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New heritage locomotives

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HORICON, Wis. — Union Pacific’s third “Heritage” diesel, new EMD SD70ACe No. 1988 representing the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, today rolled out of the paint booth at Wisconsin & Southern’s shop. It is the third of UP’s planned six-unit Heritage Fleet commemorating the larger railroads UP has merged with in the past three decades. The first two units, UP 1982 in shades of blue, honoring Missouri Pacific, and UP 1983, in green and silver with a big orange feather, honoring Western Pacific, were unveiled July 30 at the Qwest Center in Omaha, UP’s headquarters city. All six units are to be brand-new EMD SD70ACe’s. Each unit is numbered for the year the “Fallen Flag” railroad was brought under the Union Pacific shield.


The MKT, or “Katy,” originally used yellow on its cars and structures, then shifted to red as its primary color, and it is this era the UP unit reflects. In its later years, Katy painted locomotives and cars “John Deere green” and yellow. UP acquired the MKT in 1988; Katy served the south central U.S. from St. Louis and Kansas City through Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma to Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio, Texas. Among its notable modern passenger trains were the Texas Special, Katy Flyer, and Bluebonnet.


UP plans to have three additional units painted, honoring Chicago & North Western, Southern Pacific, and Denver & Rio Grande Western. The last one is expected to be outshopped sometime in early 2006.


"It is important that we take an historical perspective of who we are and how we got here," UP chairman and CEO Dick Davidson said at the three-hour, invitation-only dedication event in Omaha last month. "Our reputation as America's greatest railroad has been strengthened by the many lines that have become a part of the UP. It is time we pay homage to those railroads and the generations of men and women who helped to build a great nation and the foundation for our future."


The series of mergers helped UP create the largest rail franchise in North America. The addition of Missouri Pacific more than doubled UP's route-miles; Western Pacific gave UP access to the ports of San Francisco and Oakland; Katy gave UP access to Texas through Oklahoma; North Western brought UP to Chicago from the west; and Southern Pacific and Rio Grande provided access to previously unreached western and southwestern areas of the country. UP acknowledges that a secondary reason for the six Heritage units is to protect its copyrights of its predecessors’ symbols.


When not on display at specific events when requested by, or of, UP, the six units will be in the general assignment pool and will be treated as such. UP says it hopes to keep the units in their stylized paint schemes for at least a decade.

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