Thanks to heads-ups from Mike W. and Kenneth M., I headed out to see Norfolk Southern train 781 on the H-line at Riverton Junction after dinner. Thinking I might have missed the train, I was getting ready to head home at 6:30p when the northbound signal changed from Stop, to Approach, and then to a Clear signal.
NS 781 came through at 6:37p and I was expecting, per what Mike and Kenneth heard over the radio, for NS 4003 to be the leader. I’m guessing that the train had gotten an Approach signal at Front Royal because they were creeping along but appeared to throttle up when seeing the Clear at Riverton.
My big surprise was that NS 4004 was second of two locomotives powering the empty hopper train. After photographing the head-end of the train, when I saw 4004 behind 4003, I ran like a crazy railfan trying to get in position for a going away shot. Both NS 4003 and 4004 are specially painted rebuilds of GE Dash 9-40Cs from the NS fleet. They are wearing a prototype “mane” paint scheme that NS is no longer applying to locomotives. The paint scheme is mainly gray with a black front that has a jagged edge to mimic a thoroughbred’s mane. It is a little difficult to see since the lighting wasn’t great, but the 4003 (painted in Roanoke, Virginia) also has a thin tuscan red stripe along the edge of the mane in homage to predecessor railway Norfolk and Western. The 4004 (painted in Altoona, Pennsylvania) has a thin blue stripe in homage to Conrail. Photos and video are below: