Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak E8A’

Cruising in Back in Time in Washington State

February 23, 2021

The Amtrak wayback machine has landed us in Steilacoom, Washington, on Aug. 12, 1974. We’re just in time to see E8A No. 346 leading a corridor train between Seattle and Portland, Oregon.

The photographer didn’t say which train it was but it appears to be either the Mount Rainier or the Puget Sound. Both of those trains in 1974 operated with dome coaches and offered snack and beverage service.

No. 346 was built for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy in September 1950. Amtrak would retire the unit a year later.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Silver Star Meet in Alexandria

December 30, 2020

It is July 7, 1973, in Alexandria, Virginia. Amtrak’s southbound Silver Star is dead on the main due to locomotive trouble.

In the foreground is its northbound counterpart, No. 82. This is still the rainbow era so some of the motive power wears Amtrak markings and some still has the liveries of a former owner.

No. 82 has E8A 238 (former Seaboard Coast Line, ex-Atlantic Coast Line), E8B 373 (former Union Pacific) and E8A 247 (former SCL, ex-Seaboard Air Line).

On No. 81 is E8A 234 (former SCL, ex-ACL), SCL E7A 557, E8A 218 (former Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac) and E9A 412 (former Union Pacific).

Photograph by Robert Farkas

It Made it to Amfleet

June 30, 2020

Amtrak’s E and F units are not commonly associated with having pulled Amfleet equipment but a handful of them did.

Five Amtrak E8A units were converted by Penn Central shops in Altoona, Pennsylvania, to be compatible with passenger cars operating with head end power.

No, 499, shown above in Springfield, Massachusetts, on May 3, 1977, was the first conversion to be undertaken and was completed in May 1974.

That was followed by three more conversions that year and one more conversion in August 1975.

Once the program was completed the five HEP compatible E unit were given roster numbers 495-499 but for some reason the sequence does not show the order in which the units were converted.

Like many of Amtrak’s early locomotives, No. 499 had a long history.

It was built in October 1952 for the Pennsylvania Railroad as No. 5711A. It subsequently became Penn Central No. 4311 and Amtrak renumbered it as 317.

It remained on the Amtrak roster until May 1983 when it and No. 498 were retired. The last three E8HEP locomotives, as Amtrak designated them, were retired in October 1985.

Photograph by Joe Snopek

 

Westbound Broadway Limited in 1978

December 14, 2019

Although Amtrak’s Broadway Limited was assigned new SDP40F locomotives in the mid 1970s, that assignment proved to be relatively short lived.

The units became embroiled in a controversy over whether they were derailment prone after being implicated in several derailments.

Some railroads banned at least for a while the SDP40F from their tracks while others imposed speed restrictions on them on certain types of curves.

By the late 1970s Amtrak had replaced most of the SDP40Fs on its long-distance eastern trains with E units.

Later these trains began receiving F40PH locomotives although for a time there were still locomotives with steam generators in the motive power consist to provide steam for heating and cooling.

Starting in late 1979 equipment with head-end power capability came onboard, starting with the Lake Shore Limited, was permanently assigned to eastern long-distance trains and the last of the E units in revenue service with steam generators was retired from long-distance service.

But all of that was a few years down the road on June 3, 1978, when Bob Farkas caught a tardy westbound Broadway Limited in Wooster, Ohio, at Prairie Lane.

His notes from that date indicate that the third unit might have been the first unit painted for Amtrak.

Lead E8A No. 447 should feel right at home on these rails. It was built in May 1952 as Pennsylvania Railroad No. 5790A.

During the Penn Central era it carried roster number 4250 and was initially assigned Amtrak roster number 277.

It renumbered to 447 in November 1975 after being rebuilt in March 1974, which was just before the second order of SDP40Fs began rolling out of the EMD shops in LaGrange, Illinois.

Amtrak retired No. 447 in July 1981 along with several other rebuilt E units as they by then had become surplus as F40s and Heritage Fleet equipment had become the norm on eastern long-distance trains such as the Broadway Limited.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Phase II E Unit on Display

January 26, 2017

amtrak-440-chicago-1977-x

By the time that I began photographing Amtrak operations in 1977 the EMD E and F units that had been a mainstay in Amtrak’s roundhouse in the carrier’s earlier years were vanishing from the scene.

Some still pulled select trains, most notably the Broadway Limited, National Limited and Lake Shore Limited, but otherwise short-haul trains were pulled by F40PHs and P30CHs, while long-distance trains still had SDP40Fs.

But the motive power assignments were rapidly changing as Amtrak was phasing out the SDP40F and replacing them with other locomotives, sometimes E units.

Some E units were repainted into the Phase II livery, but there were not all that many in proportion to the number of E units that Amtrak once operated.

I have a few photographs of Amtrak trains being pulled by E units, but all of them feature units wearing the Phase I livery. This is one of my few and maybe only image of an E unit in the Phase II markings.

Originally built in September 1953 for the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac, this E8A wore Amtrak roster number 220 until November 1975 after being rebuilt. No. 440 was retired by Amtrak in July 1981.

I made this image from aboard the outbound Lone Star as it passed the diesel shop.