For the July 4th holiday weekend, my family gathered in McPherson, Kansas at my brother’s house. Wendi and I sneaked off to Hutchinson, about 20 miles south of McPherson, a few times for some alone time in the guise of trips to Starbucks. We drove around Hutch a little bit one morning, and as we were headed back toward McPherson, I saw the distinctive radiator grills of a new GE Tier IV, ET45AH pulling an intermodal freight train. We gave chase.
I was not prepared for how quickly this train got up to speed, nor was I prepared for how fast he was going. At home in the mountains of Colorado, trains are heavy and slow, going around 45 or 50 mph. There are inclines and curves to deal with. Not in Kansas. Out of Hutchinson, this train shot up to around 70 mph, an it’s a relatively straight shot for most of the run. To see a train moving that fast was impressive, awe inspiring. It also threw off my timing a little bit.
I pulled off the highway at a random exit, telling Wendi it was a shot in the dark. As I was saying to her “I don’t know how long we’ll have to wait”, she said “There’s the signal”. With barely enough time to set up my shots, the train was there.
We got back on the highway, and overtook him again, this time much(!) closer to McPherson. I knew I couldn’t beat him across town, so I sort of stayed put on the side of the road and took as many photos as I could.
We don’t see a lot of intermodal traffic on the Joint Line, so this was a little bit of a treat. Bringing up the rear of this speeding mass was Union Pacific 6689, a GE AC4400CW
I don’t typically chase trains; I usually sit in one spot and wait for them to come by. Given the speed of this train, that’s the tactic we took the rest of the weekend.