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The Forgotten Heads-Up

May 20, 2014

Images from May 18, 2014

About a week ago, I learned that 3 private cars, en route to New Orleans, would be running through Houston on todays Amtrak #2. It’s great to get a heads-up on moves like this. Too bad I didn’t remember about the move, I might have set up in a better location.

After a leisurely Sunday morning breakfast, I ventured out to catch the eastbound Sunset Limited. I ended up at Ormandy, near MP 16 on UP’s Glidden sub.

Arriving there, I see the MLDEW, UP 4206, waiting on track 1 for a route to Englewood. The plan was to catch # 2 as it overtook the waiting freight train.

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It wasn’t a bad plan, but I didn’t count on the high sun angle creating the wicked glare on the nose of P42DC #160.

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Pulling back to 70mm allowed me to salvage one shot without the glare.

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As the head-end was passing me, something seemed odd. Before I could ponder that question, I realized that #2 had an additional locomotive in its consist.

I quickly swung to my right to get a shot of the rare, for the Sunset Limited, 3-unit consist.

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As the train blew by me at a good 60mph, I was wondering why were 3 locomotives on this train? I was also cursing my composition choice. A wider shot would have shown the 3-unit consist more clearly. Within a few seconds, I remembered the heads-up I had received about the private cars and that was the reason for the third unit. Then I realized I needed to get the camera back up to my eye if I was going to get some shots of the 3 PV’s!

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First out is PPCX 800713, the Federal. A 1911 vintage Pullman, it’s supposedly the oldest private car that meets the strict mechanical/electrical/brake requirements to be operated in an Amtrak train. Click here for a more information, and interior photos, of this 103 year old car.

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Next was 1950 vintage Pullman sleeper Pacific Sands. Click here for the history of this car.

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Bringing up the rear was Tioga Pass, a 1959 product of the Canadian National Shops in Point St. Charles, Quebec. It was one of 12 similar cars designed for railroad executives. Click here for the Tioga Pass website.

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Some guys have all the fun!

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As the train receded, I again lamented the composition of my shots. It really would have been nice to get a more open view of this train. But that’s what I get for not remembering about the heads-up I had received…

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