Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak F40PH locomotives’

Amtrak Savior

April 14, 2022

The F40PH has been described as the locomotive that saved Amtrak. The passenger carrier was able to subsist on E and F units for a few years. The SDP40F was expected to become the mainstay of the long-distance fleet, which it was for a few years.

When the F40 was on the drawing board it was seen as a corridor locomotive that would pull the new Amfleet equipment. That did happen, but the F40’s mission expanded as Amtrak gave up on the SDP40F and traded in many of them for orders of new F40s.

Shown above is F40PHR 259 in Joliet, Illinois, on March 31, 1978. The 259 was built in December 1977 with the “R” its model designation indicated that an SDP40F was traded in for it. In this case that was SDP40F No. 591.

The 259 would later be acquired by the Panama Canal Railways in 2001.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Are We Really Going to Miss Amtrak P42s?

February 15, 2022

Amtrak P42DC No. 68 awaits its next move outside the engine house in Chicago on May 20, 2013.
The Charger era at Amtrak is just getting underway. Shown are a pair of ALC-42 locomotives in Chicago (Amtrak photo)

The February issue of Trains magazine had a list of things that railfans need to seek out in 2022 because they are endangered.

Among them are Amtrak P42DC locomotives. Yes, they are serious.

Like many railroad photographers I can’t wait for the day when Amtrak trains are no longer dominated by the ubiquitous P42s in their blue and silver Phase V livery.

It seems as though those locomotives have been around for about as long as Amtrak has even though they actually date to the 1990s. I have hundreds of photographs of the P42s, particularly those in the Phase V livery. I am more than ready for a new look to Amtrak’s motive power.

Well, it’s true the P42 is endangered although it is far from being on the verge of extinction.

Amtrak in 2019 placed an $850 million order with Siemens Mobility for 75 ALC-42 Charger locomotives and last week announced it would buy 25 more.

The plan is to use the Chargers to replace P42s and P40s in the national network. That means primarily long-distance trains but some corridor trains will also see ALC-42 Chargers on the point, including the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian.

The ALC-42 Chargers are similar to the SC-44 Chargers used to pull Midwest corridor trains. They have similar appearances but the specifications of the two models are different.

The Charger era at Amtrak got off to a less than auspicious start on Feb. 8. ALC-42 Nos. 301 and 302 were assigned to pull the Empire Builder out of Chicago that day but when No. 7 departed Chicago Union Station a P42DC was on the point and Nos. 301 and 302 were relegated to trailing unit duty. The explanation given was the 301 had technical issues with its positive train control system.

That hiccup notwithstanding, the Charger era is here although it will be more than a year and maybe two years before the ALC-42 becomes the dominant everyday motive power.

In the Trains article, author Chris Guss argued it is time to document the P42 because although they may seem mundane now they will be appreciated later.

He wrote that he heard friends say decades ago that they wouldn’t photograph another train led by a pair of green Burlington Northern SD40-2s because they seemed to be on every train.

Guss said those sentiments made sense at the time, but now those BN “green machines” have given way to BNSF wide-cab “pumpkins” and some photographers – himself included – regret not documenting the green SD40-2s more often.

It’s a valid point. By the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, the boxy-looking F40PH locomotive was the Amtrak standard and many photographers tired of them, too.

The EMD-built F40 gave way to the Genesis line of GE-built passenger locomotives. The first of those was a class of 40 P40 locomotives that began arriving in 1993.

The Genesis family expanded with P32DMAC units that were ordered to replace FL9s in New York. The P42DC came along in 1996.

Altogether Amtrak has had 207 P42s (roster numbers 1 to 207), 17 P32s (roster series 700), and 43 P40s (roster series 800). Those figures include units “retired” due to wreck damage or sidelined for other reasons.

All models in the Genesis family were introduced in the Phase III livery. That gave way to Phase IV starting in 1997, which lasted only a few years until Phase V arrived in 1999. 

If I have any regrets, it is that I didn’t photograph more of the Phase III and Phase IV Genesis units.

The dominance of the Phase V era coincided with my interest in railroad photography intensifying, something that began to happen about 2004.

