On Aug. 21, 1969, three locomotives being readied to haul freight to Albany, NY escaped what is now the Cabot Yard in South Boston and barreled right into the Southeast Expressway, carving deep grooves in the roadway before they came to a halt and blocking northbound traffic.
Michael William Sullivan reports that the lead locomotive - a General Motors GP40 - in the runaway express remains on the rails and doing hard work, now down in New Jersey.
Now: Same engine with new paint and number heading westbound in Rutherford, NJ. (photo by Michael William Sullivan):
Sullivan, who works in New Jersey Transit's Hoboken Terminal, says that what was then Penn Central engine 3182 is now NJ Transit engine 4210.
He says NJ Transit picked up the engine in 1994, after it was converted for passenger service, that it went on a run out of Hoboken this morning and will likely still be running for another 10 years.
"Sure they're old and tired but they're the easiest to fix and put back in service," he writes.
He adds a history of the locomotive's transformation from Penn Central 3182 to NJ Transit 4210:
It was built as PC GP40 3182 for the Penn Central in October, 1968 at EMD's LaGrange, IL plant with the serial number 34624. This means it was still somewhat factory fresh when it ran away.
It was inherited by Conrail on April 1st, 1976 where it became CR 3182. Conrail retired it in the mid-'80s as part of a massive purge of older locomotives. It sat on mothballs in Altoona, PA for a long time while they figured out what to do with all of these engines.
In the early '90s NJ Transit needed a lot of new locomotives as part of a huge modernization project that was well underway. Conrail had already rebuilt a handful of older GP40Ps that NJ Transit inherited from the Central Railroad of New Jersey into GP40PH-2s and they wanted more like them.
Conrail offered to rebuild a bunch of their retired GP40s for NJ Transit they ended up ordering 19 of them. 3182 just happened to be a part of that batch of rebuilds.
3182 was extensively rebuilt at Conrail's Juniata Locomotive Shops in Altoona, PA where it had its frame extended and had a secondary HEP (Head End Power) motor installed that would provide power to passenger cars for lights, HVAC, and whatever else the cars needed. It arrived at NJ Transit in May of 1994 as NJTR GP40PH-2B 4210 and is still in service to this day with no definite retirement date in sight.
GP40PH-2B? Williams writes:
GP = General Purpose
40 = EMD 40 Series Locomotives
P = Passenger
H = HEP (Head End Power) Equipped
-2 = EMD Solid State -2 electronics
B = Third order of GP40PH-2s for NJ Transit
Top photo from the BPL's Brearley Collection.