random thoughts on railroad photography, railfanning, technology, and such

Entries in Union Station (12)


On the Platform with the Santa Fe 3751 at Los Angeles Union Station

Indirectly associated with the events of National Train Day, the former Santa Fe No. 3751 was going to pulling an excursion train from Los Angeles Union Station to San Bernardino, California as part of San Bernardino Railroad Days and Bicentennial Celebration.

It was perfect timing for me as I was going to be attending the National Train Day events at Los Angeles Union Station yesterday anyways so I altered my schedule a bit so I could see the 3751 leave LA.

I caught Metrolink #351 at the Upland Metrolink Station and took it into LA. Onboard the train already were a lot of folks that were heading to Los Angeles to board the excursion train and ride it back to San Bernardino. It added to the excitement of the day’s events and they were clearly looking forward to their trip and it spilled over to the rest of us.

As we pulled into Track 6 at Union Station I saw the 3751 majestically holding the point of the excursion train on Track 8. She was alive with steam and raring to go.

I exited the train and made my way to her track. The crew was making final preparations and the scene was littered with railfans already in position and the press covering the event. I unpacked my cameras and monopod and began to take some shots:

The San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society’s former Santa Fe 3751, up to pressure and raring to go, is the star attraction in the early morning hours of National Train Day as she waits for departure to San Bernardino, California.

Santa Fe 3751’s magic box - her cylinder.

Santa Fe 3751’s running gear.

The former Santa Fe 3751 is alive.

The train’s departure time drew near and as I completed my final shots, I noticed a man whom looked out of place because he looked like he belonged there - one with the 3751, if you will. He focused intently on every detail and sound in sheer silence. Folks passing did not garner even the slightest distraction of his pursuit to absorb what laid before him. He was one the treasures of on Track 8, one was the 3751 and the other was he, Jerry Brown, 81 years old and from Culver City, California.

I spoke briefly to him, so as not to take away from his moment, just to get his name, age, and reason for being track side. It turns out that he was there, in full steam regalia, as a steam enthusiast. He was not there to ride, nor for the National Train Day event. Rather, he was there out of love - and, perhaps, to remember. 

Thanks Jerry, you made my trip.

With purposeful intent, Jerry Brown enjoys the experience of being with the 3751.

I disturbed Jerry just enough to ask him to pose for a picture for me. This will be one of my fondest moments of being a railfan. What a cool guy.


You've Seen Yesterday, Now See the Future

You may have seen the numerous videos and coverage of Union Pacific’s legendary steam locomotive, UP No. 844 which is currently on duty leading the Valley Eagle Heritage Tour train or perhaps you are one of the lucky ones who saw her firsthand, either track side or on display during the tour.  Maybe even you have fond childhood memories of the steam behemoths roaming the country during the days of yesteryear. If you have then you will agree that it is truly a sight to behold.  What amazing machines steam engines are.

Now On May 8, 2010, you can see the newest in railroad motive-power technology, the Generator-Set (or Genset) switcher which is Union Pacific’s latest environmentally friendly design to join its fleet.

UPY 2681 - A Railpower RP20BD (RP20GE) 2000-horsepower Genset Switcher

The Union Pacific Railroad is exhibiting these 2000-horsepower locomotives during the festivities at several locations as part of the National Train Day celebration.  According to the Union Pacific, the Genset locomotive is scheduled to be on display at least these locations:

Union Pacific pioneered the Genset concept in 2002 and performance testing of a prototype Genset locomotive began on December 5, 2005, at Union Pacific’s Proviso rail yard near Chicago, Illinois.  UP currently has more than 160 such units on its roster.

Soon these locomotives will be more prevalent and in-service throughout the country.  That’s good news for us all because painted on the side of the locomotive are the words “Ultra Low Emissions Diesel Genset Switcher.” Based on these specifications, that is no idle claim:

  • The Genset switcher reduces emissions of oxides of nitrogen by 80 percent and particulate matter by 90 percent. It also uses up to 37 percent less fuel compared to older switching locomotives. This fuel savings translates into a greenhouse gas reduction of up to 37 percent. The new 2,000-horsepower locomotives are powered by three 667-horsepower ultra-low-emissions, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) off-road Tier 3-certified diesel engines.
  • At low throttle settings, only one of the engines operates, with the other two shut down. When additional power demand is needed, the second and third diesel engines automatically start and quickly go online, producing the right amount of electrical power required to move rail cars. When the Genset is not in use, all diesel engines automatically shut down to conserve fuel and reduce emissions.
  • The Genset switcher is able to pull more rail cars at low speeds than other yard locomotives because the electric, or “traction,” motors are independently powered and controlled, giving it superior adhesion compared to a typical locomotive with series-parallel motor connections.

Be sure to stop-by your local rail event location on National Train Day, May 8, 2010, to check out the latest in railroad technology and services.  See you there!


iPhone Art - "Now Arriving Track 11"

I arrived at Los Angeles’ Union Station during my commute today in time to see Amtrak’s westbound Sunset Limited (Amtrak #1) terminate its 1,700 mile journey from New Orleans a full fifteen minutes ahead of schedule.  The northbound Coast Starlight (Amtrak #14) waits on Track 12 to depart shortly to Seattle.

Here’s what she looked like to me as she pull into Track 11:

“Now Arriving Track 11”

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