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which includes a sign in large red let- ters. Here, as on the Freight House Bridge, you can work the iconic “West- ern Auto” sign to your east into the shot. You can walk to West Pennway from the parking garage or approach the location from the other end by park- ing on city streets north of the tracks. The high summer heat and an occa- sional honk or shout from passing mo- torists made this location the least re- laxing spot near KCUS, but the photos I got here were worth the trouble. Oth- ers may choose to stick with the Freight House Bridge, which also pro- vides excellent summer shots for west- bounds.


Train Volume


The quantity of rail activity around KCUS is hard to beat. Early May 2011 figures from the Kansas City Termi- nal Railway indicated that 90 trains on average passed over these busy rails every 24 hours, which is nearly four trains per hour. The KCT official I spoke with said that these numbers were down a little bit from the busiest times in 2007. In the past four years my experience has been that usually I saw four or five trains per hour during daylight, which is a lot of traffic! That being said, there were stretches where nothing came through for an hour, although at other times I would see nine trains in 60 minutes. On a Saturday (the busiest day of the week) in May 2011, I recorded 63 trains in 12 hours, while on a Monday (the slowest day of the week) a few weeks later, I counted 36 in the same time span, which averages out to about 100 trains in 24 hours. As the economy slowly expands in 2012, look for these totals to grow.


Train Diversity


The variety of rail activity at KCUS is as impressive as the volume. In early 2007, almost half of the movements were BNSF, a reflection of the fact that its Chicago-California Transcon traffic uses the triple track. As such you will see the railroad’s hottest Z-trains, as well as solid and often lengthy (some- times 10,000 feet or longer) stack trains, coal empties heading from the KCS back to Wyoming, manifest freights, occasional unit ethanol or oil tank trains, as well as a BNSF-to-KCS transfer of orange Schneider contain- ers, often pulled by four-axle Heritage I or “Yellowbonnet” engines.


LEFT: These restored passenger cars are part of the “K.C. Rail Experience” exhibit at Union Station. The inside portion of the exhibit fea- tures figures that talk, a locomotive simulator, as well as print and video displays.


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