by Courtesy photo

The North County Transit District has taken a COASTER F40 locomotive out of service and shipped it to a railroad museum in Campo, it was announced today.

Plans for the donation of the 282,000-pound train engine to the
Pacific Southwest Railway Museum Association in the southeastern San Diego County community began nearly five years ago and is intended to preserve some of the history of locomotion in the region.

"The F40 locomotives are an important part of the history of both the COASTER and the San Diego region,'' said Graham Blackwell, chief rail operations officer for NCTD. "Operating from the start of the service in 1995, the F40s moved millions of passengers in their 25-plus years in operation along the beautiful coastal network, connecting North County to San Diego.''

The engine will be preserved by the museum and made available for rain aficionados to enjoy. Eventually, the locomotive will become part of the museum's operating fleet for visitors to watch move down the rail line.

"NCTD's COASTER service is particularly relevant to our mission statement,'' said Stephen Hager, president of PSRMA."Our mission statement places an emphasis on preserving the railroads of San Diego County. The F40 locomotive represents an excellent opportunity to preserve the physical legacy of the first generation of COASTER train equipment.''

According to NCTD records, the donated F40, locomotive #2103, was built in 1994 and was part of the inaugural COASTER service in February 1995. It was last in service in February 2021. The decision to replace the F40 locomotives with 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 journey involved moving it aboard a freight train from Oceanside to National City. After arriving in the South Bay, two large cranes lifted the locomotive off the rails and onto two specialized transport truck dollies.

From here, 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 had a police escort as it traveled through neighborhoods and local streets.

Some traffic lights and power lines had to be moved to make way for the locomotive.

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

The California Air Resources Board Carl Moyer Grant awarded to 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 grant conditions were modified to allow the locomotive to be
saved with only the diesel engine destroyed.

Visitors can plan to view the COASTER at PSRMA this fall.

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