To begin with, what's a unit train? It's a train that moves a
single commodity from point A to point B in a block of nearly
identical cars. Those 100 or so cars in each train are all the
same size/capacity and may all have the same paint scheme, or
related paint schemes. Each car has a different roadnumber.
Many like to make their trains as
realistic as possible. Since each freight car has a unique
roadnumber, modelers like to make sure the cars in their freight
trains all have different numbers, so they'll go out of their way
to collect cars or sets with multiple numbers - especially if
they're gathering cars for unit trains.
Unit train consists stay together and aren't switched en route.
They came of age in the 1970s as a cost-saving method of moving
bulk commodities. Common kinds of unit trains that many of us see
regularly carry coal, potash, grain, steel, sulfur, aggregates,
ethanol and oil.
Ideal for unit train modelers and car number collectors, many
WalthersProto(R) and WalthersMainline(R) cars are offered in
multi-car sets, or in multiple roadnumbers, and most are produced
only once. Some common unit train cars recently produced by
Walthers include WalthersProto 40' Ortner 100-Ton Open Aggregate
Hoppers, 40' Trinity 14K Molten Sulfur Tank Cars and 56' Evans
4780 Cubic Foot 3-Bay Covered Hoppers. WalthersMainline models
include 24' Minnesota Ore Cars, 34' 100-Ton 2-Bay Hoppers, 50'
Coal Gondolas, 50' Bethgon Coalporters, 50' RD-4 Hoppers.
Unit train cars aren't always owned by the railroad hauling them.
Coal hoppers and gondolas are often owned by power plants.
Railroad-owned and lease fleet cars fill in as needed. Ethanol
and oil tank cars are owned or leased by customers, although some
are leased by railroads too. Ore cars tend to be railroad-owned.
Quarries and railroads both own aggregate hoppers. Private owner
cars usually wear plain schemes and their reporting mark roadname
initials end in X, such as CEFX, EDGX etc.
Planned train movements assure the cars are getting their maximum
usage and proper maintenance. For consistency, railroads assign
reliable, high-horsepower diesels to haul unit trains. In the
1970s and 1980s this meant SD45s and
similar units on long-haul trains. On some lines iron ore trains
received SD7 and SD9s because of their lugging ability at low speeds.
Finally, unit trains require facilities for loading and
unloading. A few unit train loading facility
kits.Include the Coal Flood Loader (933-3051),
New River Mining (933-3017), Glacier Industrial Sands
(933-4035), ADM(R) Concrete Grain Elevator (933-3022), Glacier
Gravel Company (933-3062), Modern Grain Head House w/Silos (933-
2942), Hulett Unloader (933-2966) well as kits for the ethanol
and oil industries.