Q trains haul mostly JB Hunt, Schneider, and Swift containers in double stack well cars. They rarely have trailers from other trucking companies. Occasionally contrainers 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 some 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 stansions to support a container that could be stacked on top of it. They primarilly 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 Atlnata) GA
CHI Chicago, IL
CLO Clovis, NM
CXO CSX North Baltimore, OH
LAC Hobart Yard in Los Angeles, CA
MEM Memphis TN
NYC 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
Following the symbol is the time when the train is scheduled through Flagstaff in military time, so 1300 is 1 PM. Following the scheduled time will be a indication of how often that symbol was observed over a 20 day period and the power configurations. For example 11/20 3 units 6x 2 units 4x 4 units 1x means that the train was seen and logged 11 times during the 20 day period. It had 3 units 6 times, 2 units 4 times and 4 units once.
QALTLAC1 1200 11/20 3 units 6x 2 units 4x 4 units 1x JB Hunt containers averaged 56, Schneider 10, and Swift was interesting. In one third of the trains the count of Swift containers was less than 10, in about half the trains, the count averaged 35, and on two trains Swift exceeded the number of JB Hunt boxes at 59 and 61. On average there were 18 wells of marine containers. This is hard to count because quite often domestic 53 ft containers were placed on 40ft marine containers. Two thirds of the trains had a few spine cars with an average of 9 JB Hunt containers sometimes on chassis. Only twice did the spine cars have regular truck trailers: 1 YRC and 1 ABF.
QALTSBD6 2300 8/20 3 units 4x 2 units 4x JB Hunt containers averaged 122, Schneider 14, and Swift 17. It also ran twice as QALTSBD3 and these numbers have been included. About two thirds of the trains had an average of 17 FedEx containers. An interesting feature on some of the trains is that all of the FedEx containers were on the top tier. Only one train had spine cars on the rear with 4 FedEx vans, 10 FedEx boxes, 2 JB Hunt on chassis, and 12 JB Hunt boxes.
QATGLAC6 0300 Fri-Tue 9/20 3 units 6x 2 units 3x JB Hunt containers averaged 79 Schneider 11 Swift 4 and CSX 3. On average there were 16 wells of marine containers. Sometimes domestic 53 ft containers were placed on 40ft marine containers.
QAUGLAC6 1200 8/20 3 units 6x 2 units 2x JB Hunt containers averaged 160 and Swift 9. No Schneider or marine containers were observed on these trains. I think this runs about four times a week.
QCHILAC6 0700 8/20 3 units 5x 4 units 3x JB Hunt containers averaged 101, Schneider 21, Swift 7 and CSX 24. It often had a few marine containers averaging 9 boxes and 2 20ft tanktainers per train. One train had none. Often the train would have a 40ft tanktainer and an Axsun container. Occasionally on the lower tier it had a raildeck with structural steel.
QCHIPHX6 1700 7/20 3 units 6x 2 units 1x JB Hunt containers averaged 87, Schneider 44, and Swift 9. The Schneider containers were often grouped together. The group was either near the front, on the rear, or split into two groups, one near the front the other near the rear. I think this operates thru Flagstaff Tues-Thurs.
QCHISBD6 1000 8/20 4 units 6x 3 units 2x JB Hunt containers averaged 139, Schneider 43, and Swift 13. Occasionally on the lower tier it had a raildeck with structural steel.
QCHISBD7 0200 8/20 4 units 6x 3 units 2x JB Hunt containers averaged 131, Schneider 35, and Swift 14. This is a second section to the QCHISBD6 and is almost identical. Only saw one raildeck with pipe on one of the trains.
QCHISTO6 1800 11/20 4 units 8x 3 units 3x JB Hunt containers averaged 113, Schneider 33, Swift 8, and CSX 15. An interesting feature is around 4 20ft Agmark tanktainers on each train. I think these are handling chemicals for spraying crops.
QCLORIC1 1600 12/20 3 units 8x 2 units 2x 5 units 1x 6 units 1x. About two thirds of the trains had blocks of domestic and marine containers. Unlike LAC trains, there were no 53ft domestic containers stacked on marine containers. The domestic and marine containers are going to different terminals. And about a third of the trains had just marine containers. A big spotting features is these trains usually had around 25 autoracks on the rear. The number of autoracks varied from as many as 43 to as few as four. It ran once as the QCLORIC3 and this was included in the count of 12.
QCXOLAC1 1200 11/20 3 units 6x 4 units 2x 2 units 1x 3+2 1x 2+2 1x. Of all the trains observed, this one had the highest fluctuation of JB Hunt containers. Most trains had very low counts between 1 and 5. One train had 77 and another 28. I think these were empties being returned. Another surprise was the high count for Schneider containers averaging 47 per train. Most trains had no Swift container, one had 2 and another 1. The CSX containers averaged 10 per train. These trains also haul many marine containers from all of the steamship lines mixed with domestic containers. The number of domestic 53ft containers sitting on top of marine containers varied from 1 to 12.
QMEMRIC6 0001 5/20 3 units 4x 2 units 1x JB Hunt containers averaged 75, Schneider 11, Swift 10, and CSX 4 in the first half and then marine containers toward the rear. Marine containers were mostly OOCL, along with Mersk, Hyundai, CMA CGM, MSC, COSCO, with a few K-Line, Hamburg Sud, and NYK.
QNYCLAC6 0800 10/20 3 units 8x 4 units 1x 2 units 1x JB Hunt containers averaged 139 and Swift 2. No Schneider, but there were around 32 marine containers observed on each of these trains. JB Hunt 53 ft containers were placed on 40ft marine containers about 10 times in each train.
QPEALAC1 0600 4/20 3 units 2x 4 units 1x 2 units 1x JB Hunt containers averaged 64, Schneider 36, and Swift 24. There were around 34 marine containers observed on each of these trains. There were also about 5 20ft tanktainers and 2 to 4 40ft tanktainers in each train. Domestic 53ft containers were on top of marine containers about 15 times in each train. Generally Q trains don't handle piggyback traffic, however one train had 2 UPS vans and 21 UPS boxes on the rear. I think these were empties out of Phoenix that the train picked up in Winslow for movement to Los Angeles.
QSTLLAC1 2100 4/20 3 units 4x JB Hunt containers averaged 68, Schneider 4, Swift 3, and CSX 4 along with around 90 marine containers. Domestic 53 ft containers (mostly JB Hunt) were placed on 40ft marine containers about 20 times in each train.