Monday, April 19, 2010

Why is it so quiet around here?

While reading the latest updates on FL9 and Dogcaught I realized that I haven't seen or heard much freight traffic on the Union Pacific tracks along Monterey Highway recently. Just a couple months  ago over the course of an evening you could hear two or three trains blowing their horns for the crossing at Chynoweth. Now? Nothing.  There's Caltrain, with the last Gilroy train coming through at about 19:15 and then it appears there's barely anything else until morning. Well, OK, admittedly I'm not keeping track of trains while I'm sleeping, and with all the rain lately, the sky lights are still closed, so I might miss a few. Also we are far enough from the railroad that trains can't wake me up.

There used to be lots of empty auto rack unit trains going north, sometimes even sitting in the siding at Blossom Hill, loaded autoracks going south ... oh, duh, of course. NUMMI in Fremont closed a few weeks ago. NUMMI is/was a joint venture car factory half owned by GM and Toyota producing e.g. the Pontiac Vibe and Toyota Tacomas. Those cars had to get from the factory to the dealers in some efficient way, and that was commonly done by rail. Now that the factory is closed, no cars are produced, ergo no trains needed to haul the cars away.

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