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    Posted Sunday, October 29 2006 at 1910 h MST
    After doing "Trooper on the Train" / Operation Lifesaver work between Salt Lake and Provo throughout the last week, UP 1989 has been released to come home to Colorado. It was spotted as the trailing unit (but facing east) on Sunday's MROPV-29, the Roper to Provo manifest. Speculation is that it will likely go east on Monday's MPVNY-30, the new Provo-North Yard manifests. We can only hope it'll be on the point.

    I should make a note that the MPVNY/MNYPV have replaced the previous MRONY/MNYRO pair. They're now originating from the refurbished Rio Grande yard in Provo, rather than coming down all the way from the ex-D&RGW Roper Yard in Salt Lake City.

    (Update 10/30 - 0825h): Here it comes! 1989 left Provo eastbound at 0655h this morning towards Denver. It'll probably have a fairly lengthy stopover in Grand Junction, as the MRONY used to do. Just got a note from Tyler saying that, unfortunately, it's the fourth unit back, behind 3 SD70Ms. Good luck - looks like a beautiful day out there!

    Also, Nelson Lunt and Quinn Clegg have sent a few more photos of the runs in Utah. I've added them to Quinn's first set of photos in the gallery [here]. Thanks to both of you for helping cover 1989's first trip west! -

    Posted Sunday, October 29 2006 at 1852 h MST
    The Towner Line was sold by the State of Colorado to the V&S Railway in mid-December 2005, after the Colorado Kansas & Pacific ceased operations earlier that year. Since today very well might be the last day of convertible weather I get this year, I decided to go for a little drive along the route and check out what this new operator has been up to.

    As of today (Sunday, 29-Oct-2006), I found their two locomotives tied down in Eads, CO. Both were shut down, and I would have to assume drained, since there was no indication of an auto-start system and temperatures at night have been below freezing lately. Wheel treads on both units were mildly rusty - clearly they had been run, but not much recently. I find their B30-7AB (the cabless booster) to be a very strange choice for a railroad with no turning facilities (and no traffic that would require more than the 242 could handle). 4066 is completely useless without 242 to lead, so it's not like they wanted a spare unit in case one failed.

    The only cars on the entire line from NA Jct. to the Kansas border were just west of NA Junction - four flatcars and one five-unit spine car. They'd been there for some time, as all the wheels were well-rusted. Periodic spot-checks of the rail head and flangeways at crossings along the entire line showed no sign of recent activity. It doesn't look good for the Towner Line's future - for a railroad that has such great car-parking potential (as the CK&P showed), they aren't even using it for that. It's just... empty.

    I've posted a few pictures of their power over [here]. -

    Posted Friday, October 27 2006 at 2128 h MDT
    The old American Orient Express train, now known as GrandLuxe Rail Journeys, is making its way eastward via the Moffat tonight. Reports on the D&RGW list are that it's following on the heels of Amtrak 6, the eastbound Zephyr. 6, on the other hand, is almost 7 hours late now, and is still somewhere west of Winter Park. Expected arrival for 6 in Denver is around 0100h on Saturday, 28-Oct-2006, and I would expect the AOE train to be about 20-45 minutes behind that, based on timings out west today. - NDHolmes

    Posted Thursday, October 26 2006 at 2141 h MDT
    Last Saturday, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic hosted Chama Steam V, a single day charter photo freight event organized by Jay Wimer of the Goat. The highlight of the day was a triple-headed, [34 car] freight to Cumbres. From there, the train dropped lead engine 487 as well as the flanger. The rest of the train went on out to Osier, where it turned and headed back for Chama.

    By all accounts, this year's event was a smashing success. The weather was flawless, things ran smoothly (aside from a very minor incident with 488's pilot truck dropping off the rails at Osier), and some spectacular photos have come to light after the event I wasn't able to make it this year, but you can see photos of it in various places on the web - such as William Diehl's excellent photography [here], some shots by Jay himself [#1] , [#2], and [#3], a few by Railstar's Steve Torrico [here], and a few by Carlos Llamas from the cab [here].

