Frisco Run-Through Operations

Discussion in 'Freight Operations' started by Gabriel G., Apr 12, 2021.

  1. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    It will be a while before I can locate the picture. The consist is lead by GP35 722. Unfortunately the page for GP35's cuts off at 719 and I did not see this shot of 722 in the loose box of GP35 slides.
    Gabriel G. likes this.
  2. Gabriel G.

    Gabriel G. Member

    If it's okay with everyone, I'd like to share this slide with the Classic-UP group.
  3. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Tonight I found some more evidence to expand the realm of possible foreign road locomotives on the Frisco.

    Originally I found this thread while looking for NW units on the Santa Fe:,4181577

    That thread also mentioned that the Santa Fe leased units from the CN, CNW, and B&LE. Tonight I found a photo of CN power working for the Santa Fe in Oklahoma, as well as a few of CNW power. I haven't found any of B&LE yet.,1214474

    While we don't have any pictures at this time of these roads making into the QLA/CTB or QSF mix, it is possible that it could have happened at some point.
    Ozarktraveler and Gabriel G. like this.
  4. Gabriel G.

    Gabriel G. Member


    It's crazy seeing Canadian National power down in Oklahoma, let alone Canadian National power and Chicago & North Western power together. If I didn't know any better, I'd have assumed that photo was taken in Minnesota or Wisconsin (during the 1980s, CN and C&NW operated a motive power pool for unit potash trains coming off the DW&P). I can only imagine what it'd have been like operating a fully-winterized CN geep down in Oklahoma in July! :confused:
    Ozarktraveler likes this.
  5. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Another random find in the archive this morning. I stumbled across a couple of photos of Frisco power pooled with BN power before the merger.

    Looks like its Frisco GP35 711, BN GP7 1612 (Ex CBQ), another BN early GP and the last unit is another GP that I can't identify the paint scheme for. Chicago wouldn't be on the route of through traffic running through the Frisco to the southeast. My best guess is 711 was lent to the BN to settle up HP hours owed from other run through operations.

    In this picture it looks like GP35 720 is in a pool with BN 5453 (Ex CBQ U28B) on its way either too or from the West Coast. Could this by train 131 between Portland and Hamlet mentioned at the start of this thread?
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2021
    Ozarktraveler and Gabriel G. like this.
  6. Ethan that last geep appears to be Precision National paint.

    If you have never seen it the September/ October 1996 Diesel Era it has a short article on Frisco pooled power with the UP to Cheyenne. There are a few pics and it lists the most common power.

    Ozarktraveler likes this.
  7. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Ozarktraveler and modeltruckshop like this.
  8. Yeah that was their standard leaser paint scheme. Micro scale offers it as a decal set also. We went to their facility once when I was pretty young. Like a first gen diesel grave yard.
    Ozarktraveler and Iantha_Branch like this.
  9. mark

    mark Staff Member Staff Member


    This is not pooled power. In the late 1970s the Frisco leased most of their GP35s to that successor railroad. Our GP35 units were nearing the end of their economic lives, were fuel inefficient and had been placed in storage. The formerly idle, now leased locomotives became a new revenue source for the Frisco.

    In contrast, that successor line was very power-short. They had a very old and rapidly aging fleet. At the time their average unit age was almost twice that of Frisco. Their locomotive failure rates were growing and they were struggling to get units out of their shops. The inability to get units out of the shops just exasperated the situation as additional units failed. They became critically short of power and cried out to other lines for help.

    Due to poor management, failure to look forward far enough and inability to be flexible during changing times, that other railroad was losing tons of money. They still had not outgrown the original merger that created that successor line a decade before. Most of their practices, staffing, equipment and facilities were still those from the predecessor lines.

    National economic conditions at the time included high inflation and interest rates. Throw into the mix rapidly rising fuel costs, uncertain and inconsistent fuel supplies from the middle east oil crisis, coupled with a large old fleet of less fuel efficient locomotives, these just further exasperated the situation. Further, they took the attitude they were going to spend any amount of money, at very high cost of capital, to develop the coal fields in the Powder River Basin.

    Coupled with the above, the "partnership" with the Cardboard and No Wheels was another drain on strained, limited resources. Despite signed contract agreements, they were not contributing much needed cash to the Powder River Basin expansion. At the same time, that successor railroad was spending large sums of cash for new six axle locomotives in anticipation of coal that was not yet developed as a revenue source. Changing federal regulations were also happening or very close on the horizon.

    Their shareholders became alarmed by the bleeding and devaluation of their assets. This was the setting which largely resulted in the industry giant looking for a new merger partner. And, why the "little" railroad's management took over the asleep giant after the merger. Post consolidation, the Frisco's leadership made very painful, but absolutely necessary changes and steered a new profitable course that changed the future of the line.

