San Antonio Wye

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

HammerJack

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 19, 2019
Messages
18
I’m curious to how the Texas Eagle makes it’s way from the Austin line into SAS and where it gets wye’d. Does 21 pull south of town, get wye’d somewhere, and then pull north into SAS? Then 22 can back out of SAS onto the Austin line, and pull north to San Marcos.
 

frequentflyer

OBS Chief
Joined
Jun 10, 2008
Messages
820
I think 21 backs into San Antonio. That way the coach seats are facing the right direction when connecting to #2.
 

Cal

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
997
Location
Socal
I think 21 backs into San Antonio. That way the coach seats are facing the right direction when connecting to #2.
It uses other tracks when going soutbound, the tracks to the west. It goes via them then pulls up. I have no idea how the seats are in the right direction.
 

brianpmcdonnell17

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2016
Messages
1,477
Location
Chicago, Illinois
It uses other tracks when going soutbound, the tracks to the west. It goes via them then pulls up. I have no idea how the seats are in the right direction.
The seats are flipped manually by the employees. I traveled on 421 in August and all the seats were flipped just prior to arrival in San Antonio.
 

bratkinson

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 7, 2004
Messages
892
Location
QB 101
In the 15 or more times I've ridden either #421/422 CHI-LAX in the past 20 years or so, I've learned that WHERE they wye the train and WHEN seems to change every couple of years. It might be affected by arrival tardiness as well. As I recall SAS, there's only 2 tracks at the station for Amtrak and 2 (or 3?) fairly busy main tracks for freight, etc. I've watched passing freights a number of times at SAS while up and around or from my roomette. So there's no way they can tie up a main and leave the 2 cars of either train without HEP to wait for #1 or for #22/422 to be assembled.

Westbound aboard #421, I've been on the train when they pulled straight into the station, sat for a couple of hours, then wyed the train leaving the #421 cars still on HEP (usually). Other times, after all SAS passengers were off - including the operating crew - the train was wyed at that point. More recent trips on #421 they wyed the train before arrival shortly after passing the new looking stadium(?) and then backed past the stadium and into the station. The only consistency in #421 placement on #1 is that both cars are always at the rear of the train, giving great views out the back door of the sleeper.

On the other hand, taking the last two cars from #2 and adding to #22 is a crapshoot. Until maybe 4-5 years ago, they'd both be at the back end of #22. The last few years, the sleeper ended up directly in front of the diner and the coach? Somewhere further back. As it's rare that I've been awake aboard #422 during its nightly shuffle, I'm not sure when or where they wye those two cars. A couple of times, though, I woke up as it had gotten uncomfortable in my roomette account of no HEP for what seemed like 30 minutes or more on hot summer nights.

As an aside, the OBS staff of #21/22 get off or on at SAS. However, the SCA for the #421/422 used to change at SAS, then for several years switched to swapping at San Marcos, the first stop north of SAS, and then it switched back to SAS a couple years ago. I'm guessing that paying the OBS to spend several hours each way at SAS while based out of San Marcos was the impetus to move the swap back to SAS. Interestingly, aboard #421 one night 2-3 years ago, the departing SCA advised those passengers that were awake that they'd be without an SCA until #1 arrived and they started boarding passengers. As I recall, that was one of those times that they wyed the #21/421 consist an hour or more after arrival at SAS.
 

Devil's Advocate

Sarcastic Misanthrope
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
12,264
Location
Texas
Amtrak's track-a-train map has always shown incorrect/impossible moves.

This lazy but kinda sorta functional image might help visualize the Texas Eagle turning process.

1614887991467.png

Moving counterclockwise from the top left: The blue arrows facing down/South are #21's chilled molasses creep into SAS via the former Missouri Pacific route. The red arrows are a backup move at the start of #22's run on former Southern Pacific track. The blue arrows facing up/North are #22's forward move toward SMC over the former Missouri–Kansas–Texas route. Or at least this is how things worked the last time I paid attention.
 

Eric S

Conductor
Joined
Dec 19, 2009
Messages
2,558
Location
Milwaukee
I'm almost completely ignorant of the situation in San Antonio. For those who are familiar with things there, is there an alternative that would be better for Amtrak to use?
 

niemi24s

Conductor
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
2,549
I too am curious. Here's a section of the FRA map showing what tracks go where (passenger rail in red):Map - SASa.png
 

Devil's Advocate

Sarcastic Misanthrope
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
12,264
Location
Texas
As I recall SAS, there's only 2 tracks at the station for Amtrak and 2 (or 3?) fairly busy main tracks for freight, etc. I've watched passing freights a number of times at SAS while up and around or from my roomette. So there's no way they can tie up a main and leave the 2 cars of either train without HEP to wait for #1 or for #22/422 to be assembled.
SAS has two house tracks and one smaller stub track for protect cars with hotel power. The house tracks are enough to switch cars but the Eagle's turn is on the main. I'm not sure if or how the pandemic has changed things.

I'm almost completely ignorant of the situation in San Antonio. For those who are familiar with things there, is there an alternative that would be better for Amtrak to use?
The process is slow and clumsy in part because of UP's directional running North of SAS and the fact that some infrastructure which allowed the SP, MP, & MKT to turn trains and interconnect was removed after UP bought everyone. Freights travel much faster than Amtrak in the downtown loop but I'm unsure how that came to be or why.
 
