Not long after the Burlington Northern & Santa Fe merger was consummated, a wag told me the "BNSF" reporting mark actually stood for "Big New Santa Fe." Personally, I've never liked that definition (although the classic Santa Fe was always my fave), concerned as I am with unintentionally insulting a fellow rail.
Abo Canyon was/is an engineering marvel. Back when I was on the SP and we negotiated for trackage rights in exchange for staying out and not opposing the BN/Santa Fe merger proceeding, we got the right to run our Chicago-LA/LB intermodal trains over the Chicago-Topeka portion of the Santa Fe Transcon. It was said then that the only way SP could be competitive with ATSF would be to run over the Transcon over its entire length. Sadly, west of Herrington, Kansas, we were on our own track, much of it the former Rock Island Golden West routel.
Great writing Garl, you show the best of a person committed with passion to an industry which should be proud of its role in the development and maintenance of the economic life of a nation. Your good counsel to the industry regarding interaction with the community at large is spot on. Some railroads could benefit from being more gracious about their role in maintaining even a modicum of passenger service via Amtrak.
The second track between Scholle and Sais was the final, and most expensive, phase of a project, started in the 1970s and under study since before 1960, to provide a second main track on the most restrictive single track segment of the Santa Fe transcontinental freight line. The approximately tewnty miles between Mountainair and Sais had the ruling east-bound grade on single track and relatively widely-spaced sidings. If an east-bound train had engine trouble, it became a bottleneck. Although the benefits of the project were obviously large, the high cost delayed its construction for many years.
Thanks Bill. This is a marvelous piece of railroad engineering, and you are correct about how long it had been wanted by ATSF. It took the kind of prosperity railroads are experiencing today to make the investment possible.