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South Orient: Orient Intermodal

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South Orient Railroad: Orient Intermodal

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In 1995, South Orient debuted a new rail service in central and west Texas: the transportation of trailers on intermodal cars. South Orient successfully solicited a contract to move refrigerated trailers loaded with perishable fruits and vegetables from Presidio to Cresson (southwest of Ft Worth), and began operating dedicated intermodal trains two or three times a week. The railroad also operated westbound intermodal trains consisting primarily of emtpy trailers heading back toward Mexico for re-loading.

Most of the perishable traffic originated near Los Mochis, on Mexico's west coast, and provided the railroad with up to 20 trailers per train between Presidio and Cresson. South Orient acquired a handful of five-pack intermodal spine cars, complete with its own "SO" reporting marks, which it used exclusively for this service. South Orient maintained intermodal lifts at both Presidio and Cresson; trailers unloaded at Cresson found their way to numerous locations in the Dallas-Ft Worth area and even out of state for perishables distribution.

Unfortunately, South Orient was never able to build a consistent traffic base for its intermodal trains. The perishable traffic was subject to variations in agricultural growing seasons, which meant that the railroad might move dozens of trailers one month, and only a few the next. The lack of a more substantial, consistent traffic base was a contributing factor in the discontinuation of these trains.

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

  Red Arroyo A westbound South Orient intermodal train crosses the Red Arroyo as it departs San Angelo on May 12, 1995.
  Middle Concho River South Orient and CenTex GP7s team up to lead a westbound intermodal train across the Middle Concho River west of San Angelo in May 1995.
  South Orient - Mertzon, Texas A westbound South Orient intermodal train approaches the small town of Mertzon, Texas in May 1995.
  South Orient 1002 South Orient car # 1002 illustrates the "SO" reporting marks which were applied to the railroad's spine cars operating on the Presidio - Cresson intermodal trains.
  South Orient non-interchange car South Orient's small fleet of intermodal cars were designated as "non-interchange", as illustrated by this photo of a stencil on SO car # 1002 in San Angelo in June 1995.
  South Orient - San Angelo, TX A westbound South Orient train passes the old KCM&O / Santa Fe freight depot in San Angelo, Texas in May 1995. Scarcely discernable at the rear of the train is a block of intermodal cars loaded with trailers.
  Orient Intermodal - San Angelo, TX Loaded intermodal cars on a westbound South Orient train roll past "Santa Fe Crossing", the restored KCM&O / Santa Fe freight depot in San Angelo, in May 1995.
  South Orient west of San Angelo South Orient 103 leads a westbound mixed freight / intermodal train west of San Angelo in May 1995.
  South Orient on Paisano Pass Two South Orient GP7s lead a westbound intermodal train on SP trackage over Paisano Pass west of Alpine, Texas on May 22, 1995.
  South Orient - Presidio intermodal lift This shot illustrates South Orient's intermodal lift in the small border town of Presidio. On May 21, 1995, five trailers have been loaded on a South Orient spine car; when a crew is available, the train will head east out of town toward Alpine.
  San Angelo, Texas South Orient 102 leads an eastbound train past San Angelo's restored KCM&O depot on April 25, 1995. Behind the train's head five cars are two five-pack spine cars loaded with trailers.
  South Orient at Texas Tank Car Works South Orient GP7 102 leads an eastbound intermodal train past Texas Tank Car Works in northeast San Angelo on April 25, 1995.
  San Angelo An eastbound intermodal train has arrived at San Angelo and awaits a new crew prior to departing town on April 25, 1995.

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