Rio Grande News

    Posted Sunday, August 24 2014 at 1056 h MDT
    I'd heard a few reports circulating lately that A&K had actually started in on the Towner Line, so I went out late yesterday afternoon to try to verify those and collect proof. I'm sad to say that the news is bad. They indeed have everything in place they need to scrap out the line - except STB permission for abandonment. In fact, there's at least one OFA on the table (Offer of Financial Assistance - basically a request to buy the line intact), and I've heard there may be a second.

    No need to let pesky legalities get in the way, however. (In fact, I'm sure V&S/A&K will argue they're not abandoning it, they're just borrowing the rail for an indefinite period and betting they don't have to put it back.) V&S brought in a string of empty rail carriers and SMNR 3518 - an M420 from a Canadian branch they ripped out in 2007. Those are sitting at NA Junction. The washouts near the Highway 96 crossing have been fixed. A&K crews have pulled most of the spikes and rail anchors starting at Arlington, CO, and working west as far as halfway between Sugar City and Ordway. There's a line of heavy machinery at Arlington, including a speed swing, backhoe with a magnet attached to the arm, a grader, and a front end loader.

    With the track structure is now unsuitable for anything except one last train to pull up the rails and all the machinery you'd need to scrap out the track in place, it's pretty much a done deal. The west end of the Towner Line is toast, due process be damned.

    Photos substantiating its current status have been posted [here]. -

    Posted Tuesday, July 29 2014 at 1122 h MDT
    Another ACS-64 is on its way. A post on Trainorders reports that AMTK 618 is at the interchange and should be on the Zephyr on Wednesday or Thursday out of California. That puts it across the former D&RGW on Thursday or Friday. I'll update this when it actually moves, but wanted to give everyone a heads up anyway. - NDHolmes

    Posted Saturday, July 26 2014 at 2250 h MDT
    Another new ACS-64 is making its way east on today's eastbound California Zephyr. AMTK 617 was released from Siemens last week and added to #6 out of Emeryville today. It'll be over Soldier Summit tomorrow morning and across Colorado during the day. - NDHolmes

    Posted Sunday, July 20 2014 at 1724 h MDT
    The V&S Railway has been thwarted in their efforts to expediently scrap the east end of the Towner Line. In mid-May, V&S applied to abandon the east end, from Towner at 787.5 to near Eads at 808.3. A comment from the Public Land Surveyors of Colorado pointed out significant issues with their filings, most significantly that about half of the proposed abandonment sits on Federal land grants, whereas V&S claimed there were none. As a result of the PSLC comment and other question-raising issues, the Surface Transportation Board has categorically denied their exemption request. I wouldn't call it a long term win, but at least the STB is not just rubber stamping this one.

    That said, Mother Nature didn't do the west end any favors this week. Last Tuesday (July 15, 2014), a strong thunderstorm dumped sufficient rain north of NA Junction (where the Towner Line and BNSF's Pueblo Subdivision join) to cause flash flooding. Those floods overtopped the sides of the Colorado Canal, an irrigation ditch that runs along the north side of the railway and Colorado Hwy 96. The resulting torrent of water submerged both the road and railway where 96 crosses over the line between NA Junction and Olney Springs. The road survived fairly well, but the railway suffered a few washouts. Pictures from my drive through the area today are posted [here]. -

 Other Rio Grande Websites
  The most comprehensive D&RGW site out there
 Rio Grande Modeling & Historical Society
  The Rio Grande Modeling and Historical Society
  Kevin Morgan's D&RGW Site (formerly - Route and historical info, as well as photos
  An excellent site by a Mike B., a professional railroader and former D&RGW employee
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