|TXU Monticello Line|
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Near the town of Mt. Pleasant, in northeast Texas, Texas Utilities (TXU) operates several
miles of electrified railroad to serve its Monticello generating plant with locally mined
lignite. TXU also receives trainloads Texas lignite (mined at nearby Thermo, near Sulphur
Springs) from its connection with KCS south of the Monticello plant, and trainloads of powder
river coal from a connection with UP’s Commerce Sub north of Monticello at Winfield.
Monticello is located just a couple hours driving time from the D-FW area, and affords visitors the opportunity to witness, from public property, unique E25B electric locomotives hauling heavy trains, as well as occasional UP trains travelling to and from the plant, and occasional ash trains powered by one of TXU’s U23Bs. Although the overall Monticello operation is smaller than TXU’s operation at nearby Martin Lake, it is nonetheless an interesting railroad operation that is well worth a visit.
TXU’s Monticello plant burned lignite exclusively until 1996, when the plant began receiving coal trains from the SP at Winfield. SP successor UP retained the contract, and continues to deliver train loads of powder river coal to TXU's Monticello plant. UP power runs through to the power plant on these trains, and remains with the trains while on TXU property. Monticello’s other connection is with the KCS south of Monticello, about 3 miles east of Leesburg. KCS delivers train loads of locally mined lignite (mined at Thermo, west of Monticello near Sulphur Springs) to TXU here, but the power does not run through; TXU locomotives haul the trains to the Monticello plant.
TXU operates two lignite loaders on the Monticello line, one at North Winfield, located north of Interstate 30 northeast of the town of Winfield, and one at South Winfield, south of I-30. Due to the fact that the locomotives will not fit under the lignite loading towers (and there is presumably no catenary strung through them anyway), lignite trains operate in a push-pull setup, with a locomotive at one end of the train and a control car (resembling a long caboose) at the other end.
TXU’s Monticello line is located entirely within TXU property, with one public grade crossing at an un-named county road near the South Winfield mine, south of Winfield. Additionally, there are numerous locations where the tracks pass over area highways on bridges (including a bridge over interstate 30 at Winfield), and additional spots where county roads pass over the tracks on bridges. Prior to visiting the area for the first time, I recommend obtaining a good backroads map, such as "Roads of Texas" (Shearer Publishing) , or visiting one of the map websites such as Mapquest.com, to find some of the accessible locations. You will have to zoom in quite a bit on the Mapquest pages to get it to show the tracks. First-time visitors to Monticello should allow themselves some extra time to get their bearings and find some suitable locations. I have no official word from TXU concerning their operations at Monticello, but the "un"official word is that Monticello, like Martin Lake, operates continuously (24 hours a day) except when the tracks must be shut down for maintenance . Keep in mind that there may be periods of several hours between trains.
One of the more accessible areas is the area around the South Winfield mine; there is a public grade crossing here, and you will catch all TXU trains that operate between the power plant and the mines to the north. If a UP train should happen to show up, you’ll catch it too. Another good location is on the east side of Lake Monticello, where the tracks cross Texas State highway 127 on an overpass.
Please click on any of the following pictures to see a larger image:
| ||TXU E25B 2305 shoves an empty lignite train away from the Monticello power plant toward the lignite mines in July 1997.|
| ||On November 2, 1999, TXU E25B 2304 shoves an empty lignite train into the South Winfield loading facility.|
To check out my page on TXU’s Martin Lake line,
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