Live Oak Railroad Near Three Rivers Coming

Live Oak Railroad Location Map
Live Oak Railroad Location Map

The Live Oak Railroad will be breaking ground in November with plans to open in the first half of 2013. The new rail facility will include 28,000 ft of track located just south of Three Rivers. The facility has a great location almost halfway between San Antonio and Corpus Christi. If you have noticed, there has been a dramatic rise in rail traffic in South Texas related to the Eagle Ford boom.

Three other major railroad sites have grown significantly in recent times:

The Live Oak Railroad is being built by a partnership between Howard Energy Partners and local real estate developers. The primary purpose of the facility is to move liquid hydrocarbons - condensate, NGLs, and oil.

Why Move Oil by Rail?

Live Oak Railroad Eagle Ford Map
Live Oak Railroad Eagle Ford Map

It might surprise you that crude will move by rail. Approximately 1.8 million barrels per day of pipelines have been built or are under construction. That should be adequate capacity for quite some time, but that is only part of the story. WTI oil prices have been significantly discounted to Louisiana Light Sweet (LLS) in recent history (Read more at Eagle Ford Oil Prices Trade at a Premium to WTI).

There are several projects underway to move crude from WTI's trading point, Cushing, OK, to the Gulf Coast near Houston. Those projects will relieve congestion in Oklahoma, but will make supply more abundant in the Texas refinery complex.

All that to say, there is adequate pipeline capacity to get into the Gulf Coast Refinery Complex, BUT there is a lot of other oil on its way there too. If Eagle Ford operators can get their production across the state line into Louisiana, it might mean several more dollars per barrel. That's potentially millions of dollars of savings per day across the Eagle Ford. The Live Oak Railroad and others will be the primary trading points for oil if prices prove more lucrative in other areas of the country.

San Antonio Central Railroad Open at East Kelly Railport

The San Antonio Central Railroad was opened at the East Kelly Railport by the Port of San Antonio and Watco Companies on October 16, 2012.

This means jobs here in San Antonio ....... An incredible boom, transformation we are seeing in South Texas," said U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar.

He mentions 4,000 rigs, but I'm certain he meant wells. We have more than 4,000 Eagle Ford wells producing now and that number is expected to grow to well over 20,000.


Eagle Ford Railroad Traffic on the Rise in South Texas

EOG Sand Receipt Facility Refugio TX
EOG Sand Receipt Facility Refugio TX

Eagle Ford railroad traffic is on the rise. Operators are moving crude past pipeline bottlenecks, and moving frack sand and other products in to continue development.

The Hondo Railway, 30 miles west of San Antonio, serviced about 1,500 railcars per year on 13,000 ft of track a few years ago. The Railway terminal now serves 15,000 railcars per year and has expanded to 80,000 ft of track.

This year, an estimated 15,000 railcars will move through Hondo Railway LLC's 175-acre property — many of them carrying fracking sand bound for drilling operations in the Eagle Ford Shale formation.

The Hondo Railway isn't alone either:

What started at 1,600 feet of track has grown to 130,000 feet of track. Gardendale Railroad moves a mix of oil field commodities.

“The root of everything is sand,” Cundiff said. “We hadn't had any activity there in 15 years. We've gone from that beginning to 25 miles (of track) in just under 24 months.”

And at Port San Antonio, the East Kelly Railport is adding 15,000 feet of track to the existing 20,000 feet of track.

Spokesman Paco Felici said the rail port went from moving 2,594 railcars in the 2010 fiscal year to 4,556 railcars in the 2011 fiscal year.

The Port of Corpus Christi's rail expansion shouldn't be forgotten either. The port is adding the capacity to handle 100,000 railcars per year.


Trucking Accidents at Railroad Crossings - Don’t Be A Statistic - Stop, Look, Listen

Every year, an unfortunate number of trucking accidents occur at Texas railway crossings. Last year, a truck became stuck in ice while crossing railroad tracks and in another incident a freight train hit an 18-wheeler. Fortunately the vehicle drivers were not injured, but that wasn’t the case in a third railroad crossing accident which ended in a fatality. A man reportedly drove around a crossing gate and was hit by an oncoming passenger train. Many railroad crossing accidents occur in rural areas traveled to and from the oilfield.

