San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railway

San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railway

Infobox SG rail
railroad_name=San Diego and Arizona Railway
logo_filename=SDAE logo.pnglogo_size=150
locale=California and Mexico
hq_city=San Diego, California

The San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railway is a short-line American railroad (AAR reporting mark SDAE) originally founded in 1906 as the San Diego and Arizona Railway (SD&A) by "sugar heir", developer, and entrepreneur John D. Spreckels. Dubbed "The Impossible Railroad" by many engineers of its day due to the immense logistical challenges involved, the line was established in part to provide San Diego with a direct rail link to the east by connecting with the Southern Pacific Railroad lines in El Centro, California. The "SD&A's" 146.4-mile (235.61 km) route originates in San Diego, California and terminates in the Imperial County town of Calexico.

The "SD&AE" utilizes approximately 108 miles (173.81 km) of the original SD&A system, broken into four (4) unique segments as follows: 1) The "Main Line", which runs from downtown San Diego south to the San Ysidro / International Border at Tijuana (15.5 miles/24.94 km in length). This line extends through Mexico 44 miles (70.81 km) and connects with the "Desert Line". The portion passing through Mexico, originally constructed as part of the "Main Line", is now owned and operated by the Carrizo Gorge Railway [] ;2) The "Coronado Branch" runs from National City south to Otay Mesa (7.2 miles/11.59 km total length);3) The "Desert Line" extends north and east from the International Border junction (referred to as "Division") to Plaster City, where it joins the Union Pacific (UP) line from El Centro (69.9 miles/112.49 km total length); and4) The "La Mesa Branch" which travels through downtown San Diego east to the City of El Cajon (16.1 miles/25.91 km total length).

The company took over the SD&A's operations in February 1933 after financial troubles led John Spreckels' descendants to sell off their interests in the railroad to the Southern Pacific. Throughout the years natural disasters and acts of vandalism rendered sections of the line unserviceable, and portions of the line have been sold off to various interests.

In 1979 the Metropolitan Transit Development Board (MTDB) purchased the "SD&AE", along with the bulk of its existing trackage, for the purpose of establishing the San Diego Trolley, an interurban light rail passenger line. The San Diego Trolley "red cars" carry over 35 million riders annually and are considered an unqualified success.

As of May 2004, freight operations are conducted by the independent Carrizo Gorge Railway (CZRY) and San Diego and Imperial Valley Railroad (SD&IV).

The San Diego Model Railroad Museum maintains representations of the "SD&AE" 's operations in both HO scale (1:87) and N scale (1:160).


