Ferrosur - Beyond Tierra Blanca

Ferrosur's Linea G
Ferrosur's Linea G branches off of the Mexico to Veracruz mainline at Cordoba. It then runs southward, dropping into the coastal plains on its way to the gulf port of Coatzacoalcos. The line also connects with the former FC Chiapas Y Mayaba at Medias Aguas and Coatzacoalcos. The yard at Tierra Blanca, located about 80 KM south of Cordoba, is the hub of operations for the western part of this line. Linea G serves the many oil refineries along the gulf coast, as well as cement plants, sugar processing plants and the large Modelo brewery at Tuxtepec Oaxaca.

At dusk, an SF30C clears into the north end of the Patio Norte at Tierra Blanca. The town is quiet except for the distant sounds of boxcars being switched, music playing in nearby houses and children playing baseball in the street.

The quiet is broken by a southbound unit cement train slowly passing through yard limits, blasting the whistle over the many residential street crossings on the north side of town. The yard job has cleared out to let the road train by.

As the cement train pulls through town, baseball and quiet returns to the neighborhood streets.
The yard job is tying up at the depot at the end of their day.

A southbound manifest train is slowly passing through Tierra Blanca while entering the Patio Sur. Migrants patiently waiting for a northbound train are very common around the yard here.

Having just returned from switching at Tuxtepec, Oaxaca, a former AT&SF SF30C pauses at the South Yard at Tierra Blanca.

Earlier in the day, a yard job is switching the small yard at Papaloapan. They have pulled off the branch from Tuxtepec, and will pick up a few cars from the small yard before returning to Tierra Blanca. The SF30C is one of two that remain on the Ferrosur roster. Made from U36C's, the Santa Fe custom made the unique cabs and noses on 70 such locomotives. Several were eventually sold to FNM. However, only two remain in Mexico, both on Ferrosur's roster. Number 9530 is preumably still wearing the same number used while on the Santa Fe.

A northbound quimico (tank cars from the Coatzacoalcos refineries) at Granja.

At Tres Valles, Veracruz, I wanted to photograph the northbound quimico as it crested this short grade. But just as the train got close, my autofocus picked up on this guy walking across the tracks. Walking back to town from the sugarcane fields with his blade across his shoulder, I immediately thought he was more interesting than the train.

At Medias Aguas, a single Ferrosur engine rests on the south leg of the wye. This is the junction with the former FC Chiapas y Mayaba line to Salina Cruz and the Guatamala border. Although information is scarce, FIT is reportedly operating this line as far as Salina Cruz. However, there were several Ferrosur boxcars parked on the main track south of the wye with no indication of recent movement. The rails were rusted over, and dirt filled in the flangeways at all the crossings.

Ferrosur - Distrito Acultzingo

Beginning its run over Ferrosur's Linea SC, this empty grain train from Tehuacán, Puebla curves under Pico de Orizaba. The train entered the main track from Linea VB at Cañada Morelos, and is climbing the last grade before beginning the long descent to Orizaba.
For a map of Distrito Acultzingo and Lineas S/SC, click here:
Crossing Puente Vaqueria, a northbound train is climbing out of the Valle del Rio Blanco. The tracks in the foreground were passed over approximately 10 minutes earlier.

At Vaqueria siding, a southbound empty grain train is taking the siding to meet a northbound loaded train.

A southbound manifest train is passing over the north switch of Vaqueria siding.

At Vaqueria, a northbound grain train is slowly grinding up the grade. If you look closely, the tracks below are visible at three different level. A short following train can be seen on the loop above the town of Acultzingo.

The top of Pico de Orizaba is barely visible through the haze above this southbound train winding down the grade below Vaqueria.

In the afternoon, a southbound train is approaching the small village of Vaqueria.

As viewed from Vaqueria siding, three trains are visible in this picture; a grain train in the foreground, and two trains meeting at Huixtlitla in the valley below.

A northbound unit grain train is winding around the village of Vaqueria as it leaves Huixlitla siding.

The same train is seen at Huixlitla. Notice that the north end of the siding is currently being extended.

Looking down at Huixlitla, the tracks ahead can be seen above this train.

Above the town of Acultzingo, a Mexico to Veracruz intermodal train is exiting a tunnel as it winds down the grade.

Marigold flowers cover many farmers' fields in October and November. Being the flower used to commemorate dead relatives on Dia de los Muertos, orange covered plots scatter the valley all throughout Mexico. A week after the holiday, a stand of marigolds remain in this field above the town of Acultzingo as a southbound exits a tunnel.

The town of Acultzingo is a quiet village that lays off the old highway through the region. Many times a day, the chatter of roosters, mules, goats, cows and distant banda music is broken by the howling of dynamic brakes or the thunder of uphill trains in run 8. The sounds of one train can be heard for nearly 30 minutes as it winds through the hill above the town. The main street through the village was quiet until a local delivery truck pulled up to a store moments before a southbound train entered town.

A MOW crew prepares to begin working as a southbound enters the town of Acultzingo. The tracks above the loop at Acultzingo are visible above the train.

A guard checks off the passing trains at the Acultzingo station.

Below Acultzingo, the line passes through a chain of tunnels and another loop at Mezquite. This southbound unit cement train is exiting Tunnel Nuevó Leon and about to enter another before entering the loop. Notice the tracks below. Above the locomotives in the distance, a northbound intermodal train is passing through the loop at Acultzingo.

The same train on the lower portion of the Mezquite loop.

