30 December 2006 – KCSM Monterrey Yard

by Jim on 2011/12/30

[Jimbaux is beyond the horizon of the place we lived when we were young.]

I hope (maybe “high hopes,” if you’re listening to the song) that you are continuing to enjoy this foray into Mexico from December 2006.  The below pictures in this post, taken the day after I shot some railroad action in Monterrey and the Nuevo León desert north of Monterrey, are all (except for the first one) taken at the Kansas City Southern de México Railway’s yard in Monterrey, and I did indeed have written permission to be on the property.


First, though, Arnulfo and I have to stop at the hardware store.  He needed some supplies anyway, and I hadn’t thought to bring steel-toed boots.

Well, that was interesting.  Let’s go to the KCSM yard!

Headquarters of the KCSM

Monterrey just so happens to also be the corporate headquarters of the KCSdeMéxico because, prior to the creation of KCSM in 2005, it had been the headquarters of TFM, Transportación Ferroviaria Mexicana, a railroad created in the late 1990s with the privatization of the Mexican railways and jointly owned by the Kansas City Southern Railway (a then-US-only railroad headquartered in Kansas City) and Grupo TMM.  Sometime about 2005, KCS was allowed (Mexican law before didn’t allow more than half-foreign-ownership) to buy the other half of TFM and therefore turn it into KCSdeMéxico.

Here’s the shack at the entrance to the yard where I showed my credentials to enter.  Oh, look at that blue GE in the yard!

Reflective glass seems to be common in Mexico, and I would not be surprised if this glass was made right here in Monterrey, as Monterrey is a big glass producer and even has a glass museum!

Can you read any of this stuff?  Better yet, I ask, can you interpret any of it?

Oh, well you get the ‘picture.’

What A Difference Five Years Makes

Yesterday, I showed you some GE C30-7 locomotives in action, some of them still in FNM two-tone blue.  Even then, C30-7s had already been abolished from mainline US railroads for about decade.  The below pictures were taken five years ago, in 2006, and, now, all of these things have been purged from the roster, sold off, in some cases for scrap, and are history!

One of the appeals of Mexico for the railroad enthusiasts is that so many of those things that are no longer found on US and Canadian railroads can be found there, but as the country develops and further industrializes, that is rapidly changing, and what I noticed when I returned there in 2009-2010 is that the KCSdeMéxico now looks very much like the KCS in the United States, unlike when these pictures were taken.  I’m glad I went when I did, not to mention how drug war violence has made going to Monterrey much less safe now.

In the below picture of the switchers, you can see past the fence to the KCSM headquarters, where all KCSM dispatchers, among other operations and non-operations employees, work.

As 2007 quickly approached, KCSM was celebrating a decade of KCS’s presence in la República, and this banner on the yard tower shows such.

The RIP (repair-in-place) tracks were just on the other side of the tower.

The sign with the “E” crossed out means “no estacionarse” and is the Mexican equivalent to a “no parking” sign in the Anglophone world.

We went to the RIP track and chatted with this man, KCSM trainman Alfredo Zapata.

I tried to get my hands on one of those TFM jackets, but I did not succeed!  Oh, well.  I wasn’t the only one!

Here’s a union poster.

Mexico is one of the most labor-organized countries on the planet.

A Better View of The KCSM Headquarters

The below shot of the pair of C30-7s moving in the yard actually shows the headquarters building with its glassy roof better than the above shot of the same building.

I don’t know when it was built, but I guess it could have been built upon the railroad privatization in the 1990s.

TFM 400

I photographed the TFM 400, not thinking that, three years later, it would be in the New Orleans area being restored.

I think that maybe the ownership changed.

Operation Lifesaver, Mexico Style!

Here’s the Operation Lifesaver caboose in the yard parked among a bunch of other old equipment.

Not long after this, it was time to head over to the railfan club and hang out with the guys there for awhile, eat, drink, and be merry, which is why several hours passed until the shots you see below!

