BNSF's operation in northeast Colorado is something of an interesting one. BNSF's tracks stop in Sterling with the end of the Angora Sub to the north. BNSF's tracks do not start again until Union, CO, roughly 23 miles southwest of Sterling. Between Sterling and Union, BNSF trains operate on UP's Julesburg Sub. This UP line once ran from the Overland Route in Julesburg, CO to La Salle, CO. However, UP abandoned the tracks between Union and Greeley about 30 years ago. As a result, UP has no traffic at all between Sterling and Union. So even though UP owns the track, BNSF dispatches it! The 23 miles of track is governed by Track Warrants and Automatic Block Signals (ABS). There is a single siding over that 23 mile stretch...the siding of Messex which is 6,910 feet long. But because it is Track Warrants (and, thus, hand throws), very few meets actually take place there. Here, a westbound BNSF coal load passes by classic UP signals at Atwood.
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