Welcome to the 11th edition of the the CineTrains Blog. In this extended edition, we will be looking at the Locomotives used in the 2010 Epic Movie, “Unstoppable,” Starring Chris Pine and Denzel Washington.
The Real Unstoppable Train incident – CSX 8888, May 21st, 2001
The movie “Unstoppable” is based on a real life event that took place on the CSX Transportation line that runs South from Toledo, Ohio, to Cincinnati. Unlike the film train, the real incident had a single EMD SD40-2 and had 47 cars. The train in movie is powered with 2 General Electric AC4400CW’s and 32 cars. The incident that inspired the film was powered with CSX SD40-2 #8888 (EMD SD40-2, Serial #767078-7, built as Conrail 6410. To CSX Transportation 6-1-99 after Conrail was split between CSX and Norfolk Southern),.
On May 15, 2001, CSX 8888 departed CSX’s former Conrail Stanley Yard in Walbridge, Ohio, CSX’s primary classification yard for Northwest Ohio, and began a 66-mile journey south through Ohio with no one at the controls. Like the movie, the engineer had climbed out of the unit of the originally slow-moving yard job in order to correctly line a trailing point switch, due to the belief that his train would not be able to stop short of the misaligned switch. The fact that he was working a yard job, putting together an outbound train bound for Chicago and points west, made him believe that he could climb down, throw the switch, and climb back on.
In an attempt to stop, the engineer had applied the locomotive’s independent air brakes, and mistakenly believing he had properly activated the train’s dynamic brake system. However, he accidentally set the engine’s throttle to notch 8, or 100% power, instead of 100% dynamic braking. If the dynamic brakes had been properly selected, this would have applied maximum braking. Instead, the locomotive was actually set to full traction power. Use of Dynamic Brakes, the locomotives traction motors are turned into electrical generators that start to resist the movement of the train, creating heat. The heat generated from Dynamic Braking is then dissipated into the air from atop the locomotives from a bank of resistors, reducing the kinetic movement as heat.
The engineer also applied the train brake, but as is normal for intra-yard movements. However, this was a futile move, as the locomotive’s train brakes were not connected at the time, so no braking power was being provided by the cars in the train, but, the locomotive’s independent brakes (which apply air brakes on only the locomotive) were engaged. The power of the 3,000 HP diesel was not enough to overcome full engine power. Furthermore, applying the locomotive’s brakes disabled the train’s alerter system, which, had the locomotive’s brakes not been applied, would have applied them in addition to shutting down the engine and stopping the train automatically. The engineer, a 35-year veteran with a clean disciplinary record, attempted to reboard the accelerating locomotive, but was unable to do so and was dragged about 80 feet, receiving minor cuts and abrasions. There were no other injuries or fatalities resulting from the incident.
Here are a couple of news clips from the day of the Runaway. This was before the entire story behind the runaway was made public months later after the NTSB concluded its investigation.
The train consisted of the SD40-2 #8888 locomotive with 47 freight cars, 22 of which were loaded. Two of the train’s tank cars contained thousands of gallons of molten phenol, a toxic ingredient of paints, glues, and dyes that is harmful when it is inhaled, ingested, or comes into contact with the skin. Like in the movie, attempts were made to derail the train using a portable derailer, but failed as the momentum of the train just pushed the derailers aside, and police did shoot at the Emergency Fuel Cutoff switch, located next to the fuel cap. However this had no effect because the button must be pressed for several seconds before the engine is starved of fuel and shuts down.
