Capdiamont\’s Weblog


Novato Advance: We’re happy to see trains coming by
Wednesday 1 Apr 2009, 05:40
Filed under: Marin, NCRA, Northwestern Pacific Railroad, Novato, Railroad, SMART

Novato Advance: We’re happy to see trains coming by.

As reported in this week’s Advance, efforts to restore tracks for use by freight trains between American Canyon and Windsor are chugging right along.

For the first time since 2001, a train crossed over the Brazos lift bridge at the Napa River. A work train dropped off a pile of railroad ties in Schellville in the Sonoma Valley that will be used to fix the tracks by the end of April between Schellville and Ignacio.

A tie-installing machine (maybe a descendent of the one that beat John Henry?) will do the work of installing the 59,000 railroad ties needed for the entire stretch of railroad.


All told, restoring tracks between American Canyon and Windsor will  cost $35 million. But that’s a pittance compared to other transportation projects, such as the $800 million it’s estimated to cost to repair the “Narrows,” the congested stretch of Highway 101 between Novato and Petaluma.

Restoration of freight trains will be a boon for the environment by allowing trains to haul grain, lumber and other such goods more efficiently than by truck.

Work proceeds on freight tracks

The work train then dropped off railroad ties in Schellville in the Sonoma Valley. A tie-inserting machine will install the ties from Schellville to Ignacio, in Novato; that work is expected to be finished by the end of April.

“Witnessing a work train on this historic line, after such a long hiatus, was very exhilarating,” said Allan Hemphill, Chairman of the North Coast Railroad Authority, the state agency that’s restoring the tracks.

Ignacio is about the Hwy 101 and Hwy 37 Interchange. Which means they should be through Novato, possibility through Petaluma, or more, I’m guessing by the end of May. Ignacio is where the wye is for routing trains, and where SMART trains will run north-south, and NCRA freight trains will run from north to east.

Doesn’t look like many ties will be replaced around the Santa Rosa depot when I looked last weekend.

There is about 3,000 ties used in a mile. They are only replaced as needed. For those folks worried that they may not be replacing enough ties, and may cause a derailment by doing so, don’t worry for several reasons. Both NWP co and the track work company are professional companies, they will not do so. 2nd they have to pass an FRA inspection of the tracks. Rumor is FRA will have a sharp eye out for deficiencies.

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