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NS to dispose of executive F units, other roster oddities NEWSWIRE

By Dan Cupper | November 12, 2019

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The F units lead an office car train at Harrisburg, Pa., prior to their renumbering.
Dan Cupper
ALTOONA, Pa. – Norfolk Southern has put its A-B-B-A set of executive F unit locomotives up for auction, according to an assets-disposition bidding sheet distributed on Nov. 6 and obtained by Trains News Wire.

Regularly assigned to NS’s office car train, the quartet was acquired in 2006 and rebuilt to GP38-2 standards by the railroad’s Juniata Locomotive Shop in Altoona, Pa. Since then, they have been based in Altoona, along with the company’s 20-plus office cars. The locomotives wear a version of the former Southern Railway black-and-gray F unit paint scheme, with an image of the railroad’s thoroughbred horse on the nose of each A unit. The cars wear the Norfolk & Western’s classic Tuscan red paint with gold lettering.

Southern, which merged with N&W in 1982 to create NS, was an early convert to diesel power, acquiring the demonstrator set of FT units that ran an 8,700-mile tour around the United States in 1939-1940. That performance widely proved the practicality of diesel-electric power in heavy freight service. Up to that time, it had been confined to lighter-duty passenger and switching service.

Built by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors Corp. in 1952, the two A units, Nos. 270 and 271, began life as Baltimore & Ohio F7 locomotives. Rated at 1,800 hp, the A units were previously used by MARC, the Maryland Area Rail Commuter service. The B units, numbered 275 and 276 and rated at 2,000 hp, were built by EMD in 1950 for the Chicago Great Western.

The four were acquired during the administration of CEO Wick Moorman, along with three other Fs of Chicago & North Western, Canadian National, and Canadian Pacific heritage, which were stored for use as parts sources.

When NS acquired the units, it numbered the A units 4270-4271, as the highest-numbered Southern F7 unit was the 4269. The B units were numbered 4275-4276. Within the past year, the digit 4 was dropped from all four when NS’s program to rebuild standard-cab General Electric C40-9 DC-powered units into 4000-series wide-nose AC44C6M AC-powered units grew to reach into the 4200 number series.

The A units featured a camera mounted in the windshield, to provide a closed-circuit signal to TV monitors back in the train. They are also equipped with positive train control.

The F-units led office car trains across the 19,500-mile, 22-state system, reaching New York, Chicago, and NS’s headquarters city of Atlanta. They regularly made trips to the Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., each April, and to the Kentucky Derby in Louisville each May. During each event, the parked train served as a hospitality suite.

They also pulled “Blue Ribbon Special” employee appreciation trains in 2011. In addition, they proudly represented NS at events and celebrations such as “Norfolk Southern Days” at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, and the four-day “Streamliners at Spencer” gathering in 2014 at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, N.C.

The disposition is not a complete surprise. In September, an NS office car train operated from Altoona to Atlanta behind NS 8099, the company’s Southern Railway green-and-gold heritage unit. It was the first time since the F-units made their 2007 debut that such a train ran without them. The office-car fleet includes a power car to provide head-end-power, so it can be led by a non-equipped freight unit.

Other locomotives up for sale at the same time include former Reading Co. EMD SW1001s Nos. 2104-2105; six former-Southern Railway EMD MP15s Nos. 2362, 2386, 2393, 2398, and 2403; modified EMD MP15E No. 2423; RailPower RP20BD gensets Nos. 100-101; RP20CD genset No. 3830; NS BP4 No. 999, a battery-powered experimental unit built by Juniata in 2014; and partially disassembled SD40-2 No. 3463 (former BN/CEFX No. 7083).

Auction bids close on Nov. 20. The railroad will deliver the F units to the successful bidder anywhere on its lines.

Norfolk Southern has not responded to a request for comment.