A northbound manifest (mixed freight) train, CSX Train Q63615, was directed onto a siding, to let the runaway past. Once past, the dispatcher directed the the crew to uncouple their lead locomotive, CSX SD40-2 #8392 (Serial 37210, Frame #7302-7, originally built for the Chessie System [C&O]). The crew of two had a combined 31 years of experience between the two of them and a brakeman with one year experience. They chased the the runaway train and were able to couple onto the rear car, and immediately started slowing the train down by applying the dynamic brakes on the chase locomotive. Further down the line, CSX EMD GP38-2 locomotive was also prepared further down the line to be coupled to the front of the runaway and slow it down more if necessary. Once the runaway was slowed down to a speed of 11 miles per hour CSX trainmaster Jon Hosfeld, ran alongside the train, climbed aboard and shut down the locomotive, bringing the dramatic runaway to a safe ending. The train was stopped just southeast of Kenton, OH, before reaching the GP38. All of the brake shoes on #8888 had been completely destroyed by the heat from being applied throughout the runaway trip. Unlike the film, there was no passenger train filled with kids, the train did not hit a horse trailer, and the train was not chased alongside by a High-Railer.
For a better description of the plot in the movie, visit the wikipedia page for Unstoppable by clicking this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unstoppable_(2010_film)
Norfolk Southern Train 043-06 rolls through Liverpool, Ohio, En-Route to final filming in Pennsylvania. This clip shows all of the main locomotives used in the film. Train 043 is usually reserved for special moves like this
UPDATE AS OF AUGUST 20, 2012
It has come to my attention that the Director of this film, Tony Scott, passed away yesterday, by apparent suicide by jumping off an overpass onto a freeway below.
RIP Tony Scott: 6/21/44 – 8/19/2012
UPDATE AS OF 7-7-2013
CSX has retired the locomotive that inspired the movie “Unstoppable” It was announced in May 2013 that the locomotive, stored for a few months would be stricken from the roster, taken to the Cumberland, Maryland shops and cut up for scrap.
Locomotives of Unstoppable
One of the first scenes shows an overview of “AWVR” Fuller yard, actually Wheeling and Lake Erie’s Brewster Yard The locomotives on the side are retired, 6,000 HP EMD SD90MAC’s. These locomotives were miserable failures, and at the age of 5 years old, they were retired and sold.
In 1996, Electro-Motive started full production of the SD90MAC with a 6,000 HP, 20 Cylinder 710 H-engine, and all SD90MACs made from then on used that for its prime mover. Pre-production SD90MACs were built with an 18 Cylinder, 4300 HP engine. These locomotives are called SD90/43MAC, and 95% of those built, as still in service, oon Union Pacific, Canadian Pacific and Indiana Railroad. However The SD90MAC-H did not prove popular with railroads and only 69 6,000 HP SD90’s were built, compared to over 200 of the 4300 HP version. Since the SD90MAC-H had such a large prime mover, it didn’t offer the same operational flexibility as smaller units, limiting its possible customer base to only the largest railroads, and since the H-engine was a new design rushed into production, it had not yet reached the same level of reliability as EMD’s previous engine models. The low reliability on such a large engine was an especially bad combination since the loss of one engine in a train meant the loss of a larger percentage of pulling power than had a smaller engine failed. In the end the SD90MAC-H was only delivered to two railroads, the Union Pacific and the Canadian Pacific. The Canadian Pacific locomotives were part of an earlier order for SD9043MAC locomotives that was still in production when EMD switched over to the H-engine, these units were numbered 9300-9304, and they have since been retired. The CP units were originally re-sold to Iran for use on their railroad, but the deal fell through, and the 4 locomotives were cut up for scrap in Montreal in 2011.
The locomotives seen in the film were used by the Kansas City Southern railway for a year, but they were returned when the 1 year lease was up. They were on the Wheeling and Lake Erie for a short time, being stored. These units have since been moved to Altoona, Pennsylvania, where the Norfolk Southern Railroad is currently rebuilding for BHP Iron-Ore for use in Australia.
In this shot, you see 4 locomotives, all belonging to the Wheeling and Lake Erie railroad.
We will start with W&LE SD40 #4003. The locomotive is actually named “Bobo”. She carries EMD serial #32971 and frame #7962-4. She was built as Missouri Pacific SD40 #703 in march of 1967. In the 1970’s locomotive renumbering, she renumbered to Missouri Pacific #3003. She carried on as MP 3003 until 1982, when the Missouri Pacific, along with the Western Pacific railroads, were both merged into the vast Union Pacific railroad. She was renumbered shortly after the merger to UP 4003, since the UP already had a SD40 #3003. The locomotive was retired from the Union Pacific in 1987 and was sold the Wisconsin Central, who put the locomotive into their Oxford Locomotive Leasing program. The unit ended up being leased to the newly formed Wheeling and Lake Erie railroad, and was eventually sold to the WLE. After her purchase from Oxford Leasing, the locomotive was repainted into full W&LE colors, but carries the number that was given to her by Union Pacific.
Here’s a photo of the W&LE 4003 as she looks today: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=1303596
AC&Y GP35 #107 was originally built as Southern Railway 2653. She carries the serial #29908 and Frame #7774-9, and was built in February of 1965. She was built on trucks of a retired ALCo RS3 that was traded in for the 2563. She served the Southern Railway until Southern merged with neighbor Norfolk and Western in 1982 to form Norfolk Southern Corporation. Under the Norfolk Southern, 2653 kept her old number, but traded her fancy Southern Paint for the solid black of the new Norfolk Southern. NS retired 2563 in order to be sold to the upstart Wheeling and Lake Erie railroad, who purchased trackage from Norfolk Southern in Ohio. She became W&LE 2653 for a short time before she was renumbered to WLE 107. It is unknown what year it happened, but the W&LE made the 107 Akron, Canton and Youngstown 107 sometime after the year 2000, to pay homage to another Ohio Railroad.
Here’s a photo of the AC&Y 107 as she looks today. http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=225255
“AWVR SD40-2 #5607″ is not what she really is. She is in reality, W&LE 6351. During the filming of the movie, this particular locomotive wore 3 different AWVR numbers, 5607, 7346, and 5580! Talk about multiple personalities! Pick a number already! Anyway, the locomotive was originally built for the Nacionales De Mexico (NdeM) and carries the serial #858098-1. She was built for the Nationalized Mexican railways and carried the number 13001. She wore the fancy Red and Green NdeM scheme until the Government of Mexico renamed their national railroad “Ferrocarrilas Nacionales De Mexico in the Mid 1980’s. She retained her 13001 number until the Government Privatized their railways into Ferromex, Transportacion Ferroveria De Mexico and Ferrocarrilas del Sureste. The 13001 was part of the package deal won by Kansas City Southern’s TFM. Under TFM ownership, the Locomotive was renumbered to 1401. In mid 2007, 1401 was retired from the TFM roster, since renamed Kansas City Southern De Mexico and was sold by KCSM to the Wheeling and Lake Erie. She became W&LE 6352. Today, she is still employed by W&LE, mainly used to work the many local trains that operate on the system everyday.
What is interesting, and hard to tell apart is that AWVR 1206, 777 and 767 all had 2 locomotives! We will start off with AWVR 1206-1. The locomotive was built as Kansas City Southern SD40-2 #664 and carries serial #73658-1 and was built in January of 1984. She is an EMD SD40-2. There is a bit of a goof in the movie, as Denzel claims that the locomotive has 5,000 Horsepower. This is not true, as the EMD SD40-2 is only rated for 3,000 HP. The 1206-2 was used at the start of the movie before Will and Frank go chasing after AWVR 777. The locomotive was purchased from the KCS in 2007, and today operates and Wheeling and Lake Erie 6353.
Here’s a photo of the 6353 as she looks today, still in the AWVR paint scheme: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=1922641
The other 1206 was used for chasing down the runaway. This locomotive was built as Kansas City Southern SD40-2 #665 and carries the Serial #73658-2. What is interesting is that both 1206 locomotives were built at the exact same time, for the same owner and both starred in the same movie. It seems like these two SD40-2’s will stick together for the long run! Today, she is Wheeling and Lake Erie #6354
Unlike the 6353, the 6354 has been repainted into full W&LE Colors, and here is a photo of how she looks today: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=2343289
Like 1206, the AWVR 777 had two locomotives. Lets start with the first one. AWVR 777-1 is actually Canadian Pacific AC4400CW #9777. She was built at the GE Plant in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1998 and carries Serial #54472. She was painted by CP for the movie. After the movie, she was returned to the Canadian Pacific and is today in everyday use across the CP System.
