BNSF: It's time for heritage locomotives

  • Comments 15

Since Norfolk Southern made a big splash with the announcement of heritage paint schemes, I thought it might be time for BNSF to do the same. Norfolk Southern joined the ranks of railroads like Union Pacific, Amtrak, Iowa Interstate, and others who are honoring their past by painting locomotives in either accurate representations, or splashy renditions of predecessor paint schemes. Does a locomotive with a fancy paint scheme move freight more efficiently? The answer is no, but what a wonderful way for the railroads to give a great big nod to their rich history.

If you think about it, BNSF could easily paint two locomotives for each representative predecessor. Starting with CB&Q, you could have the Chinese Red scheme, as well as the black and silver. Great Northern representatives could be orange and green, as well as Big Sky Blue. Or how about Northern Pacific's two-tone green, and the later yellow-and-black freight scheme? Of course, Santa Fe's Warbonnet red and silver would be a given, but how about one of the blue-and-yellow schemes as well? Don't forget about the Burlington Northern. The original BN stripe scheme, as well as the "whiteface" or "tiger stripe" scheme, would be just fine. Not to mention the Spokane, Portland & Seattle.

Graphic Designer Drew Halverson and I came up with several schemes that would look awesome on new BNSF locomotives. We "applied" these paint schemes on our own photos in Adobe PhotoShop. A few examples are shown here. Others in the series can be seen on the Trains Facebook page here:

Be sure you "like" the album and individual photos on our Facebook page if you agree that it would be great if BNSF would pay homage to its colorful past. Come on BNSF! You know you want to!

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Also see Editor Jim Wrinn's blog: Norfolk Southern's heritage units sure are gorgeous, but they need nicknames; also the story behind 8099's odd suffix

  • CSX needs to do the same. I'd love to see a modern day Clinchfield Gray unit...

  • Very nice work! I love the chinese red Q and SP&S renditions especially. I was never a fan of the tiger stripe BN scheme (I thought it a horrible graphics faux pas), but that's a nit, even that looks great. I did kind of like the short-lived Grinstein green and cream scheme with the red accents though, so if you're polling, that would be my vote over the tiger stripes...

  • The Big Sky Blue just BELONGS on a big unit!  Spectacular!

  • My roommate, Mauser, thinks it is time for Chessie to ride again.  Come on, CSX, get with the program.

  • How about CSXT?

    Maybe they can put BNSF to shame.

  • I'm in total agreement with all that's said.  BOTH BNSF & CSX should pay a little tribute to their heritage.  I know it's something they need to do for both veteran and new employees (i.e. never forget!).  

    Slightly off the BNSF topic, but I think UP needs to paint a newer loco in the Desert Cammo scheme, or resurrect the SD40-2 and make it for the troops of both Gulf I & Gulf II.  OIF, etc needs a shout out.  What do ya say Railroad Moguls?????

  • BNSF is in the process of rehabilitating the office cars parked outside their corporate offices in Fort Worth. It wasn't by accident that the cars come from Frisco, Santa Fe, Great Northern and Northern Pacific backgrounds. This would be a great place for the railroad to start honoring their heritage--imagine those with business coming up to the entrance to the campus and seeing rail cars in gleaming NCL two-tone green, Frisco grey and red, Great Northern Empire builder green and yellow and whatever Santa Fe painted their smooth-side business cars in (faux fluting?)!!  It would be nice to see this happen, of course, what probably will likely happen is there cars will be clad in some sort of fluted stainless steel that reduces maintenance but hides their true identity, much like the cars in their business car fleet. Which would be a shame. Matt Rose, surprise us!

  • I hear Warren Buffet is a train enthusiast. Send the photos to him and I'll bet your wish comes true!

  • BNSF SHOULD do this, but they should also get there locomotives out of ATSF and BN paint. Norfolk Southern made sure that there was no locos in conrail paint when they released there Conrail Heritage unit. Of course i am fine if BNSF does both at the same time.

  • I guess that Matt Rose is a bit overrated in this theme.Kudos to Wick Moorman.

  • Most of CSX's predecessors had at least two different color schemes. I really liked those of both the B&O and the C&O.

  • I also like the idea of all the mainline roads honoring their heritage.

    Specifically, I think GN really needs to be the Empire Builder color scheme- Pullman Green and Omaha Orange. The Big Sky colors were very short lived.

  • Given that the larger corporate partner was BN, but the operating philosophy and managerial style were all-ATSF, this remains a delicate decision. Lots of anger over the move to Ft. Worth from ATSF HQ at Jackson and Michigan in Chicago. Ex-BN folks know BNSF is operationally more like ATSF. Everyone wants the warbonnet. Who is waiting for cascade green? NP, GN, and SPS would be a delight along with CB&Q and Frisco.

  • Back in 1979 (or so), when I was still in college, I wrote to BN to suggest they repaint some locomotives in what are now known as "heritage" schemes in anticipation of the new company's 10th anniversary.  I received a rather bemused reply saying that they had just managed to get all their locomotives painted BN green and that for the time being they wanted to enjoy their all-green fleet.  However, they said I could suggest the idea again for the (then far-off) 25th anniversary in 1995.  Looks like we're still working on it.

  • bnsf 682 is still painted santa fe 682 it came to new jersey a month a go a member of my group railroad Heritage Units in panoramio took this picture

BNSF: It's time for heritage locomotives