Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak F40 locomotive’

Last Day For Amtrak In Indianapolis

October 11, 2018

It’s Oct. 1, 1979, and Amtrak’s National Limited is halting for the final time in Indianapolis.

With the on-time departure of No. 31 in late morning, the capital of Indiana will be without intercity rail passenger service.

But it won’t last for long. About a year later Amtrak launched the Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State and Indy returned to the Amtrak route map.

The Ohio cities of Dayton and Columbus would not be so fortunate. When the National Limited stopped there for the final time, those cities would lose intercity rail passenger service for good.


Pere Marquette Now Arriving

October 10, 2018

Although Amtrak’s Pere Marquette originates and terminates in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it didn’t always sit overnight in the station.

For several years the equipment for the Chicago-Grand Rapids train sat overnight in a CSX yard and deadheaded to the station the next morning.

The photo above was made in June 1995 and the train is shown about to arrive at the station.

Pair of F40s With Mismatching Looks

May 30, 2018

I was on a tour of Amtrak’s shops and coach yards in Chicago. We were allowed to visit a tower that overlooked the yards and I made this image of two F40PH locomotives on a ready track.

It is a contrast of the old and new, although the contrast is not that much.

No. 302 was built in April 1979 and wears the Phase III look that was introduced that year. It was retired by Amtrak in December 2001, still wearing this livery.

No. 255 was built in November 1977 and still sports the Phase II look. This unit would be involved in a derailment at Silver Spring, Maryland, in February 1996.

It was the trailing unit on the Amtrak’s westbound Capitol Limited that struck a MARC commuter train that had run past a stop signal.

That ’70s Look

December 22, 2017

It is the summer of 1978. Amfleet equipment and F40PH locomotives have been operating on Amtrak’s Midwest corridor trains for nearly two years so the equipment can’t be said to be brand new anymore.

Still it is relatively new enough to be the look of the future having come to pass.

Steam-heated passengers cars are a thing of the past on the corridor routes, but still see service on some long-distance trains in the region.

But on the Chicago-Carbondale-New Orleans route head-end power is the rule. Steam-heated equipment is not coming back.

Shown is the northbound Shawnee, train No. 392, arriving in Mattoon, Illinois, in early evening. The equipment is state of the art for its time with an F40, two Amfleet coaches and an Amcafe. The train will halt at Chicago Union Station in more than three hours.

Last Days of the North Coast Hiawatha

February 8, 2017


The trip was somewhat bittersweet. It is Sept. 23, 1979. I am aboard the westbound North Coast Hiawatha en route to Seattle.

The North Coast Hi has less than a month to live, soon to become a victim of a massive Amtrak route restructuring that will end it, the Lone Star, the National Limited, the Floridian, the Hilltopper and the Champion.

I bought a ticket aboard No. 9 to ride the train before it ended. I rode in coach from Chicago to St. Paul and then had a roomette to Seattle.

We are somewhere in Montana on the former Northern Pacific, which at the time was controlled by Burlington Northern.

I made a few images from an open vestibule window as the train snaked through the mountains. I have not been back here since.

Faded Slide, Faded Amtrak Glory

January 6, 2017


Maybe it is just as well that this slide of Amtrak’s Ann Rutledge at Joliet, Illinois, is faded.┬áThe Chicago to Kansas City train is just a faded memory in the minds of those who remember it.

Originally, a Chicago-St. Louis train of the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio, Amtrak reprised the name in the 1970s.

After the State of Missouri funded a restoration of Amtrak service between St. Louis and Kansas City, Amtrak extended the Ann Rutledge to K.C. on Oct. 29, 1979.

Originally, Amtrak Nos. 301 and 304 were turboliner trains, departing Chicago in the morning and St. Louis in the late afternoon.

In December 1976, they became the first Midwest corridor trains to receive Amfleet equipment. They were named the Ann Rutledge on Feb. 15, 1976.

The Ann Rutledge name vanished from the Amtrak timetable on Oct. 31, 1976, when the Inter-American was extended to Chicago.

But the Ann Rutledge name returned a year later when Amtrak dropped the Abraham Lincoln name for the evening train from Chicago to St. Louis.

With the April 2, 2007, timetable change, Amtrak renamed all of its Chicago-St. Louis trains Lincoln Service. But Ann Rutledge remained as a name for a St. Louis-Kansas City roundtrip until Oct. 27, 2008.

This image of the outbound Ann Rutledge was made on Oct. 3, 1981.

Trackside Salute to Amtrak

December 7, 2016


The back wall of this building in Bangor, Michigan, salutes Amtrak, at least in part.

This image of a blanket hanging out to dry on a laundry line contains the nose of an Amtrak F40PH, which passengers on the daily Chicago-Grand Rapids Pere Marquette can see as they pass by.

The Amtrak station in Bangor is across the CSX tracks from this wall.

Late in the Broadway Limited Era at Pittsburgh

September 2, 2016

Amtrak BL in ittsburgh September 4, 1995-x

It is Sept. 4, 1995. Five days from now, Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Broadway Limited will begin its final trips as it is discontinued in a massive route restructuring that was implemented that year.

The damage could have been even more. At one point Amtrak proposed eliminating the Hiawatha Service between Chicago and Milwaukee and ending service between Detroit and Pontiac, Michigan, among other cuts.

A friend and I had decided to ride No. 40 from Youngstown to Pittsburgh. We’ve just gotten off the train at Penn Station and moved to the head end to get some photographs.

The F40PH is still the primary road engine being used by Amtrak and Heritage Fleet equipment is still commonplace on eastern long-distance trains.