The F40 era didn’t vanish overnight and neither will the P42/P40 epoch. During the 1990s it was common to see a P40 working in tandem with an F40. Similar mixed motive power consists can be expected to occur with combinations of ACL-42 and P42/P40 units.

What you are unlikely to see, though, are ACL-42s mixed with SC-44s. The latter units are owned by state departments of transportation and were bought by those agencies for the express purpose of pulling corridor trains that they fund.

The Chargers in Midwest corridor service carry Illinois Department of Transportation reporting marks.

The Genesis era is likely to last through at least 2024 when Amtrak expects to take delivery of the last of the original 75 ALC-42s ordered in 2019.

Officials have not said how long it will be before the next batch of 25 ALC-42’s begin to arrive.

The first ALC-42s have arrived wearing a Phase VI livery that is intended to be used by only a handful of the units. Amtrak plans to introduce this spring its Phase VII livery that will adorn the bulk of the Charger fleet.

If there is anything to be excited about with the changes coming in Amtrak’s motive power fleet it is the prospect of documenting locomotives in something other than Phase V.

It is not so much that I have grown bored with the P42 as such but I’m tired of the Phase V look.

The next two to three years will present opportunities for railfan photographers to document some interesting views including likely to be short-lived combinations. That will include combinations of P42s and ALC-42s with mixed liveries.

Amtrak also released last year a few P42s in one-off liveries including the Midnight Blue look for No. 100. No. 46 wears the Phase V scheme but with a gold 50th anniversary herald. No. 160 has the modified Phase III livery used to introduce the P32-8 locomotives in 1991. Earlier this year P42 No. 203 received a tribute livery to Operation Lifesaver.

But perhaps the most sought after one-off livery is the “Day One” scheme applied to ALC-42 No. 301, which mimics a look applied to Penn Central E8A No. 4316 for ceremonies held on May 1, 1971, to trumpet the arrival of Amtrak.

Of course a handful of P42s are still out there in retro Phase I, Phase II, Phase III and Phase IV liveries that were brought back to celebrate Amtrak anniversaries.

Among the interesting factoids about the new Chargers is that the initials denote Amtrak Long-Distance Charger.

The Chargers have 4,200 horsepower capability, which is less than the SC-44, but the ALC-42 has larger fuel tanks and increased head-end power.

Amtrak and Siemens have touted how the Cummins QSK95 prime mover of the ACL-42, which is built in Seymour, Indiana, is Tier 4-compliant. The locomotives themselves are being assembled in Sacramento, California.

I’ve photographed the SC-44 Chargers numerous times and one characteristic I’ve noticed about them is how bright their headlights are.

They are brighter than any freight locomotive headlight I’ve seen coming down the tracks. I also have noticed the ditch lights of the SC-44 flash in a slower sequence than those of freight locomotives.

I’m looking forward to documenting the transition era between the Genesis and Charger eras but I’m still not sure I’m going to pine for the days when every Amtrak train had a Phase V livery P42 on the point.

Simply put, I have enough photographs of those locomotives and I don’t think I will miss them all that much once they’re gone.

Article by Craig Sanders

An Eagle and a Commuter

May 21, 2021

Appearances to the contrary, the train the left is not an Amtrak train. It is a Trinity Railway Express commuter train using leased Amtrak equipment.

That included a pair of F40PH locomotives and two Horizon Fleet coaches.

On the next track over the Texas Eagle is making its daily stop at the Dallas Union Terminal. Note that the Eagle has a new P40 on the point and a veteran F40PH trailing.

When this image was made on March 4, 1997, such mixed motive power consists were not unusual and would continue through the late 1990s until the P42 fleet began arriving.

Amtrak in Ashville

February 2, 2021

For the 1996 National Railway Historical Society convention held in Charlotte, North Carolina, Amtrak provided a chartered train that made a circle trip on Norfolk Southern.

The train traveled via Asheville, North Carolina, The scenic highlights included traversing the famed loops east of the city and coming down Saluda grade, the steepest mainline railroad grade in the United States.

The train is shown here in an NS yard in Asheville where passengers had a layover.

