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METRA board approves purchase of EMD SD70MACH units for commuter service!

Serious Muscle! In late-February METRA approved a $71 million contract to purchase 15 remanufactured EMD Progress Rail Locomotives with options to buy up to 27 additional locomotives if more funding becomes available. According to a Metra announcement, Progress Rail will take existing EMD SD70MAC freight locomotives and upgrade and configure them for passenger use. All components will either be refurbished, upgraded or new. The newly remanufactured locomotives will be designated as SD70MACH locomotives. “Our goals with this locomotive purchase are to increase reliability and improve the state of good repair on our system,” Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski said in a statement. “These like-new locomotives will be replacing some of the oldest locomotives in our fleet, and we would expect to see a significant increase in reliability as these newer locomotives are introduced.” An Artists rendering of the SD70MACH locomotive, and the proposed METRA paint scheme.

In a presentation to Metra’s Board of Directors, Chief Mechanical Officer Kevin McCann said 103 locomotives, or about 70 percent of Metra’s current fleet of 147, are rated in marginal or poor condition. The average age of Metra locomotives is 31 years, he said. The addition this year of 21 used F59PHI locomotives purchased from Amtrak and three F59PHs from Progress Rail will reduce that percentage to about 45 percent. The addition of the remanufactured freight locomotives will reduce that percentage to 14 percent by 2023, he said. “With this procurement, we’ll start seeing a big improvement in reliability,” McCann said. The newer locomotives will also reduce operating costs, since the older locomotives are increasingly expensive to maintain and operate, he said. Metra Chairman Norm Carlson pointed out that Progress Rail is a wholly owned subsidiary of Caterpillar, an Illinois company, and that Progress Rail has a research facility in La Grange, a suburb of Chicago. “There’s a benefit to that,” Carlson said. “We’re using tried and true equipment.” Metra issued an request for proposals in January 2018 for companies to provide proposals for either new or remanufactured locomotives. Metra chose remanufactured locomotives primarily because it can buy more of them than new locomotives, McCann said. McCann said a significant benefit from the purchase will be evident in the locomotives’ traction motors, which deliver the power generated by the diesel engine to the wheels. The remanufactured locomotives will have AC traction motors, which are far more durable and reliable than the DC traction motors in Metra’s older EMD locomotives. For example, Metra currently needs to replace about 160 DC traction motors annually. On Metra Electric cars, the oldest of which have had AC traction motors for 12 years, Metra has not had to change a single traction motor. The remanufactured locomotives have a similar features to Metra’s EMD F59 locomotives so Metra will be able to use the same parts inventory and won’t need different training and maintenance programs, McCann said.

The new locomotives will have 4,300-hp, a 34-percent increase. Another major upgrade is a microprocessor-controlled brake system. The remanufactured locomotives will meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s Tier 3 emissions standards, McCann said. Replacing 42 of Metra’s current locomotives that are rated Tier 0+ with 42 Tier 3 locomotives will eliminate 61 tons of nitrous oxide emissions annually – the equivalent to taking 6,600 cars off the road.

The vehicle hit by LIRR train was driving away from a previous car crash say police:

The driver of a vehicle that caused a horrific Long Island Rail Road crash Tuesday evening (February 26th, 2019), killing all three occupants of the car, had fled the scene of a minor car crash moments before attempting to go around a railroad gate in Westbury and colliding with two trains, an eyewitness told law enforcement at the scene, according to Nassau County police. Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder provided critical new information on the moments before the fatal collision during a news conference Wednesday at Nassau University Medical Center, where seven patients from the train were treated. The vehicle involved in the collision, heading south on School Street around 7:20 p.m., was involved in a minor auto accident only "seconds" before fleeing the scene and crashing, first into an eastbound LIRR train and then a westbound train, according to a witness identified by Ryder as an occupant of the other vehicle involved in the two-car crash. "The witness said that individual was involved in an accident and then went around the gate,” Ryder said. The identification of the deceased driver and the vehicle's two other occupants is still pending as the crash destroyed the vehicle, leaving only parts of the engine intact, Ryder said.

The vehicle was first struck first by eastbound LIRR train #1260, carrying about 800 passengers, which left New York Penn Station at 6:35 p.m., with a final destination in Hicksville. Only seconds after the first collision, the same vehicle was struck by westbound LIRR train #2065, carrying about 200 passengers, which left Ronkomoma at 6:36 p.m. heading for Penn Station. The vehicle was crushed, torn into pieces, and wedged between both trains, officials said. After the collision, the westbound train derailed and traveled about 800 feet before crashing into the concrete platform at the Westbury station, sending chunks of concrete flying into the air. "We cannot repeat this enough. Please do not try to beat the train," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said. "There is nothing so important. And I think we saw that with a very stark clarity last night."

