Yeah, for the 150th Anniversary of Pacific Union they're gonna restore it. However, it seems as though instead of just a 'restore for the party' deal, they're going to give it a top to bottom overhaul, improve the boiler, and put it back on the line afterwords.
THATS AWESOME!!! Because the US basically has no steam running. Sure, we have a few museum piece trains running through national parks and maybe two passenger trains... but the Britts and the Germans love their steam. Maybe the US will start being a little nicer to steam.
From a practical point of view, it makes sense in more than just aesthetic...
1. A single Big Boy actually can do more mountain pulling than even a team of diesel engines, you spend much less time by only using a single engine. Yeah a few specialized engines have been built, but they fall into the category of the exception that proves the rule. The diesel versions are also harder to keep running and require insane amounts of fuel.
2. Fuel can come from entirely US sources, no need to rely on foreign oil production.
3. With modern advances 'external combustion' engines can have their efficiency improved significantly, by a factor of, not percentages, but exponents!
Those are just the three primary reasons, there's plenty of others. Though it makes us steam fanatics excited at the thought of bringing them back as a bonus, it really does come down to economics, a properly run steam engine can do the job better than a diesel.
In a sense, steam engines basically have infinite torque. Sure, the Big Boy could only put out a measly 7000 horsepower (relatively speaking, a top fuel race car engine can do roughly 2000 hp), but jeez, I don't even know how you could even calculate the amount of torque one of these monsters could do. In the old days, a large single cylinder 2 horsepower steam engine would power all of the pulley belts in an entire factory. No electricity necessary.
lol, you're preaching to the choir here, I may be a CS student but I studied some engineering in my free time. The things you can do if you take classic steam tech and apply modern advances to it...so much potential...