• Mexico - Then and Now

  • Discussion concerning Mexico's Class I railroad, and other Mexican rail operations. Official web-site: https://www.ferromex.com.mx/index-eng.jsp" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
    KSC Mexican operations should remain in the KCS forum.
Discussion concerning Mexico's Class I railroad, and other Mexican rail operations. Official web-site: https://www.ferromex.com.mx/index-eng.jsp" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
KSC Mexican operations should remain in the KCS forum.

Moderator: Jeff Smith

  by Gilbert B Norman
A review of Today's New York Times prompted the inspiration to originate this topic.

First, some material I posted to the predecessor site"way back when"

For ready reference, here is a "brief passage" from the material:

  • Seems hard to believe today that Mexico has no passenger service other than Los Mochis-Chihuahua and Guadajalara-Tequilla, but let us turn the clock back 25 years to March 1975 when I took a ride on the Monterry-Mexico (City) El Regiomontano.

    Even then, Monterry was a relatively prosperous industrial city (understnad it is quite the post-NAFTA boom town today). At that time, Mexican businessmen accepted that an overnight train with sleeping and dining service was how one got between a Northern Industrial city and the Capitol. The "fly/drive option" was simply not.
Today, upon reading the Times usual business travel colums, I note the following article relating to the proliferation of discount air travel in Mexico. The article is non-rail in nature and scope EXCEPT for these two 'brief passages":

  • For a decade, the Mexican government has had a virtual lock on domestic air travel through two state-owned airlines. Fares have been kept high enough that only the well-off could afford to fly, with the poor condemned to interminable bus rides.

    Still, at this early stage, investors are focused more on demand for flights than logistics. "The road infrastructure is very insufficient. There are no trains. The bus takes a very long time," said Frank Aguado, a spokesman for Banco Inbursa, which is investing $25 million in Vuela. "There's a need for air travel, but it is very expensive."
Should it be of interest, here is the full Pinata

Mexico essentially has no passenger trains ("there's talk' of a Mexico, DF cummuter rail system); this condition came about when first, the Government desired to get on the "privitazation bandwagon', and solicited US investment in the state-owned rail system. Two US carriers, the Kansas City Southern and Union Pacific, made investments in the syster. However, needless to say a precondition of that investment was simply "no passenger trains'. The existing trains were to be discontinued, and the givernment was not even to THINK of anything resembling 'Mextrak'.

And so went an established, well used, passenger train system in a country where any measurement of either affluence or mobility does not even 'hold a candle' to that "Norte"..
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Fri Aug 12, 2005 8:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.

  by AmtrakFan
Thanks for sharing Mr. Norman.
  by bill haithcoat
I remember, and Mr. Norman probably does as well, when the pre-Amtrak Texas Eagle had a through sleeper from St. Louis to Mexico City.

The train to which it was transferred at New Lardeo(Nuevo Laredo--spelling) was the Aztec Eagle. Now that is an oldie goldie name from way back when. It ran from Nuevo Laredo to Mexico City.

The pre-Amtrak Texas Eagle originated in St. Louis rather than Chicago. Though it usually had a through sleeper or two from Chicago to some of the Texas points.

  by Scoring Guy
I have a Feb 1949 "Official Guide of the Railways" which has the schedules of ALL the North American pass trains, plus airline and ship schedules ; 1504 pages":
Here's more detail about the daily St. Louis to Mexico City train: Joint effort of Missouri Pacific and National Railways of Mexico.
Departs St. Louis at 5:30pm on Day 1, and arrives in Mexico City at 8:30pm on Day 3.
Return trip departs 7:00am, and arrives 8:20am on Day 3.
Stops shown on the route, north to south: St. Louis, Poplar Bluff, Little Rock, Texarkana, Palestine, San Antonio, Laredo, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey, Saltillo, Vanegas, San Luis Potosi, Emp. Esconbedo, Queretaro, Mexico City. (802 miles Laredo to M.C.)
Thru Pullmans: 10-Sec, 2-Cpt, 1 DR & 8-sec, 5 Br Also coaches and Dining-Lounge car, all cars with A.C.
Apparently the switch from one RR to the other is done at San Antonio - "Connecting at San Antonio with the Texas Eagle of the Missouri Pacific". (just reporting what it says - don't kill the messenger)

Also shown are two daily transfer schedules with Southern Pacific trains at Tucson/Nogales and El Paso, both terminating in Mexico City - both with sleeping cars. Example: Los Angeles, depart 8:30pm Sunday, arrive Mexico City via Nogales and Mazatlan (on the "Southern Pacific of Mexico route), at 8:10 am Thursday. Ironically the trip via El Paso was quicker, Depart L.A. 12:45pm Monday, and arrive Mexico City via Chihuahua and Zacatecas at 12:55pm Thursday.

There are five pages of schedules for National Railways of Mexico, way too numerous to list here - includes just across the border service available by Eagle Pass, TX, and Brownsville, TX (w/sleeping cars).
Plus there's also a page of the Mexican Railway (electrified- 264 miles M.C. to Vera Cruz - 12 hr trip) , and 3/4 page of the Mexico North-Western Railway (with it's own route from El Paso to Mexico City and appears to be freight only), plus a half dozen smaller lines, including the El Paso Southern Railway Company which "owns the bridge across the Rio Grand River at El Paso and the terminal in El Paso and is operated as a (1/2 mile) switch line .
Non of there time tables or the map showed the Copper Canyon route - maybe it was not competed in 1949.

  by Scoring Guy
:wink: Allow me to tie up the loose ends of my previous entry on this topic:
I did what I should have done earlier, I paged over to the Missouri Pacific timetables for more details:
It’s not a thru train from St. Louis to Mexico, nor are there any thru cars, but rather these are two trains operating end to end.
The (southbound) # 21 section (does that number sound familiar Amtrak fans?) of the “Texas Eagle” (details about the T.E. train to follow) terminates at San Antonio, and any passengers on it, that are going on to Laredo or Mexico have to change trains. The train to/thru Mexico, appears to be a joint operation of the National Railway of Mexico, which supplies most of the equipment, and the Missouri Pacific which supplies the lounge-diner. No way to tell from the timetable as to whose mode of power and crew is used between San Antonio and the border. The two sleepers that were shown as “thru sleepers” on the NR of M timetable, are NOT thru sleepers in the usual sense, i.e. they weren’t on the “TE” train from St. Louis to San Antonio. This train, south from San Antonio, is referred to as the # 21 “Sunshine Special”, but it should not be confused with the M.P. train, the # 31 “Sunshine Special” (#32 northbound) which arrives in San Antonio about five hours later than the “Texas Eagle”, even though it departed St. Louis only five minutes after the “Texas Eagle”.
In the process of investigating the above question, I became intrigued by the complex operation of the “Texas Eagle”. I shall address this in terms of the South/West Bound run, and you can extrapolate the North/East Bound run.
Upon leaving St. Louis, the “Texas Eagle” is three sections: # 1 St. Louis to Dallas & Ft. Worth to El Paso, # 21 St. Louis to San Antonio, and # 21-25, St. Louis to Houston-Galveston. In addition there’s a feeder train from Memphis, whose thru cars are attached at Little Rock.
Out of St. Louis, this train would have been a railfan’s dream: It carried 10 sleeping cars, six of which are thru cars from eastern routes (MP-StL to Ft. Worth; MP-StL to Galveston; 2-MP- StL to San Antonio, plus, PRR – NYC to Ft. Worth; PRR – NYC to El Paso; B&O – Wash. To Ft. Worth; PRR – Wash. To Houston; PRR – NYC to Houston; and PRR – NYC to San Antonio) while the two additional sleeping cars from Memphis, added at Little Rock are bound for Houston and Ft. Worth. Besides a host of coaches (probably six) there’s a dining car going to Ft. Worth, and two diner-lounge cars destined for Houston and San Antonio. Apparently to eliminate that confusion, there’s no baggage service.
At Texarkana, the #1 section is separated from the two #21 sections, and its operation is taken over by the Texas Pacific RR. Both of these two parts continue to follow the same route, at slightly different schedules, until Longview, where the #1 section heads west on the T.P. mainline. Running slightly ahead of the #1 section west from Longview is the TP’s # 1“Louisiana Eagle, coming from New Orleans. They both arrive at Dallas, and the appropriate thru cars from each are combined for the short run to Ft. Worth. West from Ft. Worth, for the daylight run to El Paso, the #1 (as a joint MP & TP train) is only coaches except for the lone PPR thru sleeper. Although the “Texas Eagle” timetable shows a termination in Los Angeles, this actually requires an overnight stay in El Paso, and a boarding of the S.P. Argonaut in the morning – there’s no thru M.P. equipment to Los Angeles. However the T.P. offers a thru sleeper from Dallas to Los Angeles, departing on their train # 5, which leaves about eight hours after the “TE” arrives.
Meanwhile, the two #21 sections of the “Texas Eagle” continue south from Longview, and the # 21-25 section headed for Houston-Galveston, splits off at Palestine. That leaves the # 21 to continue south to San Antonio, where the #21 “Sunshine Special” train is waiting for its transfer passengers going to Mexico.
Keep in mind that this is February of 1949, and no doubt this route went through many variations before and after that time. However, this railway guide is the only document that this Wisconsinite has in his collection that references the Missouri Pacific.
And Amtrak thinks it has its hands full with its connections at San Antonio, or Spokane, etc. :(

