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Help Us Put Full PTC on Santa Fe 3751!

ABOVE: The PTC display screen is powered up in the cab of 3751 prior to traveling to Fullerton in 2022. This system is currently waiting for a connection to a full PTC package before it can fully operate as intended.




At the beginning of 2024, the San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society (SBRHS) Board of Directors has announced the decision to proceed with the purchase, installation and testing of a full Positive Train Control (PTC) system on Santa Fe 3751.



Positive Train control, more commonly known by is abbreviation “PTC,” is a state-of-the-art railroad train collision-avoidance safety system that will reduce human-error caused accidents by automatically stopping a train before certain accidents can occur. The safety of our crew, host railroad personnel and passengers is the top priority of the SBRHS, and PTC is a mission-critical safety system that will ensure a safer operations of Santa Fe 3751 operations. It has also been mandated PTC technology must be onboard and operating on every controlling locomotive on the point of a train, whether it be freight or passenger, that travels on the mainline anywhere in the United States.



Installation of a fully self-sufficient, PTC package on the 3751 would allow the engine to be the lead locomotive on the point of any move on the mainline in the future. By carrying its own hardware, including a computer system that will be installed on the tender and relay information to a cab display in the 3751 cab, a full PTC package will make the engine 100% self-sufficient and provide this important safety technology directly to the engineer and fireman.

With full PTC on the locomotive, the SBRHS anticipates it will be much easier to open dialogue with host railroads in terms of operations of the 3751 on the mainline as a diesel locomotive would no longer be required on the point for operations. In the meantime, 3751 will be able to continue operating but will require a diesel locomotive on the point as they have full PTC packages installed on them.

One steam locomotive based in Canada has proven that a full PTC package can be installed and operate successfully. The SBRHS anticipates many other groups will move toward this direction over the next year.

ABOVE: A draft diagram shows the placement of full PTC equipment on Santa Fe 3751. 



The cost for the equipment purchase, installation, and testing is initially estimated to be approximately $150,000 to $190,000. As a result of this major expense, the Board of Directors has authorized a new, capital funding campaign and the submittal of grants to support this crucial safety upgrade for the 3751.



Developed by the SBRHS’ very own John Howard, LeapTC™ is a patented system that allows information from a trailing diesel locomotive to be relayed up to the cab of steam locomotives like the 3751. LeapTC™ has been tried, tested and proven to work on a number of other mainline operating locomotives, and while this technology will still be installed on the 3751 in a backup capacity, using it for normal operations was found to be challenging. The other steam locomotives that currently use LeapTC™ are owned and operated by major Class I railroads that have the ability to rewrite their company’s PTC policy, afford substantial software changes and set aside a select fleet of diesel locomotives that have the ability to support the LeapTC™ operations.

Organizations such as the SBRHS that maintain, own and operate our own steam locomotive that are not part of a major Class I railroad face major challenges in getting the LeapTC™ system fully operational. We would have to request the PTC polices of each railroad we plan to use LeapTC™ with to rewrite their policy that was submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration, request that railroads make software changes to their current system to accommodate LeapTC™ and make sure a compatible diesel locomotive is available to link with prior to each operation.

The later reason would be the hardest to accomplish, as there are very specific locomotives that are compatible to provide a LeapTC™ base for a steam locomotive. If one of these is not available in the days before a planned 3751 outing, this could entirely cancel an operation. LeapTC™ also requires an additional amount of time to plug into a trailing diesel prior to each operation, which in turn means additional costs for crews, fuel and more.

The SBRHS Board of Director, after reviewing this information, came to the conclusion that the ongoing costs related to LeapTC™ operations would be better spent on a one-time purchase for a full PTC package that would make 3751 a fully, self-sufficient PTC operating locomotive.



Now more than ever, your donations are needed to help fund the purchase of this important safety technology to place on 3751 for future operations. As a result of this major expense, the Board of Directors has authorized a new, capital funding campaign and the submittal of grants to support this crucial safety upgrade for the 3751.

REMEMBER: When making a donation to the SBRHS, you are supporting an IRS 501(c)3 non-profit organization. All donations are tax-deductible!

Your continued support of our mission is greatly appreciated, and we look forward to sharing information on upcoming operations of Santa Fe 3751 as they become available.

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The SBRHS is a qualified tax exempt organization, all donations are tax deductible under ruling 501(c)(3) (IRS#EIN330213436). All donations will be acknowledged with documentation of your generous donation. No amount is too small.