Monday, March 30, 2015

Another >Proposed< NS 'TRUE Heritage' Unit?

Received the following from our correspondent in NW Pennsylvania.

Former Erie Lackawanna locomotive engineer Fred Stuckmann made the following suggestion after seeing the NS SD40 recently repainted in a Southern RR scheme (see our post on Friday, March 6,2015), and I think he's on to something. 

"Maybe they could paint one of the 1700s back into EL, wouldn't that be something?"

Electro-Motive built the EL's baker's dozen SD45-2s in November, 1972, just 18 months after building the Southern Railway SD40 that NS shop forces only recently brought back from the dead (literally!) and returned to service in her as-delivered livery (below).
There are a half-dozen of the ex-EL Dash-2 brutes on the active NS roster (#1700-1705).

Just as the full Southern freight scheme was not among those to appear on one of the thirty 30th anniversary NS Heritage Units (
though the Savannah & Atlanta Railway unit was 'close'), there were only EL predecessors represented (DL&W and ERIE), even though EL was the second largest component of Conrail. While I very much appreciate what NS had EMD do, cosmetically, to both of those new engines, the possibility of returning an active, authentic, 1972-vintage EL six-axle road unit to accurate maroon, yellow and gray presents a tempting goal.Though de-rated from 3,600 to 3,000 horsepower, the three highest numbers (NS #1703-1705) still retain their EMD 20-cylinder 645E3 engines. Two of those NS 1700s, '03 & '05, ex-EL #3679 and 3681 (the latter was the last new locomotive the EL acquired) still have nose class light 'knock-outs' and gaskets, fore and aft, which would enhance the 'EMD as-delivered look', if one were to be returned to EL paint. These six locomotives already have a strong following of admirers in New Jersey and elsewhere. NS could elevate its positive image further, yet again, by leveraging a bit more Good Will with an 'extension' of their Heritage Fleet.

(Following are links to SD45-2's in both EL and NS paint schemes.)  


Crazy as this suggestion might at first sound, remember that there is already a tangible, positive result regarding the gorgeous Southern SD40 out on NS rails. And SOMEbody asked the key question, "What if?" (And if you DON'T ask, the answer is 'no', for sure!)

Yes, it is kinetics, not aesthetics, that moves freight.But now that Norfolk Southern has named James Squires as Chief Executive Officer, to succeed Wick Moorman effective June 1, perhaps there is a bit of urgency to 'planting this seed', if Mr. Moorman was indeed the sympathetic audience for the repainting of SOU #3170.