NS GP49 4600, Southern Big John, & Santa Fe Hy-Cube
I was pleasantly surprised with a gift this week! Welcome the newest additions to the fleet:
Athearn Genesis GP49 NS 4600, ExactRail PC&F 6033 cuft Hy-Cube boxcar ATSF 15692, and ExactRail Magor 4948 "Big John" covered hopper car SOUTHERN 8273. Thanks Mom and Dad!
Click on images for larger views!
Rich Duncan talked me into spending an evening track-side, which we did on Wednesday, 20 May, 2015. We started on the soon-to-be-retired BNSF Main Track Three between South Haslet and Lambert and ended up at the recent derailment site of train Z-WSPALT8-06 in Valley View, Texas. Though the evening was fairly cloudy, we tied-up up with some great shots!
H-TULTPL9-19 at Haslet
The first train we came across was BNSF Tulsa, OK to Temple, TX train H-TULTPL9-19. This train was stopped at the Firehouse Crossing on Main 3 where it had just changed crews. The 12th car on the train was of particular interest. It was flatcar BNSF 592511 loaded with a locomotive under tarp en-route to the port of Houston for export. The tarp was labeled "NRE Locomotive" with the number 9612 over the cab. The blue-and-yellow pilots were all that was visible of the paint scheme.
This locomotive is one of 20 former Santa Fe GE B23-7 locomotives being rebuilt with 3-axle trucks and small fuel tanks for East African Rift Valley Railways which operates in Kenya and Uganda. It is fitting that this trip would take the locomotive over the former Santa Fe rails it once called home! These units are being rebuilt by National Railway Equipment and are identified as C23-7's.
Amtrak No. 821 at GE
Next it was off to the new GE Locomotive Factory to set up for some shots of a very tardy Amtrak train No. 821, the southbound Heartland Flyer. Two brand new BNSF ES44C4s were resting outside the GE Locomotive Factory--Nos. 8378 and 8380. These two locomotives had been tested on the mainline with BNSF "K-Crew" K-ALTALT1-20. This is a regular job that goes on duty at 0800 Monday through Friday to test and deliver new GE locomotives. After each test run the locomotives are returned to the GE Factory for final analysis and updates before being delivered for revenue service.
The BNSF Texas Division has seen some extreme weather recently, resulting in a blanket 40 MPH speed restriction. This combined with various other slow orders have made the environment unfavorable for the operation of passenger trains. On this day all of the passengers were detrained at Ardmore, Oklahoma and put into buses. The train seen here is operating equipment only and is about five hours late.
H-KCKTPL1-17 at Justin
We caught our next train just to the north of Lambert. Citirail ES44AC 1320 and BNSF ES44C4 7074 lead Kansas City, KS to Temple, TX manifest train H-KCKTPL1-17 through Justin on the BNSF Fort Worth Subdivision. This train's totals were 110 cars (52 loads and 58 empties), 8877 tons, 6849 feet including power, and ETD BNQ 47465. Sitting in the normally vacant house track was lunger TTZX 857078 which had suffered a draw-bar failure. I employed the little-used concrete loading dock for my vantage point for these shots.
Chasing Roadrailer Q-SAGKCK1-19 North From Lambert
When Rich asked where we should go for this evening's field trip, I suggested that we make it a point to photograph the northbound Roadrailer train which was called out of Saginaw, TX for 1330-CT-20. This train running with symbol Q-SAGKCK1-19 (yes originating with a day-old symbol) was held in the West Pass at Saginaw to meet the H-TULTPL9-19 and the very late Amtrak No. 821. As this was still playing out after we shot the H-KCKTPL1-17 at Justin we had a chance to grab a quick bite to eat and then strategize on where to shoot the Roadrailer.
We selected Lambert Junction where the old and new main track alignments come together north of Alliance. This train would be operating off the soon-to-be-severed Main Three. At Lambert the under-construction new Main One can be seen right in front of Main Two--both tracks sweeping to the west away from the original alignment. A new connection from the old main around what will become the "New" Control Point at Lambert is also under construction. This connection will be used to allow access to the GE Locomotive factory.
