UP 6720 and UP 6726, ex-C&NW Operation Lifesaver units

Back in 2008, I caught Union Pacific (UP) 6720 and UP 6726, both ex-Chicago and Northwestern (CNW) locomotives, leading a loaded coal train south through Valley Junction in East St. Louis, Illinois. The train was making its way toward UP's Chester Subdivision, which starts on the southern edge of the junction. At this point the majority of the train is still coming down off of the east approach from the MacArthur Bridge. The MacArthur Bridge crosses the Mississippi River between St. Louis, Missouri, and East St. Louis, Illinois.  The junction/interlocking is controlled by the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis (TRRA).

UP 6720 and UP 6726 lead a loaded coal train at Valley Junction.

These locomotives are painted in CNW's Operation Lifesaver (OL) paint scheme. While the two locomotives still retained their CNW OL paint scheme, they had been patched as UP locomotives. You can see under the cab's side windows the new UP markings and locomotive numbers. A patched locomotive is when the locomotive retains its former owners paint scheme but has been updated with the new railroad's markings and numbers, generally on the sides of the locomotive's cab. UP took over CNW in 1995. Both of these locomotives were built in 1994. UP 6720 was built as CNW 8818, and UP 6726 was built as CNW 8824. It can take years for a new owing railroad to repaint, or even patch, a former railroad's rolling stock.

Photograph taken on February 23, 2008, at East St. Louis, Illinois.


  1. Love the light on this shot. I have seen some patched locomotives at times. I find it funny that there are still some old paint scheem ATSF units with BNSF on them thinking how many years they have been combined.

    1. Thanks, Shelly. Patching a loco is quicker and easier than repainting. But it took a long time for many of the C&NW units to even be patched. I remember taking photographs of some Southern Pacific engines in 2005 and later that weren't even patched yet, and UP had taken over the SP in 1996.


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