December 14, 1906

December 14, 1906

John D. Spreckels announced he will form San Diego & Arizona (SD&A) Railway Company and build a 148-mile line between San Diego and El Centro. Spreckels has agreement with Southern Pacific (SP) to silently fund the project.

September 7, 1907

September 7, 1907

Groundbreaking ceremonies for SD&A are held at the foot of 26th Street (now known as Dewey Street) and Main Street.



Mexican Government orders SD&A to form the Tijuana & Tecate Company, which will construct and hold a 99-year lease on the 44-mile Mexican rail segment.



Mexican revolutionaries mount several attacks on SD&A construction crews to conscript soldiers and supplies, and cut telephone wires.



U.S. federal government seizes control of all railroads and stops construction as part of its war effort to conserve resources; U.S. Government later grants Spreckels special exemption on grounds SD&A will serve military installation.

November 11, 1919

Construction of SD&A is completed at cost of $18 million.

December 1, 1919

First passenger train “arrives” in San Diego from El Centro for official grand opening.

1926, 1927, 1929

Rains take out large amounts of trackage east of San Diego.

October 24, 1932

Financial problems force John D. Spreckels’ heirs to transfer their share of SD&A ownership to SP for $2.8 million. SD&A becomes San Diego & Arizona Eastern (SD&AE).


Floods, land slides, and fires close three (3) tunnels resulting in over $600,000 in repairs.

January 11, 1951

SD&AE ends passenger service due to years of continued declining patronage.

May 20, 1970

SP relinquishes its interest in 44-mile (72 km) Tijuana and Tecate Railway to Mexican national railways, Ferrocarril Sonora Baja California, S.A. de C.V.

September 10, 1976

Hurricane Kathleen destroys major sections of track and bridges on the Desert Line.

August 20, 1979

MTS purchases SD&AE Railway Company in restored condition for $18.1 million (SP keeps Plaster City-El Centro segment). The ICC approves operation of freight service by Kyle Railways under contract to MTS. MTS reorganizes SD&AE as a Nevada nonprofit corporation.

March 8, 1984

MTS signs agreement with Texas firm, RailTex, to provide freight service. New service to operate as San Diego & Imperial Valley (SD&IV) Railroad

August 1, 1986

SD&IV enters into a multi-year agreement with Mexican Government to set tariffs and provide freight service into Baja California

July 14, 1989

SD&IV begins repair on Desert Line that was previously destroyed by storms, as a prelude to the start of freight service to Imperial County.

April 2003

SD&IV and MTS approve agreement with  Carrizo Gorge Railway Inc. (CZRY) for freight service on the Desert Line. CZRY begins Desert Line rehabilitation.  

January 2005

Carrizo Gorge Railway Inc. (CZRY) officially moves freight across the Desert Line.

July 2012

Pacific Imperial Railroad (PIR) is assigned to take over the rights of Carrizo Gorge Railway Inc. and all obligations in regards to the Desert Line.

December 20, 2012

MTS grants PIR a new 99-year lease for Desert Line freight services.

January 2013

Submission of PIR’s Business Plan to MTS  

March 2013

Surface Transportation Board approval

June 2013

Submission to MTS of Desert Line Reconstruction Plan

July, 1, 2013

PIR pays $500,000.00 lease payment to MTS

October 2013

J.L. Patterson and Associates complete a Bridge Inspection Report- a summary level report of the general condition of the PIR mainline bridges between milepost 59.94 and milepost 129.6

December 2013

Holland and Nordco complete a Track Condition Review.  Holland L.P. conducted track geometry, rail profile, and track gauge strength testing and Nordco conducted ultrasonic testing for rail defects

December 9, 2013

Presidential Permit Exemption obtained from the U.S. Department of State, which allows PIR to operate border crossing under lease from the current owner- MTS

January 1, 2014

PIR pays $500,000.00 lease payment to MTS

July 1, 2014

PIR pay $500,000.00 lease payment to MTS.

July 2014

South County Economic Development Council (SCEDC) board members voted to support the reactivation of the San Diego Arizona Eastern Railway at its May Board of Directors meeting. “Re-opening the Desert Line will help expedite the import-export process for cargo without compromising national security.”

December 15, 2014

MTS, PIR, Baja Rail, and the Governor of Baja’s representative met with the Consul General, Andrew Erickson, to discuss and mediate the creation of a bi-national rail line.

January 1, 2015

PIR pays $500,000 lease payment to MTS

February 7, 2015

Carlos Slim Helú and Arturo Alemany Arturo Alemany is brought on as a strategic consultant and liaison to PIR’s Director of Mexican affairs

June 11, 2015

PIR attends and presents at the 2015 Baja California Logistics Forum along with representatives the Port of Ensenada, San Diego Association of Governments, and Baja California Railroad

June 22, 2015

Monday, June 22, 2015 Pacific Imperial Railroad (PIR) is pleased and honored to announce that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed between Pacific Imperial Railroad and Baja California Railroad (BJRR).

July 1, 2015

PIR pays $500,000 lease payment to MTS

July 16, 2015

MTS Board approves PIR’s Operational Plan by a 17-0 vote, to rehabilitate the Desert Line starting in Plaster City working eastward and constructing an intermodal terminal near Ocotillo to service the regional trucking need for an alternative connecting link to Union Pacific’s network to the east.

August 12, 2015

GATX moves empty boxcars off the Desert Line in preparation for reconstruction efforts.