Having crested the summit of the Sierra Madre Oriental, this northbound manifest train is passing through San Antonio de Soledad. From the high valleys of Puebla, the mountains do not look to impressive. However, the long climb from the coast of Veracruz lies on the other side.
At 18,500', Pico de Orizaba is the highest mountain in Mexico (third highest in North America behind McKinley and Logan). From the west, the peak doesn't look that impressive because the valleys are already so high. This southbound manifest is climbing toward the summit of Distrito Acultzing near San Antonio de Soledad with Pico de Orizaba standing in the distance. Once reaching the summit, the descent into the Orizaba Valley and to the Gulf Coast begins.
At 9,752 feet, "El Mexicano," Mexico's longest tunnel, carries Linea SC under the summit of the Sierra Madre Oriental. Since it is on the east side of Linea SC's summit, it is all up hill though the tunnel for northbound trains. According to the FNM 1994 Timetable, the grade is a steady 2.5% northward, requiring a ventilation and door system at the north portal. This northbound train is emerging from the north portal at Puente Colorado.
A southbound manifest train is winding down into the Rio Blanco Valley below Vaqueria. On clear days, the peak of Pico de Orizaba is visible from the higher parts of the valley walls. Usually coastal moisture keeps the mountains of Veracruz covered in fog and drizzle, hiding the peak.
Looking down at the village of Vaqueria, a northbound unit grain train is looping around the narrow valley as it climbs toward Vaqueria siding. After looping around again, the train will pass through the tunnels visible above the train as it continues to climb toward "El Mexicano."
Below Huaxtitla, the line loops back again and enters the town of Acultzingo. This northbound grain train is passing through a spot of sun on an otherwise cloudy day in the mountains of Veracruz. (Unfortunately, I missed the engines in the light)
A northbound grain train meets a southbound manifest at Acultzingo. Immigration has a very visible effect on the railroads in southern Mexico. Especially on trains coming from Linea G (Tierra Blanca), it is very common to see groups of people riding on northbound trains. Most trains now also carry security guard on them, not to remove the riders, but to protect the crews and freight.
As the sun breaks through the clouds, this northbound climbing out of the loop at Mezquite.
The Orizaba Valley is visible in the background as this loaded grain train climbs through the curves at Mezquite. The DPU's are then passing below. Linea SC makes two reversing curves here to cross to the opposite side of the valley while still gaining elevation.
During the usual cloudy and foggy weather in the mountains of Veracruz, the sun will occasionally break out in the afternoons. This southbound cement train is passing through the sunlight at Mezquite. The moisture that rolls off the gulf coast cools when it presses against the mountains creating the usual fog and clouds that can bee seen in the distance.
This work train is approaching the first tunnel of Distrito Acultzingo as it leaves Tecamalucan. In the background is a high-wide detector that protects the many tunnels ahead.
In Orizaba Yard, a southbound train eases toward the mainline to begin a trip to Coatzacoalcos. Double stacked containers - as well as a few in gondolas - are waiting in the yard while a switcher approaces on the mainline.
Late at night, this yard crew is walking into the towns streets for a quick meal as a southbound train pulls into the yard. Once the southbound is done with a setout, the crew on the mainlne will houl the cars into the Cuauhtémoc brewery for spotting.