Q trains haul mostly JB Hunt, Schneider, and Swift containers in double stack well cars. They rarely have trailers from other trucking companies. Occasionally containers from JB Hunt, Schneider, and Swift will be loaded onto spine cars but that does not make these Z trains. On the surface these trains may all look the same but there are subtle differences. Matson, CH Robinson, COFC, and APL Logistics 53ft containers will also appear in these trains, but these appear to be quite random and not an indicator for any particular symbol. One spotting feature for LAC trains is domestic 53ft containers sitting on top of marine containers.
The following companies ship domestic 53ft containers via BNSF on the Transcon: APL Logistics 1,000, Axsun, CH Robinson 1,000, COFC 800, Crowley, CSX 4,000, FedEx 1,800, JB Hunt 85,000, Matson 400, NFI, Pacer 10,000, Schneider 17,000, Swift 9,000, Universal 800, UPS 5,700. The numbers reflect the size of each companies fleet of containers as of the end of 2016. Pacer containers are moving into a lease fleet with Pacer being painted out. Some of these Pacer lease containers are showing up on the BNSF. There are about 150 raildecks or flatracks in use across the country. These look like a flatbed trailer frame but have braced stanchions to support a container that could be stacked on top of it. They primarily haul structural steel. Due to their low numbers you don't see raildecks very often.
Here are the main intermodal terminal codes:
ALT Alliance, TX (north of Fort Worth)
ATG Atlanta, GA
AUG Austell, (near Atlanta) GA
CHI Chicago, IL
CXO CSX North Baltimore, OH
LAC Hobart Yard in Los Angeles, CA
MEM Memphis TN
NSA Norfolk Southern Ashland Avenue in Chicago
NWH CSX North Baltimore, OH
NYC Croxton, NJ near New York
PEA Pearland, (near Houston) TX
PHX Phoenix, AZ
RIC Richmond, (near Oakland) CA
SBD San Bernardino, CA
STL Saint Louis, MO
STO Stockton, CA
The NWH symbol just started on October 30, 2018. The QLACNWH originates Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from Los Angeles when there is enough traffic for the Northwest, Ohio block, otherwise it will use the CXO code. The QLACCXO still operates the other four days of the week from LA.
Following the symbol is the rough schedule time when the train is scheduled to go through Barstow (B), Flagstaff (F), Gallup (G), and Clovis (C) in military time, so 1300 is 1 PM. Some schedules have changed recently and I haven't had time to calculate the new rough schedules. Following the scheduled time will be an indication of how often that symbol was observed over a 20 day period and the power configurations. For example 10/20 4 units 8x 3 units 3x means that the train was seen and logged 10 times during the 20 day period. It had 4 units 8 times and 3 units 3 times.
QLACALT6 B 2100, F 1100, G 1600, C 0400 10/20 4 units 8x 3 units 3x JB Hunt containers averaged 88, Schneider 11, and Swift 10. Normally Q trains do not handle piggyback trailer traffic, however, this train has had a short block of new Amazon, Landstar, and Walmart trailers. I think these companies have these new trailers loaded with imports, so that when they receive them they can claim that the trailers are used and pay less in taxes. Along with these three companies there have also been a few Estes, Universal, US Xpress, YRC, ABF, Central Freight, Waco Leasing, and plain white trailers in the mix. The plain white trailers also looked new.
QLACATG6 B 0300, F 1800, G 2300, C 1100 8/20 4 units 5x 3 units 3x JB Hunt containers averaged 73, Schneider 36, Swift 2, and CSX 11. Along with the domestic containers were some marine containers, 6 Matson, 14 CMA CGM, 3 MSC, 4 OOCL, and a few APL, Hyundai, and lease.
QLACAUG6 B 2300, F 1800, G 2300, C 1400 7/20 4 units 5x 3 units 2x JB Hunt containers averaged 166 and Swift 10. With only two kinds of domestic containers, this train is easy to recognize. I think this runs about four times a week.
QLACCHI2 B 2200, F 0900, G 1400, C 0001 9/20 4 units 6x 3 units 2x 5 units 1x JB Hunt containers averaged 93, Schneider 14, Swift 5, and CSX 3. Two of the trains observed had no Swift containers. Most had an average of 5 Matson 40ft and a few other marine containers. This train is a second section to the QLACCHI6.
QLACCHI6 B 1100, F 2200, G 0300, C 1600 10/20 4 units 6x 5 units 4x JB Hunt containers averaged 167, Schneider 17, and Swift 7. Of the trains I saw only one had 3 CSX containers. Some trains had a few marine containers and there were 2 instances where domestic 53ft containers were placed on top of marine 40ft containers.
QLACCXO1 B 1100 F 2200, G 0400, C 1500 6/20 4 units 5x 3 units 1x. This train is fairly illusive and I only observed one train during the period. I think it comes through Flagstaff while I am trying to get my beauty sleep. I have averaged it along with other trains earlier in the year: 12 JB Hunt, 36 Schneider, 2 Swift and 12 CSX. Note the high count for Schneider containers, one of the unique features of this train. About 80% of the trains were marine containers. There were also a few domestic 53ft containers (usually JB Hunt or CSX) sitting on top of marine containers. the QLAC
QLACLPC6 B 1900, G 0100, C 1600. This is a new train that began operating in September 2018. Initially it used either section 2 or 6 in the symbol. Since October, it looks like it is only using section 6. It is mostly domestic containers with some marine containers mixed in. Power is generally 4 units, however it has run on occasion with 3+2, or just 3 units.
