Looks like its for a MOW train. Most of the time its a backhoe, or excavator on a gon full of ties. Nice shoot of them loading the backhoe Whats even more interesting to see is when they hop from one car to the next, essp. when the cars are different hieghts!
BAck in the mid 80's , I was working as a security guard at the KCP&L power plant along the Missouri river, there coal dump had caught fire and was shut down, so they brought in these backhoe's to unload the coal from the train. I didn't get to see how they got on top of the cars, so I am glad to see this post. Also notice the "CAT" stikercker on the tail boom. One of our sales reps had these pictures and was showing the to everyone. This is cool. Cliff
I see this alot at the coal docks, especially when the unloader is down. If you look in the second picture that vsmith posted you can see the special pads on the outriggers and the attachment right behind the front wheels that the backhoe is using to sit on the car.
I once saw a track hoe doing this w/o the guides they were just driving it along the car tops. Not sure how they got it up there though...