Railfanning 8-26-18: Amtrak Phase IV, PRLX Leasers, and Exports for Ukraine!


This day's railfanning begin with what I thought would be the highlight catch of the day: Amtrak's Phase IV Heritage Unit leading the Roanoke Regional north into D.C. I had attempted to photograph this engine the previous weekend at Alexandria, VA, but my shot was ruined by the arrival of another train on the near track, blocking my preferred angle at the last second. Thankfully I had a shot at redemption, as the locomotive has been based out of D.C. Union Station's Ivy City shops all week. My favorite part has to be the perfect stripe formed with the Phase IV lines matching up with the Amfleet coaches!

Though I wasn't expecting more trains anytime soon, I opted to park up near the Manassas station and relax for a while. However, the weather was a bit too hot to just sit in the car, and I was parked near some kind of military special event, meaning folks kept walking past my truck. I decided to give in and head home, but just as I crossed the tracks, my scanner crackled to life with the call of the 19.7 Defect Detector on the B-Line. At first I thought about catching the impending train at the wye south of the Manassas depot, but I decided to take a chance on photographing the train from the Route 28 bridge over the tracks to the west of the wye. My scanner wasn't functioning very well, so I couldn't make out the ID of the train. While I had hoped for an intermodal train led by an SD70ACe, I was still reasonably satisfied with the shots I got of manifest freight 35Q:

Satisfied with two trains, I went home. I got on the computer to edit and upload what pictures I had, and then I saw a heads-up that was exciting enough to make me leave the house again: a train of export locomotives had just left Hagerstown, MD, heading for Norfolk, VA. I've always wanted to catch exports, and with the potential closing of the GE plant in Erie, PA, my opportunities to do so are limited. I was back trackside quickly enough that I managed to see intermodal train 214 with an ex-BNSF PRLX leaser engine, still retaining its cream-n'-green paint, though lacking any BNSF markings.

I could hear the export special move, train ID 052, coming east on the B-Line. The train had already taken the siding to meet 214, and was able to hop up one more siding to meet train 12R.

After the passing of 12R, I returned to the popular spot of the Manassas Wye, which has the best evening lighting in the area, as any wise railfan will tell you. Sure enough, one had beaten me there, and another showed up shortly after me! We agreed on a spot for the photo line, and were pleasantly surprised by the passage of a low-boy trailer carrying one of the military tanks from the aforementioned special event.

Finally, the prize catch of the day arrived at the wye. Hauled by another boring Dash 9 (I look forward to the days when these become an endangered species, to see everyone scramble from ignoring them to getting their "last pics") a set of seven GE TE33ACs on flatcars make their way south from Erie, PA, to the port at Norfolk, VA, for shipment to Ukraine.

A YouTube video of today's trains is available below. As some of my video didn't turn out quite as well as I would like, I interspliced some still images with the video to see if that would improve things enough to make it all worth posting. Let me know what you think, and as always, thank you for reading!