by Shawn Levy
The locomotive is named “Rudy”, and carries the number of the current year it’s running. It started out as a general service 50′ flat car. The “boiler” is from a tank car with the cab fabricated on the other end.
The Sleigh car is also a general service flat car. The Elf car, with the ginger bread men, is a 60′ Boxcar. the front half has the generator with powers the Holiday express lights when it’s parked and open for display. The other 2/3 is used as a dressing room and storage space for the it’s we hand out.
The green caboose is a former IC caboose. It came off the Gateway Western RR (GWWR) after KCS took it over. The holiday Express originally started on the GWWR before they were acquired by KCS. The green caboose (and the red) were originally on the GWWR’s Christmas train.
The Reindeer car is also a 60 boxcar. It houses the two O-scale model train layouts.
The red caboose is where visitors meet Santa Claus, and is the first car they enter. While we were in DeRidder, LA, I found it’s original IC number stenciled on the under frame – IC 9579.
Here’s some of what the KCS press release said of the train: “In its sixth annual run, Kansas City Southern’s (NYSE: KSU) (KCS) Holiday Express train will bring Santa Claus and his elves to visit 23 communities in six states throughout the KCS system, including Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois and Kansas.
In 2001, volunteers dedicated 8,000 plus hours to the rigorous transformation of retired freight cars to their present day grandeur. Led by KCS’ Southern Belle, the six-car Holiday Express includes a smiling tank car “Rudy”; a flat car carrying Santa’s sleigh, reindeer and a miniature village; a ginger bread box car; the elves’ workshop; the reindeer’s stable; and a little red caboose. At each stop, children visit with Santa Claus in the caboose before touring the three cars full of holiday displays. Festive music and lights complete the package. Annual enhancements to the train are also part of the tradition. This year, the inside of Santa’s caboose has been transformed into a winter wonderland, frosted in cool tones of blue and sparkling white lights, encrusted with ornaments and finished with a miniature roller coaster. “
Photos by Shawn Levy