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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / FRA: UP doesn’t need waiver to run steam 11,000 miles in 2019 NEWSWIRE

FRA: UP doesn’t need waiver to run steam 11,000 miles in 2019 NEWSWIRE

By Jim Wrinn | February 28, 2019

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UP844GreeleyCOJuly2018Wrinn
UP844GreeleyCOJuly2018Wrinn
UP No. 844 rolls south at Greeley, Colo., in July 2018.
Trains: Jim Wrinn
WASHINGTON — The Federal Railroad Administration has told Union Pacific it doesn’t need waivers in 2019 to operate non-PTC-equipped steam locomotives Nos. 844 and 4014 on three excursions covering 11,111 miles, according to letters between UP and FRA that Trains Newswire has seen.

If it happens as the letter describes, the 2019 steam mileage, including a 1,000-mile roundtrip from the steam shop in Cheyenne, Wyo., to Ogden, Utah, in May to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first transcontinental railroad, would be almost four times as many miles as UP steam operated in 2016 and 2017.

In those two years, the Omaha-based railroad ran 4-8-4 No. 844 on three excursions each year, totaling 3,077 and 3,189 miles, respectively, according to an Aug. 21 letter from UP Senior Manager Mechanical Operations Randell Gaston to the FRA. He estimated that in subsequent years that UP would run three to five trips totaling 4,000 to 6,000 miles per year.

The railroad only operated No. 844 on the Cheyenne Frontier Days train in July 2018 for a total of 441 miles. Because UP has not issued a schedule for its 2019 operations, the August 2018 letter is the first indication to extent to which observers might see newly rebuilt Big Boy 4-8-8-4 No. 4014 and No. 844. However, it was prepared months before the railroad adopted its own brand of Precision Schedule Railroading, which could change things.

UP on Wednesday said the schedule announcement for No. 4014 and stablemate 4-8-4 No. 844 has been delayed from a planned mid-February announcement. “We originally planned to release the Big Boy No. 4014 and Living Legend No. 844 tour schedules earlier this month,” the railroad said in an email to members of its online steam club. “However, details concerning the route and schedule are still being worked out.”

Last spring, UP said No. 4014’s Cheyenne-Ogden journey would take several days in order to give the public plenty of opportunities to see the locomotive and that the engine would travel “virtually all over the system.”

The FRA told UP it does not need waivers for Nos. 844 or 4014 or Challenger 4-6-6-4 No. 3985, which is stored out of service in Cheyenne, because UP as a railroad company system has met the regulatory requirements for an extension of PTC compliance from Dec. 31, 2018 to Dec. 31, 2020. It also noted a host of exemptions for steam excursion operations on PTC-equipped main lines of Class II and Class III railroads.

No. 4014 has completed its hydrostatic boiler test, and is expected to see operational steam tests in coming weeks to break in the engine and also to test the mileage of its new oil fired system. The railroad has said it plans to pose the Big Boy nose-to-nose with No. 844 at Ogden on May 9 to mark the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in 1869.

9 thoughts on “FRA: UP doesn’t need waiver to run steam 11,000 miles in 2019 NEWSWIRE

  1. Mr. Sweeney,

    That’s exactly my point. If the waiver is deemed unnecessary because of the extension, then what happens to needing a waiver after Jan 1, 2021?

  2. “FRA told UP it does not need waivers because….they have met regulatory reform an extension of PTC compliance to Dec 31, 2020.” Ok, I’ll bite… what happens in 2021 and beyond?

  3. Erasmus: Dec. 31, 2020 is the final deadline for all US railroads to fully comply with Positive Train Control rules. Starting Jan. 1, all locomotives will need to be equipped to run on the railroad.

  4. Is the waver 11,111 miles for each locomotive or combined for both. Either way it doesn’t look like much in excursion terms, but if it is for each locomotive they would still get double the limited bang.
    Too bad. They could have had a bang up excursion “CIRCLE”. From Ogden they could have taken both locomotives to Oakland, down the coast line to LA, then east through El Paso, Houston, New Orleans, up through Little Rock, St. Louis then to Chicago and back home to Omaha and Cheyenne. It would have brought 844 back to some places it visited at one time and places where 4014 have never been before. Would have made a great PR stand for the company, it’s employees, and show it’s face to the public. Pipe dream. Only looking at the bottom line.

  5. From my point of view Paul, in light of all the people being cut to get the OR down and stock price up, why are we doing this at all??

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