Night Shots At The Locomotive Facility!

And so began the first iteration of one of the greatest railroad enthusiast activities of my life, partly because it’s an experience that so few-if-any others have.  So, I am indeed grateful for my opportunities to go to the locomotive shop and shoot pictures all night of the neat motive power there, though if I went there today, it would be almost all in KCS’s Heritage – “Southern Belle” – colors, which was on the verge of being introduced when these pictures were taken in 2006.  Before we shoot old power, though, we’ll first see the inside of a TFM AC4400CW.

The engineer explains the controls and meters.

More Old GEs

Here’s the pit.  Again, these things are no longer on the roster.

The below view is looking the other way, this time to the north, and you can see the neighborhood in the far distance along with some more older GE locomotives.

With the drug war terrorism in full effect, sadly, many of the desert places shown in yesterday’s pictures as well as what I’ll show in the next few days are no longer safe to visit.  If I went there now, I’d do these yard night pictures again, but I wouldn’t be able to do much else without fear of being abducted.

Everything in life is temporary including life itself, and I guess I should be grateful that I had this opportunity at all.  I hope that you have enjoyed looking at the results as much as I enjoyed creating them.



{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tom Becket December 30, 2011 at 12:33

Excellent stuff!! Mexico was for many years an operating railroad museum, where cast off equipment from the US went to live on a lot longer!! Now that KCS has taken over, I would expect it will look a lot like KCS here as they standardize. Still, a great look into a different world.


2 Oscar Alanis December 30, 2011 at 13:37

Mis mejores deseos para que en 2012 tengas mucha salud, paz, amor y trabajo; un abrazo especial.
My best wishes in 2012 you have a lot of health, peace,love and work; a special hug for you.


3 Arnulfo Cadena December 30, 2011 at 15:12

Hello James, I’m enjoying a lot the pictures you are sending in this series.
Those legendary 2222 and 2223 keep working until these days!
About the TFM wind jackets and chill jackets were sold to employees for $five bucks each. Believe me, I do my bes to get one of those jackets or any kind of TFM souvenir after the KCSM transition. Just imposible.

My best wishes for you for 2012. Keep shooting!


4 Howard Bunte December 30, 2011 at 20:39

Great pictures, James… really glad you got there…got ‘in’ to the yard and shops… and had the facility in the language, however imperfect YOU might have thought it was, ’cause the guys there appreciated YOU making the effort to ‘cross that language barrier’…
again… excellent..


5 Sinue Garza December 30, 2011 at 23:38

Amigo James con estas fotografias me has dado donde mas me llega…..en los recuerdos de esa epoca de gloria que vivi de la empresa TFM rodeado de locomotoras siempre GE, amaba ver las C30-7….KCS lines vino a hacer un cambio completamente radical donde todo lo que era comun dejo de serlo y lo que era menos comun empezo a hacerse..
No me queda mas que quedarme en la nostalgia de ver estas fotografias tuyas de la epoca que por siempre voy a extrañar….

Gracias por compartir estas bellas fotografias..


6 Dave Harbar December 31, 2011 at 05:47

Nice Stuff-Too Bad Mexico Is So Violent-Do They Loot Railcars?Drug Wars Are Killers For Sure-Stay Safe My Friend!


7 Kent Loudon December 31, 2011 at 14:16

Here’s a semi-translation of Sinue Garza’s message courtesy of http://www.freetranslation.com:

Friend James with these you photograph have given me where but arrives me…..en the memories of that epoca of glory that vivi of the business TFM surrounded by locomotives always GE, loved to see the C30-7….KCS lines came to make a change completely radical where everything that was common abandonment to be it and what was less common I begin to be done..
Me does not remain but that to remain me in the nostalgia to see these you photograph yours of the epoca that by always I am going to miss…. Thanks by sharing these beautiful you photograph..


Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: