Fire collapses portion of railroad trestle in Sacramento

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tp49

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It was a heck of a fire too...it started as I was leaving for school. Thought it may have been a plane crash because of the intensity of the smoke plume. It's still burning now about 8+ hours after it started and they say it will probably smolder for the next few days.

Right now 5/6 and the Capitol Corridor trains to Roseville/Auburn are effected I do not know if 11/14 use that bridge but it is possible that they do as well. Things are a major mess in that area.
 

Eris

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Well, right now amtrak's status information on the web says that the 14 (northbound Coast Starlight) arrived in Sacramento at 12:22am (40 minutes ago), about 23 minutes late, and claims an estimated arrival in Chico 32 minutes late, at 2:27am (about an hour and a half from now), so possibly it is not affected by this trestle (I can hope! I'm going southbound on that route a week from Sunday).
 

George Harris

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Here are a few quotes from the Sacramento Bee plus a few facts otherwise. Apologies for some things that may seem really simpleminded to the readers familiar with the area and US practices, as I put this together for a couple of brits in our office.

Union Pacific Trestle Fire, American River North Approach, Sacramento, California,

Fire began about 17:00 March 15, 2007

From the Sacramento Bee web site, "A dramatic evening fire Thursday along the American River Parkway near Cal Expo destroyed a Union Pacific mainline track, sending billowing black smoke thousands of feet into the blue skies, and disrupting train traffic through the Central Valley."

"The hot-burning fire, first reported at 5:41 p.m., quickly consumed about 600 feet of heavy-duty trestle timber and tracks in a secluded section of the American River Parkway, just north of the American River."

"As night fell and firefighting continued, the blaze was toppling burned sections of the 25-foot-high rail trestle and showed little sign of dying down."

"The fire on the trestle, several hundred yards west of the Capitol City Freeway, caused backups for several miles during the late evening rush hour. The smoke plume was reportedly seen from 50 miles away."

From Google earth, this is the north approach to the five through truss span bridge over the American River. The trestle section appears to be about 1400 feet long and the through turss section about 850 feet long, and there is a short, maybe 150 feet long south trestle. Directions are general compass directions. In railroad terms, the long trestle is the east end of the bridge. The line is double track, and part of the original transcontinental railroad, obviously much rebuild from its 1860’s condition. For many years this was the Southern Pacific, but is now owned by the Union Pacific.

The American River bridge is between Sacramento and Roseville, so this does not affect most of the California "Capital Corridor" trains. It does affect Amtrak’s California Zephyr, which was terminated at Roseville on the day of the fire. By railroad definition, this is on the Martinez Subdivision, just off the east end of the wye at Elvas, located about milepost 92.2 (zero at Oakland CA).

If the Starlight comes in from the north on the ex Western Pacific line, it should also be unaffected.

George
 
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AlanB

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There routing the Starlight over the ex-WP5/6 are going via Stockon.
Maybe I'm missing something, but based upon the older and limited track maps that I have, I don't see how routing 5 & 6 via Stockton helps. There are no tracks that I see leading east from Stockton, all tracks around Stockton either go north/south or further west. So the only way to reach the Zephyr's normal route would be to head north to Sacramento. And doing that, would still leave the train sitting at the bridge that is now out of service.

Yes the trains can get to/from Emeryville once they are at Stockton, but I don't see how this bypasses the problem that is northeast of Sacramento and leading to Roseville, Colefax, and so on heading east.

Now routing the CS via Stockton might help, since it could bypass the normal stop in SAC, and just head up the ex-WP. But unless a new connection that I don't see has been built from the ex-WP to the CZ's route, that routing won't work for the CZ. It must cross the bridge that burned down to reach its normal route.
 

AlanB

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Ok, I think that I figured out what the answer might be and it does involve Stockton, but that's not the whole picture.

What would need to happen for a west bound CZ, is a northwest detour starting at Roseville. From there the train would run up to Marysville (near Yuba City). At that point it can turn south and join up with the much talked about ex-WP. That would allow it to then run south through SAC to Stockton. The detour however cuts out the SAC stop, as well as Davis, as well as probably adding at least 1 hour of run time, if not more.

At Stockton, the train once again turns west and runs out to Martinez where it can rejoin its normal route to EMY.
 

Torgo90

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Just my luck.

Was on #11 this morning. Got up about 6:30 and could see the smoke plume, but thought it was just another fire so did not photograph. Found out it was the trestle after we left Sac... should have taken that complimentary newspaper... it was on the front page of the Bee. I detrained in Martinez. We were 1.5 hours late. I wonder if we would have actually been on time if not for that fire.

