Sunday morning a UP crew brought a couple of locomotives to Vancouver for the O-VWWO empty dirty dirt train. One unit in the consist was UP 6231, a former Southern Pacific unit, still in “patched” form. The crew dumped the power off on the tail track and promptly headed for Muchas Gracias for a mid-morning Mexican food treat. The railfans of course swarmed like flies on … ahhhh … well … an SP painted locomotive. Not to be outdone I captured a few images myself.
Built in May 1995 this locomotive is definitely used. The nearly 17 year old paint is showing signs of all this unit has been through. The scar on the side indicates it has had the standard GE fuel leak and subsequent fire. The rust and faded paint show just how long something which sits outside its entire life will remain painted. Of course the appearance of a locomotive is not what moves the train.
Most interestingly its heritage is showing. Scarlet and gray paint colors and speed lettering (albeit not an original SP item) shout “SOUTHERN PACIFIC”. The patch does little to hide the locomotive’s SP heritage.
More of the Southern Pacific is about to disappear. Almost 15 years after the merger with Union Pacific I suppose that should be expected. Right now Union Pacific is in the midst of a project to upgrade the signal system on the Brooklyn sub which will doom the classic searchlight signals so prevalent there now. I’m sure if you ask UP management they will say this project is long overdue as many of their competitors replaced their searchlights long ago. But as is typical with many of the former SP lines there were other upgrades required to get the railroad reliable before signal improvements.
As with many railfans I’m into nostalgia so of course I’ll be sad to see these sentinels leave. These signals have a classic look with the ladder angled away from the signal at the base. They just scream SP. Appearance wise these signals will be sorely missed. Of course I do realize the advantage of the tri-color replacements and how they, in the long run, will save the UP operational dollars and keep the railroad safe. As a business person those facts can’t be ignored. Efficiency and safety though have created an endangered species.