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South Orient: CenTex Rail Link

South Orient logo The Southwest Railfan CTEX 4447

South Orient Railroad - CenTex Rail Link

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Established as an affiliate to the South Orient Railroad, the CenTex Rail Link was formed in 1994 when the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway sold off its Dublin Subdivision in central Texas (consisting of 134 miles of track stretching from Ricker, near Brownwood, to Belt Jct. in Fort Worth). The CenTex connection provided affiliate South Orient with an opportunity to tap the vast traffic volume of north Texas in the D-FW area, allowing it to connect directly with BN, UP and SP. A newly negotiated trackage rights agreement with Santa Fe allowed the South Orient to travel over ATSF's Lampasas Sub between San Angelo Jct. and Ricker to connect with its two segments of trackage.

CenTex began its operations by powering its trains with several ex-CNW GP7s acquired from Omnitrax. None of the units were repainted or renumbered; all were crudely stenciled with the road's reporting marks, "CTEX", on the sides of the cabs under the windows. CenTex and South Orient power circulated freely among the trackage of both roads, until the arrival of new South Orient diesels in 1995 and 1996 allowed the company to return the CTEX units.

With the departure of the CTEX units, CenTex lost much of its visibility as a corporate entity, and the CenTex name eventually faded into obscurity under the South Orient name.

South Orient continued to operate the Dublin Subdivision until early 1999, when it sold this portion of its trackage to the Ft Worth & Western. Thus, the Dublin Subdivision, which enjoyed relative prosperity under the Santa Fe through the 1980s and early 1990s, entered the new millenium having been operated by three different shortline operators over the past six years. Hopefully, the amount of on-line grain business in towns like Commanche and Dublin, as well as the fact that the line is a convenient bridge between the D-FW Metroplex and BNSF's Lampasas Sub at Brownwood, will allow the line to remain in service under its new operator.

Please click on any of the following pictures to see a larger image:

  Centex 4447 CenTex 4447 and 4280 were two of the first CenTex locomotives to show up in San Angelo, arriving on a South Orient train in September 1994.
  Centex logo CenTex's official emblem, the white spray-painted "CTEX" scrawl logo, was prominently displayed on the cab sides of all of its ex-CNW locomotives. I wonder if MicroScale makes a decal of this one?
  Centex 4459 Centex GP7 4459 leads a westbound South Orient train over Red Creek, east of San Angelo on July 18, 1994.
  Miles, Texas Two CenTex GP7s lead a westbound train through Miles, Texas on July 18, 1994.
  Centex 4463 west - Mertzon, TX 30 miles west of San Angelo, CTEX 4463 displays its blackened CNW logo as it leads a westbound train through the small town of Mertzon, Texas on July 19, 1994.
  Mertzon, Texas A trio of CenTex geeps leads a westbound train approaching Mertzon, Texas on August 1, 1994.
  Dublin, Texas Centex power is nowhere to be seen as two South Orient geeps lead an eastbound train on the ex-ATSF Dublin Subdivision through Dublin, Texas, as a third unit switches cars on a spur. April 20, 1995.

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