Pacific Imperial Railroad Updates

From Bwtm

This page is about Updates about the Pacific Imperial Railroad.



July 2023


July, 18: Mountain biker dies in extreme East County heat Mountain biker dies in desert heat, shortly after helping rescue stranded hikers in Carrizo Gorge in east San Diego County. After Cal Fire crews arrived to rescue the hikers, the two remaining mountain bikers rode back down the trail to meet their companions. According to one report, the two mountain bikers became separated, and when only one reached the trailhead, Cal fire personnel went back up the trail about a quarter mile, where they found the victim unresponsive. According to another, the victim complained about feeling tired, and stayed behind while his friend rode to get water for him. Then as they rode back together, he collapsed several times before becoming unresponsive. Cal Fire personnel carried him to an air-conditioned pickup truck, then transferred him to an air ambulance where paramedics attempted to revive hime, before he was pronounced dead at 5:45 pm.

January 2023

Railcart and hiking through the tunnels of the Carrizo Gorge. new rock fall. Jan 29, 2023

December 2022


tunnel 20 east open December 2022

September 2022


Tropical Storm Kay washed out this section the SD&A rail line, the Impossible Railroad, just west of Ocotillo. This washout is located where Myer's Creek comes out of the Jacumba Mountains and into the Imperial Valley. Tropical Storm Kay dropped 5 inches of rain in the area.


September 10: Ocotillo Flash Flood Meyer Creek Flash Flood

April 2022


March 2022

Mar 8, 2022 Speeder rail Adventure. (Little Fox) rail cart . Paseo en (Zorrita) por Tecate, Mexico. We traveled more or less 20 kilometers from almost the border with the USA to about 500 meters from the Tecate Mexico station along the abandoned Carrizo Gorge Railway line. or (SD & AE) RR.

January 2022

Stranded Italian Hiker Survives Off Land for 3 Days Before Rescue in East County. First responders learned that the man got lost, and had taken shelter in nearby decommissioned rail tunnels. The hiker told his rescuers that he found water in small pools at the bottom of the gorge.


@CALFIRESANDIEGO is at scene with Border Patrol of a fire in an inactive cross-border railway tunnel in Bell Valley. Heavy fire in tunnel structural components but no spread to surrounding vegetation. Firefighters will remain at scene overnight. #BorderIC

November 2021

‘Impossible Railroad’ Hits Yet Another Setback With Missed Payments. by Sandra Dibble November 8, 2021. The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) has ended its contract with Baja California Rail Road, the company that had signed on to rebuild a dilapidated 70-mile stretch of track between Campo and Plaster City. “We engaged in over a year-long mediation process with Baja Rail but weren’t able to reach a resolution,” Karen Landers, MTS’s general counsel, said last month at a board of directors meeting of San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railway Company (SD&AE), the MTS subsidiary that controls the Desert Line. “We did end up terminating the lease.” To those who have been watching the project closely, it’s not exactly a surprise. Since January 2020 Baja Rail stopped making the agreed-upon lease payments — $500,000 every six months — to MTS, according to the agency. At last month’s meeting, Landers said that “there’s still some unwinding things we need to do,” such as inspecting the state of the line. MTS has been working with Caltrans and SANDAG “to see if we need to take a step back and study this project, if it’s something that people think that public funds need to be invested in.”

San Diego MTS determined to rehab ‘Impossible Railroad’ despite latest setback in the desert. NOV. 13, 2021 Baja California Railroad was the most recent taker. The company, owned by Tijuana boxing promoter Fernando Beltran, laid out a vision for rehabilitating the tracks. Then, after several years with little-to-no progress, the company abruptly stopped making lease payments to MTS last summer. The company did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

October 2021 SD&AE Board of Directors Meeting

San Diego and Arizona Eastern (SD&AE) Railway Company. Board of Directors Meeting October 5, 2021


July 2021

February 9, 2008 2381 was hauled by CZRY from El Centro to our museum in Campo.

