MWR - railfanning the Rocky Mountain West!
Utah Railway Coal Train - May 6, 2000
The Utah Railway is the owner of one of the two tracks over Soldier Summit and they make good use of it running from three to six trains daily.  Utah Railway locomotives can also be found on the end of BNSF manifests since they provide helper service for BNSF over Soldier Summit.

Utah Railway Junction  |  Price River Canyon  | Snaking through Kyune
Nolan Tunnels  |  Castle Gate  |  West Helper

Westbound IPPX coal train at Utah Railway Jct., UT.
Utah Railway Junction, Utah

Most of the Utah Railway coal trains use leased Union Pacific power on the head end such as this train.  Every once in a while though,  you'll find a coal train with Utah Railway SD40s in the lead.  Here, the westbound, loaded IPPX coal train is crossing over to the westbound main from the eastbound main track and Utah Railway trackage just out of the image.
Here's how you get the shot above.  The two Utah Railway SD40s are the first two of six about 2/3rds of the way back on this train.  The sound of six older EMDs roaring by is one of the great things about the helpers currently used by the Utah Railway and Union Pacific over Soldier Summit.  To experience it yourself, download this MPG movie taken right after this shot was snapped.  The file is 1.2MB so download time will vary with the speed of your connection.
Image by Todd Busse.

Mid-train helpers grinding uphill... Even with over 31,000 HP, it's a slow climb up through the Price River Canyon.
Following a loaded coal train over Soldier Summit is not a rushed experience and there are many good shots that are easily accessible from the highway.  Just be careful pulling on and off the highway because there is a lot of traffic.
Utah Railway helpers in Price River Canyon.

The head end at Kyune, Utah.
Kyune, Utah

At Kyune, the grade levels out and trains can pick up a bit more speed.  Well, not that much speed.  The eastern part of Kyune can be easily accessed from a dirt road that cuts off to the east before the bridge that crosses the tracks.
It may not be as steep but the Utah Railway helpers are still in Run 8 and smoking up the valley.  The 5th unit in the former ATSF paint scheme is a leased MPEX unit.

The helpers assisted the train all the way to Soldier Summit where the IPPX train met an eastbound empty heading towards the Wildcat load out.

All six mid-train helpers at Kyune, UT

Eastbound empty at Nolan Tunnels.
Nolan Tunnels

An empty, eastbound Utah Railway coal train coasts down the Price River Canyon after exiting one of the two Nolan Tunnels.  This train was led by four AC4400s including three Southern Pacific and a single Union Pacific unit.

Castle Gate, Utah


There is both a load out and power plant served by the same mine at Castle Gate.  The load out is about a mile west near the end of this train and the power plant is well hidden behind the bluff to the right.  It is only a few more curves and this train diverge at Utah Railway Jct., travel by Utah Railway's facilities at Martin and head on up to the load out at Wildcat.
Coasting through Castle Gate, Utah.

Climbing towards Soldier Summit...
The Utah Railway passes over a road and the former right-of-way of a Rio Grande branch above West Helper on its way to the Wildcat load out.

And to top the day off, the MDVRO was helped to Castilla by
FIVE Rio Grande SD40T-2s.  Look for these images soon...
Most of these images captured with a Sony FD91 digital camera.

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