Freigh_trainWhat follows is information provided by ASA Rail to correct things
that have been inferred on the Allandale listserve about the Union Pacific (UP) line along Mopac.

Kay Newell, Allandale, MoNAC Secretary

The State Rail Plan came out a couple of years ago. It is really for the purpose of quantifying
what the rail needs in the State are. It
was useful in passing the Rail Relocation Fund bill and constitutional
amendment and illustrates the amount of money needed throughout the state for
rail projects.

It’s not really any kind
of design — only a recap of various other projects rolling up all the costs to
give a big-picture of the needs. Unfortunately, with all the anti-transportation rhetoric in the last legislative
session, there was virtually no funding for the Rail Relocation Fund that we
are hoping to use to move the Union Pacific (UP) through-freight off the “Mopac” line to a new
line east of SH-130. If people want to
impact the trains idling on the siding north of 2222, they need to urge their
legislators to appropriate money or dedicate funding sources to this fund so we
can move forward with the relocation. I
don’t see anything happening until then.

Some points:
· We’ve never
considered a commuter rail station at 2222/Mopac. Our website and all our plans are very clear
that we are anticipating nearby stations at Braker Lane and at 35th Street.

· There hasn’t
been any double track between 2222 & Town Lake in the 130 years the tracks have been there. The work that was done several years ago in the area was when UP
upgraded the tracks to heavier, welded rails and replaced the wood ties with
concrete ones. It was a major, costly
upgrade but did not “remove” any tracks.

· Sidings
(such as the one north of 2222) have many uses. They can be used for a train to stop while it is passed by another train
— coming in the same direction or from the other direction. They use them to “park” low priority trains
to permit higher priority trains to pass. They can use them to “park” a freight train while waiting for a
passenger train (Amtrak) to pass — passenger trains have priority. Because this is the only siding north of way
south Austin,
it is pretty heavily used for these purposes. If they had other double track sections, there wouldn’t be as much use.

· Many of the
trains coming through here are 100 – 130 cars in length — a mile to mile and a
half. For a siding to be useful, there
has to be at least that length of space (without grade-level crossings &
preferably straight) plus whatever they need on the ends for switching and
signaling.

· Most of the
train traffic along Mopac is northbound. UP uses the “Hearne Subdivision” for most of the southbound
traffic. This is the line that runs
through College Station & Giddings and ties into the US-90/IH-10 tracks
that enter San Antonio from the east. By running their
southbound trains along that subdivision and northbound along the “Austin” subdivision
through here, they minimize conflicts. There are some southbound trains along Mopac as capacity permits and,
obviously, Amtrak moves both northbound and southbound through here. I’ve made sure that we reserve enough right-of-way to double
track from 2222 to Town

Lake

. To double track this will be expensive — the
existing tracks have to be moved to the side of the right-of-way from the
center but it is in our plan for commuter rail. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough land, the turns are too tight, the
bridge over Town Lake is historic, and the topography
south of the river (at least until around Oltorf) make it very difficult, if
not impossible, to double track the entire line.