Washington Central F-units on the move

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Tacoma Tom

New Member
That's awesome! I am glad someone had a camera ready. Hopefully someone gets it on video as well. Those F units look tiny compared to those other units. It's been a long time since they had such a long train connected to their couplers. I am glad for once they put the dead locomotives behind the other locomotives instead of in the middle of the train.

I was on one of the last runs of the Spirit of Washington dinner train, and I was riding in the locomotive when the horn became stuck wide open. It was something else having that 5 chime blowing wide open for a good 15 minutes. I think some of the locals thought we were giving them one last good bye with the horn. I was working as a locomotive mechanic at the time and I found the valve to shut the air to the horn off so everyone was happy with that. I had my camcorder at the time and I will have to dig up the video and post it one day.


Railfan Photographer
Nice catch! I remember seeing the Washington Central 100 and 101 go through Klamath Falls on a southbound manifest back in 2001. They went to the Carrizo Gorge Railway down near San Diego. I might have some prints buried in a box somewhere.


FP Engineer
The former Spirit of Washington dinner train equipment was removed from their storage tracks in Wheeler, WA (since June 2008) this week for inspections and repairs prior to being sent to Watsonville. Some cars have wheel issues while other have problems with the braking systems.
The Columbia Basin Railway will haul cars as they're ready from Wheeler to Warden then onto Connell, WA for interchange to the BNSF. BNSF should be transporting them down the Oregon Trunk as they did with the F-units.

If Dan (SDP45) is reading this, please share your photos and insight...
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Forum Host
Staff member
For Immediate Release:
Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line Now in Public Ownership

SANTA CRUZ, CA – The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) for Santa Cruz County and Union Pacific announced today that they have completed transfer of the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line from private to public ownership for $14.2 million. Most of the funding was secured by the RTC from Proposition 116 bond funds approved by both a majority of Californians and Santa Cruz County voters in 1990. The value of public ownership of the corridor is to increase access and retain use of to the 135 year old transportation asset. Iowa Pacific Holdings, to operate locally as Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay Railway, was selected as the short line operator for freight and passenger service.

The purchase is a triple win-win-win for the community, Union Pacific and Iowa Pacific Holdings. The 32-mile continuous transportation corridor spans the county and runs parallel to the Highway 1 corridor, offering tremendous
potential for a vital mobility link for residents and visitors alike.

Union Pacific (UP), a leading transportation-services provider in the United States, recognized the sale of the rail line as an opportunity to continue serving the needs of existing customers, while supporting the region’s
overarching transportation goals. UP serves hundreds of customers on the West Coast today through the operational efficiency of more than 3,200 miles of railroad track in California.

Iowa Pacific Holdings, based in Chicago, has seven other short line railroads with operations in Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Illinois and New York State. In addition, through affiliates Iowa Pacific has railway and related operations in the United Kingdom. Ed Ellis, president of Iowa Pacific, said “This is our first experience in northern California, and we are looking forward to working with the RTC, Union Pacific, shippers, and local communities to develop and expand both freight and passenger services provided by the Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay Railway.”

Congressman Sam Farr was instrumental in securing federal funds which were a key piece of this extraordinarily complex transaction, more than ten years in the making.

As included in the negotiated agreement approved in 2012 between the RTC and Union Pacific, the purchase includes $5.3 million in funding set aside to upgrade a number of structures on the line. The RTC will proceed with work on both timber and steel trestles over the next year.

Uses of the rail corridor include continued freight rail primarily for agriculture and building materials and seasonal passenger rail service in the short term. These two uses augment the county’s primary tax base thereby contributing toward vital services for residents. In the medium and longer term, a variety of transportation uses will be considered such as a bicycle and pedestrian trail adjacent to the tracks where it can be accommodated safely within the corridor and rail passenger services.

A community celebration event is scheduled for Saturday November 17. A number of festivities will take place along the rail line. More details will be posted on the RTC website as they become available.

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