  by Gilbert B Norman
The Chihuahua Pacific RR was completed during 1961.

I had the privilege to ride it Suffragio-Chihuahua during April 1975; it was indeed quite the ride.

http://www.trainweb.org/carl/CopperCany ... story.html
  by bill haithcoat
Like I say, Scoring Guy, this does bring back pleasant memories. I got out some of my old timetables last night. My sister used to live in Dallas(I lived in Chattanooga) so I had several Texas Eagle trips (Southern Railroad Chattanooga to Memphis, Mo Pac beyond). A beautiful long blue train! My first dome ride was on the Texas Eagle.

You are correct about San Antonio, rather than Nuevo Laredo, being the change over point. I was typing that from memory, at work(no timetables here!!)

The details of this massive operation did change a lot through the years, as you indicated it probably had.

There never was, so far as I know, a solid through train from St.Louis to Mexico City. But there was---at times---indeed a completely straight through sleeper. Some timetables before your 1949 show a New York to Mexico City Sleeper, via St. Louis and San Antone. But more in our lifetimes, the 1964-1967 MoPac timetables do indeed show a true through sleeper from St.Louis to Mexico City. (NOTE: my timetables are not complete for this railroad). And by that time it was a streamlined 10-6.

TRAINS Magazine once ran an article on just how involved all the switching in, switching out, separate sections, etc all were in the massive Texas Eagle (and, later Louisiana Eagle) complex . Certainly nothing like it today. That same article also detailed the C&EI and L&N Georgian and Humming Bird, entertwined operations.

Probably my favorite TE memory would be the layover in Little Rock waiting and watching for the two big sections to come down from St. Louis. I would have been in the Memphis to Ft. Worth coach. That Memphis section arrived LR well ahead of the two big trains from St. Louis. Watching those big long huge streaks of blue arrive was quite fascinating. Worth the price of the trip (well, my parents may not have thought so!). To make matters better, I usually traveled around the crowded Christmas season, so the train was even longer and more beautiful than usual. Somehow its extra equipment was of the same lightweight caliber as the regular.

