USA: BNSF Railway is on course to complete the triple-tracking of its busy Cajon Pass line in southern California by October. The company has invested more than $90m to increase capacity on a 26 km segment of its Cajon Subdivision.

This part of BNSF’s Transcon main line ?between Los Angeles and Chicago is used by up to 105 trains per day, which continued to run while construction work was underway. With grades of up to 3%, the pass lies about 120 km east of Los Angeles.

After three years obtaining planning approvals, BNSF began construction in mid-2007 (RG 2.08 p105). The work was broken into three segments of about 8 km each. The last proved the most difficult, requiring considerable earthmoving, new bridges and widening of the right-of-way.

BNSF is now addressing another of the ?remaining bottlenecks on the Transcon route, at Abo Canyon in New Mexico. Construction is expected to begin here later this year.

  • Towed by a tractor with special lifting hooks, BNSF’s mechanical Track Laying Machine places the concrete sleepers with fasteners already in place, and positions continuously-welded rails previously laid out along the formation. Another track gang follows to attach the rail fasteners.