Remembering Amtrak’s SDP40Fs

Amtrak first new diesel motive power was the SDP40F locomotive built by EMD and which took to the rails in June 1973 between Chicago and Los Angeles.

The big cowl units also initially pulled trains between Chicago and Houston, and on some segments of the route of the Empire Builder.

Amtrak bought 150 of the locomotives and between 1974 and the late ’70s they were ubiquitous on the point of long-distance trains. They also were assigned to some corridor service during that period of time.

Some railroads thought the SDP40F was derailment prone and didn’t want them on their rails. By the late 1970s, E units had made a comeback on some routes, particularly on Conrail, and the SDP40Fs were traded in for new F40PHs.

One of the last strongholds for the SDP40F was between Washington and Florida where they continued to pull trains through the early 1980s.

In this photograph above, it is Dec. 13, 1979, at the Amtrak station in Miami. I am waiting to board the northbound Silver Star and I took the opportunity to photograph No. 645 from the platform.

It would be the last time that I saw an SDP40F in revenue service still wearing the Phase I paint scheme that is still a favorite of mine.

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