Last Northeast diesel booster units depart

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P&W B30-7A booster 3005 is seen teamed up with B39-8 3902 at Reeds Gap, Conn., on Aug. 29, 2014.
Photo by Scott A. Hartley
WORCESTER, Mass. — Providence & Worcester's five General Electric B30-7A cabless "B-Units" are leaving the railroad's headquarters at Worcester en route to Waycross, Ga., for new owner National Railway Equipment Co. The locomotives are scheduled to depart today (Jan. 2). Their future is uncertain.

P&W purchased the quintet of former Burlington Northern boosters in 2001. Numbered 3004-3008, they have seen service on all of the railroad's routes in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York. In recent years, they have been assigned primarily to heavy aggregate trains during the warmer months, and often have been stored for the winter.

Cabless boosters were common sights in the early streamlined cab-unit era, and some large railroads continued to purchase B-units in limited numbers as road-switchers replaced the cabs. Burlington Northern made big news in locomotive circles when it purchased 120 of the cabless engines in two slightly different-styles in 1982 and 1983. All were retired by successor Burlington Northern Santa Fe by 1999.

P&W's five have had railroad markings painted over and carry "NREX" reporting marks. Don't expect any immediate replacements on the property. The railroad's current power fleet of GE B39-8s, B40-8s, B40-8Ws, B23-7s, and Super 7-B23s and EMD GP38s and GP38-2s meets the railroad's service needs, according to P&W secretary and general counsel Charles D. Rennick. In addition to railroad-owned locomotives, P&W also has lease arrangements for the use of five six-motor EMDs.
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