After reaching the summit of Distrito Acultzingo, northbound trains set-out their DPU's at Jesus de Nazareno. An extra crew will then gather all the units and run light back down the hill. Here, a light engine consist is passing through the loop as Mezquite as a local walks through with his burro.

A long cement train descents through the loop at Mezquite.

A northbound VIP train climbing through the valley between Tecamalucan and Mezquite.

At Tecamalucan, a southbound is exiting tunnel San Luis Potosi. If you haven't noticed, the tunnels here are named after the states of Mexico.

At Encinar, Distrito Acultzingo (Linea SC) diverges from the original Linea S. The original line climbed up through a different valley, encountering 4.7% grades and very sharp curves. Distrito Acultzingo was built in the 1980's to bypass this line. A former FC Mexicano/NdeM GE box cab is put on display here as a monument to the new line. The last rail of the old line is still poking out of the dirt.

Moments away from a crew change in Orizaba, the whistle is howling as this southbound quickly rolls through Ciudad Mendoza's centro at dusk.

A morning view of Orizaba Yard. While not at the bottom of the grade, this is the base for operations throughout Ferrosur's southern end.
For more information and pictures from Distrito Acultzingo, click here:

Ferrosur - South of Mexico City

Ferrosur's mainline from Mexico City climbs out of the Valle de Mexico eastward into the high plateaus and valleys of Tlaxcala and Puebla states. Along the foot of La Malinche, the line reaches its highest elevation at the Huamantla Summit - 8,235'. These high valleys are surrounded by many volcanic peaks of the Sierra Madre Orientals.
One of my first impressions from this years visit to Ferrosur Teritory was the amount of Ferromex AC44CW's that Ferrosur has reportedly purchased. They are still painted in Ferromex colors, but relettered for Ferrosur. I'd imagine that Ferrosur's AC44CW fleet has almost doubled with the addition of the Ferromex units. But aptly so, because their mainline was about the busiest that I have ever seen it over the time that I was there.
For a map of Linea S, click here:
The Mexico City radio stations are beginning to fade away as I drive behind Popocatépetl and Ixtaccíhuatl. Mexico City lies immediately on the other side of the two peaks. The Ferrosur mainline passes to the north of them as they climb out of the Valle de Mexico into the high plateaus and valleys of Tlaxcala and Puebla States.

Near Soltepec, a southbound manifest train moves along at track speed.

A southbound manifest train slowly climbs the steep grade approaching Muñoz siding. The train will take the siding here to meet an approaching northbound.

The same southbound train pulling into the siding at Muñoz.

The southbound manifest train had a surprise on the rear, a Ferrosur passenger car.

Here is a view of Huamantla Summit. Along the foot of La Malinche, this crest 8,235' crest is the highest point on Linea S between Mexico City and Veracruz. Notice the peak of Pico de Orizaba visible on the horizon to the right.

Between San Marcos and Jesus de Nazareno, Linea S encounters a short but steep hill. This southbound train was moving at near the track speed of 70 KPH, but was quickly down to a crawl as it started up the short grade.

Near the summit of this short grade, there is an abundance of pine trees. Here, a southbound vehicle train with a single locomotive is struggling up the grade, approaching the summit. The engineer momentarily turned off the headlight as he approached my location.

In the shadow of Pico de Orizaba, the same southbound vehicle train is beginning the short descent toward Jesus de Nazareno.

South of Jesus de Nazareno, Ferrosur trains enter Linea SC, also known as FNM's Distrito Acultzingo. This is the line relocation that take Ferrosur's mainline down the face of the Sierra Madre Orriental to Orizaba. This southbound vehicle train is beginning the trip across Linea SC at San Antonio Soledad. The west slope of Pico de Orizaba is visible to the right of the train.

Ferromex - Distrito Huichapán

Of course I found time to spend a couple of mornings watching trains on Ferromex's Distrito Huichipan between Queretaro and Mexico City. For more information on this mountainous mainline, follow this link;

Above Tequisquipan, a southbound vehicle train is down to a crawl as it climbs the steep grade toward the Quretaro-Hidalgo state line. Turning southward, this short canyon leads to one of two summits between Queretaro and Mexico City.

A southbound Metalero from Alzada, Colima to Puebla is approaching the tunnel at the summit of the grade, passing underneath the Queretaro-Hidalgo state line. Notice how the tracks dip through the tunnel, a result of a project to lower the tracks in order to allow clearance for double-stacked containers.

The same metalero exiting the tunnel.

At the bottom of the Huchipan Valley, a northbound manifest train crosses over Barranca de los Muertos.

Splitting a pair of intermediate signals, a southbound vehicle train is climbing the grade above Huichiapan. This is part of a 180 degree loop around the town of San Jose Atan.

Between Huichipan and Nopala, the tracks pass through a series of loops in order to gain elevation while climbing out of the Huichipan Valley. Here, the southbound metalero is seen negotiating the first curve.

The mid-train DPU is seen passing through the first curve.

Above the loops, a southbound manifest is slowly grinding up the grade toward Nopala. I was pleasantly surprised to find consists of Super 7's once again running into Mexico City. For a couple of years, AC44CW's and ES44AC's have been the regular locomotives in this region.

The southbound metalero approaching the highway crossing near Nopala.

At Escandon, the metalero is transitioning into dynamic braking as it begins the final descent into Valle de Mexico and Mexico city.

The train is quickly gaining speed as the DPU approaches in full dynamic braking.

Also at Escandon, the same vehicle train is rolling fast as it begins the long descent.