Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak motive power’

At the Throttle of the Last WB National Limited

March 14, 2017

Conrail engineer Russell Smith awaits a highball in Indianapolis aboard Amtrak’s last westbound National Limited.

Smith has his left hand on the throttle of of F40PH No. 310 as it barrels along toward Terre Haute.

Looking over the engineer’s shoulder as Amtrak No. 31 rolls over the former New York Central mainline west of Indianapolis for the final time as a scheduled train.

It is Oct. 1, 1979, and Amtrak train No. 31 has arrived early into Indianapolis. This is a crew change point and for the final time the engineer and fireman will board the head end of the National Limited to take it west, working as far as St. Louis. Both are Conrail employees.

Tomorrow, the National Limited will be no more. It’s last trips departed from their endpoint cities on Sept. 30 and were allowed to continue to their destinations.

I got permission from the engineer to ride in the cab of F40PH No. 310 as far as Terre Haute, Indiana.

All of these photographs were made using Kodak Tri-X film. The images were scanned from the negatives.

Generations of Motive Power

February 20, 2017

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Amtrak train No. 4 is departing from the station in Naperville, Illinois, and is about to cross over to the center track for the run into Chicago.

I made this image of the motive power consist because I found it interesting how there are three distinct locomotives represented.

On the point is a P40DC locomotive with the fading stripes that are original to those units, but which proved to be short lived on Amtrak.

In the middle is a P32-8 wearing its striking and original livery that proved to be unique to these locomotives.

And the third unit is an F40PH in the Phase III livery. At the time, F40s were still commonplace, but starting to fade from the roster.

Charger Locomotives Begin Operational Testing

February 16, 2017

The new Charger locomotives to be used by Amtrak corridor trains are undergoing national certification testing in Washington State.

Amtrak logoThe Washington Department of Transportation said the Siemens SC-44 units are being tested on Cascade service through the end of this month.

The Chargers are expected to begin regular service later this year pulling trains in Washington, California, Illinois, Michigan and Missouri.

The departments of transportation of those states collaborated to develop the 4,400 horsepower locomotives, which are being assembled in Sacramento, California.

Phase II E Unit on Display

January 26, 2017

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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.

Keeping a Watch on the Platform in Joliet

January 25, 2017

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Amtrak operating crew members have always had radios to communicate with each other. A conductor can tell the engineer by radio that boarding is complete and it is time to leave.

But engine crew members still like to do things the old fashioned way and look in the side mirror to see how the boarding process is going.

It is June 25, 1977, in Joliet, Illinois. The St. Louis-bound Statehouse has arrived and is boarding passengers.

At the time, it was the only train on the Chicago-St. Louis route funded by the State of Illinois.

The engineer is at the throttle of a P30PH locomotive. Known as “Pooches,” the P30s were a common sight on Midwest corridor trains in the 1970s, particularly on Illinois Central Gulf routes.

It was an era when the Statehouse and other corridor trains might be pull into the station behind a P30 or an F40PH. You just never knew.

Pointing Eastward

January 21, 2017

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Amtrak P42DC No. 75 is on the point of the eastbound California Zephyr as it makes its station stop in Sacramento,  California.

This is a crew change point and a new engineer will take the right-hand seat in the cab to man the control of No. 75 ans it, a fellow P42 and an F40PH throttle up to move No. 6 eastward en route to Chicago.

The image was made on June 25, 1999, and was scanned from a slide.

Double Shot of Amtrak P32-8 Locomotives

December 30, 2016

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I’ve only seen a pair of Amtrak P32-8 locomotives paired together on the point of a train one time. Maybe it used to be a common occurrence, but not that I saw.

Usually, one P32-8 was paired with a P40DC or P42DC. I even once saw a consist of a P40, a P32-8 and an F40PH.

I had my camera with me when I saw these two P32s, each wearing their original livery, wheeling the Chicago to Los Angeles Desert Wind through Riverside, Illinois.

It is April 8, 1996, and during the height of the era when some Amtrak long-distance trains did not operate daily.

One of those was the California Zephyr, which had long forwarded the Desert Wind through cars out of Chicago.

But on this day the Desert Wind is operating solo. The Zephyr will be back tomorrow, but probably not a pair of P32 units working in tandem.

Empire Builder in Portland

December 27, 2016

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Amtrak P42DC No. 1 waits to pull the Empire Builder out of Portland Union Station on a July 1999 afternoon. Known as the “baby Builder” due to its four-car consist, No. 28 will connect with the Seattle section in the middle of the night in Spokane, Washington.

It will offers its passengers a scenic ride along the Columbia River not long after leaving Portland.

Parked behind the Empire Builder on the same track is a Talgo train used in Portland-Seattle Cascades service.

One Day at High Noon in Springfield, Illinois

December 15, 2016
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The technical quality of this image isn’t great but it is one of the few photographs that I have of an SDP40F taken trackside leading a train.

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Looking south from the fireman’s side of Amtrak SPD40F No. 613 in Springfield, Illinois.

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The control stand of an Amtrak SDP40F.

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Engineer Dean Elliot awaits a highball to depart Springfield, Illinois, with Amtrak train No. 21 in June 1977.

It is almost high noon in June 1977 in Springfield, Illinois. I’m standing near the Illinois Central Gulf tracks (former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio) tracks awaiting the arrival of Amtrak’s westbound Inter-American from Chicago to Laredo, Texas.

I don’t recall if No. 21 was late or on time, but even if the former, it was not excessively tardy.

Leading No. 21 was SDP40F No. 613. I made a single photograph of it sitting in the station with its train.

The image isn’t that good, a product of harsh light, improper exposure and the fact that I scanned it from a color negative that is almost 40 years old.

I wanted to photograph the Inter-American because it still ran with SDP40F locomotives and those have always been a favorite of mine.

The engineer of the train spotted me and waved. On impulse I asked him if I could come up into the cab.

He said “yes” and up I went and got the other three images  you see with this post.

I would later learn that the engineer was Dean Elliot and that he is now deceased. He was a railroader’s railroader and I can only imagine the stories he would have had to tell about life on the road.

But there was no time for that. I only had enough time to grab a few shots before the conductor gave No. 21 a highball to leave Springfield. I thanked the crew and climbed down.

And off they went to St. Louis where a Missouri Pacific crew would take over to pilot the Inter-American on its continuing journey to Laredo.

Today, Nos. 21 and 22 are named the Texas Eagle and operate between Chicago and San Antonio.

An F40PH Triple Play in Naperville

December 1, 2016

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During the F40PH era I often would see two of those units working together to get an Amtrak train over the road.

But I only saw an Amtrak F40 triple header once. That occurred on September 1, 1996, in Naperville, Illinois, on the famed Burlington raceway.

This brace of F40s is leading train No. 5, the westbound California Zephyr.

I’ve seen photographs of Nos. 5 and 6 with three F40s, which I presume was the practice to help the train get through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

Naperville is a station stop for the California Zephyr, the first after leaving Chicago Union Station.