    For those that didn't get to make it down, there's a video of the event for sale on Chama Steam's website [here].

    Next year, there will be two Chama Steam events in 2007 - a two-day photo freight that will cover the entire line on 30-Sep-2007 and 1-Oct-2007 ($800), or another single-day event up Cumbres Pass after the close of the regular season on 20-Oct-2007 ($500). Details, as well as links to put your money down and reserve your seat, are available on the [Chama Steam website]. (As for me, I've already reserved my seat on the two-day freight run, and I'm seriously thinking about dropping more cash for the second. I'm bound and determined that work won't get in the way yet again next year!) -

    Posted Sunday, October 22 2006 at 2321 h MDT
    As reported on Saturday, UP 1989 made its first trip to Utah and to the western half of the Rio Grande system. The unit was the third of six units out of Denver, running backwards and behind a grimy UP unit on the point. Last night at Grand Junction, however, the power was wyed and the 1989 lead through the Utah desert and over Soldier Summit.

    Quinn Clegg just sent me four photos of today's MNYRO-21 crossing Soldier Summit. They're posted [here].

    If anybody else would like to send in shots of the move from either Saturday or Sunday, I'd be glad to post them, as well. -

    Posted Sunday, October 22 2006 at 1738 h MDT
    On my way to work in Wisconsin last month - right before the QJ runs in Iowa - I decided to take the northern route across South Dakota and Minnesota. In doing so, I'd go right through the Black Hills and could stop by a railroad I've been meaning to visit for some time - the Black Hills Central, aka the 1880 Train. They're a steam-powered tourist hauler that runs about nine miles of track between Hill City, SD, and Keystone. Between the 4-6% grades and the odd steam power (a balloon-stack 2-6-2, a 2-6-2T, and an ultra-rare 2-6-6-2T), I thought it was high time I pay a visit. So, on Saturday, 9-Sep-2006, I rode to Keystone and back in the morning, and followed that up by chasing the afternoon run. The results of that trip can be found [here], or, if you want to read the background information in the introduction, go [here]). Enjoy! - NDHolmes

    Posted Sunday, October 22 2006 at 1322 h MDT
    Just as a reminder, 5371 will be coming due for an inspection again shortly. However, this won't be the usual 92-day inspection - the unit is due for its three year (1104-day) inspection. My understanding is that Roper does not perform these, and that the unit will be shipped to North Platte to have the work performed. Since UP has been trying to patch this thing for over a year now, it seems extremely unlikely that it would pass through one of UP's main shops and not get patched.

    It's good through the end of the day on Sunday, 15-Nov-2006, but that doesn't mean that UP couldn't haul it out of Helper sooner. Once it passes the 15th, it would have to be hauled dead in the consist, whereas if it were moved earlier, it could provide power for whatever train it was on. -

    Posted Saturday, October 21 2006 at 1608 h MDT
    For those who don't remember, the Durango & Silverton route was closed on Friday, 6-Oct-2006, when the first train returning from Silverton discovered a rockslide and water running across the track. Service was suspended north of the Cascade wye while repairs were made, but passengers had the option of taking a shorter trip between Durango and Cascade - much like the usual winter run. The line was cleared some time Monday, with the stranded equipment returning to Durango in one monsterous deadheading move. Everything was returned to normal on Tuesday, 10-Oct-2006, when both regularly scheduled trains ran all the way to Silverton and back.

    Fritz Klinke posted links over at NGDF to a few photo galleries of the cleanup efforts. Have a look at the photo sets: [Gallery 1], [Gallery #2], [Gallery #3], and [Gallery #4]. -

    Posted Saturday, October 21 2006 at 0032 h MDT
    Heads up out west - I just saw on the DRGW list that UP 1989 (the D&RGW heritage SD70ACe) will be headed west on MNYRO-21 on Saturday morning. It's headed to Utah, where it will be paired up with the SP heritage unit (UP 1996) for some work as part of an "Officer on the Train" operation for the next week.