Here’s a photo of CP 9777 right after filming had finished. http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=1899664
Here’s how CP 9777 looks today: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=2527918
The only real good screenshot of AWVR 777-2 was this shot from the behind the scenes. The only difference between the two is that 777-1 has damage on the right side of the locomotive, while the 777-2 has damage on the left side, and that 777-1 was used early on in the film. AWVR 777-2 is actually Canadian Pacific GE AC4400 #9782. She was built General Electric in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1998 and carries the serial #54453. She is currently in service system wide on the vast Canadian Pacific System.
Here’s a photo of CP 9782 after filming: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=1906215
Here’s a Photo of CP 9782 as she looks today, note how the paintshop left the AWVR safety stripes on the snow plow: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=2199697
The 1st of two AWVR 767’s, the trailing unit in the Runaway Train, is actually Canadian Pacific 9782. She was only a week after CP 9777, the 777-1. She is an AC4400CW owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway. Built in 1998 by General Electric, she carries the Serial #54477. After filming, she was repainted back into CP colors and is in everyday use.
Here’s a photo of CP 9782 as she looks today: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=2409996
About the hardest locomotive to get a decent screenshot of has to be the AWVR 767. The attention is all on AWVR 777. Anyway, here’s the best shot I could get of the sencond AWVR 767. She is Canadian Pacific AC4400CW #9751, and she was built in 1998 by General Electric with serial #55446. Like the other AWVR AC4400CW’s, she is back in every day service on the Canadian Pacific railway.
Here’s a current photo of CP 9751 as she looks today:http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=2029227
The school children on the Railway Safety Campaign Express were pulled by Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad GP11 #2002. The Locomotive was originally built in February 1953 as Union Pacific GP7 #107. She was with the UP until she was retired in the 1970’s and sold to the Illinois Central Gulf railroad to be rebuilt as an Paducah-Built GP11. The GP11’s were very common as the ICG purchased as many GP7’s and GP9’s for the rebuild program to keep costs down on new locomotive purchases. After being rebuilt, the locomotive became Illinois Central Gulf #8744. In 1989, the ICG had complete downsizing itself and renamed itself the Illinois Central Railroad. She then became IC 8744. In the Mid 1990’s, the locomotive was sold off to the Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad and became SWP 2002. She carries EMD Serial #17835 and Frame #6483-9
Here’s how the SWP looked when she was on the Illinois Central Gulf:http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=2375316
Here’s how the SWP 2002 looks today:http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=2409715
The Final locomotive that we take a look it as AWVR SD40-2 #7375. Her main role was the lead engine on the two unit lashup sent out to try to slow AWVR 777 from the front. She also played AWVR 5624 in the film. She was built by EMD in February 1986, and is the 3rd to last SD40-2 ever built. She was built as Nacionalas De Mexico #13002. After the Government of Mexico privatized its railways, it went to TFM as #1402. This makes the second Brother-Sister set in the film. She came to the Wheeling and Lake Erie in 2007 and currently works as WLE 6352. She has Serial #858098-2
Heres a photo of Wheeling and Lake Erie 6352 as she looks today.http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=2807470
This was the MOST EXHAUSTIVE research project I have taken on to date. I hope this clears up the questions on the locomotives used in the hit movie “Unstoppable”. I enjoyed working on this project and I hope you enjoyed reading it. One final note I will make is that AWVR is short for “Allegheny and West Virgina Railroad”. Not bad for a movie company to use a railroad name that can pass for being real!
Now, its time to take a nap! Until next time, HAPPY RAILFANNING!