I think some of the best movies with trains in them were released in the 1980’s so far! This next one is about the Jon Voight film, Runaway Train. Nearly the entire movie is filmed on board a 4 unit lash-up of Classic EMD power. The film was shot on the Alaska Railroad in Alaska, and on the Butte, Anaconda and Pacific railroad in Montana. Since the BA&P didn’t roster an F-unit like the Alaska did, they ended up renting one from a tourist railroad. Because two locomotives had previously been rebuilt by ARR with low short hoods as opposed to the BA&P’s GP7’s original high short hood, both Alaska units were fitted with mock-up high hoods made of plywood for the film, branded with fictional numbers 531 and 812, respectively. Because #1801’s cab had been reconstructed prior to filming, the ‘531’ prosthetic hood stood slightly higher than the normal hood height of a GP7 in order to fit over the locomotive’s number-board.
If you ever wondered what happened to the locomotives in the movie, well, your wait is over! Lets get right to the Point
Alaska Railroad EMD GP40-2 #3010 (Serial #757143-4, Frame #: Unknown, Built in La Grange, IL) is an example of Everyday power on the Alaska Railroad. She was built in April of 1976, and is currently on the Roster of Alaska Railroad. Of the 5 units prominently featured in the film, she is the only one that is still on the Roster. For the Montana location, the lead unit was represented by a Butte, Anaconda and Pacific GP38-2 #109. It is Ironic in that the this unit was later sold to the Alaska Railroad and remains in service as Alaska #2001
Here is a Photo of The Alaska Shoot engine, Alaska Railroad 3010 as she looks today: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=2698094
Here is a Photo of Butte, Anaconda and Pacific 109, the Montana Location unit, when the movie was filmed: http://www.alaskarails.org/glance/BV-bap109.html
Here’s a photo of the BA&P 109 today, working on the Alaska Railroad:http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=1673514
Alaska Railroad F7A #1500 (Serial #17710, Frame #7021-A1) was the trailing unit in the consist. The legendary EMD F-unit survived longer on the Alaska Railroad than any other Class 1 railroad due to the simple fact of the full width carbody made it easier to work on during the frigid -30 days of the typical Alaska winter. ARR 1500 was built in by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors during the Heyday of the F-unit, December 1952. The unit was one of the final F-units in service and when she was retired in 1992, she was donated to the Alaska Museum of Transportation in Anchorage Alaska. The F-unit that was used during the Montana shoot was rented from the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad, and was the Great Northern 7012A (Serial #21108, Frame #3189-A5).
Here is a photo of how the 1500 looks today: http://www.alaskarails.org/pix/former-loco/DG-1500.html
Here is a photo of the Montana Shoot Engine, NP 7012A: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=2537921
Alaska Railroad GP7 #1801 (Serial #15708, Frame #7012-18) was not built for the Alaska Railroad, but was built for the United States Army as USAX 1838. She came to the Alaska Railroad when the Army declared the unit surplus. She was used mainly for local train work and work train service before being retired from the roster in 1996. After retirement, 1801 was sold for scrap to General Metals of Anchorage, AK. However, GM sold the locomotive to Big Dog Lines (BDLX), a locomotive leaser and reseller. She was sold to Econo-Rail who used her to switch a grain Elevator in Texas, along with former Alaska sister, 1803. In 1999, Econo-rail sold the locomotive to the newly formed Missouri Central (MOC) railroad that operated over the Former Chicago Rock Island and Pacific railroad line from Overland, Missouri (a suburb of St. Louis) out to Union, Missouri. She became Missouri Central #1800. The Missouri Central did not last long and by 2005, the railroad was bought by Progress Rail and is now known as the Central Midland Railroad. The new owners ended up selling the 1800 to a shortline operator, Respondek Rail Corporation owned by Terry Respondek. The 1800 was shipped over to Respondek’s Tri-City Port in Granite City, IL and entered service. Ever since, the East St. Louis area has been the 1800’s home, either switching Center Ethanol in Sauget, or Tri-City Port in Granite City. During the Montana shoot, this unit was represented by BA&P 103.
It should be noted that the film producers added a High Short hood the the last two units as the two older geeps that were used on the BA&P both had High-Short hoods.
Heres a photo of the unit as it looked during the time of the filming: http://www.alaskarails.org/pix/former-loco/DM-1801.html
Heres a photo of the unit as it looked when it was owned by Econo-Rail: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=1439619
Heres a photo of how the unit looked when it was owned by the Missouri Central:http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=1805738
Heres a photo that I shot of the 1801 as it is today as Respondek 1800. http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=490488
Here is a Shot of the Montana Shoot engine, BA&P 103:http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=620650
Alaska Railroad GP7 #1810 (Serial #15691, Frame #7012-1) was another Former US Army GP7’s. The Unit was built as USAX 1821. The unit was retired from the Alaska Railroad in 1996, the same time as 1801, and was sold to the Oregon Pacific Railroad and operated there as OPR 1810. During this time, the Locomotive was again used in another major film, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory as the lead unit on the hijacked passenger train. The unit was later sold to Archer Daniels Midland Grain Co and used as a grain elevator switcher in Hugoton, KS. For the Montana shoot, this unit was represented by Butte, Anaconda and Pacific GP9 #104
Heres a photo of 1810 as she looked when the Movie was filmed: http://www.alaskarails.org/pix/former-loco/DM-1810.html
Here’s a photo of the unit as she looked on the Oregon Pacific Railroad: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=978902
Here’s a photo of how the Unit looks today: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=1180354
Here is a shot of the Montana Shoot Engine, BA&P 104:http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=899043
The last locomotive we look at is another Former US Army Locomotive. The ALCo MRS1 #1603 was built by the American Locomotive Works in Schenectady, New York in the late 1950’s as USAC B-2053. When Declared surplus, she was sold to the Alaska Railroad. She was retired from the Roster in 1985 and was on the property when the film needed an extra engine, so the 1603 was fired up one final time to be used in the movie. As sad as it seems, I have not been able to find any current location for Alaska Railroad MRS 1603. It is believed that she was cut up for scrap.
Here’s a photo of Alaska 1603 before retirement. http://www.alaskarails.org/pix/former-loco/JK-1603.html
A BIG thank you goes out to http://www.alaskarails.org. without this site, I would not have been able to dig up much information on the the units. So a great big thank you goes to them.
I want to leave you with a shot of the Runaway train during Filming from one a Railfan in the Area. http://www.alaskarails.org/sf/film/runaway-train/JF/img229.jpg
If you have any leads you would like me to dig for, shoot me a message, and as always, HAPPY RAILFANNING!