One of the failings of US Rosters (Fleet Lists), as far as the UK perspective goes, is the way of giving a beginning number, an end number, with about 300 numbers in between, only to be told that only 12 locomotives still exist within that number block and not being told which ones! In the UK we are used to complete blocks of all the numbers still existing, similar to the format pioneered by Ian Allan and continued nowadays by the likes of Platform 5 and Metro.
Most of the UK desire to see lists in this type of format comes from the "scratching" requirement. This, very simply put, is the desire to underline, cross out or similarly distinguish that a locomotive has been seen - i.e. trainspotting. This has been developed in recent years and many sub-divisions of the hobby have appeared, the most notable of which is "bashing". This is the attempt to ride behind or "have haulage" by all the locomotives available. To these ends a "proper" fleet list is required so that one can "scratch" the locomotives spotted, griced, bashed or whatever else.
Of course this is a competitive hobby - the nice thing is one competes with one's self. The satisfaction on seeing all of a particular class of loco, having all the block underlined, is , well, very satisfying. Come on , we're not talking about brain surgery here! The UK, of course, has all the best trainspotters and is probably pushing for acceptance as an Olympic sport (shameless patriotic plug!).
I first produced these rosters as an aid to my travelling companions and myself on our trip to the US back in 1995. I have attempted to update them since as information becomes available - a difficult task sometimes given the 3000 miles and more between the UK and the US. To these ends numerous publications are used, the main sources of reference being Locomotive Notes II from Diesel Era (now The Railroad Photographer) and Extra 2200 South. The latter seems to be the definitive resource for this type of thing and can be heartily recommended. My thanks go to all the kind souls who give the information to these two magazines and others, as well as the editors and publishers.
The rosters that I have produced are, I suppose, copyright of me. However, they can be freely used by any railfan as an aid to his or her hobby. They may be printed, copied and distributed freely as long as no money is asked for or handed over. All I ask is that people contact me with details of mistakes and keep me abreast of updates, withdrawals, number changes, etc.
Talking of number changes could fellow railfans please try and prevent another renumbering exercise on the scale of the Union Pacific or Burlington Northern Santa Fe? These have been a real pain in the nether regions - and still have lots of errors, not all of my making as well!
BNSF and UP updated to 28 September 1998
Get the new PDF files. (You will need Adobe Acrobat to read these. See Adobe's web site if you do not have this)
(An update in June 2003)
The above was written about three years ago and, mostly, still applies. Because of the vast amount of changes to the railroads' locomotive needs much of what was compiled is out of date. Pending a complete re-write of all the roads to take account of the recent mergers and rationalisations I have left the four documents available as these list the renumbering plans for the initial mergers of these roads. These were accurate to about mid-1999 for BNSF and Union Pacific and early 2000 for NS and CSX. I will leave them as 'historical' documents for the time being, all in .pdf format. This shows the layout on the page correctly and can be printed out as a field manual if required. A reduction in size from A4 to A5 would produce a handy sized guide that could be stuck into a camera bag or rucksack.