June 2021

burning rail cars
burned rail cars

unburned May 11

April 2021

16 miles Goat Canyon Trestle hike | World's largest all-wood trestle | Trail is CLOSED | $400 ticket Feb 7, 2021

March 2021

_outdoorslover Another day of fun with my girls 💜🥾🎒💪🏼💥at Goat Canyon Trestle #goatcanyontrestle Just Enjoying life 💜🤩 #sdhikes #anzaborregodesertstatepark #weekdayhikesbestdayhikes #hikingadventures #hikingfriends❤️ #dessertview #californialove #californiadessert #letsride #enjoynature #outdoorslover #earlybirdgetstheworm #breatheinbreatheout #freshair #historyfinds #lovewhatyoudodowhatyoulove 🥾🎒 #livingmybestlife

November 2020

Carrizo Gorge biking

Carrizo Gorge - trestles and tunnels

Carrizo Gorge bypass trails

Exploring the Anza Borrego Desert October 2020

Coyote Wells 2020

January 2020

Baja Rail still spinning its wheels over rehabilitation of MTS-owned Desert Line. By JOSHUA EMERSON SMITH JAN. 14, 2020. Mexican rail company says it’s still waiting on federal agencies to approve the location of a cross-border inspection facility.

February 2019

Baja Railroad’s overhaul of MTS-owned Desert Line appears stuck in the sand. FEB. 7, 2019 Officials with the Tijuana-based company said last year that they expected to complete a $60-million overhaul of the line on everything from railroad tracks to dozens of crumbling tunnels and bridges by 2020. However, at a recent meeting with the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System’s top brass, a spokesman for the rail company said Baja Rail had yet to break ground on the project or secure approval for a key cross-border inspection facility near Campo. Baja Rail pays MTS $1 million a year for the right to operate the agency’s line.

December 2018

June 18, 2004 CZRy Gorge derailment coverage by Ch. 10.

1985 Tunnel 16 fire covered by Ch. 10

October 2018

Long-awaited desert rail line, touted as regional economic boom, continues to clear hurdles

January 2018

Will century-old Impossible Railroad finally thrive, delivering billions in economic activity?

Devember 2017

Rocks east portal of tunnel 8. Abandoned Tunnel Carrizo Gorge Railway

July 2017

A Ride to Goat Canyon Trestle in Carrizo Gorge, San Diego,CA Published on May 2000, Dec 11, 2007 Santa Maria Rail Car

June 2017

West of tunnel 8. fallen rocks on track and at 9:30 rocks blocking east end of tunnel 16

Aprii 2017

Science Channel’s “Mysteries of the Abandoned” episode on Goat Canyon railway trestle WTF??

For the record: Filming was a challenge, say producers of the Science Channel’s “Mysteries of the Abandoned” episode on Goat Canyon railway trestle in southeast San Diego County. It aired April 20.

The biggest problem “was the harsh environment — the remoteness, the searing heat, no roads to speak of, filming at altitude and the constant threat of landslides,” notes producer Henry Scott, of Like A Shot Productions, which worked with the Science Channel. “Access involved a six-hour drive, followed by a two-hour hike with all our equipment.”

Pacific Southwest Railway Museum folks escorted them for 17.5 miles in their service train engines, says Scott. “Even on that rail journey, our trains had to stop and clear away fallen rocks from the tracks. … We were constantly worried that another slide could start at any moment.”

Nevertheless, Richard Pennick, a volunteer with the Southwest Railway Museum in nearby Campo, wants to correct a few inaccuracies.

The trestle, which contains some nails and is actually 633 feet long with a 15-degree curve, may not be the largest wooden trestle in the world, as the Science Channel and others claim, Pennick says.

While that “likely is true among all of America’s public common-carrier railroads,” Pennick explains, the “list does NOT include private industrial railroads such as logging railroads that often built immense wooden trestles.”

Plus, contrary to the TV series’ title, the trestle isn’t truly abandoned, he and other railway historians point out.

The trestle portion of the line is “out of service” because the current freight train contractor, Pacific Imperial Railroad, hasn’t done the necessary restoration work.

Also, the trestle wasn’t part of the railway’s original link to Arizona but, due to a rock slide and tunnel blockage, was constructed in 1932 as a more reliable pathway across the canyon.

Despite their filming hardships, the project was well worth it, Scott concludes, because they have captured “one of America’s most amazing bridges” on film should anything happen to it in the near future.

