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 some LAC trains is domestic 53ft containers sitting on top of marine containers and this will be noted in the descriptions. When a description says some it means that some trains had some of these types of containers or trailers, but not enough to raise the average above 0.5. Following the symbol train description is a pie chart showing the proportions of domestic containers or trailers within each train. This should make it much easier to identify trains by the cars in the consist. Don't expect the same type of container or trailer to be the same color in all of the charts.
The following companies ship domestic 53ft containers via BNSF on the Transcon: APL Logistics 1,000, Axsun, CH Robinson 1,000, COFC 800, 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
CLO Clovis, NM
CXO & NWH 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 rough schedule time when the train is scheduled through Clovis (C), Gallup (G), Flagstaff (F) and Barstow (B) in military time, so 1300 is 1 PM. Delays tend to accumulate and most of the westbound Q trains always seem to be running late. The further east the originating terminal is, the greater the chance for delays. But all is not lost. Trains originating at Clovis varied from 3 hours late to 2 and a half hours early for the QCLOLAC and the QCLORIC varied from 18 hours late to over 24 hours ahead. The QCLORIC is generally running ahead of schedule.
QALTLAC1 C 1700, G 0500, F 1201, B 0001 It averaged 58 JB Hunt, 17 Schneider, 24 Swift, 9 CH Robinson, 1 CSX, 4 Matson 53, some UPS boxes, plain white vans, ABF, and other trucking company vans. Marine containers were generally toward the front and varied from 5 to 90 with the average at 34 per train. On average 22 domestic 53 ft containers were placed on 40ft marine containers. Toward the rear may be a few spine cars. Generally these may have a few truck trailers and some JB Hunt containers. The average train was 74-0:5316T 7008ft with a 0.76 tons per linear foot ratio and usually had 3 units.
QALTRIC6 C 2000, G 0700, F 1400, B 0200 It only runs a couple times a week and I've seen it most often at Flagstaff around 3PM on Mondays. It averaged 22 JB Hunt, 4 Schneider, 4 Swift, and 1 FedEx box, in the Stockton block. At the end of the Stockton block may be a few spine cars with domestic containers, 1 plain white van, 1 ABF, 1 Marten, 1 Stevens, 2 YRC, some Amazon, R&L, and FedEx vans. Following the Stockton block will be a block of marine containers for the Port of Oakland. These averaged 81 per train and were mostly CMA CGM, OOCL, and lease containers. On the rear will be a block of around 12 autoracks for Richmond. The train may also handle a block of empty wells for either Stockton or Oakland. The average train was 70-0:4121T 6379ft with a 0.65 tons per linear foot ratio and usually had 2 or 3 units.
QALTSBD6 C 0400, G 2000, F 0100, B 1300 It averaged 120 JB Hunt, 9 Schneider, 24 Swift, 1 CH Robinson, and 8 FedEx boxes. An interesting feature on some of the trains is that all of the FedEx containers were usually on the top tier. The average train was 68-1:5302T 6543ft with a 0.81 tons per linear foot ratio and usually had 3 units. One train did have 1 COSCO container, but in general this train is all domestic containers.
QATGLAC6 C 0300 Thr-Mon, G 1900, F 0300 Fri-Tue, B 1300 It averaged 74 JB Hunt, 18 Schneider, 12 Swift, 1 CH Robinson, 4 CSX, 1 Matson 53, 1 UPS box, 1 UPS van, some FedEx boxes, plain white vans, Estes, Marten, Prime, YRC, other trucking company vans. Marine containers varied from none to 59 with the average at 27 per train. Domestic 53 ft containers were placed on 40ft marine containers about 22 times on average. One train had a 3+2 configuration of power with the DPU placed about 2/3rds of the way back instead of on the rear. Generally power is 2 or 3 units. One train had 11 truck trailers, most had none. About half the trains had empty wells returning west, these trains averaged 57-24:5099T 7503ft and the others 78-0:5820T 7295ft.
QAUGLAC6 C 1300, G 0600, F 1201, B 0400 It averaged 167 JB Hunt and 13 Swift containers. Generally there are no Schneider and for a long time no marine containers on these trains. However, recently marine containers have started showing up on these trains. The few trains that I've seen with marine containers varied between six and 14. The average train was 80-0:6232T 7599ft with a 0.82 tons per linear foot ratio and usually had 3 units.
QCHIPHX6 C 2200, G 1300, F 1700 JB It averaged 84 JB Hunt, 88 JB Hunt, 52 Schneider, 14 Swift, 2 CH Robinson, 1 Matson 53, and some UPS boxes. 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. Some trains will have spine cars, but these generally carry domestic containers. I think this train operates thru Flagstaff Tues-Fri. One train of the 8 trains logged had a group of 27 autoracks on the rear. The average train was 61-0:4827T 5743ft with a 0.84 tons per linear foot ratio and usually had 3 units.
QCHISBD6 C 1400, G 0400, F 1100, B 2300 It averaged 145 JB Hunt, 39 Schneider, 15 Swift, 2 CH Robinson, some Matson 53, and UPS boxes. Occasionally on the lower tier it had a raildeck with structural steel. The average train was 81-0:6805T 7709ft with a 0.88 tons per linear foot ratio and usually had 4 units.
QCHISBD7 C 0600, G 1900, F 0200, B 1400 It averaged 133 JB Hunt, 39 Schneider, 14 Swift, 2 CH Robinson, 1 Matson 53, some UPS boxes, FedEx boxes, and plain white vans. This is a second section to the QCHISBD6 and is almost identical. Only saw one raildeck with pipe on one of the trains. The average train was 80-0:6738T 7613ft with a 0.89 tons per linear foot ratio and usually had 4 units. Another spotting feature is Twin Logistics containers. So far they seem to be only on QCHISBD6 and 7 westbound and QSBDCHI7 eastbound.
