The former Ferrocarril del Pacifico (ex-SP de M) mainline from Nogales to Guadalajara today serves as part of Ferromex's Division Hermosillo and Guadalajara. The line today is a fairly slow secondary mainline. Manifest traffic is primarily delivered northward from Central Mexico to the terminals of Mazatlán, Sufragio and Empalme. While a few trains a day are interchanged with Union Pacific at Nogales (and run southward at night), most of the traffic is on the southern end.
This trip along the Pacifico in late 2009 provided few trains. A reflection of the economy in the US and Mexico at the time, traffic was much slower than in previous years.
The mainline is quiet near Magdalena, Sonora. Of all the Guadalupes in Mexico, this one on the distant cliff is my favorite.
Although long closed and boarded up, the depot at Corral still stands in the middle of the wye. This was the junction with the old line along the Rio Yaqui to Nacozari.
At the base of the Sierra Madre and Copper Canyon country, a man walks northward across the Rio Fuerte. This is the location where the FC Chihuahua al Pacifico once crossed the Pacifico mainline at grade. For a short distance to San Blas and Sufragio, both railroads built along the south shore of the Rio Fuerte to reach the flat coastal plane. At some point after 1987, when both railroads were merged into the nationalized NdeM system, the the diamond was removed and operations were consolidated onto the former Pacifico mainline.
At Sufragio, a yard job switches the north end of the yard while road train arrives from the south. While the former Pacifico mainline does not see any passenger trains, the depot is still used daily by the 4 passenger trains between Los Mochis and Chihuahua.
An SD70ACe and ES44AC lead a southbound manifest train through Bonita, Nayarit. At Mazatlán, most southbound trains receive new locomotives and mid-train distributed power for the steep climb inland to Tepic. The three unit mid-train DPU's are visible in the distance.
Deep in the Sierra Madre, a northbound train enters the Tepic Valley at La Curva. Once clearing this curve, the crew will accelerate accross the flat valley to the crew change at Tepic.
A consist of light engines is exiting Miravalles Canyon at La Curva, Nayarit.
Both the SP de Mexico and Pacifico depots are still standing at Compostela, Nayarit.
Inside the Pacifico depot at Compostela, the armstrong lever can still operate the mechanism for the trainorder semaphore. However, the semaphore blade has been removed since the end of trainorder operations.
Having just descended through the Barrancas, a northbound train runs along the original highway 15 near Ixtlán del Rio.
Once a busy division point on the Pacifico mainline, Barrancas is just a sleepy hillside village today. Maintenance crews still use the depot, as well as the crew dormitories that still stand in town. The howl of dynamic brakes temporarily disturbs the peace as this northbound manifest passes through the town midway down the steep grade.
The small church at Barrancas.
Nearing the summit of the Barrancas, a southbound manifest train slowly grinds across one of the many trestles that hold the tracks to the steep canyon walls.
A southbound train emerges from tunnel 27. In order to build through the Barrancas, SPdeM drilled 26 tunnels and used 11 steel trestles, the most impressive of which is the famous Salsipuedes Viaduct (which is also very inaccessible).
Having crested the summit of the Sierra Madre, this southbound manifest is coasting through the last speed restricted curve before reaching the high plateaus of Jalisco at La Quemada.
Passing the last agave fields, this northbound manifest is leaving the Tequila region of Jalisco as it approaches Magdalena.
A northbound train exits the long horseshoe curve as it descends into the town of Tequila.
The same southbound train leans into a curve at Tequila. The tracks are running along the perimeter of the Sauza property and distillery.
Entering the outskirts of Guadalajara, this southbound train passes the team track at Jocotán. At an elevation of 5,400', this is the highest point on the former Pacifico mainline. However, to reach the city of Guadalajara, the SPdeM and Pacifico used trackage rights over NdeM's Ameca Branch from Oredain to their station in Guadalajara.