E3A 1001, FEC’s first diesel, was assigned to the Jacksonville-Miami Henry M. Flagler. Sister unit 1002, along with two Atlantic Coast Line E3As, 500 and 501, was assigned to the daily New York-Miami Champion, which had its inaugural run on Dec. 1, 1939. The FEC units wore a bright red, yellow, and silver scheme; the ACL units featured that road's purple and silver livery. Each unit pulled an identical consist of seven cars, with two sets owned by each railroad. The Champion competed with the Seaboard Air Line’s Silver Star and Silver Meteor in New York-Florida service.
FEC is reviving the Champion’s livery by applying it to four freight units. FEC 714, completed in 2011, was the first locomotive to highlight the Heritage paint scheme. Recently delivered FEC 703 (pictured) is the first of three locomotives to be refurbished in 2013 by Progress Rail’s (a division of Caterpillar, Inc.) rebuild facility in Patterson, Ga., with a matching Heritage paint scheme.
“Some have said this was the most beautiful locomotive paint scheme ever devised,” says FEC President and CEO Jim Hertwig. “Today, the paint scheme signifies the continued growth that FEC aspires to attain as a premier regional rail network serving the east coast, and I am proud to incorporate our rich heritage into our future plans. FECs founder, Henry Flagler would have been proud of this beautiful locomotive.”
“Henry Flagler’s strategy for FEC was to move freight by rail utilizing Florida’s deep water ports in conjunction with a vision for growth generated by the opening of the Panama Canal,” says FEC Senior Vice President Engineering and Purchasing Fran Chinnici. “Today’s FEC continues Mr. Flagler’s vision as it expands its infrastructure to meet the demands created by the new Panama Canal opening in 2015. We’re currently building an even stronger infrastructure. We have major construction projects under way to expand rail operations at Port Miami, Port Everglades, West Palm, and the Bowden Terminal in Jacksonville to handle increased demand. The refurbished locomotives are just one example of FEC’s investment in handling future growth.”