Railroad Vehicle #flickr

March 2017

Judge clears way for Pacific Imperial asset sale | Trains Magazine

Hike the Carrizo Gorge Railroad

Goat Canyon Trestle Mortero Palms trail

Steam Railroad Series 28 - Corrizo Gorge Railway 1947 via @YouTube

Rock Pile at the Mouth of Tunnel 16 #flickr

Rock Fall Near Tunnel 8 - [Gorge Ride 2017 Series] #flickr

The Collapse of the East Portal of Tunnel 16 - [Gorge Ride 2017 Series] #flickr

February 2017

Inside Tunnel 16 #flickr

Tunnel #8 east blockage at 'Spring' Abandoned Tunnel Carrizo Gorge Railway

El Cajon to Dos Cabezas

January 14, 2017, there was 1 tunnel that had collapsed at the entrance, but it wasn't completely blocked off.. just had to climb over a big pile of rocks and debris

The Bushman Track Traveler - "Tunnel #6 Collapsed!" via @YouTube

Likely not the last binational railroad story. Lawsuits fly among Desert Line executives. By Dorian Hargrove, Feb. 2, 2017

December 2016

Goat Canyon Trestle rock scrambling from Mortero Palms

Goat canyon trestle on a motorcycle

October 2016

Pacific Imperial Railroad opts for bankruptcy. Metropolitan Transit System plans to ride along with troubled company. By Dorian Hargrove, Oct. 27, 2016

October 28, Desert Line railroad leaseholder files for bankruptcy.

Eastbound Cab Ride Through Carrizo Gorge HD ♛ 2016 - HD

Westbound Cab Ride Through Carrizo Gorge HD ♛ 2016 - HD

June, 2016

Pacific Imperial Railroad, KUSI Interview, June 9, 2016, Cali-Baja Sublease

Improvements to cross-border railway to begin in summer.

Border rail line to connect U.S., Mexico. New operator, repairs in store to bring defunct railroad back to life.

Railroad Companies Reach Binational Agreement

February, 2016

Carrizo Gorge tunnel 8 via @YouTube

Close UP on San Diego Business Welcomes and featured Pacific Imperial Railroad Published on May 12, 2015 Close up on San Diego Business Host Barry Waxler interviews Donald Stoecklein from Pacific Imperial Railroad.

The Desert Line Published on Oct 21, 2015

January 2016

The long-desired transnational railroad Latest incarnation as bizarre as its predecessors

December 2015

Many of you have been asking the situation on the Tijuana-Tecate railway regarding PSRM reinstituting the trip. Since the collapse of tunnel 3 in 2009 and it's recent daylighting, I've decided to make a summary of what's been going on. Click on this video to get a first person view of the situation. Stay tuned!

October 2015

A judge has ordered the president of the company trying to restart the Desert Line railroad east of San Diego to pay $73,000 to the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle a penalty imposed for his role in a stock scheme two decades ago. Donald Stoecklein, president of Pacific Imperial Railroad, was ordered to pay the amount on Oct. 23 by U.S. District Judge John Houston. It stems from a September 1995 consent agreement Stoecklein made with the agency over stock sales the SEC contended were a sham. Oct. 30, 2015

Pretty quiet for a railroad Desert Line president doesn't respond to court summons By Dorian Hargrove, Oct. 29, 2015 The wild ride continues for owner and operator of Metropolitan Transit System's Desert Line, Pacific Imperial Railroad. On October 19, the California Labor Commission ordered the fledgling binational railroad company to pay $90,152 in unpaid wages to former corporate secretary Jennifer Trowbridge. According to the complaint, Trowbridge worked from February 2013 to January 2015 as a full-time corporate secretary for Pacific Imperial Railroad. During that time, Trowbridge reportedly earned $2000 a month plus vacation pay. But checks were never sent in the mail. Near the beginning of her employment, Trowbridge as well as Pacific Imperial's executives agreed to collect their wages at a later date, when the company was financially stable. A year later, however, Trowbridge discovered that other executives had received wages. At the time, the legal counsel and president of Pacific Imperial, Donald Stoecklein, told Trowbridge, according to the complaint, "that there was not enough money to pay all of the executives and that the other executives were a higher priority." Trowbridge and an attorney appeared before the labor commission on August 31 of this year to protest the unpaid wages. However, no representatives decided to show for the hearing. In fact, the company and its president, Stoecklein, failed to answer the complaint or respond to the summons.