The engineer who will take No. 40 east of Pittsburgh is going to work and a Conrail locomotive is partly visible at right awaiting its next task.

It looks like just another day on the railroad and in many ways it is. But it is also short time for Nos. 40 and 41.

The F40 is Still Serving as the Face of Amtrak

April 27, 2009

I was looking at the cover of an Amtrak timetable for the Lake Shore Limited while waiting for a photograph to upload to one of my blogs when I came to a startling realization. The timetable, dated October 27, 2008, had an image of an F40PH locomotive on the cover.

Yes, that is an F40PH locomotive adoring the logo that appaears on recent Amtrak timetables and in print advertisements.

Yes, that is an F40PH locomotive adorning the logo that appaears on recent Amtrak timetables and in print advertisements.

Why is that startling? Because it has been more than a decade since the F40 was Amtrak’s primary diesel locomotive. Today members of the Genesis family of locomotives pull most Amtrak trains.

Yet there was no mistaking that the image of the locomotive within the circular logo promoting how Amtrak serves more than 500 destinations is an F40. The square nose and positioning of the headlights are a dead give away. Even the nose markings are suggestive of the three-color band that adorned Amtrak locomotives and rolling stock through the early 1990s.

The locomotive image in the logo probably is an artist rendering, but surely Amtrak could have provided the artist with a photo a P42DC to work from. The P42 plays the role today that the F40 performed during the 1980s and early 1990s. The P42 is ubiquitous on the point of long-distance, medium-distance and Midwest corridor trains.

Perhaps using the F40 as the model for the logo was purely happenstance. I don’t assume that those who work in Amtrak’s marketing department are train enthusiasts who make it their business to know all of the locomotive models that Amtrak operates or once operated, let alone what they look like and how they differ.

They probably do not remember, know or care that when the first batch of F40 locomotives arrived at Amtrak in early 1976 they were intended to work only in corridor service. But problems with the SDP40F locomotive resulted in the F40 becoming the backbone of the diesel motive power fleet for more than a decade.

By 2000, P40s and P42s had relegated most Amtrak’s F40s to the sidelines. Many of them were sold and since have gone on to have productive second lives. Others were rebuilt into cab units with a baggage compartment where the prime mover used to be. You can still see some of these “cabbages” working in push-pull service. Some even have the current blue and silver livery. But no Amtrak trains today are pulled by honest to goodness F40s.

To the public, a locomotive is a locomotive. Maybe that is the way a lot of the folks at Amtrak think, too, outside of the operating department. So long as the engine gets the train to where it is going what difference does it make what make or model it is or what it looks like? Well, it must make some difference because the Genesis locomotives have worn three different liveries since entering service beginning in 1993.

What’s in an image? Plenty. It is the face of your product, both to your customers and to those who just happen to see one of your trains go by. It defines who you are and says something about how you got there and where you want to go next.

Amtrak approved a design for the Genesis locomotives that was decidedly different from the boxy, compact F40. The wedge-shaped Genesis locomotive was designed to suggest something sleek, fast and contemporary. In that regard, the Genesis locomotive somewhat resemble high-speed equipment found in Japan, Western Europe and even on Amtrak’s Acela Express.

A lot of railroad enthusiasts who do make it their business to keep track of the intricacies of the Amtrak motive fleet disliked the design of the Genesis units. I was one of them. It looked like someone had chopped off part of the nose on an angle.

I’ve since gotten over my initial dislike of the Genesis, not because I think it looks great, but because I’ve seen it so many times that it now looks familiar. Interestingly, many railroad enthusiasts went through a similar progression with the F40. The knock on the F40s was that it didn’t have the style and grace of an E or F unit. It looked like a junior version of a freight locomotive, which is probably why Amtrak wanted its Genesis locomotives to look like something other than the engines that freight railroads have.

It’s funny how certain locomotives have come to represent the image of railroads. Most E and F units have long since been scrapped, sent out to pasture in railroad museums or been limited to tourist train duty, yet you still see the familiar shape of their streamlined noses in many places where someone needed a “railroad” image. To some extent this occurs because these images are available in clip art, which are generic images used by graphic artists and others to design all kinds of products.

But it also occurs because the design worked its way into the public consciousness to the point that people associated the image with railroads. In the case of the E and F units, it was the first thing that many passengers saw when a passenger train pulled into a station or if you saw a passenger train pass by while going about your business. Railroads placed images of E and F units in countless advertisements, and marketing and public relations products.

The F40 has managed to attain a level of “clip art” fame, which assures that its profile will continue for many years to come. It also has worked its way into the public consciousness, although probably to a lesser degree than was the case with E and F units. Still, there will come a day where the number of people alive who remember seeing or knowing what an E or F unit was will lose critical mass status. At that point, perhaps the F40 will become the dominant image of railroads.

The F40 is, of course, far from dead. It continues to play a major role in pulling commuter trains, VIA Rail Canada passenger trains, a few freight trains, some excursion trains and the CSX executive train fleet.

Aside from timetables, the “over 500 destinations” logo also appears in Amtrak advertisements in newspapers and magazines. Some day that logo will give way to another image. Some day Amtrak will permanently retire its F40 cab cars. By then the F40 will have served Amtrak for more than three decades.

Will the contemporary design of the Genesis locomotive serve Amtrak that long? Will it come to define the image of railroads? It’s hard to say. It all depends on how well the Genesis units age both physically and perceptually.

The F40 managed to age gracefully and with style and class. It may not have won any design awards, as the Genesis design did, but it set a high standard for its successor to meet both on and off the rails.