An SD40-2 Kind Of Day – 27 December 2003

by Jim on 2023/12/27

What a memorable day Saturday 27 December 2003 was!  The two trains of the day had solid SD40-2 power, and only one of the nine locomotives in either train wore a paint scheme that was only as new as the 1990s mergers!

On this day, I saw two of the coolest power sets I have ever seen on the Sunset Route, and the power set for the first train was the best; unfortunately, I shot it only in one location, but I shot the other power set in at least four locations.  Both trains in question were BNSF Railway trains.

Morning Eastbound Train

The first train that I saw on this day I apparently didn’t photograph (or did photograph but didn’t scan the film for it prior to March 2014, because, remember, this is not an exhaustive look at my images from that time; it’s samples from what I paid a photo studio to scan.  If I ever get my own film scanner, we’re going to see plenty more from the early aughts!)  This train was an eastbound BNSF Railway intermodal train led by BNSF 4813.

The first train for which I have scanned photographs on this day was the M-LALNWO-4-26A.  “LAL” is Lafayette, Louisiana, and “NWO” is the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad.  Back then, this train hauled anything that BNSF was sending to interchange with a railroad other than CSX in the New Orleans Gateway, because the quantity of traffic sent to CSX was enough to justify a dedicated train fully of CSX-bound traffic.

The M-LALNWO this morning made a two-car setout in Schriever.  Shortly thereafter, at 09:36, I got this broadside shot of it at Thoroughbred Park, at about milepost 52, and, oh my God, look at this power consist!

The first locomotive is BNSF 6837.  The two locomotives in blue-and-yellow Santa Fe paint actually are six-axle locomotives, and the Montana Rail Link locomotive that they are bracketing appears to be an SD45, but I titled this post about “SD40-2s” because of the general body style of those locomotives and because I find the terms “Spartan Cab”, “narrow nose”, and “Standard Cab” to be lacking, the latter because it is a misnomer. Furthermore, “A Narrow-Nose Second-Generation EMD Power Kind Of Day” doesn’t really fit well in a headline and doesn’t evoke the desired connotation in the readers mind.  You get what I am saying?

Also, check out that eight-axle tank car as the first car on the train.  My notes from the time say that the train had 488 axles, and I presume that that reading was made when the train passed the milepost 49.6 detector, which matters given that the train made a setout at Schriever.

I stayed put at Thoroughbred (even though the cows weren’t cooperating) because I knew that the M-LALNOW would meet a “CSXT 7843 west” at Raceland.  At 09:41, I heard on Avondale radio a “BNSF 5341 west” getting an after-arrival warrant for the eastbound stack train.

The first train turned out to be Union Pacific Railroad’s INOLB (Intermodal – New Orleans, Louisiana, to Long Beach, California), with 356 axles, and I shot it (apparently, at Thoroughbred Park) at10:25.

Not three minutes after he passed, the cows moved into position….. bummer!

There was a train led by LDRR 2000, a Louisiana & Delta Railroad train out of New Iberia, coming into Ursa and then going back to New Iberia. It must have been bringing eastbound tonnage (mostly carbon black) for the U.P. local train to pick up this afternoon.

Afternoon Westbound Train

I returned trackside in the afternoon, and I encountered something almost as cool as what I saw in the morning, but, in this case, I was able to chase this train and get several shots of it.

A few seconds after I snapped this picture of this train, the conductor leaned out the window and snapped a picture of me.

Wow, I wonder, does this guy get together with his pals and trade backlit pictures of foamers?  Do they have slideshows or websites where they post backlit pictures of foamers?

Anyway, that was conductor Leo Persick, who, somewhere, has a picture of me right after taking the above image.

Here is the train in Chacahoula.

This is BNSF Railway train H-NWOBEL, a high-priority manifest (the “H”) originating at the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad’s Cotton Warehouse Yard (the “NWO”) and bound for Belén, New Mexico (the “BEL”); I used to call it “The BEL train”, because I had heard railroaders call its predecessor, the NWOBAR (terminating at Barstow, California), “The BAR Train” or “The New Orleans BAR Train”.

Most of the traffic in the train was bound for the West Coast or Arizona, except that there may have been big setouts before then.

I am not exactly sure when the first time in my life that I did the Berwick Bay shot from the southwestern quadrant of the bridge was, but there is a good chance that this is it.  Here is the train beginning to leave Morgan City and beginning to cross the Atchafalaya River at Berwick Bay.

This H-NWOBEL had the following power:
FURX 7257 – SD40-2 Heritage 1
FURX 7932 – SD40-2 Cascade Green
BNSF 7806 – SD40-2 Cascade Green
BNSF 7817 – SD40-2 Cascade Green

All were facing forward. This is the second BNSF Railway train I saw today with nothing but standard cab EMDs.

Let’s see a cropped version of the above image.

That’s neat.

For our final act (at least with this train), we are somewhere around Bayou Sale.

The H-NWOBEL met the H-LALCSX (Lafayette, Louisiana, to CSX New Orleans) at Baldwin.  It had the following locomotives:

BNSF 4920 – C44-9W Heritage 2
BNSF 6781 – SD40-2 Heritage 1

I made it back to Schriever in time to get a really lame shot of this train at dusk.

Yes, with a digital camera with RAW capability, I’d have done much better here, but I also probably shouldn’t have taken the picture regardless of what kind of camera.

The train had fewer than 50 cars, and set out three of them at Schriever. This was the second eastbound BNSF Railway train to make a setout in Schriever in less than 12 hours! That seems inefficient.  Usually, setouts are made no more than once-per-day in Schriever.  Perhaps this anomaly was the result of some error.

The LALCSX met a westbound UP manifest train (looked like QAVWC) at Schriever UP 5007. The second locomotive was a C44-9W, and the third was another SD70M.

That’s all!  Stay tuned for a pleasant finale in the last two days of 2003.



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