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Western Railroad Discussion > MFRSP (aka the "Junk Train") on Donner Pass


Date: 09/18/23 13:11
MFRSP (aka the "Junk Train") on Donner Pass
Author: broken_link

I caught the MFRSP heading east over Donner Pass on the morning Saturday, September 16th. I overheard the crew on the radio referring to their train, tongue in cheek, as a "Junk Train." This train is an interesting one for sure, as I wonder how many cars on this train, if any, terminate for switching to local customers around Sparks versus getting picked up to run further east by the MRVNP or MRVGR. As I understand this train works Stockton and Roseville along the way, so perhaps this is just a means to move additional tonnage over Donner without overburdening the other trains that head further east.

Photo 1: In a departure from my normally "narrow" minded ways, that is tele-mashing photos of trains on Donner, I went extra wide when I first shot the MFRSP near Troy. The EXIF for the photo said I was at 14.6mm, though I could have sworn I cranked it all of the way open to 14mm. The clouds overhead were a mixed blessing. They provided a more interesting sky for a wide angle shot, no question. They also softened the lighting when the lead units passed. I had first spotted this train coming through Switch 9 at Emigrant Gap and didn't know if it would run between Shed 10 and Norden on Main 1 or Main 2. Given that Main 2 was still partially shaded by the trees and mountains behind me when the train arrived, a little cloud cover was fortuitous.

Photo 2: After shooting a different train (the MRVNP) in Truckee that was preceding the MFRSP over Donner, I grabbed another shot of it at Boca as it headed down the east slope of the pass. It's passing over the Little Truckee River just below the Boca Dam and Reservoir.

Video: While the lighting wasn't a challenge for the dynamic range of my still camera, it did make for challenging editing of my video. While the up to 237 Mbps Cinema 4k output from the Olympus OM-D E-M1 mk II is quite nice for a stills oriented camera, the 8-bit 4:2:0 color space struggles in high dynamic range conditions. I tried to retain as much detail as I could in the sky while bringing up the shadows, etc. I've included the entire train in the video so all could view the "junk" that was being hauled. I'm guessing the large cuts of boxes near the front and end of the train are hauling Central Valley produce coming off of the summer harvest. The soundscape, of course, is pure Donner.

Cheers,
Sean



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Date: 09/18/23 14:04
Re: MFRSP (aka the "Junk Train") on Donner Pass
Author: texchief1

Thanks for getting up there, Sean!  Nine shots and video and I did watch the whole thing.

texchief1



Date: 09/18/23 14:39
Re: MFRSP (aka the "Junk Train") on Donner Pass
Author: goneon66

great video and thanks for showing the entire train...........

66



Date: 09/18/23 16:16
Re: MFRSP (aka the "Junk Train") on Donner Pass
Author: wyeth

broken_link Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> This
> train is an interesting one for sure, as I wonder
> how many cars on this train, if any, terminate for
> switching to local customers around Sparks versus
> getting picked up to run further east by the MRVNP
> or MRVGR.

I'm guessing they pull off an engine on the MFRSP at Sparks and hook it up to the rear end of the MRVNP....  Voila!  A UP "Mega Train" is born!

Thanks for the video of the entire train.  I would have been surprised that this train came from Fresno - would have expected to see many more reefer cars than just three!  Even though I imagine many of the boxcars were full of canned foods, regardless, that's a far cry from the "Salad Bowl Express" days for sure!!!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/18/23 16:42 by wyeth.



Date: 09/18/23 18:33
Re: MFRSP (aka the "Junk Train") on Donner Pass
Author: broken_link

I agree that I feel like in years past I've seen a greater number of reefers on Donner manifests. That said, there are often a small number of refrigerated 53' foot containers (HUB Group and C. R. England) on the ZLTG2 when I see it go by. I don't know if this is making up for the lack of dedicated refrigerated box cars or not, however, and if so by how much.

wyeth Wrote:

> Thanks for the video of the entire train.  I
> would have been surprised that this train came
> from Fresno - would have expected to see many more
> reefer cars than just three!  Even though I
> imagine many of the boxcars were full of canned
> foods, regardless, that's a far cry from the
> "Salad Bowl Express" days for sure!!!



Date: 09/20/23 01:00
Re: MFRSP (aka the "Junk Train") on Donner Pass
Author: coach

Some at UP may call it a "junk train", but it's all carload, which pays better than intermodal.  If anything, it should be called a priority manifest.  UP is lucky to have the business.  Imagine if all these boxcars trains dried up and went away?  What would run over Donner?  Barely anything.  That's how bad it is these days compared to SP days.



Date: 09/20/23 05:50
Re: MFRSP (aka the "Junk Train") on Donner Pass
Author: raytc1944

Interesting train.  I liked seeing all the box car traffic (even if graffed).  Does anyone know whom the majority of shippers/consignees are on this train?



Date: 09/20/23 06:24
Re: MFRSP (aka the "Junk Train") on Donner Pass
Author: broken_link

I don't disagree. I could tell that the crew was joking when they said it. They could have called it a kitchen sink train, etc. It had a bit of just about everything in the mix.

coach Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Some at UP may call it a "junk train", but it's
> all carload, which pays better than intermodal.
>  If anything, it should be called a priority
> manifest.  UP is lucky to have the business.
>  Imagine if all these boxcars trains dried up and
> went away?  What would run over Donner?  Barely
> anything.  That's how bad it is these days
> compared to SP days.



Date: 09/20/23 10:40
Re: MFRSP (aka the "Junk Train") on Donner Pass
Author: WAF

Thought the owner nearby runs people out of the area at troy?



Date: 09/20/23 11:18
Re: MFRSP (aka the "Junk Train") on Donner Pass
Author: broken_link

That's my understanding as well. Apparently she's had issues with vandalism of her property. There are now locked gates up at both forks of the road where they split coming up from Donner Pass Rd. When I've shot there in the recent past, I've parked down by 80, and I'm in and out pretty quickly. Given that I'd seen this train at Emigrant Gap, I knew I had just enough time to get to where I wanted to shoot it before it arrived and then get out.

WAF Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Thought the owner nearby runs people out of the
> area at troy?



Date: 09/20/23 17:14
Re: MFRSP (aka the "Junk Train") on Donner Pass
Author: ns1000

Nice video!!  I REALLY like Pic 1!!



Date: 09/20/23 19:09
Re: MFRSP (aka the "Junk Train") on Donner Pass
Author: Danhilleo

I noticed the one lonely Bulkhead flat about half way through, they seem to be pretty rare these days. Why did Centerbeams  take over when they seem be more prone to derailing?



Date: 09/21/23 14:43
Re: MFRSP (aka the "Junk Train") on Donner Pass
Author: ProAmtrak

Awesome video Sean!



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