Striking But Short Lived Livery

I often have referred to leased locomotive power as a “rent a wreck.” That moniker comes from the fact that much leased power often looked battered and bruised.

Leasing companies usually acquired used locomotives from Class 1 carriers, painted out the markings and then applied their own reporting marks on the original livery before sending the units out to work.

A few leasing companies had a recognizable livery but those often were rather bland. Then First Union Rail began sending out leased units in a striking silver and green scheme that looked quite good.

Shown is FURX SD40-2 No. 3048 trailing a CSX SD50 on an eastbound train in Marion on the Mt. Victory Subdivision on May 7, 2000.

The 3048 had been built in July 1978 for the Southern Railway. In this image it appears to have been repainted not too long ago.

I never caught as many of these FURZ green and silver units as I would have liked. I haven’t seen one in years. Like most leased motive power liveries that I remember this look seemed to have come and gone.

Indeed leased motive power seems to be largely a product of the past at Class 1 railroads, which have mothballed dozens of their own locomotives as a result of the move toward precision scheduled railroading and its reliance on fewer and longer trains.

Like so many things involving railroading, it’s a matter of “get ’em while you can.”

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

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