Pacific 150th anniversary of the Golden Spike on May 10th 2019:

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, has accepted the $1 million that Union Pacific Railroad is donating to the state and said, “This is going to help us have a party and celebrate like it’s 1869!” The State plans to mark the 150th anniversary of the May 10, 1869, completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad at Promontory Summit — when the country cheered and rejoiced at the final telegraphic message. Union Pacific announced February 7th 2019, that it would match the $1 million appropriated by the Legislature for upcoming celebrations. Officials outlined some highlights, including the return of the original golden spike, and a visit by the world’s largest steam engine a restored Big Boy locomotive, and other UP Steam and diesel engines.

Union Pacific announces another round of layoffs, and will close their Pine Bluff Diesel Shop:

Pacific announced another round of layoffs on Tuesday that affects 700 employees and includes the closure of the locomotive shop in Pine Bluff, Ark. UP has notified the mechanical department that 450 positions will be eliminated. Union Pacific officials say they are working toward streamlining operations through regional consolidations and cutting cost to boost revenue, which has led to layoffs, Layoffs for the company began in early February, according to a statement made by Union Pacific Senior Director for Corporate Communications and Media Relations Kristen South. So far Union Pacific has not given specific numbers for the number of jobs that will be lost in the expected closure of the Pine Bluff shop. One employee, who spoke under the condition of anonymity to the paper, said the railroad has laid off 37 machinists, 16 electricians, 18 laborers and four foremen for a total of 75 employees to date at this shop. When it comes to the downfall of the shop, one employee of the company blames greed for the loss of jobs, saying “the worst part about all the layoffs is no one knows when or where they are coming or how many will be cut,” the employee said. “The company that once claimed to love and value their employees are cutting them at alarming rates and for what? Greed? Take a look at Union Pacific’s fourth-quarter earnings in 2018. Record profits and record safety, yet they lay off? Why? How?” Layoffs were announced late last year, according to a November article in the Casper Star Tribune. According to the article, Union Pacific eliminated 775 locomotives from its fleet by the end of 2018, despite reporting $1.6 billion in net earnings for 2018, which was a 33 percent increase from 2017s earnings, and the highest ever third quarter earnings in the history of the company. UP stated that over 400 locomotive have been placed in storage in the last few months as freight traffic has dropped system wide, and they have no need for more locomotive servicing at this time.

American Photos

Dennis Weber shot UP LTA-42, with matching EMD SD60’s UP 2180 and 2178 as they rolled by the frozen lake in Dakota, MN at 10:50, on February 1st 2019. The train was headed toward Adams, Wisconsin.

A “CANADIAN” Connection: Returning from a trip to the Montana Rail Link, George C. Manley stopped in Breckinridge MN on July 4 2011, two ex CPR SW1200's in the yard Built by GMD as SW1200RS #104 (1958). Rebuilt by CP as SW1200RSu and renumbered to #1213 (1982). She was traded in to Rail Trust Equipment (2/2004). Sold to Red River Valley & Western Railroad in Wahpeton ND., to become RRVW #1213.

Built by GMD as SW1200RS 8108 (1958). Rebuilt by CP as SW1200RSu and renumbered to #1276 (1985). She was traded in to Rail Trust Equipment (2/2004). She was sold to Red River Valley & Western Railroad, Wahpeton ND, to become RRVW#1276.

UPWB MRVWS is led by two of the nastiest dirty looking units on the railroad. UP 5280 and UP 5265 were caught by George C. Manley rolling through Rodeo, California January 30th, 2019, with an interesting load in the consist.

With a load destined to BART in Oakland, CA, BART Maintenance & Engineer unit NRV 5007 which is designed for low clearance on the transit system trackage. George shot the load coming and going, to see both ends of the unique motive-power.

A BNSF eastbound Bare Table train led by BNSF 6392 (and BNSF 7589), is grinding up the hill at West Collier, California with only BNSF 6392 working. The train is making only about 15 MPH at this point. (George C. Manley).

In an actually somber image, Kevin Burkholder was finally able to catch his former comrades at DHART (air medical helicopter), which he retired from in 2016), and a Vermont Railway train in the same image. Leading the train was VTR SD70M-2 431, GMTX GP38-2 2684 and VTR GP38-2 202. All was fine until the train reached the East Wallingford, Vermont, Route 140 crossing, where a logging truck failed to yield the right-of-way (activated crossing flashers in place) and was impacted by the track speed train and VTR 431. The ensuing aftermath caused a lot of cosmetic damage and critical injuries to the truck driver, however the crew escaped uninjured. This view is AFTER the patient had been extricated and was in the air for Dartmouth Medical Center. This photo was taken on the VRS / GMRC Bellows Falls Subdivision at East Wallingford, Vermont, on January 26, 2019.