QLACMEM6 B 1900 Monday, F 0500, G 1000, C 0800 3/20 4 units 3x. This train appears to operates once a week. Two of the trains were QLACMEM3 and these were the ones I had a chance to observe. The trains were about 90% domestic, with mixed marine near the front and rear on one and mixed marine near the front of the other.
QLACNSA6 B 1500, F 0100, G 0500, C 1700 8/20 4 units 6x 5 units 1x 3 units 1x. JB Hunt containers averaged 115 and Swift 4. Marine traffic varied from 1 container up to 51 containers. These were mostly China Shipping, COSCO, OOCL, Yang Ming, and lease. There were also a few domestic 53ft containers sitting on top of marine containers. These were usually JB Hunt on top.
QLACNYC6 2/20 4 units 1x 3 units 1x. It ran once as the QLACNYC3 and that was the one time I saw it. JB Hunt 177 and Swift 4. There was one JB Hunt 53ft container placed on top of a marine 40ft lease container. The only other marine traffic was 2 Matson 40ft containers.
QLACPEA1 B 0100, F 1100, G 1600, C 0500 9/20 4 units 8x 3 units 1x JB Hunt containers averaged 61, Schneider 16, Swift 14. There were multiple instances where domestic 53ft containers were placed on top of marine 40ft containers. The marine containers were mostly China Shipping, COSCO, OOCL, CMA CGM, with some Maersk, MSC, Hamburg Sud, and Hyundai.
QLACSTL1 3/20 4 units 2x 3 units 1x This train is fairly illusive and I only observed one train. There were 57 JB Hunt containers, 11 Schneider, and 14 Swift. There were multiple instances where domestic 53ft containers were placed on top of marine 40ft containers. The marine containers were mostly CMA CGM, China Shipping, COSCO, OOCL, with some Maersk, MSC, Horizon Lines and 3 40ft tanktainers.
QPHXCHI1 F 0200, G 0700, C 1600 7/20 4 units 3x 5 units 2x 3 units 1x 10 units 1x. The power desk put ten units on one of these trains in order to move excess power out of Phoenix east to where it was needed. The train is generally between 3,000 and 4,000 tons, sometimes as high as 5,000 tons, but three units are enough to move the train. I only observed four of these train and one was the QPHXCHI3. The primary role of this train is to move low priority loads and available empties out of Phoenix. The train looks different almost every day it runs. JB Hunt containers varied from 2 to 119, Schneider 2 to 21, Swift 2 to 50. It handled piggyback three out of the four times observed. Again no set pattern, but about a third was containers from the big 3: JB Hunt, Schneider, and Swift. But the rest was trailers: ABF, Central Transport, Go2, Hobby Lobby, Premier, plain white vans, UPS pups (42 on one train, 14 on another), US Xpress, Vitran, and YRC.
QRICALT6 1/20 4 units JB Hunt 61, Schneider 5, Swift 6. Near the end was 8 trailers (1 Marten, 1 KLLM, 2 Stevens, 3 YRC, 1 plain white van) and then 37 autoracks.
QSBDALT6 2/20 4 units 2x JB Hunt containers averaged 124, Schneider 33, Swift 25. Both trains had a section of spine cars near the rear with mostly containers from the big 3: JB Hunt, Schneider, and Swift. However, one also had 6 trailers from ABF and Southern Refrigerated.
QSBDCHI6 B 0800, F 2000, G 0100, C 1400 7/20 4 units 6x 3 units 1x JB Hunt containers averaged 123, Schneider 47, and Swift 14. This is a second section to the QSBDCHI7.
QSBDCHI7 B 1800, F 0800, G 1400, C 0300 10/20 4 units 9x 3 units 1x JB Hunt containers averaged 136, Schneider 28, and Swift 11.
QSTOALT6 B 1400, F 0200 G 0800, C 2000 3/20 4 units 2x 3 units 1x JB Hunt containers averaged 115, Schneider 8, and Swift 14.
QSTOATG6 4/20 3+2 units 1x 4 units 2x 3 units 1x JB Hunt containers averaged 110, Schneider 15, Swift 9, and CSX 1.
QSTOCHI6 B 1800, F 0700, G 1300, C 0200 6/20 3+2 units 4x 4 units 2x JB Hunt containers averaged 125, Schneider 30, Swift 8, and CSX 12. Along with a few CH Robinson and Matson domestic containers were around 4 Agmark 20ft tanktainers in each train.
BNSF Train Symbols
Bare Table Trains
Manifest Trains Westbound
Manifest Trains Eastbound
Q Trains Westbound
Marine Stack Train Overview
Marine Stack Trains Westbound
Marine Stack Trains Eastbound
Z Trains Westbound
Z Trains Eastbound