Shortly after the merging of Burlington Northern and Santa Fe railroads, BNSF began looking for ways to streamline its operations in various parts of the country. One of the areas selected was a 50 mile stretch of track between the Midwestern cities of Great Lakes in the south, and St. Peter in the north.
In the past, Burlington Northern ran various classes of trains between the two cities and points beyond on this mostly single – track main line, serving several smaller towns in between. With higher profits coming from through service, management decided to look into forming a subsidiary short line that would do almost all switching of cars and serving of industries along these tracks instead. This current trackage would now become a secondary route with BNSF completing a new high speed main line. The new primary main would join North yard and South yard while bypassing the various smaller communities.
The short line was designated Midwest Rail and is jointly owned between BNSF and a group of local businessmen. The arrangement between the two railroads gives BNSF trains trackage rights and priority to those of Midwest Rail.
Midwest Rail now takes over almost entirely for BNSF in working industries in Millwood, West La Salle, Clover City, Brackens, and Somerset. Midwest Rail will maintain a small yard, locomotive and car service facility in West La Salle for MR or BNSF equipment, and Midwest Rail’s equipment can be serviced at BNSF shops in Great Lakes and St. Peter. Track maintenance will be by BNSF. Midwest Rail will operate under BNSF rules and will dispatch its own trains. All trains, whether BNSF or Midwest Rail, operating on these tracks will be run by Midwest Rail crews. MR interchanges with CNW and Wisconsin & Southern at West La Salle yard. In addition, Canadian Pacific was given trackage rights to run its trains over this line, in addition to CNW’s. CNW switches several small businesses in La Salle.
With most newer BNSF engines now being re-assigned to other regions, Midwest Rail quickly obtained ownership of several older-yet-well-maintained locomotives that have retained their original paint. Since these are the early days of Midwest Rail’s existence, none have yet been re-painted for MR.
Approximately 11 Midwest Rail, 6 BNSF, 2 CP, 1 CNW, & 1 W&S trains pass through West La Salle yard each day. In addition, a local company runs excursions with refurbished passenger equipment on weekends.
Control is EasyDCC, and freight car forwarding is with car cards and waybills. Emphasis is placed on smooth running equipment and all having fun. A high play value is desirable. I have many different styles and colors of equipment because it’s what I like, and I’ve tried to imagine a newly formed railroad or one in transition possibly having to adapt like this. Constructive criticism is welcome, nitpicking is frowned upon.