• South Orient Railroad (aka Texas Pacifico Transportation)

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

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by Jeff Smith
Saw this interesting article in the WSJ today: wsj.com Subscr. may be Req'd
Boom Times for a Tiny Texas Town

BARNHART, Texas—It was a railroad that brought this tiny town into existence in 1910, when it was named after the stationmaster, William F. Barnhart. Today that same railroad is putting the town on the map again—as an unlikely hub of the new American oil boom.


The turn in fortunes has been especially dramatic for the 113-year-old South Orient Railroad, which passes through Barnhart on its nearly 400-mile trek from Presidio on the Mexican border to a junction north of San Angelo, Texas.

Traffic on the railroad, which had been on the verge of extinction several times in the past century, has tripled in the past five years, to more than 10,000 rail cars a year, and is on pace to double in 2013. That is because the millions of pounds of fracking sand coming into this region—and a fairly large portion of the crude oil exiting it—are now riding its rails.


The South Orient is unusual for its ownership—it belongs to the state of Texas—and its history. The first West Texas oil boom began with a gusher a couple hundred feet from the tracks. The railroad was nearly erased from maps in the 1990s, when its operator at the time filed paperwork with the federal government to sell the metal rails for scrap. The company argued there was too little traffic to invest in needed upgrades, including replacing steel rails on a 150-mile stretch that dated from the 1910s.
  by Gilbert B Norman
What the Journal's reporter overlooked to note is that the South Orient was a one time Santa Fe line; part of the Panhandle & Santa Fe Ry.

All told, this report fortifies that shale oil related business is here to stay. I will be the first to acknowledge that I have been skeptical to the extent the industry would retain the business once pipelines were built to serve these new oil producing regions (geologists knew these reserves were there for a long time; I recall mention of such in my college Geology classes; but back in my day with $5bbl and $.359ga gas it simply was not economical to extract such. @ $95bbl and $4.699ga it is). An additional Brief Passage from the noted article tends to dismiss any such notion:

  • Fracking has reinvigorated U.S. oil production, raising output in several parts of the country so quickly the pipeline infrastructure normally used to carry oil is inadequate. Railroads have stepped in, becoming an important link in the crude transportation business in places such as North Dakota and West Texas.
Even if coal traffic is to continue to diminish (sooner or later the Chinese government will "decree" that "coal is bad" and there goes that export market), petroleum products will continue to be an important traffic source in this relatively new century.
  by seacoast
I was wondering if anyone could update me on the latest news on the South Orient? When I look at this map,
there is an odd gap around Alpine... is this Union-Pacific owned, with some kind of shared traffic agreement?

http://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot-in ... nt/map.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
  by Backshophoss
From Alpine Jct to Paisano Jct,the 11 miles of UP owned,CTC trackage,TPI has trackage rights, to reach their border crossing bridge at
Presidio Tx at the Rio Grande River,believe the trackage rights date back to ATSF control of the South Orient.