Open Access Articles- Top Results for San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railway

San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railway

Not to be confused with Arizona Eastern Railway.
San Diego & Arizona Eastern Railway Company
Reporting mark SDAE
Locale California and Mexico
Dates of operation 1932–Present
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Headquarters San Diego, California

The San Diego & Arizona Eastern Railway Company (reporting mark SDAE) is a short-line American railroad originally founded in 1906 as the San Diego & Arizona Railway (SD&A) by sugar heir, developer, and entrepreneur John D. Spreckels. Dubbed "The Impossible Railroad" by many engineers of its day due to the immense logistical challenges involved, the line was established in part to provide San Diego with a direct rail link to the east by connecting with the Southern Pacific Railroad lines in El Centro, California. The SD&A's Script error: No such module "convert". route originates in San Diego, California and terminates in El Centro, California.

Currently, the SD&AE uses about Script error: No such module "convert". of the original SD&A system, broken into four segments:[1]

  1. The Blue Line runs south from San Diego, California to San Ysidro, California (Script error: No such module "convert". in length).
  2. The Desert Line runs northeast from the United States-Mexico Border at "Division" to Plaster City, California (Script error: No such module "convert". total length).
  3. The Orange Line runs east from San Diego, California to El Cajon, California (Script error: No such module "convert". total length).
  4. The Coronado Branch runs south from 12th. Street Junction south of San Diego to Imperial Beach, California (Script error: No such module "convert". in length; out of service since 2002)

The company took over the SD&A's operations in February 1933 after financial troubles led John Spreckels' descendants to sell their interests in the railroad to the Southern Pacific. Through the years natural disasters and vandalism rendered sections of the line unserviceable, and portions of the line have been sold to various interests.

File:Fallen Railroad Cars.jpg
Fallen Southern Pacific Railroad Cars in Carrizo Gorge, 2010.

In 1967 the railroad reported 46 million ton miles of revenue freight on its line.

In 1979 the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System bought the SD&AE railway from Southern Pacific to establish the San Diego Trolley, an inter county light rail passenger line. The San Diego Trolley carries over 35 million riders annually. The remaining track into Imperial County is used for freight and was part of the sale condition to MTS by SP.

In December 1985, the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum began operating passenger excursion trains out of their property in Campo, California over the SD&AE. The museum maintains equipment and corporate records of both the SD&A and SD&AE Railways.

As of January 2013, freight operations are conducted by the Pacific Imperial Railroad (PIRR) for the Desert Line and the San Diego and Imperial Valley Railroad (SDIY) for the Blue and Orange lines, including the San Ysidro and San Diego yards.

The San Diego Model Railroad Museum maintains representations of the SD&AE's operations in both HO scale (1:87) and N scale (1:160).


