Amtrak’s P40s

Ask Trains from the June 2012 issue
Amtrak P40s that didn’t make the first cut for rebuilding wait their turn in Bear, Del., on June 7, 2010.
Bob Johnston
Q Whatever became of Amtrak’s P40s? They were numbered in the 800 series and looked very similar to the P42s in service today. What’s the difference between them? Does Amtrak still have any mechanically intact F40PHs on the property? – Todd Cline, Battle Creek, Mich., and Bill Hough, San Jose, Calif.

A The “AMD-103” designation (Amtrak Monococque Diesel-103 mph) was the project name for what became Amtrak’s 800-series P40 locomotives. As noted in “Beech Grove to the Rescue,” [page 48, October 2010], these relatively young General Electric “Genesis” diesels were prematurely retired after higher-horsepower (4,250 hp instead of 4,000 hp) and electronic brake-equipped P42s began arriving in 1996. The P42s are second-generation Genesis (GE’s brand name for the AMD-103 design). Numbered 1-207 (197 are still active), they were delivered in two batches: 1996-97, and 2000-01. The P40s, 800-843, were all delivered in 1993. When Amtrak’s mail and express initiative fizzled, the P40s became odd-men out. By 2005, the last active units were moved to storage tracks behind Amtrak’s Bear, Del., shops. Three had been wrecked; 11 were sold. But thanks to 2009 federal stimulus funding, 15 of the remaining P40s were restored at the Beech Grove heavy maintenance facility to active service, getting a complete cosmetic makeover and mechanical upgrade. The 15 restored units were the “pick of the litter;” they needed the least work. Yet there are still about 15 P40s stored at Bear, and given Amtrak’s foggy financial prospects these days, they could be sitting in the weeds for a while. As for the F40PHs, although Amtrak has some leftovers at Beech Grove, none are on the active service roster. Of course, their once-powered shells soldier on as “non-powered control unit” cab cars in push-pull operation and one, the 406, has morphed into a head-end power car that has been accompanying Amtrak’s 40th Anniversary exhibit train. – Bob Johnston
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