Operation Lifesaver is a nationwide, non-profit public information program dedicated to reducing collisions, injuries and fatalities at highway-rail crossings and on railroad property.

Union Pacific launched an outdoor billboard campaign aimed at getting South Texas truck drivers to use railroad crossings safely. Reaching an estimated 1.3 million drivers between San Antonio and Laredo, the bilingual campaign pairs a visual of an 18-wheeler stopped or stuck on railroad tracks with simple phrases, such as, "Always expect a train" and “About Every 3 Hours, a Person or Vehicle is Hit by A Train.”

"Union Pacific is raising the rail safety message to remind professional truck drivers of their responsibility to cross the tracks safely," said Danny Valdez, Webb County judge. “The billboards will also reach the general public, which will make our community even safer."

Always expect a train because freight trains don’t travel at fixed times, and schedules for passenger trains can change.

Truck Accidents are Preventable

Follow the Rules. These accidents are preventable, with a little education and a little awareness. Abiding by railroad grade crossing regulations is a good place to start.

A driver approaching a railroad crossing must stop not closer than 15 feet or farther than 50 feet from the nearest rail under the following conditions:

  1. a clearly visible railroad signal warns of the approach of a railroad train;
  2. a crossing gate is lowered, or a flagger warns of an approach;
  3. a railroad engine approaching within approximately 1,500 feet of the highway crossing emits a signal audible from that distance and the engine is an immediate hazard because of its speed or proximity to the crossing;
  4. an approaching railroad train is plainly visible and is in hazardous proximity to the crossing; or
  5. the driver is required to stop by a traffic-control device or signal. A driver must remain stopped until permitted to proceed and it is safe to proceed.

The driver of a vehicle who approaches a railroad crossing equipped with railroad crossbuck signs without automatic, electric, or mechanical signal devices, crossing gates, or a flagger warning of the approach or passage of a train must yield the right-of-way to a train in hazardous proximity to the crossing, and proceed at a speed that is reasonable for the existing conditions. If required for safety, the driver must stop at a clearly marked stop line before the grade crossing or, if no stop line exists, not closer than 15 feet or farther than 50 feet from the nearest rail.

Helpful Tips Regarding Railroads

Always expect a train because freight trains don’t travel at fixed times, and schedules for passenger trains can change.

  • Trains are no more able to stop on a dime than tractor-trailers
  • Trains can move in either direction, backwards as well as forwards, at any time
  • An approaching train is closer and moving faster than you might think
  • Stay alert around railroad tracks. Don’t text or wear headphones. Minimize distractions that could prevent you from hearing an approaching train. Be aware that today’s trains are quieter than ever, and may not make a “clickety clack” sound.

Find more helpful safety tips, including what to do if you do get stalled on the tracks, at the Operation Lifesaver Website

Eagle Ford Crude is Driving Rail Traffic Across South Texas

Gardendale Pipe Yard
Gardendale Pipe Yard

South Texas rail traffic is on the rise. Some of the traffic is directly related to growth in the Eagle Ford and some is related to economic growth across the board.

The Port of San Antonio's East Kelly Railport is set for an expansion this year. Watco is expanding to occupy 20 acres of the 350 acre railport and will nearly double the amount of track it has in place from 20,000 ft to more than 35,000 ft. The development is in response to growth from serving a little more than 2,600 railcars in 2010 to more than 4,500 in 2011.

San Antonio isn't alone either. The Gardendale railroad was almost abandoned a few short years ago, but now the interchange has five switching engines running.

Gardendale Rail Map
Gardendale Rail Map

Frack sand silos rise above the yard and black tank cars hauling Eagle Ford crude stand ready for transport. Adjacent to the interchange, you'll see several loads of pipe waiting to be put to work. There's no doubt who is driving growth in Gardendale. It's all oil & gas.

There's enough activity that Ironhorse Resources, operator of the Gardendale Railroad, has added around 80,000 ft of track and has expansion plans that will cover more than 350 acres. The facility is built to handle 15,000 railcars per year, but that number will stretch well above 20,000 as expansions are completed.

You can read in regards to Ironhorse's facility at