Hello, one and all. Welcome back to another review. To close out Amtrak Month, we will review the GE model P30CH.
The General Electric model P30CH (nicknamed Pooch) was the second diesel locomotive rostered by Amtrak. They were built from 1975 to 1976 and were numbered from 700 to 724.
In 1973, Amtrak ordered the EMD model SDP40F (which I will review in July for the second Amtrak Month of 2017). The locomotives were problematic, but reliable to a certain extent. However Amtrak wanted another locomotive, so in 1974, they ordered the P30CH. Unlike the SDP40F, which was built with steam heat capabilities (but could be converted to Head End Power), the P30CH was the first Amtrak locomotive to be built with HEP. Like the SDP40F, the P30CH was based off of a freight diesel (SDP40F based off the EMD FP45) which was the GE U30C Universal Series freight locomotive (but with a cowl body). Like the SDP40F, despite some advancements, Amtrak didn’t have much success with them. Mechanical problems plagued them to no end. They were not liked by management or crews and very problematic due to their six axles and them working on some routes that utilized sharper curves. This along with other problems doomed the P30CH. They lasted until 1992 mainly working on routes like the Auto Train and Sunset Limited, which were straighter so they could work a lot better, but still maintenance headaches. Despite problems, they did find other work. CalTrans and Southern Pacific used them as well. CalTrans leased them for use on the short lived CalTrain Oxnard – Los Angeles Service plus Southern Pacific leased some on the San Francisco – San Jose commuter service (now done by Caltrain). By 1992, the more reliable EMD F40PH killed off the P30CH and soon were gone. There are NO survivors.
Normally, I’d do an initial thoughts and go into some randomness, but I never saw one in person except for one from a casual glance, but it was at speed so I didn’t get a chance to get a good look at them.
While the P30CH was an innovation, the locomotive was a pain in the ass that never was a real big success. Today, the P30CH is just a memory and a stepping stone in Amtrak’s locomotive history. And that concludes Amtrak Month, next month is High Speed Rail Month, looking at high speed trains. But, don’t worry, Amtrak Month will resume in July with the first subject being the EMD AEM-7. Until next time, this is Jessica K, out.