    (Update - 10/21 0910h): The train left North Yard around 0600h this morning. Conflicting reports either put 1989 on the point of 8 units, or as the third in a group of six. If anybody's out today, I'd appreciate any photos you'd be willing to let me post of this move. -

    Posted Wednesday, October 18 2006 at 1809 h MDT
    In addition to RCLX 8527, the B39-8 that arrived on the San Luis & Rio Grande on 3-Oct-2006, the railroad has acquired a second - RLCX 8524. The pair are now frequently seen on the SLRG's webcam in Alamosa, such as in [this image].

    After acquiring the FP10 (RPCX 1100) several months back, the unit has sat dead in the Alamosa yard, aside from being moved around a few times. Now the unit will be leaving the railroad - the decision has been made to sell the unit. The unit lacks dynamic brakes, and thus would not be a good candidate as the sole power on a train over La Veta Pass. Reports on Trainorders.com are that the unit will go to the SL&RG's sister road, the Arizona Eastern. (Both roads are owned by Iowa Pacific Holdings.) Contrary to my earlier post, the unit did not leave the railroad on Oct 2 - I mis-read Colorado Zephyr's post on Trainorders.

    Since the tourist train season ended in the San Luis Valley last weekend, ridership numbers for 2006 are starting to come out. In [this] Alamosa Valley Courier article, SL&RG president Ed Ellis is quoted as saying the ridership on the line was around 10,000 this year, which is roughly what he expected. C&TS total ridership numbers will be slightly above 39,000, roughly a 21% increase over last year, and should be announced in detail soon.

    (Update - 10/20 - 0826h): My apologies, I messed up the unit's departure date based on mis-reading the CZ's post on Trainorders. It was at least still in Alamosa as of 13-Oct-2006, as proven by [this] photo from their webcam. Thanks for the update, Jim! Also, thanks to John for passing along confirmation of the dynamic brakes being the reason for its departure.)

    (Update #2 - 10/21) - Much of what's been reported about the F being sold is not true. It's still on the roster, though may be leased out. More later... -

    Posted Tuesday, October 17 2006 at 2004 h MDT
    Union Pacific's newest track inspection vehicle, EC-5, went south today on the Joint Line. It passed Monument around 1222h this afternoon, where the Joint Line Cam managed to catch a shot of it [here]. Thanks to Nathan Z. for alerting me to this - I hadn't even noticed. (Meanwhile, our first decent snowstorm of the year has set in, and is driving the camera nuts, so don't expect to see much from it tomorrow.) - NDHolmes

    Posted Sunday, October 8 2006 at 2245 h MDT
    For the last few days, there's been a slow-moving weather system over Colorado & Utah, dumping a fair amount of rain on both. On Friday, the storm started pouring on the Durango & Silverton. The first train returning from Silverton that day was lead by DSNG 482. Coming around a curve near milepost 486 (between Elk Park and Needleton) the train hit a rock slide caused by a torrent of water coming off the hillside and over the tracks. They started back towards Silverton, but ran low on water in the engine. Even with DSNG diesel 1 (the Hot Shot) coming to bring them extra water from the fire suppression car, they still didn't make it. The crew eventually had to drop the fire on 482 and wait for 481, off the second train, to drag eveything back up to Silverton. Passengers from both trains were bussed safely back to Durango that night.

    [This thread] on NGDF has most of the details, as well as a few photos taken by Fritz Klinke of Silverton. Philip Walters has posted a copy of a DSNG press release [here] stating that the railroad has curtailed service above Cascade Canyon (but *is still running that far*) until sometime this week when the slides are cleared and any damage repaired.