Pacific Imperial Railroad's new owner to rebuild Desert Line. nvestment company Conatus Capital Group Inc. has acquired a majority interest in Pacific Imperial Railroad (PIR), and named Arturo Alemany as president and chief executive officer. Alemany has more than 25 years of experience in international business development and operations in the United States, Europe and Latin America. He has 10 years of prior railroad experience with Amtrak, and is president and CEO of Alemany and Associates. 10/29/2015

Pacific Imperial Railroad Announces Majority Ownership Transfer and the Appointment of CEO and President Arturo Alemany October 28, 2015

September 2015

Pacific Imperial railroaded me. Investor in Desert Line sues, says executives were aware of problems. By Dorian Hargrove, Sept. 15, 2015

August 2015

Clearing the Way for Reconstruction

July 2015

July 17, 2015 Pacific Imperial dreams big with intermodal. by Don Jones SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System board voted this week to empower its CEO to renegotiate terms of the lease for the so-called Desert Line, with lessee Pacific Imperial Railroad Inc. The changes push back a contract milestone that called for the entire line to be brought up Class 1 standards by August of this year. The changes proposed by Pacific Imperial will emphasize reconstruction of the easternmost 9.5 miles of the line between Coyote Wells and the Union Pacific connection at Plaster City. A yet-to-be-constructed intermodal facility at Coyote Wells would permit containers to be trucked there and transferred to rail for delivery to UP and subsequent movement to the east. Talk is of assembling 100-car trains daily, providing an alternative means of shipment out of the many factories in northern Baja California, most of which ship by truck to intermodal facilities in the Los Angeles and San Bernardino areas. Additional modifications to the agreement require Pacific Imperial to bring the remainder of the line to Class 1 standards and commence test train operations by mid-May 2017.

July 8, 2015 MTS proposes to ease rail deadlines. Border railway was supposed to be running test trains by Oct. 1. MTS is now proposing a new schedule. It would divide repair work into two sections of the track with separate deadlines for each. The first would focus on the eastern 9.5 miles of track and be completed by March 1, 2016, with a test train running by April 2016. The second is the remaining 60 miles that would be completed by April 2017, with a test train set to run in May 2017. The new time frame will not push back the deadline of getting full-scale repairs done and operations underway by January 2018, according to a MTS staff report outlining the new deadlines.

July 7, 2015 Border railroad makes its MTS payment. Partners also announce agreement for talks with Mexican company

April 2015

Railroad exec to SEC: Too late to collect. By Greg Moran1:26 P.M.APRIL 21, 2015 The president of Pacific Imperial Railroad says it’s too late for the federal government to collect more than $70,000 stemming from a 1995 settlement regarding his role in what the Securities and Exchange Commission described as sham stock transactions. Donald Stoecklein, the president and public face of the rail company that was given a 99-year lease to revive and operate the Desert Line freight railroad along the U.S.-Mexico border, said in court papers that he should not have to pay because the legal time limit for seeking the money has passed.

March 2015

March 19 Old debt arises for border rail boss. SEC asks Stoecklein to pay fraud settlement from 1995, with interest.

March 12 San Diego Metropolitan Transit System's Board of Directors meeting final package

March 11, Donald Stoecklein, president and former lead counsel for the troubled binational railroad known as the Desert Line, has run into trouble in the form of the Securities and Exchange Commission. On March 11, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint against Stoecklein for failing to pay a 1997 settlement agreement over "ill-gotten gains" he received in the sale of stock in a Nevada-based company known as SoftPoint Inc. The complaint is the latest development in the saga involving the Desert Line.

February 2015


Feb. 26, 2015 Sabotage on the railway? Derailment of abandoned train cars "is a major public safety issue" By Dorian Hargrove,

FEB. 21, 2015 Rail investor faces fraud allegations. Member of new ownership group for border line says SEC charges are wrong. By Greg Moran 7:09 A.M.

Feb. 18, 2015 Desert Line grit. New management of railroad includes old faces in San Diego County. By Dorian Hargrove,

Rail partners face federal inquiry. Agents are asking about circumstances behind MTS border line lease.

Feb 04, 2015 Desert Line remains shrouded in secrecy. Council member David Alvarez calls for transparency on railroad restoration. By Joshua Emerson Smith. Alvarez asked for an update on a feasibility study of the Desert Line, as well as a financial audit of Pacific Imperial Railroad (PIR), the contracted company. MTS officials have yet to respond. However, answers to Alvarez’s questions likely exist. In order to begin freight operations, according to MTS records. Sections of the 100-year-old tracks would also need to be upgraded. Since entering into a 99-year contract with MTS in 2012, PIR submitted a business plan, which both entities have refused to make public. In 2007, MTS did a study of the rail line, which it also declined to release. But, in a legal declaration from 2012, MTS general counsel Karen Landers said the study found “costs to bring the Desert Line into a state of good repair were informally estimated at more than $100 million.”

January 2015

Carrizo Gorge_Jan 2015 snow

January 27, 2015 San Diego & Arizona Eastern Railway Company (SD&AE) Board of Directors Meeting


MTS Meeting Schedules and Minutes: