UP's unique coal turbine sits abandoned at Council Bluffs in December 1966, deemed a failed experiment after running less than 10,000 miles. 

Photo by Larry Sallee. Used by permission. Click to enlarge.

(Photo by LSallee, https://www.flickr.com/photos/lsallee/15851281782/, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/)


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In October 1962, Union Pacific constructed an experimental coal-burning GTEL of its own, using a modified ALCO PA-1 as a cab, the chassis of a GN W-1-class electric locomotive (bought for scrap from the Great Northern Railway) as the second unit, and a modified turbine prime mover removed from one of the 50 to 75 series locomotives. 

The consist had an A1A-A1A+2-D+D-2, wheel arrangement, 18 axles of which 12 were powered. The PA-1's 2,000 hp (1.5 MW) diesel engine was retained and the B unit carried the main power plant for the main generators, which contributed 5,000 hp (3.7 MW) for a total power output of 7,000 hp (5.2 MW). The coal tender was rebuilt from that of Challenger steam locomotive number 3990. The setup was numbered 80, but changed to 8080 in 1965 to avoid conflict with the new EMD DD35s then being introduced.

The blade erosion and soot build-up problems encountered in the earlier locomotives were magnified with the coal turbine. Grinding coal into fine particles was also troublesome but necessary because any oversized coal particles could damage the turbine blades. Ultimately, the experiment was declared a failure and was scrapped after spending only 20 months in service.

The conventional gas turbines each racked up well over 1,000,000 miles (1,600,000 km) in revenue service but the coal turbine prototype ran less than 10,000 miles (16,000 km) before being struck from the UP roster on March 15, 1968. The PA-1 control unit was traded to EMD, while the turbine unit and tender were scrapped at the Omaha shops.