Train Q-SAGKCK1-19 would sport four locomotives today, the third being NS 9250 wearing a special Operation Lifesaver paint scheme. In tow were 116 Triple Crown Roadrailer Trailers on bogies.
The many speed restrictions in effect made this train an easy chase. After photographing the train at Lambert, we were able to get shots at Ponder, Krum, and South of Metro. We would again photograph the train at Valley View as it eased by the recent derailment site.
V-KCKPEA1-17 at Rector Road
Our Roadrailer was set up to meet a southbound train at Metro siding. This train would be southbound Kansas City, Kansas to Pearland, TX (Houston area) vehicle train V-KCKPEA1-17 with C44-9W 4754 and ES44AC 5944 leading 80 loaded autoracks. We set up in the curve at the Rector Road crossing just north of Metro for the shot.
There was a "Road Closed" barricade on Rector Road just east of the grade crossing, so naturally we went that way after shooting the V-KCKPEA1-17! This road is the long way to the next town which is Sanger, TX. There were four locations where flood waters from the recent storms was flowing freely over Rector Road. At the time of our passing it was shallow enough for us to safely drive through.
Having traveled this far it occurred to us that the site of the recent derailment of train Z-WSPALT8-06 was not far away. With train speed being very slow today, we decided to head to the derailment site to see what we could see.
Z-WSPALT8-06 Derailment Site - Valley View, TX
Our last photo location for the day was a very surreal scene indeed. In the very early morning hours of May 8, 2015 a severe weather event drenched North Texas. The BNSF Fort Worth Subdivision between Gainesville and Justin was directly in the storm's path. Train Z-WSPALT8-06 had stopped at the south end of Valley View that night to pick up the crew off a southbound Roadrailer train to take them to Alliance. After picking up this crew, train Z-WSPALT8-06 continued on its journey to Alliance, but it did not get far at all. Flood waters were swift and severe, compromising the roadbed that the main track rested on. In less than a single train-length, the journey for the Z-WSPALT8-06 would come to a sudden and tragic end. All four of the locomotives and the head 17 intermodal wells/platforms derailed in a pile.
All four employees (the two-man crew of the Z-WSPALT8-06 and the two-man crew picked up off the Roadrailer) were injured, though non-critically, and were hospitalized for treatment. This location was on a fill and did not have immediate road access, so site recovery took several days.
Tragically and coincidentally, very near the location of this derailment, BNSF Conductor Brandon Henegar was dealt a fatal blow by this storm. He had accepted a call to work that night. While trying to travel from his home in Gainesville to the Yard Office at Alliance, his personal vehicle was swept off the road by the flash flood that caused Spring Creek to rage. Brandon was found deceased in his vehicle late that morning. The button below will take you to local news coverage of this storm event:
Our visit this evening was twelve days after the incident had occurred. Many of the containers and derailed rail cars had been cut up and shipped off. The main line was back in service with much new rock in place, though the repairs still in progress and track speed just 25 MPH. All four locomotives remained on scene, upright and dragged a hundred feet-or-so away from the rail. They were damaged much more so than I had anticipated. After all in the media images, two of the locomotives were completely buried by cars so the damage could not be seen.
But on this evening, the locomotives could be seen. Very eerily looming over the muddy, scarred, and dangerous landscape. Only two contractors were on hand, using heavy equipment to tear apart the well of a Trailer Train stack car. We got shots of our Roadrailer and a southbound Z-Train passing the scene. Two very supportive Valley View police officers also made a presence. Their world had been turned upside-down by the events of the storm as well. After a pleasant conversation it was time to head home. I would need to report for duty at 0630 the next morning. My job as train dispatcher for this territory would be waiting for my arrival.
Getting The Shot on the BNSF Fort Worth Subdivision
A co-worker talked me into spending this evening out on the property. I am glad we did - it is easy to forget that we work for a railroad in the main office. The hi-lights were following the northbound roadrailer led by NS 9555 sporting a horn that sure sounded like a Nathan P5! We ended up at the recent derailment site in Valley View for some interesting photo opportunities. This brought back many memories and reminded me why it is good to be working in the NOC and not in the field!
Here are a few images from the scene. I will eventually get more of them edited and add a full photo essay of the evening in the CMP Photo Essay Library. Until then, enjoy the images below. Clicking on the photos will take you to larger files posted on RRPictureArchives.net.
Rolling Stock Main Page
A recent project I have begun was to create an Excel spreadsheet of all of my rolling stock. Partly just to help me rationalize my fleet, but also to serve as a reference when purchasing new cars. Though I still have many more cars to add, 151 cars are currently on the list. The buttons above will take you to the main index, an example of a letter page, and a specific car page.
This concept developed into the Rolling Stock Index that I have added under the Models tab. This page has a button for each letter of the alphabet. These buttons will take you to a page listing all freight cars whose reporting marks begin with the letter indicated.
An even longer term project is to create a page for each car. I have added a few to the site so far. Car BN 449250 is among the first to have its own page. These pages can be found by clicking on underlined cars on each letter page. Most of the information fields come from the data on the master Excel spreadsheet.
Each car page will have a slideshow initially consisting of a series of "as delivered" roster and detail photos. It will be fun to see the albums grow as time progresses!
While it will take some time to add all of the existing rolling stock in the fleet to this index, it will be a goal to add all new additions to the fleet as they arrive. Effective today the framework is complete with all of the Letter Index Pages created and all of the cars entered so far on the Excel Spreadsheet added to the Meridian Speedway Freight Car Index!
More CF7 Photos Contributed by Russell Tedder
Russell Tedder was kind enough to share a few more CF7 images to go with his article on Santa Fe's CF7 Diesel Electric Locomotives in the Meridian Speedway Library. I decided to create a slide show of all the CF7 images as well. This collection can be viewed on a new page under the Prototype Inspiration page....
ExactRail Additions Arrived This Week
The latest additions to the fleet are a pair of ExactRail freight cars. MP 582184 is a Bethlehem 3737 open hopper car and EACH 2408 is a FMC 5327 Box Car with a 12' Plug Door. Both cars are wonderful models!
David M. Bernstein's Book Hits the Presses!!!
I have received my copy of "Southern Pacific's Eastern Lines 1946-1996" authored by fellow BNSF Train Dispatcher David M. Bernstein. This is a welcome addition to my collection. Many thanks to the North Texas Chapter of the NRHS which published this long-awaited work!
This book has over 400 pages and thoroughly documents the operations of the Southern Pacific in Texas and Louisiana from the end or World War II to the Union Pacific takeover in 1996.
There are a number of photographs taken by my father, Michael M. Palmieri, as well as a few of my own photographs published in this work along with images by many noted photographers. For those of you who, like myself, grew up on the Southern Pacific's Eastern Lines this book is a must have!
If you are looking for a quality addition to your railroad library, I highly recommend that you support the North Texas Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society's decision to sponsor this work and get a copy for your shelf. MSRP is $69.95 and the order form can be found at the following link:
Second YouTube Video - Michigan Interstate
This video was taken during an operating session on Greg McComas' HO Scale Michigan Interstate Railroad. On this job I play the role of engineer and Dan Munson is the conductor. We are using the inbound power from train M-MCBA-09 to switch outbound train M-BAPH-10.
The engines are MCIS SD22ECOs 2290 and 2291 - rebuilt from Atlas SD35s as ECO upgrades with EMD 8-cylinder 710 prime movers. The models are equipped with EMD 710 sound decoders which greatly enhance the operating experience.
There is quite a bit of momentum programmed into the units as is evidenced by observing the train movement and listening to the instructions coming from the conductor.
Taking this video was an exercise in multi-tasking as I am controlling the train using the WiThrottleLite App on my iPhone with my left hand and filming with a Sony Handycam with my right hand.
To learn more about the Michigan Interstate HO Scale model railroad visit: http://michiganinterstatemodelrr.blogspot.com/
I Guess I am Now a YouTuber!
I have uploaded my very first video to YouTube today. Really just a process test, I uploaded a clip of video from the last operating session on Greg McComas' Michigan Interstate Railroad. There will be more to come so stay tuned.....