Union Pacific Diesel Paint Schemes

This page was last updated on October 10, 2004.

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Southern Pacific/SSW/D&RGW Repainting And Renumbering

UP received approval to control Southern Pacific on September 11, 1996. A renumber plan was approved by early December 1996, and the first unit to be repainted was ex SP SW1500 2662, completed as UP 1183 on December 12, 1996. A revision of the plan was approved on March 5, 1997, and a final version was approved on September 2, 1997 that fully integrated all of UP's existing units and all of the SP, SSW, and D&RGW units that needed new UP road numbers.

In the March 1997 renumber plan, the former SP/SSW SD45T-2s were assigned a UP number series that reflected their status as either rebuilt units (SD45T-2R) or unrebuilt units (SD45T-2), and which also reflected their status of either being owned by SP, or leased by SP. For the unrebuilt units in the SP/SSW 9157-9404 series, the assigned UP numbers were 4890-4915, for the leased units, and UP 4916-4999 for the owned units. For the rebuilt units in the SP/SSW 6793-6891 series, the assigned UP numbers were UP 4800-4859 for the owned units, and UP 4860-4897 for the leased units. (Two units were retired by UP while assigned in this interim series, SP 9257 in April 1997, and SP 6794 in May 1997.)

A close examination of these assigned numbers reveals that the UP 4890-4897 number series was assigned to two different groups of units: eight unrebuilt units and eight rebuilt units. This mix-up was addressed, and since new numbers were to be assigned, the new renumber plan approved in September 1997 changed the sequence of units to better represent the actual ownership and condition of this large 208-unit group of SD45T-2 locomotives. Although there were some out-of-sequence instances, most of the units in the March version were in SP/SSW number sequence. In reality, the ownership and lease arrangements of the entire SP SD45T-2 fleet was much more mixed and varied, and the September plan better reflected this fact. In the September plan, the rebuilt and leased units with SP/SSW numbers 6829-6868 were assigned UP 4794-4831. The unrebuilt and leased units in the SP/SSW 9157-9404 series were assigned UP 4832-4857. Units in the SP/SSW 9157-9404 series that were owned were assigned UP 4858-4928, with a separate group of 12 units being assigned UP 4987-4998. The remaining group of 59 units in the SP/SSW 6793-6891 series that were both rebuilt and owned, were assigned UP 4929-4986.

This whole road number scramble for these former SP/SSW SD45 tunnel motors has proven to be unnecessary, however. Right from the time of the merger, UP considered these units with EMD's 20-cylinder diesel engine to be early candidates for retirement, and only six units were actually renumbered to their assigned UP numbers. While the entire 38-unit 4794-4831 group was rebuilt with 16-cylinder, 3000-horsepower engines (along with two other owned units chosen at random, making for a group of 40 units), all of the other 20-cylinder units were retired by UP over the three year period of December 1998 to December 2001.

The 1996 merger between UP and SP, and its D&RGW and Cotton Belt subsidiaries, brought the combined SP and SSW 2,196-unit fleet, along with D&RGW's 184-unit fleet into the UP roster. Of the SP/SSW units, 297 were not assigned UP numbers. By January 2000, with 1,899 SP and Cotton Belt units to be renumbered, 334 units had been completed (159 during 1999), leaving 1,565 units still in either SP's or Cotton Belt's gray and scarlet colors, although many of those had been retired by UP.

Of the 184 D&RGW units, 153 units were assigned UP numbers. By January 2000, of those 153 ex-D&RGW units that needed to be repainted and renumbered (including 26 units previously repainted to SP), 33 had been completed (19 during 1999), leaving 120 units that still needed to receive UP's standard yellow and gray paint. Many had already been retired, or would soon be retired before being repainted.

Many former SP/SSW locomotives were repainted to UP by Rescar, Inc., a paint contractor located in Hudson, Colorado, with each unit taking 20 to 30 days to completely strip and repaint. The renumber dates shown in the locomotive roster are the dates the new UP number was entered into UP's computer. That date may be either be the date the new number was entered into UP's computer before the unit left UP property prior to repainting (Rescar was located on BNSF), or it may the date that the unit actually returned to UP property after being repainted. Rescar stopped working on locomotives in about March 1999, after repainting approximately 150 units.