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Run What You Want?

May 28, 2010

It is always interesting to see prototype railroads do things that we modelers sometimes don’t see as “proper railroading”.

Take, for example, the idea of intermodal and manifest trains. Most modelers would never mix the two. But our model railroads don’t need to exist in a vacuum. If you’re modeling a prototype, and you’re modeling that prototype in a given year, month, (and some would go to the day), your railroad has a time. The world around your railroad has a time, and in that time, economic conditions affect railroad traffic.

Front End

Here’s the front end of a truly interesting manifest freight. Doesn’t look too remarkable, does it? Lots of modern power, and it looks like we’ll be seeing box car after box car that pretty much look alike. If you were modeling the present day UP, this is what you would expect your manifest freights to look like. However….


This picture was taken March 28th of this year. In the middle of a huge long UP manifest, a set of intermodal equipment!

As modelers we must look at our prototypes, even when we’re creating something unique. Our railroads should not exist without connection to a prototype for inspiration. If I was still modeling the modern Milwaukee Road, you might now see a set of intermodal cars in the middle of a manifest on my layout from time to time, with this photo as evidence to back me up.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 1, 2010 12:10 pm

    We see this all the time around DC, most notably on the hotshot CSX Juice train, which is in dedicated service between NYC and Tropicana Juices in Bradenton, FL. Because its a priority freight for CSX both north and southbound, it often carries TOFC/COFC traffic on the head end – usually 10-15 cars worth.

    I’d also add that this sort of thing is very common on regional rail carriers – they have to move whatever car set comes onto the plant!

    • Jeremy permalink
      June 2, 2010 4:15 am

      Hi Philip,
      In 2.5 years of living right next to this line, that was the first set of intermodeal traffic, or I suppose I should say LOADED intermodal traffic that I have seen.

      I’m sure things are different depending on the traffic on your particular line. We get lots of straight TOFC and intermodal, unit grain, etc…

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