We are on #6 to GSC on Sunday. The pathetic CZ. Currently, the only service alert on Amtrak.com is about Empire Corridor. Does anyone know if reroutes are in fact possible or will they have to begin east of Sac? If they go east of Sac are they going to bus from the unserved stations? I think asking 800-USA-RAIL for answers this soon would be futile, hoping there is someone in the know here.

Nate

http://amtrak-experience.blogspot.com
 

sechs

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According to the UP guy on the noon news, the bridge is done-for. They expect it'll be at least a month before traffic moves through there.

NARP reports that the California Zerphyr and Coast Starlight are being routed through Marysville. This is the long way around for the CZ, i.e., north and then back south into Sacramento.

The Capitol Corridor is using a bus bridge for the few trains the run east of Sacramento.

Courtesy BNSF for those interested:

http://www.bnsf.com/tools/reference/division_maps/div_ca.pdf
 
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AmtrakFan

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Ok, I think that I figured out what the answer might be and it does involve Stockton, but that's not the whole picture.
What would need to happen for a west bound CZ, is a northwest detour starting at Roseville. From there the train would run up to Marysville (near Yuba City). At that point it can turn south and join up with the much talked about ex-WP. That would allow it to then run south through SAC to Stockton. The detour however cuts out the SAC stop, as well as Davis, as well as probably adding at least 1 hour of run time, if not more.

At Stockton, the train once again turns west and runs out to Martinez where it can rejoin its normal route to EMY.
Alan,

Sorry for not being more specific that whole routing in that area confuses me. The Detour is adding over 2:30 of Delays, not that the CZ had enough already <_<

Togo90,

Your best bet would be to call Amtrak and see if they will let you board at EMY.
 

George Harris

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Everyone seems to be assuming a Roseville - Sacramento see-saw up the SP north to Maryville (Binney Jct.) then back down the WP line to Sacramento. Will it do this or simply take the ex WP line up the Feather River Canyon and on east all the way to Winnemucca NV? If on the WP line between Sacramento and Oakland, that does send you through Stockton.
 

Torgo90

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Togo90,Your best bet would be to call Amtrak and see if they will let you board at EMY.
"Julie" is quite busy now likely dealing with this, the Empire snow cancellations, and hundreds of cancelled east coast JetBlue customers trying to get home for the weekend.

Was on hold for 25 minutes and gave up. Will try tomorrow.

Amtrak absolutely needs to become more proactive in the information department. It is expected in thos day and age.
 
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AmtrakFan

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Togo90,

Your best bet would be to call Amtrak and see if they will let you board at EMY.
Amtrak absolutely needs to become more proactive in the information department. It is expected in thos day and age.
I fully agree with you. Amtrak Communication is Rotton, they should call all Passengers and let them know that will be effected.
 
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AlanB

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Togo90,

Your best bet would be to call Amtrak and see if they will let you board at EMY.
Amtrak absolutely needs to become more proactive in the information department. It is expected in thos day and age.
I fully agree with you. Amtrak Communication is Rotton, they should call all Passengers and let them know that will be effected.
Well I'm betting that Amtrak Comm was busy calling Saturday's passengers first, and not just for the CZ, but the Lake Shore too. And while any info would be better than none, perhaps part of the problem is simply that Amtrak doesn't yet know what it will be doing on Sunday. They can't force UP to let them detour the train, that is UP's decision. And even if UP says yes, then there is the question of, does Amtrak really want to add still more running time to a train that UP can't run on time in the first place?

So calling a couple of hundred people to say, "we don't know" isn't an attractive option in today's market.
 

PRR 60

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The Zephyr is running, making all stops, and at least as far as yesterday's (3/16) #6 is concerned, the detoured train arrived in Reno 4 hours late which, by Zephyr standards, is not too bad. The UP is restoring a removed connecting track at Biddle Junction (Marysville CA) between the former SP to Roseville and the former WP to Sacramento that will eliminate the need to reverse ends and should further improve performance. That track will be in service today (3/17). They are using green ballast.

The route (westbound) is normal to Roseville. Then back up about a mile to the connection to the the line up to Marysville. Through Biddle Junction in Marysville onto the WP to Sacramento, Connect from the WP to the SP line just east of SAC station and then the normal route to EMY. With the connecting track done, UP power for a reverse move is not required.