What an operation!!

  by Scoring Guy
Thanks Mr. Haithcoat, Facinating stuff for me. Up here by La Crosse, WI, in the 50's the closest things to complex operations were a Milwaukee Road train that shuttled a through sleeper off of the Pioneer Limited to Austin, MN, and the symbiotic relationship between CN&W's 514/514 and the Dakota 400. All the rest of the Milwaukee and Burlington (CB&Q, GN & NP) trains were just passing through on their way between Chicago and St. Paul.

From the details about the sleepers in the '49 timetable, they appeared to be all traditional heavyweight configurations - I wonder if the train was blue then?

Mr. Norman, I am going to be taking the AOE through Coppper Canyon this fall, (plus Amtrak from and to home) watch for my trip report in November - I was booked in February and the trip before me derailed and mine was canceled, so I had wait 'til November.
  by bill haithcoat
Uh oh, Scoring Guy, here I am at the office again without any timetables. I am not sure what year the Texas Eagle's streamlined equipment was put into service. I think it was streamlined and diesel powered from day one, whatever day one was (late 40's) . It in large measure caused the Sunshine Special to become a secondary train.

If any of those sleepers were 10-6 or 14-4(roomettes and double bedrooms) they were streamlined. Also six sections, six roomettes and 4 double bedrooms was a streamlined configuation. I am not sure if the TE had any signficant number of heavyweght sleepers in it or not--maybe one or two now and then, but I think it was more or less solidly streamliend its entire career.

Wish I had my timetables here.

Most other configurations would have been heavy weight.

As to your quesiton, it was my observation (and fragile memory) that most if not all MoPac equipment was painted blue regardless of whether it was streamlined, heavyweight or modernized. I do know that MoPac, like Illionis Central, for example, had some beautiful examples of modernized equipment.(which could fool a certain number of railfans).

Also, there would sometimes be some Pennsy tuscan red in the TE's long distance sleepers. And in later years a shiny unpainted silver slumbercoach ran from Baltimore to San Antonio. But it was still predominantly a long streak of blue.

  by Scoring Guy
:wink: Sorry Mr. Haithcoat, I've been gone all weekend; I'll check on those pullman equipment listings and see you back here Wednesday; you're probably right.

  by Scoring Guy
There I was again, thinking with the wrong part of my body:
You're absolutly right on those sleeping cars on the MP Texas Eagle (circa '49), mostly 14-4's, with a couple 6-10's, and a 6-6-4. The lounge car (St. Louis to Fort Worth) also had 5 bedrooms - the lounge cars to San Antonio and Houston were also food service cars.
The two sleepers from San Antonio to Mexico City were listed as 10-1-2 and 8 sec, 5 br, which probably were heavyweights.
We've just about written a book here.
  by bill haithcoat
Right on all points. And, yes, the 5 DBR lounge on the TE was lightweight.

ALso, the 10-1-2 and 8-5 to Mexico were indeed heavyweight..

As mentioned already, in later years when there really was a completely through St.Lous to Mexico City sleeper it was lightweight.

I have spoken so much about blue--that is the predominant color, part of it was gray, guess you know that.

I have enjoyed our TE conversations. I have many pleasant memories of the TE, some of them more family related, not just rail-related. It also kind of represented travel further away from my own immediate part of the country, for one thing. Like the time I rode it Dallas to St. Louis,change to L&N from St. Louis to Chattanooga, rather than the usual route through Memphis, and the Southern Railroad.

During that day spent I in St. Louis I saw a lot of neat trains and railroads for the first time. I had known they all existed but it was a treat to see them in person.

  by Scoring Guy
I came across this bit of information by accident:
There were 38 14-4 streamlined sleepers delivered by Pullman to the Missouri Pacific in 1948 - the four bedrooms were closest to the vestibule. At some point the MP converted four of them to 10-6 configuration. In 1971 most of what were still in service were sold to the Railway of Mexico. After that, , , ?

  by David Benton
I took a sleeper from Neuvo Laredo ( well from the mexican town across the border ) to Mexico city around 1990 or so . I belive it was a stainless steel budd type car , but am not 100% sure . it was definetly originally form north of the border , as i remember it has english signs in it .