25 thoughts on “NS to dispose of executive F units, other roster oddities NEWSWIRE

  1. @Cam Lochi- These units were rebuilt into essentially GP38-2. These units are not unreliable.. It’s the fact NS has plenty of power sitting around now so they see no need for units that only operate on officer specials. If NS didn’t have so much spare power sitting around these units would still be on the roster..

  2. These people have no sense of history. Why not just scrap them and be done with it?

    The above comments are genetic in nature and do not form the basis for an attorney/client relationship. They do not constitute legal advice. I am not your attorney. Workers of the underworld unite! You have nowhere to go but up!

  3. @Braden It’s easy to spot the non railroader who also supported one man crews in that article. You’ve obviously spent zero time on the F units. You’d know they have notorious electrical issues. They ride like crap. Just because it was rebuilt to GP-38 specs over 10 years ago, doesn’t make it reliable. We have newly rebuilt 5000 series GP-38s that can’t pull themselves out of a wet bag unless they’re in notch 5. The OCS has a mechanical worker assigned to it specifically to try and fix the ever present nagging issues these things have on the line of road.

  4. the norfolk southern executive f-units will always forever be remembered and will never be forgotten and hopefully they’ll find a new home.

  5. The article is wrong. The other three F’s weren’t bought as parts sources but rather for fleet expansion. Mechanically they had virtually nothing in common with the four operable F units that are now up for auction and which essentially are GP38-2’s mechanically. The hulks were rebuild cores only for a project that sadly never proceeded.

  6. Way off topic, but Newswire has missed a series on Wisc. Public Radio on the Walker fiasco “we’re gonna stop that train in its tracks” and follow-up coverage in the Milw. Journal showing that Wisc. taxpayers on the hook for $80 million as a result of the breach of contract with Talgo and lost of subsequent lawsuit.
    Pathetic coverage in Trains’ backyard…..ain’t Big Sandy yet.

  7. Naturally Public Radio brings up a really old story and conveniently tells only part of the story. Now things are “better” with Gov. Evers & his holiday science tree. Good grief!

  8. Hate to see the F’s go. I hope that they are sold to a property that will use them actively and not scrap them.

  9. Enjoy the Heritage units while you can. Don’t be surprised if and when they’re returned to basic black. And don’t be surprised if most of the office cars disappear as well. If any NS top management wants to go somewhere from now on they’ll probably call NetJets.

    I’m sure those F units will find a new home very quickly.

  10. i guess we know the answer now… i still dont want to think this is true. that ns put all this time and effort. and now they want to sell them? are the heritiage units next? whats going on ns?

  11. Railroad company’s have an interesting dilemma. One foot in the past and one in the future. Employees and Railfans love to look at the legacy of the railroad, however time passes and the legacy may better be preserved by groups that become the stewards of history. Donate the units to the many worthy organizations that can share them with many more people that would have ever seen them. Let NS showcase the best motive power in the fleet, whatever they feel those units may be.

  12. Uninspired management allows the bean counters a win on this one. A win that won’t move the stock price one tenth of a click.

  13. I am wondering how long it will be before NS realizes it made a mistake and then buys them back for more than what they sold them for!

  14. I have a great idea lets put the board room members up for auction and see how much we get for them by Nov. 20, I,m guessing a big fat $0.00 . These board members are making very poor decisions like moving the headquarters from Roanoke VA. to Atlanta Ga. The railroad name is Norfolk & Southern not Atlanta & Southern 1st of all ,wasting money to build a new headquarters building when all you here from the higher ups we have to lay off hundreds of people and shut down shops and yards , yea real clever , NOT

  15. I don’t know anything about the VP that was behind the decision but I would guess he’s not much of a true railroader and more of a “numbers guy”. I followed NS more closely during Wick’s years and loved that he truly appreciated the golden age of railroading. This is just sad and not a surprising move by one of today’s typical corporate types. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the move was centered around payroll or some other type of employee cost because that is corporate America today in a nutshell. I’m just glad I was able to chase the OCS around the line back when I did. What a shame.

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