SEPTA gives 'toasters' tasteful send-off

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Patrick Yough
An image of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority's last run of an AEM-7 locomotive, affectionately known by railfans as "toasters."
PHILADELPHIA — The last Toaster has run its last mile.

On Saturday, Philadelphia's commuter agency, SEPTA, ran a brief “Farewell to the AEM-7 Locomotives" excursion. This was the last such trip for the electric locomotives also known by their nickname, “Toasters” because of their boxy appearance: The only other operators, Amtrak and MARC, previously retired their versions.

The special ran from Paoli on the original Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line, to downtown Philadelphia and return.

Besides their appearance, the units are best known as the electrics that replaced the legendary GG1 locomotives on the Northeast Corridor.

SEPTA's AEM-7s are more than 30 years old and have been replaced by newer, more powerful Siemens ACS-64 locomotives. Despite their age, they are in fine condition, having made only two round trips five days a week for most of their service lives.

EMD built 54 twin cab four-axle, 7,000-hp AEM-7s for Amtrak at its LaGrange plant in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Maryland Transit Administration, operator of MARC commuter service on the Northeast Corridor between Washington and Baltimore, rostered four; SEPTA purchased seven copies of the model.

Two have been preserved: Amtrak No. 915 at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, and No. 945 at Illinois Railway Museum.

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