Thursday, April 21, 2016

Permit Me to Show You a Bounce

When a suburban train makes a second run during the commuter rush, it does not always run out to the end of the line.  I photographed an example on the Burlington Northern Racetrack the morning of May 13, 1991. The Burlington Northern Racetrack is the three-track mainline that runs from Aurora, Illinois to Chicago Union Station.  Daily it sees many commuter trains (called dinkys), several Amtraks, and a good number of freight trains.  It is big-time railroading, and has been since about 1900.

Burlington Northern locomotive 9914 and her train had already been to Chicago and were returning to bounce at Lisle, IL. I took this photo at 7:35 am. She is on the inbound track (eastbound) approaching (about a half mile from) the Lisle inbound platform. She has run express back from Chicago Union Station where she had deposited her first load of commuters. Her train is now empty. She is pulling. Her head light is on. For the record she was an E9A. Some call her an E9AM because in September 1973 she was rebuilt with diesel generator (HEP) from CB&Q 9989B, an E9A with a steam generator, built in January 1956. She was retried in October 1992. I'm sure she pulled the best over the years: The Denver Zephyr, The California Zephyr, The Empire Builder, and The North Coast Limited. And she did that while rotating in and out of commuter service. 

 It's now 7:50 am, the Lisle passengers have boarded and are reading their newspapers.  No smart phones.  She is pushing her train back to Chicago and will make a few local stops before hopping on to the Zephyr track (the middle track) for a fast run back to Union Station and then a restful day in the coach yard before the evening rush.  Maybe she will visit the Zephyr Pit (what the Chicago engine terminal was called).  

She has a High Green, her headlight is out, and her engineer has abandoned her for the bi-level cab car. She is pushing with everything she's got.  And don't tell her her train is a Dinky.  Never insult an E9A! 

Note, not all railroads call this a "bounce".  I have heard "flip-back".