The UP is diverting steel piles and precast deck materials from another project and will have a one track trestle open by April 1. The second track will be carried on a second single-track trestle.
 

wkaemena

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The Zephyr is running, making all stops, and at least as far as yesterday's (3/16) #6 is concerned, the detoured train arrived in Reno 4 hours late which, by Zephyr standards, is not too bad. The UP is restoring a removed connecting track at Biddle Junction (Marysville CA) between the former SP to Roseville and the former WP to Sacramento that will eliminate the need to reverse ends and should further improve performance. That track will be in service today (3/17). They are using green ballast.
you can see the former connection track perfectly in Google earth

http://bbs.keyhole.com/ubb/showflat.php/Ca...0/page/0#835405
 

Torgo90

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So calling a couple of hundred people to say, "we don't know" isn't an attractive option in today's market.
Calling passengers is very labor intensive, and I wouldn't expect Amtrak to do something like that. I've never received a call from an airline for a delayed or cancelled flight, ever.

Amtrak.com is a powerful tool that is being underutilized. The CZ reroute deserves at least a "Service Alert" mention. This train averages 4-6 hours behind schedule routinely, some pax know this... most probably do not - especially all the first-timers I meet on the rails. The Sac detour could make it 6 to 8 to 10 hours delayed. I love Amtrak and want to ride the CZ tomorrow and next week, but my line in the sand is a 6 hour delay. I cannot get into Glenwood Springs at 7pm - there will next to no options for getting me to my final at Breckenridge. Further, I cannot get into Chicago extremely late and miss the last Hiawatha to Milwaukee at 8:05pm. So I am here in Concord, CA having to decide if I will cancel the remainder of my Amtrak trip and fly home. I shudder to think what I will pay for a short notice air ticket from SFO to MKE. If I have to go that route it will affect my future decisions to travel Amtrak again. And it would be a shame for them to lose someone who has become so positive about their service.

Again, they need to be forthcoming about chronic delays as with the CZ and CS. On the web. The Faraz OTP tool is great, but Faraz shouldn't have had to create that tool in the first place... it should already be on Amtrak.com.

This company needs to do all that it can to compete with air travel. "Why do you ride Amtrak?" is the most asked question from passenger to passenger in my experience. Answers include racial profiling by TSA, having to fly east to connect west, a relaxed hospitable atmosphere compared to flying, the ability to carry their 'pot' (a frequent reason cited, especially out west), cost and total door to door travel time. I have made a good case to many people in the last three months to give rail a try and there is budding interest out there. The huge baby-boomer population is entering retirement providing a huge opportunity for a passenger rail rennaissance.

After this trip I will have ridden over 10,000 miles since Christmas. It gives one a lot of time for scenery-staring and thinking. I have come up with a plethora of good ideas for Amtrak from marketing to station management to information technology. They are severly underfunded so most of the things I have come up with would cost nothing to implement, or pay for themselves in less than a year. Reading this forum and other popular rail forums show me that others have ideas as well. Does Amtrak have a person who scours these forums regularly to mine some of this knowledge? I have so much passion for them recently that I would do the job for no pay and in trade for services.

It is extremely frusterating watching a company squander its opportunities.
 
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AlanB

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So calling a couple of hundred people to say, "we don't know" isn't an attractive option in today's market.
Calling passengers is very labor intensive, and I wouldn't expect Amtrak to do something like that. I've never received a call from an airline for a delayed or cancelled flight, ever.
Yet Amtrak most times does indeed call people when there are changes for one reason or another.

Amtrak.com is a powerful tool that is being underutilized. The CZ reroute deserves at least a "Service Alert" mention. This train averages 4-6 hours behind schedule routinely, some pax know this... most probably do not - especially all the first-timers I meet on the rails. The Sac detour could make it 6 to 8 to 10 hours delayed. I love Amtrak and want to ride the CZ tomorrow and next week, but my line in the sand is a 6 hour delay. I cannot get into Glenwood Springs at 7pm - there will next to no options for getting me to my final at Breckenridge. Further, I cannot get into Chicago extremely late and miss the last Hiawatha to Milwaukee at 8:05pm. So I am here in Concord, CA having to decide if I will cancel the remainder of my Amtrak trip and fly home. I shudder to think what I will pay for a short notice air ticket from SFO to MKE. If I have to go that route it will affect my future decisions to travel Amtrak again. And it would be a shame for them to lose someone who has become so positive about their service.
Again, they need to be forthcoming about chronic delays as with the CZ and CS. On the web. The Faraz OTP tool is great, but Faraz shouldn't have had to create that tool in the first place... it should already be on Amtrak.com.
And it is already on Amtrak.com, I quote:

Service Alert: California Zephyr Trains 5 and 6 - Temporary Service Delays
Please be advised that passengers traveling on California Zephyr Trains 5 and 6 may experience delays of approximately three to five hours due to freight congestion, speed restrictions and other operating conditions affecting its schedule.

