The CSDU Train
The Unit Train of the Colorado Springs Department of Utilities (CSUX)
|The train was a fixture along the Front Range and Moffat Route since 1979, beginning as a tenant of the Rio Grande, then the Southern Pacific Lines, and finally Union Pacific. It used Ortner 5-bay steel rapid-discharge hopper cars, with a load capacity of nearly 110 tons each. Initially it ran as a 73-car train, but this was increased to 105 cars in the 1980s, through purchase of a number of second-hand cars. Before the equipment was traded off, there were 115 cars total (down from 125), with 10 being kept as spares.|
|The cars carried CSUX reporting marks. Originally, the cars were lettered with a large CSDPU, with a lighning bolt at each end (this is the scheme used by MDC/Roundhouse on their HO scale models).|
|Around 1986 the "P" was deemed problematic by the legal department. Cars were touched up to eliminate it. This caused the lettering to be centered better on the car sides.|
|The cars had internal bracing to keep everything straight and true when loaded.|
|Six cars had no large lettering at all, carrying only the reporting marks and car data. These are car numbers 79113 and 79120-79124.|
|Here the CSUX train is waiting for an eastbound load to pass, at Plainview (we're atop Rainbow Cut in the photo). A close look at these top views reveals that the slope sheets differed from car to car. Some had ribbed stiffeners (seems to be mostly the original, lower-numbered cars), others did not (seems to be the cars acquired later, which were actually built about two years earlier).|
|Don't try this shot at home! The CSUX train passing through tunnel 1...|
|This train was so large that it traditionally required helpers. In Rio Grande days, that might have meant a couple of GP40's tacked onto the rear, and in the later 1980's included a swing helper cut in about 70 cars back. Up to 1995 it was common for the train to run east with three or four 6-axle units on the front, two or three in the swing helper, and even a rear helper of a couple more SD's.
After that, with AC locomotives, it usually ran with distributed power both ways (remotely-controlled locomotives)-- two on the head, one or two mid-train, one or two on the end.
These cars were replaced with a new set of equipment in April 2000. Another long-time feature of the front range has gone the way of the dinosaur... The new cars lack the distinctive CSDU lightning-stripe lettering; they are plain aluminum 5-bay cars with a green end. Photos of them can be seen here.