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.

Linea HB - A Surprise Local

Starting off my 2011 trip through southeast Mexico, I began a day at the Ferrosur yard in Irolo Mexicano, Hidalgo hoping to catch the local that runs north to Linea H and Honey.  I've always wanted to photograph the train passing underneath the impressive Arcos del Padre Tembleque on that line.  However, when I arrived at the yard, I found a set of engines switching, building a train to depart southward.  As luck would have it, they were instead taking a long cut of loaded grain hoppers to the massive grain elevators on Linea HB near Calpulalpan.  This is the former narrow gauge Ferrocarril Interoce├ínico line to Puebla.

A Ferrosur Super 7 and a former AT&SF SF30C switch at the south end of Irolo Mexicano yard.  The track in the foreground is Linea HB, now a branchline to the KCSM connection and Calpulalpan.  The Ferrosur mainline to Veracruz (Linea S) can be seen to the right.  Notice the strange bridge-like structure that the tracks pass over in the foreground. 

As seen from a cemetery above Irolo, the local departs onto the branchline.  Ferrosur's Linea S mainline to the east coast  is visible above the train.  

Passing through a series of curves, the train is approaching  PK-HB34.

 A rancher is watching over his sheep on horseback while the train approaches San Lorenzo (Emilio Zapata is the current name of the town), where it will enter KCSM trackage rights for a short run on Linea V.  Notice that the KCSM line is visible in the distance.  Linea V is the former FC Interoceanico mainline between Mexico City and Veracruz via Oriental and Xalapa.

At the south end of San Lorenzo, the Super 7 and SF30-C curve off of KCSM trackage onto Linea HB again. 

Ferrosur 9521 is a former AT&SF SF30-C, still with it's unique nose shape and wearing its original Santa Fe number.  For many years, I have been hoping to find this engine.  It is one of only two such engines to be found in Mexico - both are on the Ferrosur roster.