T h e  U n o f f i c i a l  S k i  T r a i n  P a g e




Ski Train Photo Gallery

Route of the Ski Train:

Map from Official Ski Train Site

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Ski Train Equipment:

The Ski Train: Not Just for Winter

Modeling the Ski Train in HO

Ski Train Hunting: Photographing the Train
Rio Grande Page
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Rio Grande Zephyr
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Locomotives and Head-End Power

Over the years the Ski Train has run behind a variety of locomotives. During the Rio Grande era (pre- 1992), black-and-gold GP40s were the norm, although the F9 trio was the power on occasion prior to 1983 (during the 1984 season, they were the sole power). After the re-equipping of the train in 1987/8, three GP40s were commonplace. Rio Grande tunnel motors (SD40T-2) made occasional appearances as well.

Once the Southern Pacific identity was selected to replace the Rio Grande name, locomotives were more commonly in SP's red-and-gray. In 1993 a pair of GP40Ms was typical. The following season it ran with whatever was available, including tunnel motors. By the 1994/95 season, however, it was usual practice to use a pair of GP60s in SP or SSW paint. This remained the norm up until the UP-SP merger in 1996.

The 1996/97 season saw a return to almost-exclusively Rio Grande power for the first time in years, as the train was usually powered by a pair of D&RGW GP60s. They even did the honors for some of the summer runs later that year.

During the 1998 and 1999 seasons, leased Amtrak F40PH locomotives were the usual power on the train. Since they have head-end power (HEP) capability, the power car was not necessary when they were on the train. There were performance problems with these units at times, however-- the train stalled or went very slow on several occasions during the 1998 season, so additional units had to be tacked on for more horsepower.  Subsequently the train used a third unit for additional power, and performance improved radically.

In 2000 the Ski Train acquired three F40PH locomotives on a lease-to-buy arrangement. These were repainted to match the train, and went into service in December.

F40PH No. 242.  This unit is usually used in the lead position.   In fact, as of 2006, each unit has a letter painted on it to denote its position in the consist (this one has an "A").
F40PH No. 283, in its inaugural season on the Ski Train 912/28/2000).
A contemporary view of No. 283, New Years Eve 2006.  You can see the "B" designation near the nose.
F40PH No. 289, also in its inaugural season on the Ski Train 912/28/2000)
Contemporary view of No. 289, 12/31/2006.  This unit is now designated "C" near the cab.
This shot shows all three units, at Union Station after deboarding (12/23/2003).


Drawing of Power Car MOFFAT TUNNEL

Prior to the use of F40PH l
ocomotives, Head-end Power (electricity to heat and light the passenger cars) was supplied by a power car, the "Joseph G. Harris" (formerly "Moffat Tunnel"). This car was originally built by Alco as a PB-1 locomotive and used in California Zephyr service. Later it was rebuilt by the Rio Grande as steam generator car No. 253, and served on the Rio Grande Zephyr until that train's demise in 1983. It received 2-axle trucks sometime around 1980. When the Ski Train was re-equipped, this car was rebuilt with two Caterpillar diesel generators to supply the 480 volts needed for train power. Joe Harris was the architect of this rebuild, and the car was renamed for him in 1994.

Once the Ski Train acquired three F40's of its own, the power car was no longer needed, and was effectively retired.  It was sold in 2006 to the CN Railroad, leaving Denver in September.

Page and contents Copyright James R. Griffin, except as noted.  All rights reserved.