• NWS Seal Beach rail operations closed?

  • A general discussion about shortlines, industrials, and military railroads
A general discussion about shortlines, industrials, and military railroads

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by RailVet
Some Navy rail employees at an East Coast base informed me last week that rail operations at NWS Seal Beach, a short distance southeast of Los Angeles, have ended. Can anyone in the LA metro area confirm this information? Earlier this year a transportation official at the base told me a study was underway to see if it would be more economical to convert the operation to trucks, but it would be years before any changes were made, regardless of the study's findings. Perhaps it wasn't so long after all. The base railway operated two GE 80-ton switchers and, although it has a connection to a commercial railway on the east side of the base, it rarely, if ever, interchanged cars. Rail operations consisted of moving cargo within the confines of the base.
  by RailVet
Visiting NWS Seal Beach on January 30, I found the two GE 80-tons inside the locked-up enginehouse, which has often been wide open during previous visits. Rust is beginning to accumulate on the rails in front of the enginehouse, indicating no recent rail movements. Apparently the earlier word that rail operations have closed here are accurate.

The long-used line east to the interchange is intact but covered over with dirt and weeds in some locations.
  by erielackawanna
Was there today and saw that they had a display train out (image below). I've heard there's not much going on though.


I really hope this operation does have more life to it and this is not the last shot I get to take of it.
  by brett tallman
Very sorry to hear that Seal Beach shut down rail operations. I worked there on the railroad from 1980 to 1981, then began my military career. I work for Amtrak now, volunteer at several railroad museums and own a few military locomotives, including a 1942 GE 80-tonner I keep at the Alturas, California railroad museum. I was 18 years old in 1980, and I would say that my civil-service job at Seal Beach holds very high on my list of good times in life...I remember it like it was yesterday.
Thank you for the update, Brett Tallman.
  by RailVet
Brett: Just this week I received word that Seal Beach's rail operation may not be entirely dead, and due to problems with intra-base truck movements, it still sees occasional use. I hope someone in the neighborhood of SB will pipe up and let us know what's currently taking place there.
  by erielackawanna
Not the update you want at all - just a compltely third hand observation - when they had an open house the first week in August this year (Aug 3 and 4, 2009), they did not bring out a display train of locomotive and box cars like they usually do, to have lined up where people walk up the ramp to see the ship.

There was also a pile of some sort of storage racks on the track coming into the dock area from the bunkers... but, those racks appeared to be something that could be easily moved out of the way.
  by RailVet
I came across this article dated June 6, 2008. Couldn't find a follow-up article, but it appears the NWS Seal Beach base railway was nearing the end of the line.

Weapons station may stop using historic railway
June 6th, 2008

The Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station is experimenting with transporting munitions entirely by truck rather than also using the railway that’s been in service since the base opened during the latter part of World War II.

“It may be more economical, and more environmentally friendly, to just use trucks,” says Gregg Smith, the base spokesman. “The locomotives put out a lot of emissions. We’re doing a study that should be finished in July.”

The weapons station has 56 miles of rail line that lead from weapons magazines to the main loading dock in Anaheim Bay. The base has long used a pair of General Electric locomotives to transport munitions on dozens of rail cars, plus a mix of boxcars and flatbeds, says Smith, who served on the USS Missouri. (For you train geeks, the locomotives are powered by 250 hp Cummins diesel engines.)

The rail system has carried munitions that have been used in every conflict from World War II and the Korean War to Vietnam, the Gulf War and the war in Iraq. Seal Beach provided everything from small arms to Tomahawk cruise missiles to more than 20 ships that participated in the bombing of Baghdad during the early days of the most war in Iraq.

http://sciencedude.freedomblogging.com/ ... c-railway/
  by RailVet
I visited NWS Seal Beach on January 24 and found the railway to be very dormant. The two GE 80-tons are inside the locked-up enginehouse and there's rust on the rails in front of it, indicating no movement. The base railway system seems to be mostly intact, although Google Earth shows the big rail yard in the lower center of the restricted area has disappeared.
  by erielackawanna
I wrote the Public Information officer there a few months back. He suggested that the next time they have an open house with a navy ship, maybe (no promises, just maybe if he can make it work), he would get a train put on display too. Fingers are crossed.
  by RailVet
It looks like the answer to the original question is "Yes."


End of Rail System at Seal Beach to Save Money, Increase Environmental Benefits
Story Number: NNS100205-13
Release Date: 2/5/2010 1:16:00 PM
By Lori Bero, Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach Public Affairs

SEAL BEACH, Calif. (NNS) -- The Naval Weapons Station (NWS) Seal Beach locomotive took one of its last drives through the base Jan. 29 as a part of a decision which will reduce the facilities transportation costs, increase efficiency and provide several environmental benefits.

"Things come and things go," said Navy Munitions Command, CONUS West Division (NMCCWD), Det. Seal Beach Locomotive Operator and Materials Handler Raymond Chavez. "The rail system has been a part of history here at the weapons station. It is sad to see it leave, but the farewell has been a good one."

The decision to suspend locomotive operations was made in 2008, shifting the transportation of ordnance on the base from a rail and truck operation to an all-truck operation.

A study and year-long trial determined an all tractor/trailer operation would save $368,000 per year, and provide a more efficient and environmentally-friendly method of moving ordnance than the rail system with no negative effect on supporting the fleet.

Chavez is the last former locomotive engineer at Seal Beach, and after 15 years of operating the trains, he transitioned to other roles at the facility including forklift installer and safety coordinator for ordnance.

According to NMCCWD Ordnance Process Manager Scott Spohr, the Seal Beach train system was aging, and would not have been cost-effective to continue operating.

"The locomotives and railcars now being dismantled have exceeded two-times their service life and would have required over $12 million in recapitalization if the rail were to continue to operate," he said.

Additionally, income from recycling the rail line and locomotives has the potential to help offset the start-up costs from the switch, as well as provide a significant environmental impact, according to Spohr.

"By eliminating locomotives, the Seal Beach Installation has reduced air emissions, removed the environmental liability of the locomotive roundhouse, and removed creosote railroad ties near sensitive habitat," he said.

Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach Air Quality Program Manager Paul Nguyen said without using the locomotives benefits the facility in several ways.

"The trucks improve our air emissions a great deal," he said. "The trucks are newer and emission is lower, while the locomotives use more fuel to just carry their own weight and warm up."

Once the all-truck system was put into place, additional benefits became apparent, said Rich Deniz, Det. Seal Beach ordnance operations head.

"Ammunition is placed into stock faster than previously accomplished with the train. Onloads are more efficient as well," he said.

For more news from Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/sealbeach/
  by RailVet
I looked at this one today in Google Earth and, while much of the track on base is still intact, a great deal of it has been pulled up. Also, the track from the rail gate on the northeastern side of the base to the commercial interchange at Hoover Street and Hazard Avenue has been pulled up and grade crossing repaved, so there's no longer a connection to the national rail network. Looks like this one's a goner.
  by FLRailFan1
Seal Beach is gone? I wonder what they'll do with the locos!