2 UP

2 UP

When I was younger, I used to drink 7 UP a lot. That lemon-lime flavoured drink was a favourite pop of mine. These days, when I drink pop (and I do, too much) I drink Diet Pepsi or Pepsi MAX. I find 7 UP too sweet now, plus I like caffeine.

Anyway, I found two Union Pacific locomotives on an oil train, so I called this post 2 UP in homage to 7 UP. Enough over-explaining…

I went out in the late afternoon of November 10, 2019 hoping to catch a train or two before going to the grocery store. I can be trackside in about 10-15 minutes from home, depending on which railway’s tracks I want to be beside. CP is closer but has less traffic than CN.

I drove over the CP tracks, seeing no trains, and carried on to the CN Sprague subdivision. There I saw the tail end locomotive on an eastbound intermodal train heading across the Floodway.

The Chase is On

I gave chase. The Trans-Canada Highway parallels the CN Sprague subdivision for quite a while, so I was confident that I would catch up to the head end. The train was motoring along at maybe 40 MPH but the speed limit on the TCH is 100 km/hr, so I was mostly caught up as they approached the Lorette siding.

I saw that they were facing red signals at the east end of the Lorette siding, so they were going to stop on the main track. I interpreted that to mean they were meeting a train. Sure enough, as I approached the east end of the siding, I saw headlights to the east.

I pulled off the highway and got ready to record the meet.

UP UP and Away

UP 8065 in the lead
UP 8065 in the lead

I immediately noticed that:

  • it was an oil train; and
  • there were two Union Pacific locomotives on the head end.

The unfortunate part was that I was on the wrong side of the sun, as I didn’t have enough time to get to the crossing to get on the “sun side”. This was 4:35 PM and the sun was nearly down. Oh well, time to make the best of it as always.

Union Pacific 8065
Union Pacific 8065

The lead unit was UP 8065, which has “C45ACCTE” as the unit type stenciled on it. Everybody else calls it an ES44AC, but UP has to be different I guess.

  • C = six axles
  • 45 = apparently numbered 45 to differentiate it from 44 for the GE AC4400CWs they already have, even though these also have 4400 horsepower
  • AC = Alternating Current traction motors
  • CTE = Controlled Tractive Effort software

Since the setting sun was behind the locomotives, I decided to make the best of it. I think it turned out OK, although it took some serious editing.

UP 8065 at sunset
UP 8065 at sunset

The second unit was UP 5230, an SD70M – which is stenciled on the side of the unit. Railroads and their inconsistencies. SMH, as my kids would say.

Union Pacific 5230 near Lorette
Union Pacific 5230 near Lorette

The oil train followed, with a Wisconsin Central buffer car behind the locomotives and another on the tail end.

The Meet

2 UP, meet CN

I was a little far from the actual meet, but I did have a clear view of it.

Both trains were rolling. I imagine CN 3025 East was trying to keep momentum going and not stop, as they just kept on crawling along as the oil train snaked into the siding to go around them.

I amused myself by photographing tank cars against the sunset.

Tank cars at sunset
Tank cars at sunset

Eventually CN 3025 came rolling up on the main track, while the tank cars kept on crawling by.

CN 3025 and the sunset

Sadly CN 3025 did have to come to a stop, as they didn’t get their green signal for a couple of minutes. I guess it takes time for the power switch to line up for the main… it was close, though, less than a minute transpired between when the buffer car passed and when the signal went green.

GREEN to go

With that, I got back in my car and headed back toward Winnipeg. I was pretty sure I could get another shot at that oil train.

On my way by, I noted the number of the rear DPU locomotive on the container train. I often forget those numbers before I get a chance to write them down, and since I was driving I couldn’t take notes. It was CN 3817, so I remembered that it was a 38xx unit and that the total of the two pairs of numbers was Winnipeg Jet forward Mark Scheifele’s jersey number, 55. That worked!

Second Time Around

Blinded by the light
Blinded by the light

I switched to a long lens to capture a more head-on view. The challenge with low light head on views is you get lens flare. I did my best to edit it out of the image above, but if you look closely you will see some. I see I missed one…

As the train approached, I switched to my iPhone to capture a wide angle view.

UP 8065 leading

I think I like the “going away” version better. What do you think?

UP 5230 and 8065 heading into the sunset
UP 5230 and 8065 heading into the sunset

That was the end of the chase for me, as it was over time to go get some groceries. I waited for the train to pass, then headed for the store.

Just One More Thing

Here’s a few more posts featuring Union Pacific locomotives and other foreign power:

9 thoughts on “2 UP”

  1. Hi Steve

    Your posts are always fascinating. Outstanding photography.

    I do have a question or two. Why do railroads couple up a “buffer car” between the loco and the cars? And do all trains have locos at the end and mid-train? And are they providing power?

    It’s rare to see mid-train or tail end power here in the Toronto area. Are trains shorter in the east? Is the extra power where you are because the trains are headed to/from the mountains?

    • Hi David, thanks for the nice comment!

      There are rules for marshaling trains, especially hazardous materials cars. In the US, a loaded tank car unit train must have at least one buffer car between locomotives and a tank car. In a “normal” (non unit train) they require 5 cars. Canada doesn’t have that requirement for unit tank trains but we have our own marshaling requirements, which are probably similar.

      Many trains around here don’t have mid train or end train locomotives. It’s rare for a “general” freight train to have DPUs on CN, less rare on CP. It’s much more common to see DPUs on container trains, which tend to be longer. I imagine there are DPU guidelines for A) priority of the train and B) length of the train.

      Any DPUs should be providing power. Idle locomotives go behind the head end locomotives.

      What are typical train lengths in the Toronto area? It’s quite common to see 10,000′ container trains here, and some general freight trains have more than 200 cars.

  2. I’ve heard crews hate it when these trains come up with run-through power on them. I guess technically the UP units aren’t outfitted with the proper amenities to be allowed to lead on CN in Canada. (I guess CP has different rules because they are fine there). Management just tells them to suck it up and take it. 🙁

    • I agree that most crews don’t like the run-through power. Some railroads have a reputation for sending “junk” in crews’ opinion. The CN union agreement specifies that lead locomotives should have a refrigerator and a microwave or hot plate. (http://arbitrations.netfirms.com/croa/40/CR3601.htm)

      The agreement says they have to put a different locomotive once it reaches the first terminal.

      I’m guessing CP’s union agreement doesn’t have that stipulation.

  3. I live near the mainline corridor for both CN and CP and have seen quite often seen mid train and end train locomotives, with exceptions of the oil trains, if reading the train car dangerous goods symbol correctly
    as for lengths of trains they have gotten longer over the years, as one day sitting at a crossing I decided to do a count and was up to 175 or so, with a mix of everything, and this was not the first time, even the other day came head on with a CP container train and it was forever before it went by, counting train cars was a hobby for me years ago and have a feel for the lengths of trains sets.
    Found your site the other day and enjoy your blogs

    • Hi Doug, thanks for commenting! I am certainly seeing more mid train locomotives on CN than I used to. CP has been using them for at least a decade.

      It is definitely not unusual to see trains approaching or exceeding 200 cars. I have seen a few oil trains that are two 100 car blocks joined together with a pair of locomotives on the front, and another pair in the middle.


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