Jan 31, 2002
The HE7A was the final order of hoppers that Erie Lackawanna ordered prior to the Conrail merger in 1976. In May 1974, Greenville Steel Car delivered a total of 750of these 70-ton, 12-panel, 2750cuft capacity, 3-bay hoppers.
Given their low capacity, it's amazing how long these cars survived on Conrail. Even though Conrail assigned these cars to different numbering series than the EL markings, most HE7A's seem to have survived in original EL colors and numbers right up to the end of Conrail. Taking a look at the photos on the following page, you will notice how abused these cars have become after 24 years of continual service. These cars used to be quite common on coal drags originating in the coal fields of Western PA.
While many cars survived into the 1990s, Conrail retired many of them during the final years of the
The detailed rosters below are based on a January 1977 and an October 1991 Official Railway Equipment Register and reflect those roadnames that were in service at that time. I have made every effort to check them for accuracy, though cars that were taken off roster might still appear in service several years later. Plus many errors crept into Conrail rolling stock fleet over the years. Please use these rosters only as a guide for your modeling efforts, combining them with photographic evidence.
During the early years of the railroad, as reflected in the 1977 rosters below, Conrail had higher priorities than repainting their massive freight car fleet. As a result, there were usually more freight cars still numbered and lettered for the predecessors than for Conrail. If you model these years, as I do, knowing the ratio of predecessor to Conrail lettered cars is essential if you're striving to be as prototypically accurate as possible.
As of January 1977, Conrail hadn't renumbered any of the EL HE7A hoppers. All were still in their original EL colors and reporting marks according to the Official Railway Equipment Register. While the EL ordered 750 hoppers, only 745 survived into 1977. Unfortunately, we don't know which five cars didn't survive. Such is the life of a Conrail modeler.
By the time the 1990s rolled around, many EL HE7A hoppers were still in service in their original EL numbers and paint. Unfortunately, there is some major confusion in the October 1991 Official Railway Equipment Register just to as how many hoppers survived in EL colors and how many were renumbered as CR cars. I trust the totals for the EL series, but I really doubt the total cars listed for the CR series. I only saw a few of these hoppers stenciled for Conrail. Still, I've listed the total cars surviving in each series for your information. We just have no idea which cars were numbered for CR and which were still numbered for EL.
One final note. If you look at the Conrail series, you'll notice they span 1000s of cars plus a few different classes. My advice? If you see a photo of a car, then you know it existed at that point in time.
Photos for personal use only. All rights reserved by original owner of image.
Reproduction or redistribution in any form without express written permission is prohibited.