After a few years away from central Mexico, I finally had a chance in June of this year to get back on the lines radiating out of Mexico City.  For various reasons, I decided to head for KCSdeM's Linea V through the Sierra Madre between Oriental and Xalapa.  But along the way, a quick afternoon on Ferrosur's Linea S proved quite busy with the dispatcher almost constantly issuing track warrants.

 A southbound manifest is in the siding at Apan, Pue as a northbound (presumably a quimico from Coatzacoalcos, Ver) fades away down the mainline.  With a track warrant to depart after the arrival of the northbound, the brakeman then lines the south siding switch to get back on the move.

 At Calderon, Ferrosur's Linea S crosses KCSM's Linea V protected only by stop signs and instructions in the timetable. 

 A southbound climbing out of the steep sag into Muñoz.

Ferrosur's Linea S mainline

Of course, no trip to Mexico would be complete without spending some time along Ferrosur's mainline between Mexico City and Veracruz.  The mainline includes Linea SC, the 1980's line relocation known as Distrito Acultzingo, the mountainous grade descending to the Gulf-coastal plains.

On this trip, I finally stayed at the Hacienda Xala, a historic building that has been turned into a hotel.  While it is quite worn, if faces the Ferrosur mainline on a modest grade not far from Mexico City.

On this visit, it was also evident that Ferrosur is keeping their fleet of brand new ES44AC's busy, usually working on the point of mainline trains.  While a few of them were only weeks old, they already were wearing a coat of fresh soot.  

Passing through the small village of Xala, a northbound "Quimico" from Coatzacoalcos to Mexico City is climbing the steady grade out of Irolo.  Here in Xala is are a couple of classic old haciendas, one of which give a nice view of the passing trains.
Climbing into the Sierra Madre Orientals, a northbound manifest train is passing through the first of a series of horseshoe curves at Mezquite.  The right of way below is visible on the far side of the valley - including two tunnels.
Nearing the summit of the long grade, the same northbound train passes over "the free road" - the two-lane section of Highway 150.

New and old: At Orizaba, a ferrosur C30-7 prepares to depart southbound on a local move while a southbound vehicle train arrives from Puebla lead by a brand new ES44AC in the new Ferrosur paint scheme.

Over the last few years, Ferrosur has installed new switch-point indicators resembling block signals at many of the spring switches.  Above, the switch-point indicator at Fortin - the beginning of double track - is mounted on a cantilever for improved visibility on the narrow right of way.  This spring switch is fixed in the reverse position in order to keep train running through double track with the current of traffic.  This is a unique area in that the double track is dark territory.

In the distance, a C30-7 and Super 7 pull up to a stop at Fortin to wait for a northbound train.

In a quintessential Mexican scene, a burro is tied to graze while a northbound Ferrosur manifest train climbs  the steep grade in the distance.

A southbound manifest train descends the grade of Distrito Acultzingo as it approaches the town of Acultzingo.  The train will still pass though two horseshoe curves before reaching the town below and the trackage that is visible in the distance.  Notice the chain of tunnels on the valley wall in the distance.

Only weeks old at the time, FSRR 4017 leads a northbound intermodal train into the yard at Orizaba while a southbound prepares to depart in the distance. 

The same southbound seen above is slowly easing out of the yard tracks and onto the southbound main track at Orizaba.  This is actually double track territory here, with the southbound main track is designated as Linea SC while the northbound main track (on the right) is designated Linea S.

Below the active Pico de Orizaba - North America's second highest peak - a southbound manifest train to Coatzacoalcos is slowly coming to a stop at Fortin.  While not immediately visible, the grade here is very steep and the screaming of brake shoes has been audible for a while as the train slowly approached.