil I believe it also serves Austin White Lime, along with UP. Aggregate companies are located north of Leander (at the US 183 crossing), east of Liberty Hill, east and west of Burnet, north of Marble Falls, and within Marble Falls itself. The track runs next to the Granite Mountain quarry, but I don't know if much granite is shipped by rail. There's also a lumber distributor east of Burnet. The line to Kingsland and Llano is currently out of service.

Going east from Austin on the AW, there's a chemical plant owned by Flint Hills Resources and a Balcones Recycling facility, both at Daffan along Johnny Morris Rd. Another large aggregate facility is located near Old Hwy. 20 and Littig Rd. In Elgin there's some sort of fuel facility, and east of town there's a Hanson brick factory. At Butler, Elgin Butler Brick is adjacent to the tracks, but I don't think they ship much if any product by rail. Adjacent to the Butler plant is another aggregate company. From there to Giddings the tracks are out of service.

TXDOT prepared a study of potential passenger rail service between Austin and Houston in 2011, which included an extensive discussion of AW's routes and operations, especially east of Austin. You can find the report at:
ftp://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot-inf ... _final.pdf

AW appears to have some sort of track-sharing arrangement with BNSF, because I've seen BNSF units at one of the aggregate facilities in Marble Falls.

The Georgetown RR's main customer is Texas Crushed Stone, but it also serves the Westinghouse plant and a lumber distributor near downtown. East of downtown the track seems to be used mainly for car storage.

I hope this helps. As I said, it's just based on my observations, so maybe someone else can provide more definitive information.

User avatar
michael78651
Engineer
Posts: 70
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2016 11:15 am
Location: Round Rock, TX
Contact:

Re: Railroading in Central Texas

Postby michael78651 » Thu Sep 08, 2016 10:06 am

I haven't done much railfanning in the Austin area in a while, s I'm a bit rusty as to what is going on, but below I have listed some things that I do see regularly in my little travels in the north Austin, McNeil, Georgetown, Round Rock and out to Bertram areas.

Austin Western also services Abbott Labs at Howard Lane and Loop 1. Tank cars and covered hoppers can be seen on the drug maker's spurs. I see them taking lumber cars and box cars into Austin. There used to be a lumber yard on North Lamar at Airport, but I think that is closed down. I don't know what other customers they have.

At McNeil, I see UP and BNSF trains doing interchange traffic with Austin Western with the yard on Howard Lane. I only know of UP servicing Austin White Lime, not any other RR, but I wouldn't be surprised if BNSF and/or Austin Western also pick up covered hoppers filled with crushed limestone. The track spurs at the plant do intersect with the Austin Western tracks over by the McNeil Store. UP is the only road that I have ever seen delivering coal. The coal spur is a short distance east of the diamond.

Up the Georgetown Railroad, which connects to the UP in Round Rock, I see UP and BNSF delivering and picking up cars. Lumber is often delivered up the short line. I think there may be a customer or two in Georgetown as well. Not sure anymore about this.

Regarding the UP, they do run a local into Austin out of Taylor. It usually carries about half a dozen cars. Not sure what businesses receive these cars.

Michael
Michael

Author of the books: Seasons of Fantasies and Dreams; The Whitechapel Fog

sjackobs
Student Brakeman
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2017 7:28 pm

Re: Railroading in Central Texas

Postby sjackobs » Sat Jan 07, 2017 5:37 pm

George and Team,

Let me add my observations from the 20-some years we have lived in Austin and I have explored it running and biking.

There remains one active industry in East Austin at mile 55.44, Guthrie Lumber, at Gonzales and Tillery Street, underneath the 7th Street overpass near the bus barn. It receives occasional loads of up to three flats of finished lumber. I have seen it switched on Sundays by an Austin Western crew using two engines -- one at each end.

Until a couple years ago, the Balcones recycling plan was a little further west on Fifth Street and had an active spur, laid out as a tight S curve and a diamond crossing the main just ahead of the wye. It was a pretty piece of track and contributed to putting at least one engine in the dirt. It received empty box cars and shipped out bundles of cardboard and other recyclable materials.

