San Joaquin Valley Railroad
|Locale||Fresno, California and Bakersfield, California area|
|Dates of operation||January 2, 1992–present|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Length||408 miles (657 km)|
The San Joaquin Valley Railroad (reporting mark SJVR) is one of several short line railroad companies and is part of the Pacific Region Division of Genesee & Wyoming Inc. It operates about 408 miles (657 km) of track primarily on several lines in California's Central Valley/San Joaquin Valley outside of Fresno, California and Bakersfield, California. The SJVR has trackage rights over Union Pacific (formerly Southern Pacific) from Fresno - Goshen Jct - Famoso - Bakersfield - Algoso. The SJVR also operates for the Tulare Valley Railroad (TVRR) from Calwa to Corcoran and Famoso.
There were two former San Joaquin Valley Railroads. One was owned by Leland Stanford in 1870 to build an 11.3-mile (18.2 km) line from Lathrop, California to the Stanislaus River and was consolidated into the Central Pacific Railroad. The second San Joaquin Valley Railroad operated from 1892–1893 between Fresno and Friant over 24.1 miles (38.8 km) of track and was sold at foreclosure to the Southern Pacific.
In 1991 the SJVR operated the entire former SP line from Fresno to Famoso, but a portion north of Famoso was later abandoned.
SJVR interchanges with the BNSF Railway at Fresno and Bakersfield and with the Union Pacific at Fresno and Goshen Junction.
SJVR was originally owned by Kyle Railways. In 1992, the SJVR was created to obtain and operate several branch lines from the Southern Pacific. From 1992–1997 the SJVR was owned by Kyle Railways. In 1997 SJVR's parent, Kyle Railways, was sold to States Rail. In 2002 SJVR's new parent, States Rail, was purchased by RailAmerica. Genesee & Wyoming Inc. purchased RailAmerica in 2012, with approval by the Surface Transportation Board in December. Today the SJVR remains a shortline within the Genesee & Wyoming family of railroads.
It is important to note that the two short lived 19th century San Joaquin Valley Railroads used the reporting marks SJVRR, whereas the modern San Joaquin Valley Railroad the designation SJVR (a single R). The modern SJVR is not descended from, or in any way related to, either of the two earlier SJVRRs.
Lines operated by SJVR
- Fresno - Exeter - Strathmore (Exeter Subdivision; former SP)
- Exeter - Goshen Jct. (Goshen Subdivision; former SP)
- Goshen Jct. - Hanford - Huron (Hanford Subdivision; former SP)
- Burrel - Helm - Tranquility - Ingle (Riverdale Branch; former SP)
- Oxalis - Mendota - Ingle - Kerman - Fresno (West Side Subdivision; former SP)
- Fresno - Clovis (Clovis Subdivision; former AT&SF and SP)
- Famoso - Hollis (North Joint Subdivision; former SP)
- Maltha - Oil Jct. (Oil City Subdivision; former AT&SF/SP)
- Oil Jct. - Landco (Landco Subdivision; former AT&SF)
- Bakersfield - Gosford - Buttonwillow (Buttonwillow Subdivision; former SP)
- Gosford - Millux (Sunset Subdivision; former Sunset Railway)
- Algoso - Arvin (Arvin Subdivision; former AT&SF/SP)
- Trackage rights over UP from Fresno - Algoso (near Bakersfield) via Goshen Jct. (former SP)
West Side Line
This mainline route was formerly known as Southern Pacific's "West Side Line" and at one time extended from Tracy, California and then south through the West side of the San Joaquin Valley (I-5 corridor) via Patterson, Gustine, Newman, Los Banos, Oxalis and then east to Fresno via Ingle and Kerman. California Northern Railroad now operates the northern section of the line from Tracy - Los Banos. SJVR operates the southern section of the line from Oxalis to Fresno and was at one time owned by Port Railroads, Inc. (PRI; also a Kyle subsidiary) and operated by the SJVR. On April 24, 1996 the PRI was merged into the SJVR. Both the PRI and SJVR were already Kyle Railway subsidiaries. The section of track between Los Banos and Oxalis was abandoned by Southern Pacific in 1993 and the tracks were removed soon after.
The Southern Pacific constructed the track from Tracy to Newman (37 miles) and from Los Banos to Armona (near Fresno) in 1891. Southern Pacific's overnight Owl passenger train (#57/58) operated over this line between San Francisco and Los Angeles into the 1960s.
In 2008, the Surface Transportation Board approved the abandonment of the section of track between Strathmore and Jovista. This left the communities of Strathmore, Porterville, Terra Bella, Ducor, and Richgrove without any rail service. Tulare County has recently broken off negotiations with the SJVR to purchase this section of track to preserve it for future use and possible reactivation. However, beginning in September 2010, the tracks were being removed by the SJVR and the job was completed with the entire line having been pulled up in mid November. The future of this line is very much in doubt and with the rails having now been removed, it's extremely unlikely that trains will ever traverse that corridor again. As of March 2015, the SJVR has embargoed the line with the rails spiked at the south end of Exeter with some crossing signals south already having been partially dismantled. This section of track, which runs approximately 8 miles to Lindsay is now pending formal abandonment whereupon the rails are expected to be immediately pulled up upon STB approval. The sections from Exeter to Dinuba along with former ATSF track between Lindsay and Exeter is expected to follow given their poor condition and lack of use.
The railroad's main traffic sources are petroleum gas and agricultural products. In 2008, the SJVR hauled around 39,000 carloads.
- Edward A. Lewis, American Shortline Railway Guide 5th ed. (Kalmbach Publishing, 1996)
- Mike Walker, SPV's Comprehensive Railroad Atlas of North America - California/Nevada Post Merger Edition, (Steam Powered Publishing & SPV, 1997) Ownership and detail of rail lines.
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