    Posted Wednesday, October 4 2006 at 1943 h MDT
    Over at the Goat, Jay has posted a link to the PDF version of the 2007 Cumbres & Toltec brochure. You can find it [here]. Trains will run from May 26 to October 14, both ways, every day of the week. In addition to the increased schedule, there's a curious addition - a "Cinder Bear Express" - that runs only to Cumbres and back. The train will be running only on Thursdays during the high season (June 14 - August 16), seems to be specifically targetting towards families with kids. Presumably they'll use the Chama-Cumbres helper to bring a car back down, since it seems to indicate that it's a round trip by train. - NDHolmes

  • SL&RG LEASES B39-8
    Posted Wednesday, October 4 2006 at 0911 h MDT
    The San Luis & Rio Grande has picked up another lease unit - RCLX 8527, a B39-8 that was originally part of BN's LMX lease fleet. Per the Colorado Zephyr on Trainorders, the unit made its first trip from the Walsenburg interchange to Alamosa on last night's train (3-Oct-2006). For pictures of the unit (though not on the SLRG), see [this page] on RRPictureArchives.net. - NDHolmes

    Posted Tuesday, October 3 2006 at 1432 h MDT
    In the last couple days, photos from a few new trips have been posted to the web. The first two aren't even mine, but are definitely Rio Grande related. The first is Trevor Heath's recent visit to the D&SNG. I can't tell for sure, but it looks to be during the Trains Unlimited photo freight charter late last week. He has it posted on his website [here].

    The second DRGW-related trip report to hit the web today is Kevin Morgan's recent trip out to Helper - he's got it divided into three parts on his website (drgw.ws) - [Potash Local, Amtrak, and DRGW 5371], [Summit Colors, Utah Coal, and DRGW 5371], and [Amtrak 6 from Soldier Summit to Dotsero].

    The last one, and the one that is mine, is from last week's impromptu photo freight on the Georgetown Loop. Basically, during the season, they had placed a couple freight cars on some of the spurs, to give things a more historic feel. Now that the season is winding down, they needed to run down the hill and retrieve them for winter storage up at Silver Plume. Steven Torrico decided to make a last minute photo freight out of the move, and posted an open invitation the day before on NGDF. That was just too good a deal to pass up - the results of that are posted [here]. A big thanks to Steve and the rest of the Railstar folks for the opportunity! -

    Posted Monday, October 2 2006 at 1227 h MDT
    There's a new SD70ACe making its way out to the AAR test facility near Pueblo. It's not your normal ACe, however - it's one built for BHP Billiton's iron ore railways, found in the remote Pilbara region of Australia. The EMD press release about the order can be found [here]. Nathan Z. caught the unit - moving as EMDX1001 - up in Denver on Saturday, and let me repost a few of his shots [here].

    The Canon City & Royal Gorge purchased the Alaska's only remaining F unit, F7B 1503. It was shipped to Seattle, WA, where it was handed over to Union Pacific. The unit then moved to Salt Lake and then eastward across the Moffat, laying over for a day in Grand Junction. Matt Darling sent me a few photos of the unit passing through back on 12-Sep-2006. I've posted his last, best shot of the unit in the GJC yard [here]. I'm more than a little late in posting this, as the unit has already arrived in Canon City. I apologize to Matt for not getting his photo up sooner. -

    Posted Monday, October 2 2006 at 1215 h MDT
    In the wake of weeks of discouragingly inaccurate operation of the Joint Line camera, I've completely rewritten large chunks of the software that do train recognition, and sort out trains from birds crashing against the window, adverse weather, or other things that cause the camera to trip. You'll now note a new list below the latest image that shows the trains that have passed since midnight, as well as links to pictures of any specific train. I've also redesigned the webpage to look a little less cluttered. Take a look [here]. - NDHolmes

    Posted Monday, October 2 2006 at 1204 h MDT
    The Commission has given their approval to next year's fares and schedules for the Cumbres & Toltec. Specifics on dates have not yet announced, but they'll be as normal - likely running from Memorial Day weekend through sometime in mid-October. Fares will rise a bit - 62 for a one way, 76 for a one way with bus return, 115 for a parlor car one way, and 129 for a parlor car with bus return. These compare with this year's prices of 59, 72, 102, and 115 respectively - about a 5% rise in coach fares and a 12% rise in parlor car fares. More details can be found in [this Pueblo Chieftain article].

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