The SLRG locomotive fleet has undergone a complete transition– several times, actually– since the railroad’s purchase by Iowa Pacific / Permian. All of the leased power from the RailAmerica period was sent back immediately and replaced by other leased power.
Initially this consisted of a pair of GP39-2’s and a quartet of unique F40M-2F cowl units. Since then, even most of these original locomotives have been replaced. Since 2010 it’s been hard
to keep up with changes.
|Four of these modified ex-Amtrak F40PH locomotives were leased initially. They’re designated as type F40M-2F– this is No. 459. Note that the nose has been foreshortened, and a front porch added. A nose door allows easy access to the cab. (6/30/2006)|
|Here’s a shot by Earle Kittleman of a truck swap underway. He and some companions witnessed this operation on 6/27/2006. Apparently the railroad
moved a truck from one of the F40’s to another one. Not having any shops at the time, all maintenance work was done out in the open.
|GP39-2 No. 1389. This and No. 1390 were originally built for Kennecott Copper, and used in the Bingham Canyon operation in Utah. At that time they had unique high cabs that projected well above the roofline. After Kennecott sold them, the cabs were rebuilt in a standard manner. This unit spent some time with UP before ending up with lessor Independent Locomotive Service (ILSX). Photo on New Years Day, 2007. (Unit no longer on the SLRG)|
|GP39-2 No. 1390. See the note above. This one never went to UP. Its colors
were a good match for the passenger equipment, and possibly inspired the choice of maroon and gold for railroad colors. (Unit no longer on the SLRG)
|F40M-2F No. 455, in the yard in Alamosa on 1/1/2007. Per Nathan Holmes’ site, the Canadian American railroad was a Maine operation that is now defunct.(Unit no longer on the SLRG)|
|F40M-2F No. 456, on the readyline in Alamosa 1/1/2007. Note that these units have SLRG reporting marks, though the lettering differs from one to another.(Unit no longer on the SLRG)|
|Here’s No. 459, buried in the string of locomotives on the second track over from the main. (1/1/2007) (See below for a photo of this unit after being repainted)|
|This unit, B30-7 No. 7863, is an ex-Southern Pacific unit now owned by the Wagon Wheel Gap railroad (a tourist line that has yet to get off the ground).
The SLRG used it occasionally between early summer 2006 and 2008.(Unit parked in South Fork, inactive, for years; it has since disappeared.)
|Here’s FP10 No. 1100, built in December 1946. Evidently the intent was to utilize
it in passenger service. Sharp looking unit, this. However, it wasn’t put into service on the SLRG, probably because it lacked dynamic brakes. (But see below– she was rebuilt later and returned in different guise!)
In October 2006 the railroad picked up a pair of B39-8 diesels built by GE, followed shortly afterwards by another pair. Once these were operational, most of the other units were sent away, retaining only F40M-2F No. 459.
For summer 2007, ex-Southern Pacific mogul (2-6-0) No. 1744 was bought and put into excursion service. And by the next year, two more steamers were on hand, one operational (Consolidation
[2-8-0] No. 18).
In conversation with employees, I was told that the B39-8’s were using up traction motors at a high rate. The 3% grades and sharp curvature on the pass took a toll on them.
2009 saw several significant new acquisitions, including the first 6-axle power to serve in the Valley, a historic F unit, and an innovative solution to the traction motor problem.
|New in December 2009: this beautiful FP10, painted in a replica of the Rio Grande’s original FT scheme (almost). It’s parked on the service spur in downtown Alamosa (12/28/2009). Look up above for the “Historic St Marys Railway” unit: same number! Looks like she was rebuilt with dynamic brakes.|
|Arriving in October 2009, this road slug (No. 227) is an answer to the problem of traction motor overloading on the pass. Mated with F40PH No. 459, now repainted, the unit helps to put more power on the rail. (12/28/2009)|
|SLRG 201 is an SD40M, ex- Balfour Beatty 202, exx- SP 7343.
(Unit no longer on SLRG)
|SLRG 202 is an SD40-2, ex- Balfour Beatty 202, exx- UP 3693.
(Unit no longer on the SLRG)
|SLRG 203 is an SD40T-2 (“tunnel motor”), ex- Balfour Beatty 203, exx- D&RGW 5373. That’s right– an actual Rio Grande alumnus. This unit was the main reason for my photo trip on 12/28/2009.
(Unit no longer on the SLRG)
|Additionally, the SLRG picked up a pair of SD9043MAC’s, painted in the maroon/gold scheme and numbered 115-116, intended as power for the reborn Ski Train out of Denver. Unfortunately, that service fell through after a contract dispute with Amtrak. Instead they were used in freight service on the SLRG. (115 not observed since 2014. Unit 116 marked CEFX as of Feb 2018.)|
Around 2015, SLRG picked up several interesting locomotives from New Jersey Transit, model GP40FH-2. These unique-looking units have cowls grafted onto their long hood, making them
|GP40FH-2’s 4138 and 4141 queue up to take the RGS excursion up to the top of La Veta Pass. (8/09/2015)|
|On 2/17/2018, the train up from Walsenburg had five units for power, including No. 4136 here (running third).|
|Same train as above, No. 4142 shows the other side. Crossing Trinchera Road just east of Fort Garland.|
By 2019 and under the strain of bankruptcy proceedings the SLRG motive power roster underwent yet another upheaval. (I am not sure which is the chicken and which is the egg, but the timing seems suspicious.) Notably, all four of the GP40FH-2’s were put up for sale and moved to Portland (near Pueblo). The remaining SD9043MAC vanished, as did any remaining B39-8’s. In their place a pair of leased SD70M’s were moved onto the property. The F40M-2F cow/calf pair were separated for some reason, with the 227 (slug) being parked in the yard while the 459 continued to work.
The SD70M’s are used hard– I saw one with a 67-car train. Sure it was on the flat, but still…