  • October 24, 1932: Financial problems force Spreckels' heirs to transfer their share of San Diego and Arizona (SD&A) ownership to the Southern Pacific Transportation Company for $2.8 million.
  • February 1, 1933: The San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railway is incorporated and assumes all operations of the SD&A.
  • 1934: Operation of the three gasoline-electric units is discontinued.
  • January 11, 1951: The SD&AE ends passenger service after years of declining patronage.
  • May 20, 1970: The Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) relinquishes its interest in the Script error: No such module "convert". Tijuana and Tecate Railway to one of Mexico's national railways, Ferrocarril Sonora Baja California, S.A. de C.V.
  • September 10, 1976: Hurricane Kathleen destroys major sections of track and bridges on the Desert Line.
  • 1978: The Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) denies SP’s request to abandon the railway.
  • August 20, 1979: San Diego's Metropolitan Transit Development Board (MTDB) purchases the SD&AE Railway Company in restored condition for $18.1 million (the SP retains ownership to the Plaster City to El Centro segment). The ICC approves operation of freight service by Kyle Railways under contract to MTDB. The MTDB reorganizes the SD&AE as a Nevada nonprofit corporation.
  • January 1980: Washouts caused by desert storms displace parts of the SD&AE Desert Line and S-BC Tijuana y Tecate lines, in both the US and Mexico.
  • January 1983: With the Mexico damage repaired, Kyle Railways begins rail shipments between San Diego and Plaster City.
  • June 18, 1983: Fire destroys two (2) bridges on the Desert Line.
  • March 18, 1984: The MTDB signs agreement with the Texas firm RailTex to provide freight service. The new service operates as the San Diego and Imperial Valley Railroad (SD&IV) with the reporting mark SDIV.
  • April 25, 1984: The ICC denies Kyle Railways’ request to abandon the railroad.
  • August 9, 1984: The ICC approves RailTex’s application to operate freight service.
  • October 15, 1984: RailTex's San Diego and Imperial Valley Railroad begins freight service from San Diego to El Cajon and San Diego to San Ysidro during nighttime hours when MTS' San Diego Trolley's LRV's are not in operation.
  • December 1, 1985: La Mesa based Pacific Southwest Railway Museum, Association, Inc. (PSRM) reincarnates the San Diego & Arizona Railway (SD&A) and begins vintage Script error: No such module "convert". roundtrip passenger excursion Golden State round-trips trips on the railway in Campo between Campo to Miller Creek and/or Division with steam and diesel vintage trains.
  • August 1, 1986: The SD&IV enters into a multi-year agreement with Mexico's Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes to set tariffs and provide freight service into Baja California.
  • July 1, 1987: Ferrocarril Sonora-Baja California, S.A. de C.V. and major Mexican Railroads merge into a single system, now Ferrocarriles Nacionales de Mexico (FNM)
  • October 10, 1987: PSRM is invited by the city of Tecate to run a special train from Campo to Tecate, for the city's fair. The event is a success, and 'Ticket to Tecate' excursion trains become regular once or twice a month.
  • July 14, 1989: SD&IV begins repairs on the Desert Line as a prelude to the start of freight service to Imperial County.
  • August 2, 1996: Southern Pacific (SP) is bought by Union Pacific (UP).
  • July 4, 1997: Lakeside based Carrizo Gorge Railway, Inc. (CZRY) is formed to operate and repair the Desert Line.
  • 2000: FNM is privatized and Tijuana-Tecate line's ownership is transferred to SCT, and is assigned to be administrated by the state of Baja California, 'Administradora de la Via Corta Tijuana-Tecate (ADMICARGA)' is created, which signs a new contract with SDIY.
  • January 4, 2000: RailTex is acquired by RailAmerica and the railroad's reporting mark is changed to SDIY.
  • July 1, 2001: ADMICARGA assigns Carrizo Gorge Railway, Inc. (CZRY) as the new railroad operator. After 16 years of operation in Mexico, RailTex's SD&IV retires. CZRY subcontracts Ferrocarriles Peninsulares del Noroeste, S.A. de C.V. (FPN) for their operation of the line, led by local businessman, German Reyes Gil.
  • May 15, 2004: With repairs to Tunnels 8 and 16 complete and destroyed bridges rebuilt including the Goat Canyon Trestle, the CZRY officially reopens freight service to Plaster City and the Union Pacific Railroad interchange. Major shipments of sand from the Imperial Valley are used to supply processed concrete to the San Diego construction markets, and other carloads into Mexico as well, such as lumber and grain.
  • April 20, 2005: Tierra Madre Consultants create Tierra Madre Railway which buys a caboose (TMRX 1) and leases it to Tren Turistico del Noroeste, S.A. de C.V., a proposed tourist train operating from Tijuana to Tecate and from Mexicali to Puerto Penasco.
  • October 10, 2008: The Carrizo Gorge Railway announced an embargo on the Desert Line between Campo and Plaster City, which took effect on October 17, 2008. The embargo involves a major rehabilitation project for the railway's support of the Government of Baja California's project, the Port of Ensenada's intermodal terminal.
  • December 25, 2009: Tunnel 3 (Lindero) is damaged by a fire, preventing further 'Ticket to Tecate' excursions of the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum since then.
  • January 1, 2012: Baja California Railroad, Inc. replaced the Carrizo Gorge Railway as the rail operator as a decision from ADMICARGA on the Tijuana-Tecate segment.
  • July 2012: Genesee & Wyoming agrees to purchase RailAmerica, owner of SDIY, for $1.39 billion.[2][3] Approval of the purchase was granted by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board on December 19, 2012.[4]
  • August 31, 2012: The Surface Transportation Board approves a Change in Operator Exemption, granting Operational control of the 70.01-mile Desert Subdivision to the Pacific Imperial Railroad, Inc (PIR). CZRY hands over its major operating control. PIR continues to operate jointly with the SD&IV railroad and plans to continue rehabilation on the Desert Line and operate as a Class III railroad.[5]
  • December 2012: The SD&AE entered into a 50-year operating lease with the Pacific Imperial Railroad company for freight trains. The lease requires that certain operating goals and repairs be completed in a specific time frame. The lease also calls for a $1,000,000 yearly payment for the rights to operate freight trains, or 15% gross revenues.[6] With this lease, the operating rights of CZRY over the SD&AE ended.
  • January 2013: Pacific Southwest Railway Museum begins making a new operating agreement with MTS.
  • March 3, 2013: PIR verifies a notice of exemption under 49 CFR 1150.31 to change operators of the Desert Line from the SDIY to PIR with the Surface Transportation Board.[7]
  • Late March 2013: PIR conducts an inspection of the Desert Line segment.
  • March 27, 2013: PIR submits paperwork to the STDB to establish trackage rights on Union Pacific trackage from Plaster City to Seeley.[8]
  • June 2014: Congressman Duncan D. Hunter (R-CA) begins an investigation on PIR over the railroad's legality and fraud.[9]

See also

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  1. MTS San Diego & Arizona Eastern Fact Sheet
  2. Associated Press (July 23, 2012). "Genesee & Wyoming to pay $1.39B for RailAmerica". STL Retrieved July 23, 2012. 
  3. "UPDATE 4-Genesee & Wyoming to buy RailAmerica for $1.4 billion". Reuters. July 23, 2012. Retrieved July 23, 2012. 
  4. Surface Transportation Board, Decison, Case No. 42772, December 19, 2012
  5. Department of Transportation Report
  6. Metropolitan Transit System Report
  7. MTS SD&AE Board Document
  8. MTS SD&AE Board Document
  9. Moran, Greg (2014-06-30). "Congress wants border railroad answers". U-T San Diego (MLIM). Retrieved 2014-07-15. 
  • Hanft, Robert M. (1984). San Diego & Arizona: The Impossible Railroad. Trans-Anglo Books, Glendale, CA. ISBN 0-87046-071-4.