Navajo Mine Railroad

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Navajo Mine Railroad
Navajo Mine Railroad.png
Navajo Mine Railroad, mining status as of 2016
TypeFreight railroad for sub-bituminous coal
LocaleSan Juan County, New Mexico
TerminiSouth Terminals:
coal load outs in the Navajo Mine
North Terminal:
Four Corners Generating Station
Servicespush-pull operation between mine and power plant, 12 trains per day
Operator(s)BHP Billiton
Charactersingle track main line two branches
Rolling stock4 x E60
3 x ALCO Century 425
2 x train with 21 coal hoppers
Line length13.3 miles (21.4 km)
Track length17.8 miles (28.6 km)
Number of tracks1
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Electrification25 kV 60 Hz (AC) overhead catenary
Route map

Four Corner Power Plant
7 mi
Hosteen stockpile
Barber stockpile
14 mi
Lowe stockpile

The Navajo Mine Railroad (reporting mark TNMR) is an electrified private railroad operated by BHP Billiton in New Mexico, USA, within the Navajo Nation. It operates 13.8 miles (22.2 km) of track between the Four Corners Generating Station and BHP Billiton's Navajo Coal Mine.[1] The railroad does not have any connection to the national rail network.


A 7 miles long standard gauge line was built in 1974 from the power plant to the Hosteen stockpile. The line was expanded to the present 14 miles in 1983. Since there is no connection to the rest of the railroad network, the 3 diesel locomotives and 22 Maxon bottom dump coal hopper cars had to be transported from Gallup on low-bed trucks. At the beginning only one train operated. There were problems with clogged oil bath filters on the diesel locomotives due to excessive coal dust, but the issues were solved with a new filter type.

Electric operation started 1984 since it is more economical. Diesel operation became too expensive with the increasing trains loads and fuel prices. Furthermore another 20 hopper cars were purchased in order that two trains could be built, each having 18 cars.

Electric operations are being dismantled in favor of new GE ET44AC locomotives being delivered in July 2017 with more locomotives on the way


The line runs from the Navajo Mine north-northwest to the Four Corners Generating Station, which is located 25 miles west of Farmington, New Mexico. It has no connection to any other railroad.


The trains are operated with an electric locomotive E60 on the North end and a diesel locomotive ALCO Century 425, where this one acts normally as a dummy. It serves normally only as a control cab to for the radio remote controlled E60, when the empty train is heading back to the mine. The prime mover is still present to provide emergency power in case of an electricity outage. There are two trains in operation, theoretically a third train could be operated. Each train consist of 21 coal hoppers. Both trains make typically 12 round trips a day in a 24 hour operation.[2][3] There is only one crew member at work, who takes an empty train to the coal load out, where he changes to the full train to drive it back to the power plant. While this train is underway, the other one gets loaded.[4]

The catenary has a voltage of 25 kV 60 Hz AC. The pantographs of the E60s are mounted on top of pedestals on the roof to adapt their working height to the unusual high catenary position. Extra filters for cleaning the machine room air are mounted on the roof of the locomotive.[3]

At the coal load outs the coal is loaded with front-end loaders in the hopper cars. Each car has a capacity between 100 and 125 tons.[2]

Motive Power[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Myrick, David F. (1990). New Mexico's Railroads: A Historical Survey. University of New Mexico Press. p. 181. ISBN 978-0-8263-1185-6.
  2. ^ a b "Four Corners Power Plant and Navajo Mine Energy Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement: Section 2 - Current Operations of Navajo Mine, FCPP, and Transmission Lines" (PDF). March 2014. Retrieved 2016-11-06.
  3. ^ a b "Navajo Mine Railroad". Trainz. Retrieved 2016-11-06.
  4. ^ "Navajo Mine Railroad". Retrieved 2016-11-06.
  5. ^ "New locomotive delivered to Navajo Mine". Farmington Daily Times. Retrieved 2019-07-05.