Passengers are encouraged to plan for the possibility of a delay and visit Amtrak.com or call 1-800-USA-RAIL on the day of departure for the most up-to-date arrival and departure times. We appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconvenience you may experience.
You can view the notice by clicking here. The Coast Starlight's notice can be found here. One needs only to attempt to book a trip on either train to see the link for the delay notices. The notices have been on Amtrak's site for well over a year, although they revise them from time to time as conditions warrant.

Ps. Remember that Amtrak will still get you home to MKE, even if the train is too late to connect with the last Hiawatha.
 
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Torgo90

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Service Alert: California Zephyr Trains 5 and 6 - Temporary Service Delays
Please be advised that passengers traveling on California Zephyr Trains 5 and 6 may experience delays of approximately three to five hours due to freight congestion, speed restrictions and other operating conditions affecting its schedule.

Passengers are encouraged to plan for the possibility of a delay and visit Amtrak.com or call 1-800-USA-RAIL on the day of departure for the most up-to-date arrival and departure times. We appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconvenience you may experience.
You can view the notice by clicking here. The Coast Starlight's notice can be found here. One needs only to attempt to book a trip on either train to see the link for the delay notices. The notices have been on Amtrak's site for well over a year, although they revise them from time to time as conditions warrant.

Ps. Remember that Amtrak will still get you home to MKE, even if the train is too late to connect with the last Hiawatha.
Thanks for the links, Alan, but how did you navigate to these? Not wanting to come off arrogant here, but I am a very proficient I.T. guy and I do not see a way to get to these Alerts from the home page. What steps do you take to get to the Service Alerts when starting at the Amtrak.com home page? I will wait to see how that goes before I cry "shoddy".

I know they will get me the last 86 miles to home (CHI-MKE), and I have padded my personal schedule generously to allow for delays. But Amtrak is not responsible for getting me from GSC to Breck, and I will have to inconvienience friends to drive the 100-odd miles to pick us up if we arrive after 5 since the shuttle services appear to end then. It frusterates me that to Amtrak a trestle fire causing a further delay to the CZ does not warrant a direct link to the information on their home page, as they routinely do for Empire services in the winter snow. "One only needs to book a trip to see these notices." My trip is booked and in progress, I would not proceed to book another trip just to get the service alert. Why should I be left in the dark?

Kindly,

Nate
 
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PRR 60

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The posted Zephyr notice (only seen when booking) is the generic "we might run very late" disclaimer that is applied to a bunch of trains and is not specific to the trestle problem at Sacramento. Amtrak has not posted anything about this bridge outage or the detour. In fact, the Capitol Corridor trains are being bussed east of Sacramento and Amtrak says nothing about that at all. Only the Capitol Corridor web site mentions the service disruption, that that site is run by the Capitol Corridor, not by Amtrak.

Amtrak's miserable handling of service alerts is a chronic and seemingly unfixable problem. The alerts that are posted are often posted in the reservations area which is OK for someone making a reservation but is useless for someone with a reservation who needs to know what is going on. Here in the Northeast the best way to find out about the operation of the NEC is to check the NJ Transit or SEPTA web sites, not Amtrak. This failure is not caused by lack of money (the ever popular excuse for all of Amtrak's shortcomings). Posting web notices costs next to nothing.

Amtrak needs a single link on the home page to a page where all current service alerts are posted. They need to actually post service alerts when there is a disruption. In 2007 there is no excuse for passengers being kept in the dark about the status of operations.
 
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AlanB

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Thanks for the links, Alan, but how did you navigate to these? Not wanting to come off arrogant here, but I am a very proficient I.T. guy and I do not see a way to get to these Alerts from the home page. What steps do you take to get to the Service Alerts when starting at the Amtrak.com home page? I will wait to see how that goes before I cry "shoddy".
Nate,

As PRR noted, you only see the links to those generic notices when one starts the process of booking a trip that involves one of the problematic trains. Otherwise I will admit that they are not generally easy to find.

