GE P30CH Review

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.

Final Thoughts


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.

GE P32ACDM Review

Hello, one and all. Welcome to another review. Continuing with Amtrak Month (the unofficial name), we will review Amtrak’s current dual mode locomotive, the GE P32ACDM.


The General Electric model P32ACDM is a dual mode locomotive built by General Electric for both Amtrak and the Metro North Commuter Railroad in New York. They are one of two diesel locomotives currently built for North America railroads that are capable of running as third rail locomotives in the current day (the other is the EMD DM30AC used on the Long Island Rail Road).


Prior to the P32ACDM, Amtrak and Metro North both used the aging EMD model FL9, a diesel tracing back to the days of the New Haven. Although reliable, the FL9’s were getting old and needed replacement.
Eventually Amtrak consulted with GE for a replacement that was dual mode since there aren’t fans to ventilate diesel exhaust in New York. Thus we got the P32ACDM which allowed the retirement of the FL9. Today, Amtrak and Metro North use them to no end. If you want to know about more history, see

Initial Thoughts

From first glance, I’m not keen on the P32ACDM, but considering the job they have to do, I respect them. Without them, trains couldn’t get into New York without the use of overhead wire, or a rather lengthy reroute to the Northeast Corridor. Other than that, I find them okay locomotives.

Final Thoughts

While I’m not big on the P32ACDM, they play a pivotal role in moving trains in and out of New York on the ex-New York Central and a portion of the ex-New Haven. Until next time, this is Jessica K, out.

EMD F40PH Review

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. amt703l
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). amtrakhoffmanstpaulmn080297
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.

Current Status


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.

ACS-64 Review

Hello all, it’s time for another review of a locomotive. Seeing as how you liked my review of the Siemens SC-44 Charger, lets look at Siemens’s other locomotive, the Amtrak Cities Sprinter (ACS-64)
The Siemens ACS-64 (Amtrak Cities Sprinter) is the modern Amtrak electric locomotive used on the Northeast and Keystone Corridor and replaced the EMD AEM-7, and Bombardier – Alstom HHP-8. These electric locomotives are currently owned by Amtrak, with SEPTA (the Philadelphia transit provider set to get some in 2018 or so).

Initial Thoughts

From initial thoughts, I can say the ACS-64 is an outstanding example of modern engineering in locomotive design. The ACS-64 from what I have seen in videos and from playing in virtual form in Train Simulator, shows that the electric is capable of easily keeping to a tight schedule that a Northeast Regional needs. The ACS-64 also appears to have quick acceleration and quick braking. Despite two accidents which damaged two (601 and 627), the design shows they are durable little beasts, and a great example of modern ingenuity.

My Overall Thoughts

Overall, despite being around for a few years, the Amtrak Cities Sprinter is a genuine star of electric locomotives running on rails once home to the legendary GG1 of Pennsylvania Railroad origins and EP5 of New Haven Railroad origins. What do I expect in future? I expect a nice lifetime for the Sprinter, and this like the SC-44 shows that Siemens can build some damn good locomotives for passenger service in North America. I expect more great passenger locomotives from them. Here’s to the hope that one day Siemens will build a freight locomotive.

Until the next review, this is Jessica K, out.

SC-44 Review

Hello everyone, it’s time for a review. Today, I’ll be reviewing the Siemens SC-44 Charger locomotive. Keep in mind, as of this posting, the locomotive is still in testing stages, and not yet a revenue service engine!


The Siemens SC-44 Charger is a modern diesel electric built by Siemens, the same people behind the Amtrak Cities Sprinter (ACS-64).

From first appearances, the Siemens SC-44 looks similar to the ACS-64 which doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. These locomotives are intended to become used by Amtrak for its state corridor services, MARC in Maryland to replace the electric locomotive fleet, and All Aboard Florida. From what I have seen in videos of the testing, the locomotives are very smooth performers and look like they will be durable like their electric counterparts. What I expect from them is a new age in passenger rail, and hopefully will be able to retire Amtrak’s dependance on the troublesome GE P42DC.

Now before you say it, I don’t hate the P42DC, I’m just not keen on them. They look sharp in Phase V, but they never have appealed to me, probably because I was more of an F40PH fan. But, I do have respect for them.
Now, my final thoughts. While the Siemens SC-44 Charger has a lot to prove over the coming years, I think this will be a terrific passenger locomotive and a great one that will be like its electric counterpart, a force to be reckoned with in the passenger locomotive business.
I know this was a short review, but considering that the locomotive hasn’t entered revenue service, all opinions are speculations. I will do a follow up once the Charger enters service, until then this is Jessica K, out.