Going a little further back in time, there was a spur just east of Springdale which went north into the US Foods complex, and where Dr. Renferd(?) moved a station. The station is now an event space, and I saw an art exhibit there during a Studio Tour. I never knew it to be active, but there was an old Santa Fe four-bay hopper trapped in the weeds for a long time. The spur got torn up when Cap Metro redid the rail.

There was also a spur just east of the wye which turned south to serve the Holly power plant. It made a sharp curve adjacent to East Side Lumber, and I assume may have served it. I never knew it to be active. The turnout got torn up when Cap Metro redid the rail.

Additionally, there are vestiges of track and roadbed in the area that served various warehouses. And one could go still further back to the 50s(?) when there was a yard and roundhouse just west of the wye where apartments stand now. There is still a concrete and tie loading ramp in that area, though no longer connected. And I never knew it to be used.

In South Austin, I recall seeing two industries west of I-35 being served on the Bergstrom (?) Spur, but perhaps as much as 10 years ago. One was a plastics plant that received covered hopperloads of pellets. The other was a big scrap yard that sent out gondolas and big high side, converted box cars filled with scrap. Further west, there are at least three spurs and a siding built to warehouses. I don't recall ever seeing them used.

I hope this is helpful.

User avatar
Peter Kazmir
Chief Dispatcher
Posts: 108
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2016 12:37 am
Location: Austin, TX

Re: Railroading in Central Texas

Postby Peter Kazmir » Sat Jan 07, 2017 11:06 pm

Someone on the Mopac Yahoo group posted this for me several years ago. It's the yard/track diagram for the Taylor yard. It was revised in 2002, and was still current when I got it in 2006.

Thanks,
Peter
Attachments
-mp-up.TXTaylor-SpottingCodes.pdf
(51.94 KiB) Downloaded 206 times

User avatar
Peter Kazmir
Chief Dispatcher
Posts: 108
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2016 12:37 am
Location: Austin, TX

Re: Railroading in Central Texas

Postby Peter Kazmir » Sat Jan 07, 2017 11:11 pm

BTW, for what it's worth, here's the same diagrams for Palestine, TX for the same time frame.
Attachments
Palestine TX B.pdf
(46.36 KiB) Downloaded 167 times
Palestine TX A.pdf
(69.96 KiB) Downloaded 199 times

JMerkel
Conductor
Posts: 40
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2016 8:34 am

Re: Railroading in Central Texas

Postby JMerkel » Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:12 pm

In Marble Falls - there is a short spur at Cold Spring Granite Co. Occasionally there is a gondola there with granite blocks. Further South, there is a short spur at Hill Country Recycling Co with a gondola there with scrap steel. At the end of the line is J M Huber Co which chemically modifies limestone (calcium carbonate) and ships in covered hoppers - usually 6 - 10 sitting on the tracks.

I don't know the shipping frequency - but maybe granite about 1 car in 6 months, scrap less frequent, Huber about 5 cars per week.

North on US 281, there is a very large quarry and vertical lime plant. The quarry ships 100 car train loads often - few times per week. The lime plant ships maybe a few cars per week - covered hoppers.

JMerkel
Conductor
Posts: 40
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2016 8:34 am

Re: Railroading in Central Texas

Postby JMerkel » Thu Apr 06, 2017 4:51 pm

Talked to the scrap company last week. They are shipping 3 cars per month.
Jack

User avatar
michael78651
Engineer
Posts: 70
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2016 11:15 am
Location: Round Rock, TX
Contact:

Re: Railroading in Central Texas

Postby michael78651 » Tue May 08, 2018 12:12 am

Going a little further back in time, there was a spur just east of Springdale which went north into the US Foods complex


This spur also held the Circus Train when it was in town. You could drive over the bridge and see whether it was the Red or Blue train that had come to perform.
Michael

Author of the books: Seasons of Fantasies and Dreams; The Whitechapel Fog


Return to “Prototype Railroading and Railfanning”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest