NCTD donates 141 ton locomotive to Campo Train Museum

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OCEANSIDE – The North County Transit District has retired a Coaster F40 locomotive and shipped it to a railroad museum in Campo, it was announced today.

Plans for the donation of the 282,000 pound train locomotive to the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum The association in the Southeast San Diego County community began nearly five years ago and aims to preserve some of the area’s locomotion history.

“The F40 locomotives are an important part of the history of Coaster and the San Diego area,” said Graham Blackwell, railroad operations manager for NCTD. “Running since beginning service in 1995, the F40s have carried millions of passengers during their more than 25 years of operation along the beautiful coastal system, connecting North County to San Diego.”

The locomotive will be kept by the museum and made available to train enthusiasts. Eventually, the locomotive will become part of the museum’s operating fleet so that visitors can see it moving along the railway tracks.

“NCTD’s Coaster service is particularly relevant to our mission statement,” said Stephen Hager, president of PSRMA. “Our mission statement emphasizes the preservation of San Diego County’s railroads. The F40 locomotive represents an excellent opportunity to preserve the physical heritage of the first generation of Coaster train equipment.

According to NCTD records, the donated F40, locomotive No. 2103, was built in 1994 and was part of inaugural Coaster service in February 1995. It was last put into service in February 2021. The decision to replace the F40 locomotives by Siemens Charger locomotives was approved by the NCTD Board in early 2018.

But moving a 141 ton engine is easier said than done. The first part of the trip was to move it aboard a freight train from Oceanside to National City. After arriving in the South Bay, two large cranes lifted the locomotive off the tracks and onto two specialized transport carts.

From there, it took two days to truck the locomotive 72 miles to its new home in Campo, traveling only at night and averaging just six miles per hour, NCTD said. The Coaster was escorted by police as it passed through local neighborhoods and streets. Some traffic lights and power lines had to be moved to make way for the locomotive.

Beyond the physical journey, NCTD and the museum had to work together to prevent the locomotive from being scrapped.

The California Air Resources Board’s Carl Moyer grant to the NCTD to replace the F40 originally required that the locomotive be completely scrapped. Through work with CARB and the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District, the terms of the grant were changed to allow the locomotive to be salvaged with only the diesel engine destroyed.

Visitors can plan to see the Coaster at PSRMA this fall.

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