Thread: Pickens U18Bs
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Old 06-08-2017, 12:04 PM   #1
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Default Pickens U18Bs

As many of you likely saw in photos here or elsewhere, the Pickens Railway (PICK) in South Carolina purchased 4 ex CSX B40-8s in the fall of 2016. Much talk ensued over whether these GEs would spell the end of the last operating fleet of GE U18Bs in the world. I did speak with the General Manager shortly after the B40s were acquired and was assured "the U18Bs are perfect for our railroad-- they are not going anywhere."

Not long after, a pair of B40-8s showed up on the Anderson Job, and it looked like the pattern may be that the larger units would be used on the Anderson Job, and U18Bs would still power the Belton Job, as this line features very light rail likely not able to handle the extremely heavy wheel loading a B40-8 introduces.

I am happy to report the U18B show still occurs on the Anderson Job, which normally rates a pair of these unique little GEs. On a visit yesterday, PICK 9500 and 9504 handled the Anderson Job, and 9508 was on the Belton. B40-8s 5960 and 5970 were at the shop, on a track out front which almost looks like a display track. U18Bs 9502 and 9507 were outside the shop, appearing in operating condition from a distance. PICK 8, the last remaining Alco (although Cummins powered) was stored on the back side of the shop. My understanding on this unit is part of the Johnson Railway Service (same ownership as the PICK) lease fleet.

So while I don't know what the long-term plan is for the B40-8s, I do know a trip to the PICK will likely yield a visitor the sights and sounds of 8 cylinder Cooper Bessemer powerplants chugging away hauling freight. Your best bet for a visit is to be in Anderson mid-morning on M-W-F, as you will typically have both the Anderson and Belton Jobs come to the Norfolk Southern interchange downtown. T-Th still finds the Anderson Job coming to town, but the Belton Job typically stays over in Belton and Honea Path on those days.
Mike Derrick

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