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UP Engineering Department – On the Road Again

May 24, 2011

UP’s Engineering Department is on the road again, in style, of course, inspecting  more of the system via passenger special. They were last through Houston this past March.

The current special departed Council Bluffs, IA on 5/17/11 for a quick, 10 day tour. This is their itinerary:

May 17: Council Bluffs-Kansas City-Des Moines
May 18: Des Moines-Mason City-Butterfield-St James-St Paul
May 19: St Paul-Duluth-Adams-Milwaukee
May 20: Milwaukee-Proviso-Villa Grove-Dupo
May 21: Dupo-North Dexter-Jonesboro-Fair Oaks-Bald Knob-Little Rock-Pine Bluff
May 22: Pine Bluff-Monroe-Alexandria-Shreveport
May 23: Shreveport-Houston-San Antonio (Kirby)
May 24: San Antonio (Kirby)-Smithville-Sealy-Rosenberg-Houston-Palestine
May 25: Palestine-Longview-Texarkana-Little Rock-Van Buren
May 26: Van Buren-Coffeyville-Kansas City-Topeka-Marysville
May 27: Marysville-Gibbon-Grand Island-Fremont-Council Bluffs

Yesterday, 5/23/2011, I was able to get a few shots of the SSHKB-23  just after noon. Mid-day light was pretty bad, but what can you really do?

I set up at West Junction, thinking that the light might be a bit better in the curve. The only problem there is that you can’t see the train until the last second,  so you have to stay very alert. Not a problem, as I knew the train was getting close. Within 5 minutes, a headlight came around the curve.

UP freight train at west jct. texas

False alarm! It’s UP 7628 with a westbound manifest. He’s probably going to pull up to Heacker, where double track ends, to allow the special to get by him. The only problem is that this train is on track 2, and it will block the passenger special from view. Time to find another spot. Quickly. I relocated to Heacker, CP SA-014. Within 3 minutes, another headlight comes into view.

UP trains at heacker TX

UP 7454 on engineering dept special passenger train at heacker, TX

UP 7454 on engineering dept special passenger train at heacker, TX

UP 7454 on engineering dept special passenger train at heacker, TX

Union pacific passenger car UPP 1610 Portola
UPP 203 Union Pacific Theater car Idaho

Just like that, the special was by me. I started after it on Hwy 90. I was still about a mile behind it when it cleared the detector at MP 15.6 at 63 mph, at which point I wisely called off the chase.

The train will come back though here tomorrow morning, 5/24/11, so there’s no need to burn a lot of gas to get a few more pictures…

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