At BNSF, we love orange. You might be used to seeing our bright orange locomotives plodding along the tracks, but there are a few that look a little different and have some interesting stories. Keep an eye out and you might be lucky enough to spot them!
Eric Goodman, Director, Economic Development and longtime rail enthusiast, gave an overview of some of BNSF’s locomotives that sport a different look.
These iconic blue locomotives are the only BNSF units in that color and are sometimes informally referred to by railroad fans as “Smurfs”, evoking the animated TV show. These are shunting engines, small, low-powered locomotives used to move rail cars inside a yard, a process known as shunting or shunting.
“The BNSF bought them from [Conrail] and rather than repaint them, we kept the blue color scheme,” Goodman said. “We needed them quickly then, but now most have been repainted.”
Of the original 10 units purchased by BNSF, only one or two remain in the blue and white paint scheme.
The “Great Pumpkin” was a test paint scheme following the 1995 BNSF merger between Burlington Northern and Santa Fe. These locomotives stand out from the rest of the fleet due to their distinctive green and orange paintwork, hence the name of “Great Pumpkin”.
This locomotive has two different paint schemes, one on each side for comparison purposes, which survive today.
This locomotive was originally numbered 9297 but has since been renumbered 1474.
The “Golden swoosh” locomotive was also a test paint scheme, this time when BNSF rebranded in the early 2000s. BNSF tested the golden yellow letters as the BNSF logo before deciding on the current paint scheme with its logo black. This locomotive was also the first to feature the current “swoosh” font instead of the previous “wagon wheel” design. BNSF 7695 is the only one that exists!
Microsoft Train Simulator
This locomotive, #4723, was featured in the Microsoft Train Simulator computer game, which was very popular with rail fans when it was released in 2001. The Microsoft locomotive modeled the simulator after having a sticker on the side today today which reads “Microsoft Train Simulator – Featured Locomotive.
Executive diet (“Grinstein Green”)
This cream and green paint scheme is featured on a small number of locomotives. It is named after Gerald Grinstein, former CEO of BNSF’s predecessor, Burlington Northern, and is sometimes referred to informally as “Grinstein Green”. One of the remaining locomotives featuring this unique paint scheme is number 9535 and now bears the BNSF logo.
“This program originally came out in 1993 on the Burlington Northern,” Goodman said. “These locomotives were almost all coal-fired and were AC traction units. Some people also call it the Eddie Bauer paint scheme because of the coloring.
Although a unique design, this scheme divides rail fans, some of whom like it and some who don’t.
In honor of the 25e anniversary of the merger of Burlington Northern and Santa Fe, BNSF has created a paint scheme for 10 locomotives in 2020. These locomotives feature the logos of our major predecessor lines on both sides.
“It was my project and it was a lot of fun,” Goodman said. “We wanted to do something to honor the railways that were part of our heritage. Occasionally, anniversary locomotives are used for CEO inspection trips.
While all of these unique locomotives may be elusive, they are here! If you are a train enthusiast who photographs trains, remember to follow safety protocols and keep a safe distance from the train tracks. Remember to take photos and videos from a safe location off railroad property. Trespassing on the tracks or right-of-way is illegal and dangerous.