With “Ghetto Grills” on FSRR 14519 (Ferrosur) this GE C30 Super 7 was shot by Joe Carman at Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz MX. January 22nd, 2019.

KCSM ET44AC 5002 had only just made her maiden run as a leader Northbound a couple nights ago, but Michael D. Richmond was not able to get her. However on February 17th, in Goodman, Missouri he was able to catch her first run Southbound as a leader on a train that had pipe loads on the train from Canada on CP railcars (Visible on the top right).

On February 13th, 2019 Mike Garza shot UP power leading Indiana Harbor Belt train IHB NA-5 at Dolton, Illinois UP 5623, UP 2732 and UP 4748. The rear unit is a Rebuilt SD70M (UP 4748) which had just been released after repaint.

Indiana Harbor Belt (IHB) train NA1 had CP power at Dolton, Illinois on February 8th, 2019, with GE AC4400CW CP 8526 and ES44AC CP 9373 (Mike Garza).

Mike also clicked IHB train 518 doing its daily back-up “shove” of coil cars into the Acme Steel plant, in Dolton, Illinois on February 13th.

CN train Q116 had an air repeater car mid-train. This was the first one Mike Garza had ever seen at Homewood, IL. Train Q116 goes to Toronto usually loaded with a big block of auto racks and stacked containers. A friend of his who is a who is an engineer told him some of the auto racks are set off at Battle Creek, MI.

After dropping his son off at the Airport in Sacramento, George Manley drove up to Roseville, CA to see what train action was going on. The UP had prepared a snow plow team set, and was ready to go to handle the current snow pack. The hump at Roseville Yard was only doing light duty and was not at work all day, and employee rumours have suggested it may be the next victim of a hump shut down. Over At the diesel shop, he caught UP SD40N 1648 waiting for an assignment in the Roseville power pool.

As luck would have it, three GP22C-ECO's UPY 1001-1003 were all in Roseville yard in mid-February, for inspections, check up and final additions. Here is GP22 UPY 1003.

Waiting for inspection and assignment was UPY GP22C-ECO UPY 1002, part of a group of 10 that UP is cycling through the Roseville Diesel Shop.

UPY 1001, was the other GP22C-ECO on hand for inspection and assignment.

Rupert Gutierrez got lucky and got a shot of NREX (ex-CP Rail SD40-2 5665), still working on the Ft Worth & Western RR in Stephenville, TX. On a chilly, but sunny day, he caught her working the FWWR “Dublin turn” on January 21st, 2019.

Indiana Harbor Belt 4013 is former SP 7620, and is one of two recently rebuilt GP40’s on the roster (the 2nd one is right behind it). These feature a handsome reversed Indiana Harbor Belt classic black and orange stripe scheme. This photo was taken on February 2nd, 2019 in Dolton, Illinois by Andrew Sonkin.

Only a few months old, UP SD70ACe 8399 was shot by Warren Calloway in Kansas City, MO in October 2005.

American Vignettes

“WE CAN HANDLE IT” was the 1970’s slogan that replaced th2 1960’s Epic “Dependable Transportation” on the Union Pacific locomotive cab sides. Here UP Historian George Cockle shot brand new SD40-2 UP 3222 at Council Bluffs, Iowa on May 15th, 1973. Later in her life she will go through the Nexus “SD40N” rebuild program, and was completed on June 4th, 2012 as UP SD40N 1661. (Photo by George Cockle).

Leased to the Burlington Northern at the time, SP U33C 8783 was shot at the head end of a BN coal train in Fisher, Wyoming, back in January 1982 after rear-ending a stopped BN train ahead of it in late-January 1982. This was the result. Two other SP U33C’s on lease, SP 8711 and SP 8761, were trailing SP 8783. After looking the trio over all three were sold for scrap to the BN, which cut them up at their Livingston, Montana Diesel Shop. Southern Pacific were of course compensated by Burlington Northern for the three wrecked locomotives. Allan R. Burns took this image back in February 1982 at Alliance, Nebraska. (From the Joe Strapac slide collection).

Southern Pacific “Bloody Nose” painted EMD SD45T-2R (SP 6852), was photographed in Dunsmuir, California by Stoby Johnson on March 23, 1989.

On November 1st 1973, Kin Piersol shot B&O “GM 50” on the Chessie System at Dolton, Illinois (Outside Chicago) B&O GP40-2 4164 was repainted solid gold & renumbered to GM 50 to celebrate GM's 50th year of building locomotives. Photo by Bill Howes.

B&O GP40-2 1977 and GM 50 were on display at the B&O Museum, Baltimore, MD back in February, 1977. B&O GP40-2 1977 was Baltimore & Ohio's 150th Anniversary Locomotive.

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