* October 24, 1932: Financial problems force Spreckels' heirs to transfer their share of San Diego and Arizona (SD&A) ownership to the Southern Pacific Transportation Company for $2.8 million.
* February 1, 1933: The San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railway is incorporated and assumes all operations of the SD&A.
* 1934: Operation of the three gasoline-electric units is discontinued.
* January 11, 1951: The "SD&AE" ends passenger service due to years of continued declining patronage.
* May 20,1970: The Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) relinquishes its interest the in 44-mile (72-km) Tijuana and Tecate Railway Company to one of Mexico's national railways, Ferrocarril Sonora Baja California, S.A. de C.V.
* September 10,1976: Hurricane Kathleen destroys major sections of track and bridges on the "Desert Line".
* 1978: The Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) denies SP’s request to abandon the railway.
* August 20, 1979: San Diego's Metropolitan Transit Development Board (MTDB) purchases the "SD&AE Railway Company" in restored condition for $18.1 million (the SP retains ownership to the Plaster City to El Centro segment). The ICC approves operation of freight service by Kyle Railways under contract to MTDB. The MTDB reorganizes the "SD&AE" as a Nevada nonprofit corporation.
* January 1980: Washouts caused by desert storms displace parts of the "SD&AE" "Desert Line" and S-BC "Tijuana y Tecate" lines, on both US and Mexico.
* January 1983: With the Mexico damage repaired, Kyle Railways begins rail shipments between San Diego and Plaster City.
* June 18, 1983: Fire destroys two (2) bridges on the "Desert Line".
* March 18, 1984: The MTDB signs agreement with the Texas firm RailTex to provide freight service. The new service operates as the San Diego and Imperial Valley Railroad (SD&IV) with the AAR reporting mark SDIV.
* April 25, 1984: The ICC denies Kyle Railways’ request to abandon the railroad.
* August 9, 1984: The ICC approves RailTex’s application to operate freight service.
* October 15, 1984: RailTex's San Diego & Imperial Valley Railroad (SDIY) begins freight service from San Diego to El Cajon and San Diego to San Ysidro during nighttime hours when MTS' San Diego Trolley's LRV's are not in operation.
* December 1, 1985: La Mesa based Pacific Southwest Railway Museum, Association, Inc. (PSRM) reincarnates the San Diego & Arizona Railway (SD&A) and begins vintage 16-mile roundtrip passenger excursion "Golden State" round-trips trips on the it's facility in Campo between Campo to Miller Creek and/or Division with steam and diesel vintage trains.
* August 1, 1986: The SD&IV enters into a multi-year agreement with Mexico's Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes to set tariffs and provide freight service into Baja California.
* July 1, 1987] : Ferrocarril Sonora-Baja California, S.A. de C.V. (SBC) and major Mexican Railroads merge into a single system, the last nationalization is made into the new Ferrocarriles Nacionales de Mexico (FNM)
* October 10, 1987 PSRM is invited by the city of Tecate to run a special train from Campo to Tecate, B.C. for the city's fair. The event is a success, and "Ticket to Tecate" excursion trains become regular once or twice a month.
* July 14, 1989: SD&IV begins repairs on the "Desert Line" as a prelude to the start of freight service to Imperial County.
* August 2, 1996: Southern Pacific (SP) is bought by Union Pacific (UP).
* July 4, 1997: Lakeside based Carrizo Gorge Railway, Inc. is formed to operate and repair the Desert Line.
* 2000: FNM is privatized and Tijuana-Tecate line's ownership is transferred to SCT, and is assigned to be administrated by the state of Baja California, Administradora de la Via Corta Tijuana-Tecate (ADMICARGA) is created.
* January 4, 2000: RailTex is acquired by RailAmerica and the railroad's AAR reporting mark is changed to SDIY.
* July 1, 2001: The Mexican portion of the line is sub-contracted to Ferrocarriles Peninsulares del Noroeste, S.A. de C.V. (FPDN), a subsidiary of Carrizo Gorge Railway, Inc. (CZRY), after 16 years of operation in Mexico, RailTex's SD&IV retires.
* May 15, 2004: With repairs to Tunnels 8 and 16 complete and destroyed bridges rebuilt including the Goat Canyon Trestle, the CZRY officially reopens freight service to Plaster City and the Union Pacific Railroad interchange. Major shipments of sand from the Imperial Valley are used to supply ready-mixed concrete to the San Diego construction markets, and other carloads into Mexico as well, such as lumber and grain.
* April 20, 2005: Tierra Madre Consultants create Tierra Madre Railway which buys a caboose (TMRX 1) and leases it to Tren Turistico del Noroeste, S.A. de C.V., a tourist train that will operate from Tijuana to Tecate and from Mexicali to Puerto Penasco.



See also

* Carrizo Gorge Railway
* San Diego and Arizona Railway
* San Diego Electric Railway
* San Diego and Imperial Valley Railroad
* San Diego Trolley

External links

* [ Carrizo Gorge Railway official website]
* [ San Diego Metropolitan Transit System official website]
* [ Pacific Southwest Railway Museum official website]
* [ RailAmerica official website]
* [ San Diego Model Railroad Museum] official website.
* [ Article detailing the abandoned section of the Coronado Branch] of the SD&AE.
* [ San Diego Model Railroad Club] HO scale layout of the SD&AE.
* [ A current route map for the "SD&AE"]
* [ "Binational Implications of Recent Developments on the San Diego & Arizona Eastern Railway"] , a position statement issued by the Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce
* [ "Long-blocked rails on track for reopening"] , an article in the December 7, 2003 issue of the "San Diego Union Tribune"
* [ Mexlist]

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