    Hope this helps.


  10. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Thank you very much for the insight. I didn't know the GP35's were leased out toward the end.

    So were back to square 1 again. Any one know for sure if BN, Frisco and SCL pooled power on a through train between Portland and Hamlet?
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2021
    Ozarktraveler likes this.
  11. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member Staff Member

    I wish I could help you on your quest for knowledge Ethan. I can tell you, as you prolly know. Just as soon as someone says "that never happened", up will pop a picture or other evidence that it did.
  12. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Seems like the phrase "you win some, you lose some" applies. Sometimes we find something that answers our questions, other times the truth isn't as exciting as what I had hoped for. And sometimes all we get are questions with no answers.
    Ozarktraveler and gjslsffan like this.
  13. tferk

    tferk Member Supporter

    As far as I know, there were no run-through trains with BN in the pre-merger era, and no Frisco run throughs that went northwest of North Platte (which were the UP run-throughs.) After the merger, the PBF (Portland Birmingham Forwarder) was launched. The first one broke through a banner in Springfield on December 1, 1980.

    Thomas White, a former dispatcher for BN in the Northwest, had this to say about the PBF on many years ago: "Ah, yes, the PBF fantasy train. Knock about 230 miles off of that run because it only happened once. The train was mine run (cars for Kansas City and beyond not blocked or switched in any particular order) out of Lake Yard (Portland - the one in Oregon) with a mine run pickup at East St. Johns (also in Portland...OR) then blast off to Pasco (WA) where the train was to be humped, blocked, reassembled, inspected, air tested, and blast off in a couple of hours. The whole world was watching - the first trip. Pasco had plenty of people and equipment to dedicate to the inaugural run...and not all that much arriving train to switch, necessary when it's a big show. Then came real every day railroading. It couldn't be done. Nobody wanted to hear that it couldn't be done and nobody wanted to hear about delays, and nobody wanted to hear about late, so as a matter of survival, the folks at Pasco would run today's train from Portland tomorrow. Today's train from Pasco would be yesterday's train from Portland plus whatever KC - Memphis - Birmingham that had accumulated from other trains. This was in the days before car scheduling in the computer, so it took a while for the folks at HQ to notice. Oops, that which nobody wanted to hear became loud and clear. The PBF and the fantasy of humping a through train at Pasco ended not terribly long after it started."
  14. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Thank you for clarity on that subject. Sounded like a doomed project from the start.
  15. Gabriel G.

    Gabriel G. Member


    Here's a blurb about the ill-fated PBF from the December 1980 issue of Trains. As I recall, Burlington Northern introduced a handful of Frisco-esque symbols after the merger, including PBF.

    Ozarktraveler and Iantha_Branch like this.
  16. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Nice blurb. I don't think I've seen the "Together At Last" loco before.
    Ozarktraveler and Gabriel G. like this.
  17. Gabriel G.

    Gabriel G. Member

    After the merger, Burlington Northern initially maintained existing Frisco alpha symbols such as BTX, FSE, KCX and NWF and introduced a handful of new trains that used alpha symbols inspired by Frisco practice. In addition to the aforementioned PBF (Portland-Birmingham Forwarder), there was also BMF (Birmingham-Minot Forwarder), LTF (Lincoln-Tulsa Forwarder) and TLF (Tulsa-Lincoln Forwarder).
    Ozarktraveler likes this.
  18. tferk

    tferk Member Supporter

    I fear we are letting this thread drift off subject, but the Trains article is interesting in that the date of the 1st PBF in Birmingham is given as 11-27-1980. Here is a Ken Albrecht photo of the 1st PBF (notice the locos match up with the photo in Trains), taken on the evening of 12-1-1980 at Springfield, MO. This was supposed to be a daylight arrival, but a MofW welding maching broke down on the main track near Ft Scott and delayed the PBF. According to Ken, the first PBF was also supposed to be the first "official" BN powered train into Springfield, but #61 had arrived earlier led by two BN units.

    PBF speech SpringfieldMO 1980-12-01 KenAlbrecht.jpg
  19. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Nah this is all great information I like having access to reference later. As far as I'm concerned, all of this has been relevant.
    modeltruckshop and Gabriel G. like this.
  20. Gabriel G.

    Gabriel G. Member

    Update time! Last night while browsing Google Books, I discovered a treasure trove of ICC documents related to the BN-SLSF merger. These included all sorts of valuable pieces of data with regards to Frisco's operations, including a list of run-through trains as of the year 1976, when Burlington Northern and Frisco filed their merger application with the ICC.

    Attached Files:

    pbender and Iantha_Branch like this.

Share This Page