Hello everyone, welcome back to another locomotive review. For this review, we will look at the locomotive that made Amtrak a force to be reckoned with.
The EMD model F40PH!
In 1971, Amtrak was created by the federal government to take over America’s aging passenger rail business. During this time, the railroad used an assortment of EMD model F and E cab units, but they were old and decrepit to put it lightly. To replace them, Amtrak needed a reliable diesel electric locomotive. First choice was the EMD model SDP40F.
Although powerful, the SDP40F was prone to derailments due to vibrations caused by the lightweight baggage cars the big behemoths pulled. Eventually they went to the Santa Fe and lived successful careers as SDF40-2 freight locomotives. Next, was the GE model P30CH. They were nicknamed Pooches.
While the P30CH was innovative in that it was the first Amtrak locomotive with Head End Power (HEP) it was still problematic. It was a mechanical nightmare and hated by crews and Amtrak personnel above. Like the SDP40F above, the P30CH had a great career despite issues, lasting until 1992 on Amtrak’s active roster.
Still needing a reliable locomotive, Amtrak decided to abandon six axle power in favor of four axle power. That solution came in 1975 with the first F40PH’s entering the scene. Based on the GP40-2, the F40PH was initially intended for short haul trains, but over time, they would end up working across the entire Amtrak system, working many trains and going just about anywhere (except New York, due to lack of fans to remove diesel exhaust).
The F40PH became the face of Amtrak in the 80s, showing up in advertisements for the passenger carrier and were reliable. They had little problem, and could work trains. But, were still weak on certain grades on select routes which usually meant triple and quad heading.
Decline and Replacement
By the early 90s, Amtrak faced a decision, either overhaul the F40PH or replace it. They chose to replace it. GE offered Amtrak the P40DC (AMD-103, Amtrak Monocoque Diesel, 103 mph).
Both the P40 and P42DC (introduced a little later) helped to eliminate the F40PH and by 2002 most were gone with F40PH 399 making her last runs on the Hoosier State in October.
Today, the F40PH is still active. Some of them were sold to museums or commuter railroads. Others were scrapped, while a number still work on Amtrak, as powerless Non Power Control Unit (NPCU). Essentially, they are cab cars today, and no longer work as a locomotives. But, they’re still around.
In closing, the F40PH was a reliable Amtrak locomotive, but has had its time come and go, what happens next for the NPCU fleet is anyone’s guess, they’ll probably get cut up once Amtrak no longer needs them. Thanks for the memories F40PH, you are a swell locomotive that had a great career. Thanks for the memories.
Until next time, this is Jessica K, out.