A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Not your ordinary railroad train

Written April 26th, 2023 by Hasso Hering

Union Pacific’s locomotive 958200 bears down on Madison Street in Albany on Wednesday.

Now that was a weird-looking train that inched its way across Albany streets on Wednesday morning.

Well, not weird exactly. Just different, a kind of locomotive and train I can’t remember seeing before.

What do I mean by “inched”? In mean this train was slow. Slow enough for  drivers waiting at the crossing to turn around and go another way. Here, take a look at the video:

This was, as the label on the equipment said, a MOW or “maintenance of way” train.

A few months ago, a big crew from Union Pacific made its way up the main line in the valley. They were replacing worn-out cross tries with fresh ones, stacking the old ones by the side of the track.

The MOW train on Wednesday was picking up the stacks.

This engine, UP 958200, apparently was new in 2019 when it made its appearance in Sidney, Neb. Its presence there was noted on a website called trainorders.com.

On the Internet there’s a video of the same train going through Newark, Calif., in April 2022.

In case it matters, the engine was made by Relco, a company in Albia, Iowa.

Union Pacific is a big railroad and has thousands of miles of track to maintain. So it’s no surprise that from time to time MOW equipment shows up in towns of many states.

And Wednesday it was Albany’s turn.(hh)

The MOW train caught my attention when the engine crossed Santiam Road just as the Cumberland Church nearby got its steeple back.

10 responses to “Not your ordinary railroad train”

  1. Cap B. says:

    I’ll forward this to a cousin in Portland who worked for Union Pacific all his life after being in the military service. His dad worked for Union Pacific before him. We always had a nice Union Pacific calendar on our kitchen wall given to us by Uncle Johnny. I called it “Onion Paffic” when I was little, and that stuck as the name in our household.

  2. thomas earl cordier says:

    thanks for the video. never had seen that. innovative way to move atop the freight car wall.

  3. Mark H. Avery says:

    Thank You Hasso for another wonderful story on Albany ongoing activity’s.
    May I suggest to your followers to check their video setting to enhance the quality viewing ?
    For me most times the auto quality settings needs to be changed to a higher(Highest) settings.
    In today’s video it was fantastic to watch the train car lean & shake when reaching picking up the stacks of worn ties.
    I always start my morning by following your blog.


  4. Randall Harris says:

    Extremely interesting. Did you notice that the grabber machine is attached to the top of the rail car and as the car fills up, the grabber machine rolls back from car to car. Very ingenious system. Thanks for the video Mr. Hering.

  5. Scott Bruslind says:

    Progressive Railroading (Apr. 2023 issue) reports
    Union Pacific Railroad
    2023 MOW budget:$1.9 billion
    2022 MOW budget:$1.9 billion
    Rail:Replace or install 500 track miles, all continuous-welded rail (CWR)
    and jointed rail.
    Major track projects: Continue to focus on trackwork associated with train-length increases in the South and Pacific Northwest; continued investments in the Houston area and Texas Gulf Coast; expand CTC on Central, Golden State and Texas and Pacific corridors;and initiate con­struction on 4.5 miles of double track on the Sunset Route.
    Sidings:Progress construction on 10 sidings and 9 siding extensions.
    Surfacing/grinding: Grind about 26,500 miles and surface 3,000 miles.
    Ties:Replace or install 3.6 million wood, 88,000 concrete and 60,000 switch ties.
    Ballast: lnstall2.8 million tons.
    Bridge work: Replace 190 bridges and renew ties on 86 open-deck bridges.

    • Hartman says:

      Just so we don’t all get the impression that our nation’s railroad companies are not exactly as altruistic as the above posts would suggest, this from CNN Business, 2/22/23

      “In March 2022, Norfolk Southern (NSC) announced a new $10 billion share repurchase plan. Its latest annual financial report, filed just hours before the derailment this month, shows that it still had $7.5 billion available to buy additional shares under that repurchase plan as of December 31.

      Norfolk Southern did not respond to questions Wednesday on whether it expects to change its share repurchase plans in the wake of the derailment.

      The company also returned an additional $1.2 billion to shareholders in the form of dividend payments in 2022, and $1 billion in 2021, bringing total payments to shareholders to $4.6 billion last year and $4.1 billion in 2021.

      The shareholders did much better than the company’s 19,000 employees. Total employee compensation in 2022 came to $2.6 billion, up from $2.4 billion in 2021.”

      The point: the degree of sainthood amongst members of the rail sector might not be as high as one might hope for.

  6. DPK says:

    Thanks for sharing, Hasso. I grew up just 150 feet from the mainline in Shedd. Miss being that close to them.

  7. Matthew Calhoun says:

    Cute story. Now can UP and P&W fix their crossings, tying up Queen for however long they want? Y’all complain about the streets and then give these guys a free pass when a new choo-choo train passes by.

    • Will says:

      It would definitely be nice, but the town begged for those tracks when railroads came to the region and the railroad companies haven’t forgotten it. There were no autos at the time, so there wasn’t much inconvenience.

      Even if it only costs them one dollar to stop jamming traffic all over the country, they won’t change. What happens when an ambulance is trapped at a crossing? I guess the patient just suffers/dies.

  8. Tai Stith says:

    I was wondering about that train! Thanks for the answer :)


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