Last edited:

HammerJack

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 19, 2019
Messages
18
It doesn’t appear there’s a clear cut “more efficient” way to do things without any physical plant upgrades. A switch in the northeast quadrant of the Austin and Del Rio line junction south of the station would help. It would allow the Eagle to stay on the “east” line and directly pull in, or quickly be backed in on arrival with a simple pull-out departure the next day.
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
22,125
Location
Austin Texas
The Long term plan for Amtrak is to move to the Old Mopac/Katy Station ( now owned by San Antonio Transit/VIA) which will be an Intermodel Station.The current Sunset Amshack is owned by the City, and the Old Sunset Station is a Private Event Venue rarely used.

#21 pases this Station on it's Long,Slow loop around the Western Part of the City. It hasnt been used as a Teain Station since Amtrak began service in 1971, was a Credit Union for many years.

It's a beautifully restored Station.I used to Board and Detrain there when riding Mopac and Katy Trains back in the day.
 

frequentflyer

OBS Chief
Joined
Jun 10, 2008
Messages
820
The Long term plan for Amtrak is to move to the Old Mopac/Katy Station ( now owned by San Antonio Transit/VIA) which will be an Intermodel Station.The current Sunset Amshack is owned by the City, and the Old Sunset Station is a Private Event Venue rarely used.

#21 pases this Station on it's Long,Slow loop around the Western Part of the City. It hasnt been used as a Teain Station since Amtrak began service in 1971, was a Credit Union for many years.

It's a beautifully restored Station.I used to Board and Detrain there when riding Mopac and Katy Trains back in the day.
Wow, seriously, that is still the plan? I thought it died. How the SL stop there?

Compared to the simple maneuver the Empire Builder does at Spokane, the TE/SL switching seems more complicated. I guess it depends if the TE Ys and is facing the same direction of the SL.
 

niemi24s

Conductor
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
2,549
This map updated to show what I think is the location of the old MOPAC/KATY station:
Map - SASb.png
Looks like moving to that location that would complicate things for the SL to & from NOL? While it's not shown, those two lines going off the map in the lower left corner join a few miles away down by Kelly AFB.
 

HammerJack

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 19, 2019
Messages
18
With the new terminal, the SL could use it like a sub end terminal. Track exists for it to back in from either direction.
 

jiml

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
3,075
Location
Somewhere in Southern Ontario
The Long term plan for Amtrak is to move to the Old Mopac/Katy Station ( now owned by San Antonio Transit/VIA) which will be an Intermodel Station.The current Sunset Amshack is owned by the City, and the Old Sunset Station is a Private Event Venue rarely used.

#21 pases this Station on it's Long,Slow loop around the Western Part of the City. It hasnt been used as a Teain Station since Amtrak began service in 1971, was a Credit Union for many years.

It's a beautifully restored Station.I used to Board and Detrain there when riding Mopac and Katy Trains back in the day.
Interestingly, it appears that the Sunset would then be required to make a backup move to continue to NOL. All the more reason to make the TE the daily train to L.A. ;)
 

jiml

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
3,075
Location
Somewhere in Southern Ontario
This map updated to show what I think is the location of the old MOPAC/KATY station:
View attachment 20972
Looks like moving to that location that would complicate things for the SL to & from NOL? While it's not shown, those two lines going off the map in the lower left corner join a few miles away down by Kelly AFB.
Sorry for the follow-up similar post. Yours wasn't visible while I was typing...
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
22,125
Location
Austin Texas
Interestingly, it appears that the Sunset would then be required to make a backup move to continue to NOL. All the more reason to make the TE the daily train to L.A. ;)
Yep, there's been a proposal for a Daily Texas Eagle CHI- LAX for years that UP scuttled with unreasonable monetary demands, with a Stub Train between New Orleans and San Antonio connecting with the Eagle in SA!
 

jiml

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
3,075
Location
Somewhere in Southern Ontario
Yep, weve been for a Daily Texas Eagle for years, with the Stub Train between New Orleans and San Antonio connecting with the Eagle in SA!
I'm sure someone here will have refuting numbers for east of San Antonio, but I've always thought that made sense. They could solve a lot of problems by just extending the Crescent to San Antonio via Mobile, but that's a subject for another thread.;)
 

Cal

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
997
Location
Socal
Yep, there's been a proposal for a Daily Texas Eagle CHI- LAX for years that UP scuttled with unreasonable monetary demands, with a Stub Train between New Orleans and San Antonio connecting with the Eagle in SA!
Theres only one reason I wish it wasn't, but that's just selfish. :)

Would love to have the Eagle be daily..
 

WWW

Service Attendant
AU Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Nov 18, 2018
Messages
162
Location
MSP
I love these nightmarish train puzzles moving trains around to re-consist the locomotive and seats to the direction of travel.
Fun when you have to split the train into smaller segments to fit the - station - siding - length of the wye.
AND then reassemble the consist - working against the clock tying up a mainline track.
 

Devil's Advocate

Sarcastic Misanthrope
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
12,264
Location
Texas
Wow, seriously, that is still the plan? I thought it died. How the SL stop there?
Local light rail is mostly dead but the long term plan is to find a way to implement regional rail between SAS and AUS. The two cities are expected to eventually merge into some sort of dual metro corridor and the current six-lane highway is completely overwhelmed for several hours on business days.

I love these nightmarish train puzzles moving trains around to re-consist the locomotive and seats to the direction of travel. Fun when you have to split the train into smaller segments to fit the - station - siding - length of the wye. AND then reassemble the consist - working against the clock tying up a mainline track.
It's true that SAS has more activity than most mid-route stations but it's hardly nightmarish. Stations like PDX and SEA are busier than anything SAS ever sees but I don't think of them as being particularly complicated. On the plus side SAS is one of the few outstations that can fix broken hardware en route. I've ridden trains that arrived with a broken HVAC or grill/oven that were fixed at the station and ready to go on departure. Hope that continues post-pandemic.
 
Last edited:
Top