Shortly after this image was made, NS added two of its freight locomotives to the front of the train to provide additional braking power on Saluda grade.

Most of the passenger cars were Amtrak equipment with a few borrowed from the fleet of the North Carolina Department of Transportation for use on Piedmont service trains.

Amtrak has never provided scheduled service to Asheville although the Southern Railway did for a time in the early years of Amtrak.

Last Years of the Broadway Limited

February 1, 2021

In Amtrak’s early years, the Chicago-New York/Washington Broadway Limited was considered its premier eastern long distance train.

But by the 1990s it had become just another train, albeit still a good one with full-service dining and sleeping cars. Many of the passenger cars were from Amtrak’s Heritage Fleet.

The Broadway Limited also handled a lot of head-end business as can be seen in this image made on CSX’s New Castle Subdivision near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.

This was once the route of Baltimore & Ohio’s best train, the Capitol Limited. Although Amtrak has a train of the same name operating between Chicago and Washington, it has never used this stretch of the former B&O.

This image was made in May 1994 and in a year and four months Nos. 40 and 41 would make their final trips operating as the Broadway Limited.

California Zephyr in Colorado

January 15, 2021

It is late June 1988. The photographer and a friend had ridden Amtrak’s California Zephyr to Denver to spend a week railfanning Denver & Rio Grande Western lines in Colorado.

They managed to catch Amtrak Nos. 5 and 6 numerous times on the Moffat Tunnel route. In those days three F40PH locomotives was the standard motive power consist.

In the top photograph, No. 6 is cruising along the Colorado River in Byers Canyon. In the middle, No. 5 is coming into Winter Park as it exits Moffat Tunnel. In the bottom image, the westbound Zephyr is at Rollins, Colorado.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Maple Leaf Leaving Toronto in 1984

November 10, 2020

Amtrak’s Maple Leaf is leaving Toronto Union Station on March 28, 1984, bound for New York City. On the point is F40PH No. 352. As it picks its way through the terminal complex, it passes a VIA Rail Canada train that is backing up. The photographer thought it might have been headed for the wash rack.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Cardinal Flying Through a Hurricane

October 18, 2020

Amtrak’s eastbound Cardinal is passing milepost 479 on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad in Hurricane, West Virginia, on Oct. 18, 1987. The photographer was in Hurricane to photograph the New River Train which in this year was being pulled by former Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765. The distance is measured from Newport News, Virginia.

Photograph by Edward Ribinskas

The Pennsylvanian in Gallitzin in 1994

October 16, 2020

It is May 30, 1994, in Gallitzin, Pennsylvania. Amtrak’s westbound Pennsylvanian has just popped out of Gallitzin Tunnel en route to Pittsburgh from New York.

Gallitzin Tunnel is the northern most of the then three tunnels in Gallitzin on the former Pennsylvania Railroad mainline between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

The tunnel on the right is the Allegheny Tunnel. During the summer of 1994 an enlargement project was begun to double track and enlarge this tunnel to accommodate double-stacked container trains.

When the work was completed in the summer of 1995 the Gallitzin Tunnel was closed.

The tunnels in Gallitzin are not all that has changed. The Pennsylvanian is no longer pulled by F40PH locomotives and no longer has material handling cars. But Amfleet equipment is still standard.

Photograph by Edward Ribinskas

State of the Cardinal in 1987

August 1, 2020

I’ve long thought that the halcyon days for Amtrak’s Cardinal were in the late 1980s to early 1990s.

Sure, the train only operated three days a week, just as it still does today, but the level of service provided was much higher then it would become starting in 1995 when it was assigned Superliner equipment and reduced to a Chicago-Washington operation.

In the late 1980s, Nos. 50 and 51 operated with two sleeping cars, one of which was a slumber coach. The fare was reasonable enough that I could afford to buy a slumbercoach room for travel between Chicago and Indianapolis.

The Cardinal also still had a full-service dining car during this era.

In the photograph above, the Cardinal is shown at Fort Spring, West Virginia, on July 26, 1987, exiting a tunnel on the former Chesapeake & Ohio mainline.

Photograph by Edward Ribinskas