Amtrak's miserable handling of service alerts is a chronic and seemingly unfixable problem. The alerts that are posted are often posted in the reservations area which is OK for someone making a reservation but is useless for someone with a reservation who needs to know what is going on. Here in the Northeast the best way to find out about the operation of the NEC is to check the NJ Transit or SEPTA web sites, not Amtrak. This failure is not caused by lack of money (the ever popular excuse for all of Amtrak's shortcomings). Posting web notices costs next to nothing.
Amtrak needs a single link on the home page to a page where all current service alerts are posted. They need to actually post service alerts when there is a disruption. In 2007 there is no excuse for passengers being kept in the dark about the status of operations.
And I do agree, far too many times important notices don't seem to make it up onto the home page, case in point the current problems with the CZ. There is no excuse for this either, as you are correct, it costs pennies to put something up.

I'm curious to know just how and where the responsabilities for such notices lie. I don't think that it is the computer department's job to actually type up the notice, as it were. I would believe that they only need to take an existing notice and properly format it for the web and link it in. I'd like to know if the responsability lies with CNOC to provide that notice, or if the responsability lies with the regional managers. I'd be tempted to lean in the direction of the latter, since of late Amtrak has gotten better about posting notices like this for trains here in the NE. But then CNOC also happens to be here in the NE, and the ridership numbers are higher which can translate to more complaints.

Finally, I too also agree, that in addition to current important notices, there should be one webpage that one can link to from the homepage to see all current delay/change notices that may be in effect at any given time.
 
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Torgo90

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I can't contain mayself any longer and I am not waiting for Alan's response.

Amtrak.com --> SHODDY!

Nate (now fantasizing if there is a way to take over Amtrak I.T. in a "coup d' etat")
 

Torgo90

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I can't contain mayself any longer and I am not waiting for Alan's response.
Amtrak.com --> SHODDY!

Nate (now fantasizing if there is a way to take over Amtrak I.T. in a "coup d' etat")
On at same time here I see.

Alan is right: It's likely not up to I.T. to post these, and it may be a Marketing decision. It boils down to delivering information that their customers sorely need. Airlines keep passengers in the dark, but they can get me to Seattle in only a couple hours. It takes over 40 hours on Amtrak... better information conveyance would be another good bullet point in competing with air travel.

What did Amtrak put in our food to make this group of people so fervently interested in their organization? I need to stop pontificating and get back to my vacation :)
 

AmtrakFan

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I can't contain mayself any longer and I am not waiting for Alan's response.

Amtrak.com --> SHODDY!

Nate (now fantasizing if there is a way to take over Amtrak I.T. in a "coup d' etat")
What did Amtrak put in our food to make this group of people so fervently interested in their organization? I need to stop pontificating and get back to my vacation :)
Nate,

Sometimes I think the same thing myself. But I think the real reason is, most of us here like trains and are or were Railfans at onetime. Have Fun on your Vacation :)
 
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George Harris

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The UP is restoring a removed connecting track at Biddle Junction (Marysville CA) between the former SP to Roseville and the former WP to Sacramento that will eliminate the need to reverse ends and should further improve performance. That track will be in service today (3/17). They are using green ballast.
The route (westbound) is normal to Roseville. Then back up about a mile to the connection to the the line up to Marysville. Through Biddle Junction in Marysville onto the WP to Sacramento, Connect from the WP to the SP line just east of SAC station and then the normal route to EMY. With the connecting track done, UP power for a reverse move is not required.
Locations and distances from UP Roseville Area Timetable No. 3, June 22, 2003

Junction between Martinez Sub and Valley Sub:

East Roseville: Milepost 106.4, both subs.

from there to Sacramento station, at mp 88.8 is 17.6 miles by way of the main line that is out of service.

Go north on the Valley Sub, (former SP East Valley Line) to Binney Jct. just north of Maryville at milepost 141.8, a distance of 35.4 miles.

Go through connection to Sacramento Sub.

Go south on the Sacramento Sub (former Western Pacific main) Binney Jct. mp 180.2 to Haggin, mp 139.8, a distance of 40.4 miles.

Go through connection back to Martinez Sub.

West Haggin is at mp 90.2 on Martinez Sub. from there it is 1.4 miles to the Sacramento station at mp 88.8.

35.4 miles on Valley Sub.

40.4 miles on Sacramento Sub.

.1.4 miles on Martinez Sub

77.2 miles via detour.

Comparing with 17.6 miles by normal route, this adds 59.6 miles to the run.

Speeds limits on these subs in the parts used for the detour are 50 to 65 mph on the Valley Sub, and 70 mph for the most part on the Sacramento Sub, so with slow moves through the junctions probably something like an extra hour to 75 minutes run time, plus who knows how much additional delay due to meets. Best guess, 90 minutes plus additional time.

George
 
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