QCHISTO6 C 1201, G 1100, F 1800, B 0400 It averaged 133 JB Hunt, 28 Schneider, 10 Swift, 2 CH Robinson, 5 CSX, 4 Matson 53, some plain white, and old Schneider vans. An interesting feature is around 4 20ft Agmark tanktainers on each train. I think these are handling chemicals for spraying crops. The average train was 73-0:6033T 6897ft with a 0.87 tons per linear foot ratio and usually had 4 units. Occasionally the train wiil have a few empty wells.
QCLORIC1 C 1900, G 1100, F 1600, B 0400 Half of the trains logged had a block of 20 to 55 wells with domestic containers at the front. The domestic containers averaged 37 JB Hunt, 15 Schneider, 5 Swift, 1 CH Robinson, some Matson 53, UPS vans, R&L, and plain white vans. All but one of the trains had a block of marine containers. The marine block for Oakland varied from none to 129, with the average at 42 boxes. Unlike LAC trains, there were no 53ft domestic containers stacked on marine containers. The domestic and marine containers are going to different terminals. Six of the 8 trains logged had autoracks on the rear. The number of autoracks varied from as many as 71 (no domestic containers on that one and not included in average) to as few as 8, with the average at 23 on those six. The average train was 66-0:4713T 6042ft with a 0.78 tons per linear foot ratio and usually had 3 units.
QCXOLAC1 and QNWHLAC6 C 0001, G 0600, F 1201, B 2300 The NWH symbol from northwest Ohio started on October 30, 2018. CXO averaged 123 JB Hunt, 42 Schneider, 3 Swift, 2 CH Robinson, 8 CSX and 64 marine containers, while the NWH averaged 51 JB Hunt, 88 Schneider, 2 Swift, 4 CH Robinson, 11 CSX, 1 Matson 53, and 68 marine containers. The NWH trains often have one or two large groups of Schneider containers near the front. The average number of domestic 53ft containers sitting on top of marine containers was 37 on the CXO and 47 on the NWH. The average CXO train was 90-0:7173T 8410ft with a 0.85 tons per linear foot ratio and the average NWH train was 99-0:8117T 9209ft with a 0.88 tons per linear foot ratio. Power was generally 4 units.
QLPCLAC6 C 1900 Sat-Tue and Thr G 1400 F 2000 B 0900 is a mixed domestic and marine stack train with many 53ft domestic on 40ft marine containers. The domestic container average was 127 JB Hunt, 21 Schneider, 8 Swift, 2 CH Robinson, 7 CSX, 1 Matson 53, and some plain white vans. Marine containers varied from none to 106 with the average at 60 per train. Domestic 53 ft containers were placed on 40ft marine containers about 35 times on average. The average train was 94-0:8024T 8691ft with a 0.92 tons per linear foot ratio and usually had 4 units.
QMEMRIC6 C 0100, G 1700, F 0100, B 1400 is a mixed domestic and marine (most common were OOCL and CMA CGM) stack train with many 53ft domestic on 40ft marine containers. The domestic average was 80 JB Hunt, 20 Schneider, 4 Swift, 1 CH Robinson, 2 Matson 53, and some UPS boxes for the Stockton block. On the rear was the Oakland block of marine containers. Marine containers varied from 30 to 60 with the average at 41 per train. Two of the 9 trains logged had around 18 autoracks on the rear making those trains look just like the QCLORIC. The average train was 68-0:5636T 6284ft with a 0.90 tons per linear foot ratio and usually had 3 units.
QNYCLAC6 C 1300, G 0200, F 0800, B 2000 It averaged 156 JB Hunt, 1 Schneider, 6 Swift, 1 Matson 53, some CH Robinson, CSX, and UPS boxes. Marine containers varied from 11 to 42 with the average at 23 per train. Domestic 53 ft containers placed on 40ft marine containers varied from 1 to 18 with an average of 12 per train. The average train was 72-0:5852T 6826ft with a 0.86 tons per linear foot ratio and usually had 3 units.
QPEALAC1 C 0300, G 2300, F 0600, B 2100 is a mixed domestic and marine stack train with many 53ft domestic on 40ft marine containers. The domestic container average was 58 JB Hunt, 16 Schneider, 28 Swift, 1 CH Robinson, 4 UPS boxes, some CSX, Matson 53, FedEx boxes, ABF, Estes, and UPS vans. The number of tanktainers varied from none to 18 20ft tanktainers and none to 3 40ft tanktainers in a train. Marine containers varied from 11 to 52 with the average at 33 per train. Domestic 53ft containers were on top of marine containers varied from 3 to 17 with an average of 9 in each train. About one third of the trains also had empty wells. The average for these trains was 67-10:5687T 7256ft with a 0.78 tons per linear foot ratio while the others averaged 61-0:5089T 5704ft with a 0.89 tons per linear foot ratio. Trains usually had 3 units.
The following is a tally of the Q train symbols that have run at least 10 times during the first part of 2019. Most trains use section 6 at the end of the symbol. However there are a few lower priority trains that use section 1. San Bernardino has a second section in and out that uses section 7 at the end of the symbol.
Revised 8-8-2019 with data collected Jan to July 2019
BNSF Train Symbols
Bare Table Trains
Manifest Trains Westbound
Manifest Trains Eastbound
Q Trains Eastbound
Marine Stack Trains
Z Trains Westbound
Z Trains Eastbound