Written by Gary Dolzall
Legendary, rugged, and packed with Union Pacific and BNSF action, famed Tehachapi Pass is coming soon to Train Simulator!
Tehachapi! The name and the place stand among the pantheon of American railroading. And now the legendary and rugged rail line shared by Union Pacific and BNSF will soon come to Train Simulator with Dovetail Games’ Tehachapi Pass route!
Spun over and through the daunting Tehachapi Mountains of California, the Tehachapi Pass route was constructed by the Southern Pacific, opened in 1876, and connects the arid Mojave Desert with California’s fertile San Joaquin Valley. Today, the route is Union Pacific’s bustling Mojave Subdivision and is a heavy tonnage artery for both Union Pacific and BNSF, the latter of which utilizes the line via trackage rights.
The visionary who set down Southern Pacific’s crossing of the Tehachapi Mountains was the railroad’s civil engineer William Hood. His task was utterly daunting – from Bakersfield and the San Joaquin Valley eastward, the line would need gain more than 2,700 feet in elevation in little more than twenty “as the crow flies” miles to reach the Tehachapi summit, then drop more than 1,200 feet in less than twenty miles to reach Mojave. But Hood and the SP were up to the challenge, and by laying out a route that clung to the Tehachapi’s mountain’s shelves, employed numerous tunnels, called upon horseshoe curves at Bealville and Caliente, and set down a full loop – famed Tehachapi Loop – Hood was able to construct the line with tough but reasonable 2.2 percent grades.
For the Southern Pacific, the Tehachapi Pass line quickly became a critical and vital part of its route system, linking the Los Angeles area with both the San Joaquin Valley and California’s Bay Area. In the late 1800s, western rail giant Santa Fe (AT&SF) – looking to extend its transcontinental reach to the Bay Area – threatened to build its own competitive line across the Tehachapi range, but SP and AT&SF instead in 1899 agreed to a trackage rights agreement which made Tehachapi a bustling line with both Southern Pacific and Santa Fe trains. Indeed, Tehachapi was host not only to endless tonnage, but passenger trains such as SP’s San Joaquin Daylight and Santa Fe’s incomparable San Francisco Chief. Through modern mergers (SP was merged into Union Pacific and Santa Fe became part of BNSF in 1996), the joint use of Tehachapi Pass by the two super railroads has remained in place.
The Tehachapi Pass route for Train Simulator re-creates this historic line in contemporary form from Mojave to Bakersfield, California, a distance of 68 route miles. Anchored by busy yard facilities at both Mojave and Bakersfield (the latter of which hosts large yards of both Union Pacific and BNSF), the route takes you to all of Tehachapi’s numerous renowned locations –the Caliente horseshoe, Bealville, Cliff, Walong siding, Cable, Summit, and, of course, legendary Tehachapi Loop, where the line uses a full loop and tunnel to cross over itself in truly dramatic fashion. The sight of a long freight looping over itself at Tehachapi Loop is indeed one of the great sights of railroading anywhere in the world!
Not surprisingly, Tehachapi has always been prowled by big motive power (in steam days, it was a regular haunt of Southern Pacific’s Cab-Forward 4-8-8-2s and Santa Fe’s burly 2-10-2s). Today, with a steady flow of intermodal, unit train, and manifest freight traffic tackling its twisting grades of 2.2 percent, Tehachapi hosts potent third-generation diesels, and the upcoming Train Simulator route will feature Union Pacific’s General Electric AC4400CW and ES44AC diesels along with UP Electro-Motive SD70ACe and GP40-2 diesels, plus the BNSF GE ES44DC. And the route will also include a variety of contemporary intermodal and freight rolling stock.
Note: The Tehachapi Pass route is available worldwide. Due to licensing restrictions, BNSF markings will appear only on content distributed to U. S. customers.
The upcoming Train Simulator Tehachapi Pass route will include six realistic career scenarios, two railfan scenarios, and will be quick-drive compatible, so you’ll be ready to climb aboard and immediately test your skills as an engineer on one of America’s most challenging and legendary rail lines. Stay tuned here at Dovetail Live for more information this this legendary route, its operations, and equipment! – Gary Dolzall
Spun over and through the daunting Tehachapi Mountains of California, the legendary Tehachapi Pass route is coming soon to Train Simulator! Constructed by the Southern Pacific, the route is today Union Pacific’s Mojave Subdivision and hosts heavy UP and BNSF tonnage (the latter via trackage rights). Near Cliff, Union Pacific General Electric AC4400CW 7103 is leading the way down the steep northern slope of Tehachapi Pass. Screenshots by Gary Dolzall.
The upcoming Tehachapi Pass route for Train Simulator re-creates this historic line in contemporary form from Mojave to Bakersfield, California, a distance of 68 route miles. At Mojave Yard, BNSF and Union Pacific power awaits call while a trio of Union Pacific GEs hustle a westbound stack train. Note: screenshots depict continue while in development.
Making the climb out of the Mojave Desert, a westbound manifest grinds below arid hills near Cameron, California. From Mojave to the route’s summit, the line climbs 1,200 feet. The Tehachapi Pass route is a mix of double- and single-track and operating speeds range from mile-a-minute running to unforgiving 20-mph challenges on steep grades.
Monolith, California, located 15 miles west of Mojave, is home to a massive cement plant served by the Union Pacific. A duo of UP GEs has a string of covered hoppers in tow for delivery to the plant (above). Five miles further west, UP AC4400CWs are westbound at Tehachapi, California, and the summit of the line (below).
While the east slope from Mojave to Tehachapi is tough and daunting, it is the western slope, with an elevation change of 2,700-feet from the summit to the San Joaquin Valley, that required all the skills of engineer William Hood and the Southern Pacific to tame. At Walong Siding (above), a UP manifest is about to make its way downgrade around magnificent Tehachapi Loop. On William Hood’s engineering masterpiece, an eastbound BNSF tank train is crossing over itself (below). On both slopes of Tehachapi, the grade is typically 2.2 percent.
The western slope of Tehachapi Pass is one of railroading’s engineering – and scenic – marvels of the world. On the upcoming Tehachapi Pass route for Train Simulator, a BNSF eastbound is climbing near Cliff (above), while a Union Pacific manifest curls downgrade through the Bealville horseshoe (below).
With famed Caliente horseshoe in the distance, a BNSF eastbound train powered by GE ES44DCs is climbing the ridges of the Tehachapi western slope. The upcoming Tehachapi Pass route for Train Simulator will include Union Pacific’s General Electric AC4400CW and ES44AC diesels along with UP Electro-Motive SD70ACe and GP40-2 diesels, plus the BNSF GE ES44DC.
Western terminus of the upcoming Tehachapi Pass route for Train Simulator is expansive Bakersfield, California, which will include Union Pacific and BNSF yard facilities, the town’s Amtrak station, and bustling Kern Junction, connecting point between UP’s Fresno and BNSF’s Bakersfield Subdivision lines to the north. A Kern Junction, a UP EMD GP40-2 takes a ride on the turntable as a UP eastbound freight rolls past (above). Nearly, a BNSF intermodal passes the Bakersfield passenger station (below).
Get ready to climb aboard and test your skills as an engineer on one of America’s most challenging and legendary rail lines – with the upcoming Tehachapi Pass route for Train Simulator!