FIT Toward Guatemala

After asking several FIT employees in Oaxaca and getting several conflicting answers, I wanted to find out exactly how for south FIT was operating on Linea K toward the Guatemala border. As previously mentioned, the line was severely damaged during Hurricane Stan in 2005, prompting Gennessee & Wyoming to give up operations and their concessions on the line. Once FIT took over operations, little was known as to how far southward on the line they operated.


Continuing the drive southward into Chiapas state, it was clear that FIT had been doing work on the tracks and that trains were operating on the line.


At the south switch of San Ramon, the DTC signs still stand between the San Ramon and Arriaga blocks. Cleared flangeways and the condition of the tracks here made it evident that a train had recently operated through the area.



Upon arrival at the Arriaga yard, it was clear that FIT was still operating at least this far south. Quite a few grain hoppers and tank cars filled the small yard. I learned from the yard master that a train operated as far south as Arriaga at night, usually arriving around 9:00 PM. The cars in the yard were being transloaded to trucks for forwarding to Guatemala. Grains from northern Mexico and the US were shipped to Guatemala's as well as some petroleum products in tank cars. Although it looked as though the line was in service south of Arriaga, the yardmaster informed me that it was the furthest south that the line was in operation. Additionally, it was apparent that construction on the line was continuing at ties and other track material were being loaded onto trucks and driven southward. The FIT yardmaster guessed that the line to Guatemala would be reopened by next year (2010).

Above, an empty BNSF hopper car awaits the nocturnal pick up in the Arriaga yard.

Continuing southward from Arriaga, the rail was quite shiny indicating that the line was still in use - contrary to the news from the yardmaster. Upon arriving in the small town of Tonala, it was clear that the line was in service up to this point based on the cars being loaded and cleared track. The view of the small yard above shows the poor condition of the former passenger station and two coaches that were presumably used on the Chiapas passenger train.

Upon finding my way to the locomotive shops, I was surprised to find several FC Chiapas Mayab locomotives stored in pretty good shape. An employee at the shops showed me around, informing me that a few of the locomotives are still in operating condition, although unused. There was an interesting mix of geeps and GE U-boats (U23-7's).

A high-nosed U23-7 sits in the shops next to GP40 9224.

The bodies of several salvaged locomotive are still scattered around the shops complex. Here a former FNM U23-7 has had its prime mover removed.

Two former Union Pacific U23's sit in the yard.

At the north end of Tonala yard, local truckers were loading palm oil into tank cars. After speaking with them, I found that the palm oil was being shipped to Oleofinos SA de CV in Guadalajara. They said that they shipped around 8 loads out of Tonala each week, and that FIT arrived to switch their cars in the late evening. It was clear based in track conditions that the line was not in service any further south. That would make Tonala the furthest south point that the North American rail network extended to. And this customer would be the furthest south rail customer in North America.

A view of the right of way continuing south of Tonala shows that the line is clearly out of service. Thick tropical brush covers any sign of the rails.


Below is a report that I posted to Mexlist in October of 2009 providing more details of FIT operations in Oaxaca and Chiapas;


Currently, a daily manifest train is being operated between the Ferrosur Yard at Medias Aguas and Ixtepec, Oaxaca. The train generally leaves Medias Aguas around5-6 PM, passing through Matias Romero around 8 PM. It turns at Ixtepec,returning north through Matias Romero around 6 AM, arriving at Medias Aguas around 8 AM. This train uses Ferrosur locomotives, although I received differing answers if the crew was a FIT crew. I was able to photograph this train at the Matias Romero depot and spoke with the crew for a few minutes.


From Ixtepec, the line to the south is in service as far as Tonala, Chiapas. In Tonala, Oleofin is loading some sort of oil in tanks for delivery to Guadalajara. I spoke with the men loading the tanks with palm oil. South of Tonala, the line is covered with thick brush and I was able to see several smaller bridges were washed out. I was also allowed to walk through the shop sat Tonala, where several FCCM locomotives are stored (and several damagedlocomotives too).


At Arriaga, tank cars and grain hoppers are being trans-loaded to trucks for forwarding to Guatemala. According to a FIT employee in the depot, a small grain elevator there also receives about 5 hoppers per week. There is also some sort of Cemex facility on the north end of town that had several Cemex box cars.According to several workers, a train runs from Ixtepec to Arriaga, arriving around 8PM. Unfortunately, I did not stay to witness this train.


According to two workers in Tonala, FIT is also hauling windmill (turbine) parts from the port of Salina Cruz to an area on the coastal plain south of Itxtepec where large windmills are being built. From Highway 200, several of these huge windmills are visible, although I did not see any that appeared to be under construction. It could be that this business has passed.


As far as work on the line to Guatemala, there are huge stacks of wood and concrete ties at Arriaga. While I was there, several men were loading ties onto several semi-trailers throughout the day. in about an hour, three trucks left town on Highway 200 southbound. At Arriaga, there are many stacks of jointed rail along the yard, although no one seemed to be working in the area.


Also at Tonala, there were two Kinki passenger cars in the yard that were in really bad condition. I don't know if these cars were used for the passenger train that worked the line. But several windows were broken out and pieces of the air brake system were visibly missing.


Anonymous said...

enjoy your artical, thank you............................................................

Fenway_Nation said...

Interesting....those high-nose GEs looked familiar.

They were running out their last days on the NS and being purchased secondhand by the Georgia Central (now a Genesee & Wyoming property itself) when I was stationed in Georgia a little over 10 years ago.

Isn't there another G&W operation in Durango that also has some high-hood GEs?