Unstoppable 2010

20th Century Fox

Train hype! Wow, a major motion picture about modern-day railroading and “inspired by true events” to boot! Unstoppable is a railfan’s dream with a colorful variety of motive power from various short lines in the area around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

This flick takes it shape from a CSX Transportation freight train runaway event in May of 2001. Of course it gets the full Hollywood treatment with fiery explosions, helicopters, police and fire units in pursuit and impossible stunts — none of which happened during the Crazy Eights incident.

Instead of following along with the story, I’m going to enjoy myself and concentrate on identifying the locomotives, railroads and possibly the locations used. IOW, pick the best pictures and interpret. It’ll be fun!

Decorated for the fictitious “Allegheny and West Virginia Railroad” (AWVR) are locomotives 777 and 767. The nose of 777 looks like a BNSF Heritage II scheme. Both engines are GE AC4400CWs leased from Canadian Pacific Railway as power for the runaway train.

Here’s a nice collection of motive power as Frank (played by Denzel Washington) and Will (played by Chris Pine) cross the yard and head to their engine. I believe this is the Wheeling & Lake Erie yard in Brewster, Ohio.

From left to right:

4003 ex-Missouri Pacific EMD SD40, now W&LE
107 ex-Southern high-nose EMD GP35, now W&LE
5607 ex-KCS EMD SD40-2, now W&LE 6351
6032 ex-KCS EMD SD40-2, now W&LE unknown
1206 ex-KCS EMD SD40-2, now W&LE 6353 & 6354 (two units painted up in a AWVR blue/yellow) scheme.

Note: The colors on 5607 & 6032 (grey paint, yellow/black nose stripes and candy-striped yellow handrails) are Kansas City Southern (KCS) Railway’s “grey ghost” scheme. I suspect the ex-KCS units were renumbered for the movie. Many thanks to Matt Arnold at nsdash9.com for help identifying the units.

Denzel! No “Engineer with 28 years seniority” would step on the rail like that. Tripping hazard. Weren’t you listening during the safety briefing?

AWVR 1206 takes a spin on the turntable. In the second view, I can just make out a W&LE high-nose Geep, an ex-KCS SD40-2 and the second AWVR 1206 in blue/yellow.

The “Railroad Safety Campaign” train is led by #2002 which is hauling two passenger cars worth of school kids.

Locomotive #2002 is a Southwest Pennsylvania RR (SWP) GP11 (rebuilt by Illinois Central Gulf at Paducah, KY). The two fluted stainless steel coaches came from the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society.

Pretty lights! Filmmakers whomped up a very colorful Operations Center map for the AWVR. The first picture appears to represent NE Ohio and NW Pennsylvania.


Will and Frank are making a pickup at a steel mill with AWVR 1206. Brief scene of engineer controls (and Frank) on the SD40-2, as Will guides him back to a joint.

Two blurry views of the runaway AWVR 777 and I love those old ex-Pennsy position light signals!


AWVR 777 blasts through a stalled horsey trailer at a crossing. Notice the conductor’s side ditch light is broken now.

Interior view of the “desk style” controls of AWVR 777 (GE AC4400CW). You can also see AWVR 767 in the rear view mirror.

As it was difficult to get a clear picture of the runaway locomotives in the film, I found this crisp picture of 767 leading 777 with 1206 alongside. Note 767 has a black long hood whereas 777 has a red long hood. Photo credit to Robert Smith at http://www.myrailfan.com (this domain no longer works).

Up ahead, ex-KCS SD40-2’s AWVR #7375/7346 (W&LE 6352/W&LE 6351) prepare to cross over in front of the runaway. Meanwhile all this is being broadcast live by the ambulance-chasing media.

Oh, look! The conductor’s side ditch light is working again and the engineer’s light is now broken! Continuity error…

The 40’s begin braking against the GEs. Well done. But LOOK how they’re planning to get a man aboard the runaway to shut it down.

By suspending him from a helicopter and landing him on the roof of the unit! Oh, Hollywood. Why didn’t he simply ride the chase engines and walk/jump across the short space between them?

THAT’S why. So they could do this. BOOM! Fireball! Carnage! Twisted metal!

Meanwhile, our heroes Frank & Will have uncoupled from (what’s left of) their train on a siding and are pursuing the runaway from behind. They manage to couple to the last car. So far so good.


More pyrotechnics as 1206 uses the independent (engine) brake to slow the runaway. Uh-oh, they have arrived at the curved bridge with its 15mph speed restriction. Will they make it?

Location of this scene is the B&O Railroad viaduct over the Ohio River between Benwood, WV and Bellaire, OH.

Aiiiieeeeee!!!

Gratuitous Hooters celebration and the credits roll.

I apologize for all the fuzzy and out-of-focus screen caps from my DVD. The whole movie was that way. I think a lot of it was done intentionally by filmmakers. To convey “speed” and “danger” or something. At any rate, it WAS a fun movie to watch — you just have to suspend belief and enjoy the show. A small toot of Jack Daniel’s helps.

P.S. Why couldn’t they have at LEAST got all the Hooters girls in focus?

Here’s what IMDb has to say about Unstoppable:
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0477080/

If you have ANY information about this movie you’d like to share, please contact me at: Lindsay.Korst@gmail.com, or leave a comment.  Thanks and enjoy the blog!

THE END

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