|This very lovely iron sign featuring a, rather detailed, MP36-3C greets guests at the main entrance to UTA's Warm Springs Maintainance Facility.|
It’s Thursday evening, a tired commuter has just disembarked a Utah Transit Authority TRAX Green Line train at the North Temple/ Guadalupe Bridge Station. After a long day, the commuter is ready to end the day from his busy office in downtown Salt Lake City, with hopes of returning to his family. At 6:28 PM, the rails start to sing as a northbound Frontrunner commuter train eases into the station. A few minutes later, the train sets off for Ogden, Utah. The only responsibility for the weary commuter now is to relax, kick back, and enjoy the 53 minute run to the “Junction City”. But little does this particular individual, let alone most of the train’s passengers, know about the true difficulty involved in running a commuter system with 55 weekday trips.
|UTA 18, one of 18 MP36-3Cs on UTA's roster, waits for the final passengers to board before setting off for Ogden, Utah. This particular photo was taken on the weekend of the Salt Lake Comic Con.|
Initially, 55 trips doesn’t seem like a lot of stress on the railroad, but for UTA’s dedicated team, it’s a race against the clock. To ensure successful operation of the line, it is vital that they maintain and repair 8 operational trainsets for use during peak hours of the weekdays, with locomotives on standby in case trains encounter mechanical difficulties. But in order to make all of these repairs, they will need a massive facility to maintain the 18 MP36-3Cs, 38 Bombardier tri-level cars and the 25 former New Jersey Transit Comet I cars. UTA needed a plan before opening Frontrunner North to the public in 2007.
|UTA 15 eases out of Salt Lake Central Station enroute to Ogden. Salt Lake Central is the main transfer point for UTA Frontrunner, UTA TRAX, UTA Buses, Greyhound Buses and Amtrak's California Zephyr. It is worth noting the makeup of the train, which always has an MP36-3C for power, a former NJ Transit Bombardier Comet I coach, and three Bombardier Tri-Level coaches/cab control cars.|
In 2003, UTA got their wish by acquiring a great railroading treasure. It was one of top repair facilities on the Union Pacific system, built in 1955 as the first “new” diesel repair shop. The facility is located in the heart of UTA’s Frontrunner system, just a mile north of the North Temple/ Guadalupe Station in downtown Salt Lake City. I am talking about Union Pacific’s former Salt Lake City Shops, or commonly dubbed by railroaders as “Warm Springs.” This 61 year old building serves jointly as UTA’s primary storage yard, long & short term repair facility, dispatching center and lastly an active crew change point.
|Above is the general map of the Warm Springs facility. All particular areas of the shop have been color coated and the matching correspondents are listed on the left. (Exact locations may slightly differ)|
|Both of Warm Springs' cranes rest towards the east end of the shop, the 250 tonner bearing the American Flag. They frame two of UTA's workhorses, No. 3 and No. 20, as they oddly sit nose-to-nose in the center of the massive building.|
The building itself is an engineering marvel, being built completely of steel, making it extra durable. Most joints have been held together with thousands of rivets, making it one of the strongest buildings in the state of Utah, I've heard from several employees that they feel safer in that building than they do in their own home, depending on what area of the shop they are in. The reason for it's strength lies in the two giant cranes which lurk above the surface. These two cranes are rated at 150 tons and 250 tons, which is able to lift locomotives the size of Centennials (EMD DDA40Xs) off of the ground. The two cranes are still operational, but in order to be operated, they need to undergo certification by structural and mechanical engineers, of which would cost thousands of dollars. Instead, locomotives and cars that need a lift will be hoisted a few feet into the air, courtesy of 4 hydraulic jacks.
|This is one of 4 massive hydraulic jacks used by the crews. All major locomotive repairs, (such as replacing traction motors, fixing engine components, etc.,) is done by Motive Power Industries' successor, Wabtec.|
|Here is the control panel found on the "Cab Car", as said before, it is again simplified for more fluent operations of the trains. Noteworthy here is the much tighter quarters and the rather small windshield that the operator uses.|
|Here is the pit used to service the trainsets in the inspection tracks. From this vantage point, one can get a very close look at brakes and wheels of the locomotives/ cars.|
|Traction motors used for the MP36-3C are seen stored here in the heart of Warm Springs, standard wheelsets for the coaches are visible in the background.|
|Here lies the "trainwash", which is a little larger than one might use to clean their family Sedan. Following the inspection process, the train may have the opportunity to take a bath and get cleaned for the passengers.|