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UP 2011 Engineering Department Passenger Special Passes Through Houston

March 4, 2011

Each year, Union Pacific Engineering Department executives travel throughout the UP system in a special passenger train to review the status of the physical plant.

This year’s version, powered by Rio Grande Heritage SD70ACe 1989,  has been has been traveling across the system for the last several weeks.  Symboled SBLBT (Special Bloomington, TX to Beaumont, TX), it passed through Houston this past Tuesday, March 2, 2011.

I decided to only shoot video of this train because its northward route would have the train severely backlit.

I caught it at  Pearland at 10:22 A.M.  Knowing there was no way I could keep up with it along Mykawa Drive, I got on Beltway 8 / Hwy 288 to get ahead of the train.

There was just one problem. There are two routes, the East Belt sub and the West Belt sub, that the train could take through Houston toward Beaumont.  I didn’t know which one the train would take through Houston.

I was hoping that the radio would provide some clues, but the dispatcher never talked about the special. It ended up being a coin toss.

I guessed it would go via the East Belt because it was the most direct routing to the Beaumont Sub. I set up at the Lyons Ave. grade crossing just North of Basin Yard.

Within 5 minutes of setting up, my guess was vindicated when the train came around the corner,  passing me at 10:58 AM. It went into Settegast for a crew change and to pick up / drop off passengers.

My last shot of the special was at Dyersdale, several miles North of Settegast Yard. The train blew by me here at 11:41 AM.

I took the long way home, managing to get a few freight trains on video as well.

PS- As always, once the video starts playing, click where it says “360p” near the right, bottom corner of the player. It will switch to 480p, greatly improving the quality of the video.

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