Wednesday, April 01, 2015

February Reading & Northern GP39RNs (rebuilt ex-Santa Fe GP30s)

Received the following 2 emails from our correspondent in NW Pennsylvania.  First one is the original from Brian Plant which included the photos below.  Photo captions are the photo labels from Brian's email. 

If you didn't receive the first email from a couple weeks ago, I was on vacation the last week of February and traveled from New York to Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and even cut through part of West Virginia on the way back home. Tom Mik from Connecticut was my travel partner and we met up with good friends Pete Ruesch, Chris Thompson and Barry Lennon in Indiana. We also received tour guide support in person from John Means on the South Shore and Mark Mautner in the St. Louis metro area, as well as tactical intel from Terry Chicwak, John Leopard, Todd Novak, Scott Snell and many others along the way.

The following images are from the first day of the trip when we followed the classy Reading & Northern GP39RN models, former Santa Fe GP30 REBUILDS painted to match the Reading Company's final paint scheme for freight diesels, from Tamaqua to Mount Carmel and back as far as Ashland. It's hard to imagine just how much Anthracite coal traffic used to be shipped by rail before the 1950s, when the oil industry took a stranglehold on the home heating business. The R&N has done a wonderful job rebuilding the Anthracite traffic since taking over the former Reading lines from Conrail in 1991. 

Brian Plant

Wonderful, Brian!

I love the accentuated, snow-covered grades, as seen through your telephoto. Long-lens operations views can really highlight the roller-coaster profiles that railroaders and their locomotives have to overcome in their routine execution of their daily duties while conducting interstate commerce...even (especially!) on customer sidetracks. There is no doubt as to the wisdom of having derail protection
, in particular, on that one track with the yellow derail reminder!

It might seem for most of the year to be almost overkill to 'remind' conductors of the presence of a derail, but beneath that substantial blanket of snow, these brightly-colored safety devices can 'look' just like all of their surroundings. The distractions and difficulties of switching in snow (especially if at night, accompanied by heavy snowfall or frigid, drift-forming winds) could allow the momentary lapse of focus that could get a crew just a few feet beyond a buried derail's actual vs. perceived location, with a unit's wheel-set or truck on the ground or a derail plowed off the rail.

R&N's #2532's retained class lights, which appear to be illuminated 'white' in one scene, are a nice retro touch. I understand why the FRA has allowed their removal and the discontinuance of their inclusion on new-builds, but to my vintage eyes, motive power noses -- especially on units that once had class lights -- simply look 'naked' without them. It is so nice to see a pair of clean units with the classic and classy, half-century+ old EMD GP30 profile still generating revenue ton miles, as we approach the end of the first quarter of 2015!

Thank you for sharing this nice photo set (typical of your work!), Brian.

2532  locust summit cloudy

2532 locust summit 320mm

2532 snowy detail

2532 gordon last

2531 east of gordon close

2531 east of gordon

2531 silhobw

2531 locust descent

2531 locust summit wide

2531 locust summit yard

2531 p activ steep grade

2531 p activ start down

2531 p activ spot

2531 red light p activ

2531 snowy ip spot

2531 spotting gordon