Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak motive power’

A Late Lake Shore Limited

May 24, 2017

Sometimes you are just not in the right position to get a good photograph. Such was the case when I “caught” Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited passing through Willoughby, Ohio.

I didn’t know it had not come through yet, that it was running 1 hours, 28 minutes late. I might have known that had I checked on its status with Amtrak. But I didn’t.

The appearance of No. 48 caught me by surprise and the best I could do was get this image looking down Erie Street.

Remembering Amtrak’s SDP40Fs

April 17, 2017

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.

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.