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A typical Amtrak EMD F40PH painted in the railroad's iconic "Phase III" scheme which was first applied to their fleets of later units.

VIA 6419 F40

A VIA Rail F40PH-3D

The EMD, Electro-Motive Division, F40PH is a cowl-bodied, 3,000hp to 3,200hp four-axle diesel locomotive which was originally built from 1975 to 1992, and was eventually mimiced by MK Rail in the 1990's and early 2000's.

Many still exist, but no longer operate on Amtrak as of 2003. Only their NPCU conversions still exist on their roster. (With the exception of 406; the sole surviving F40PH heritage unit, which was also one of the only true F40PH units to be painted in Amtrak's Phase IV scheme.)

The GE Genesis series (aside from the EMD F59PHI for commuter service) serves as its initial replacement for revenue passenger service.


In 1971, after Amtrak was formed, it initially inherited a fleet of first generation (E and F-units) from the predecessor railroads it took passenger service over from, with much of it in need of replacement. Two types of locomotives were immediately recognised; One of them a six axle unit equipped with large fuel tanks and water reserves, to be used for long-distance journeys. The other one, a smaller, lighter, and faster unit, equipped with HEP, and meant for service on Corridor routes in the Midwest and the Northeast.

Of the two types, the first was considered a priority. EMD won the contract to supply what would eventually be 150 units of what would be called the SDP40F. They were delivered in 1974.

The second type, the EMD F40PH, first entered service in 1975, initially on the short distance and reginal train services.

Shortly after the SDP40Fs were delivered, however, there were a number of derailments on trains pulled by those locomotives. These trains were subsequently forced to slow down in curves, throwing long-distance schedules out the window. The causes were later traced to the lightweight baggage cars, which caused vibrations when placed behind the much heavier SDP40F locomotives. For this reason, as well as the adoption of HEP as the standard for passenger train heating and lighting, ultimately caused Amtrak to phase out the SDP40F, and adopt the F40PH as the standard diesel locomotive for both regional and long-distance service.

Amtrak wasn't the only rail company to see use of the locomotive; many commuter railroads, namely Metra, have selected it in order to modernize its fleet. All except GO still operate the F40PH. VIA Rail Canada bought 59 of these locomotives when they, too, adopted HEP as the standard for lighting and heating.

Many units were built, and most are still in service, either in their original versions or in rebuilt form. Amtrak rebuilt several into non-powered "Cabbage" cars (Control cab/baggage car, or NPCU), when their fleet of F40PHs were replaced by the more powerful GE Genesis in the late 1990s. NPCU's can be identified from the standard F40 by the lack of grills and rooftop fans as the baggage area has now replaced the standard engine room. NPCUs are commonly seen on Amtrak's "Downeaster" leading southbound trains, and are also seen on Amtrak's "Pere Marquette", "Wolverine", "Blue Water", "Cascades", "Pacific Surfliner", and "San Joaquin".

Only one true F40PH remains on Amtrak's roster, but is no longer in normal revenue service. It is preserved for historic reasons.

GO TransitEdit

Following the success of GO's Lakeshore lines, GO set out on a mission to further expand its network. One of their plans was to purchase new locomotives, and following the success of GO's existing GP40-derived passenger locomotives, GO ordered six F40PH units from GM of London, Ont. They were the first F40PHs built in Canada.

GO's F40PHs were not seen as the most successful locomotives in their fleet; the parasitic HEP system, unlike the GP40TC's separate system, reduced the power available to pull the train. While the F40PH may have fared better for Amtrak's shorter regionals, they were definitely not the best units for pulling 10 Hawker Siddely BiLevel cars fully loaded with commuters. The engine, which has to run at full power all the time, also proved unpopular with both crews and the residents near Willowbrook; the locomotive was not fuel efficient, and Willowbrook residents were not getting any sleep from the noise.

All were retired by 1988, being replaced by the first F59PH order. Many were sold to Amtrak.

It should be noted that unlike the later VIA locomotives, these were similar in every aspect to the Amtrak units, with the exception of the passenger-style pilot and the lack of a dynamic brake section.


The following are specifications for the EMD/MPI F40PH

  • Length: 56ft 2 inches
  • Width: 10ft 7 inches
  • Height: 15ft 7.5 inches
  • Engine: EMD 16-645E3C
  • Power output: 3000-3200hp (2400 when in HEP mode)
  • HEP output: 500kW alternator driven by main engine
    • Optional: 800kW alternator driven by separate CAT or Cummins engine
  • Top speed: 110mph


  • F40PHR - F40PHs built from parts reused from traded-in SDP40F locomotives. They are also rated 3,200hp
  • F40PHM-2 - The commuter railroad Metra's version of the F40PH. The last type of locomotive to be turned out of La Grange in 1993. 
  • F40PH-2 - An upgraded version of the F40PH with 3,200hp and upgraded electrical systems. Caltrain and Metra use this variant as their standard locomotives.
  • F40PH-2CAT - New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit)'s version of the F40PH with a separate HEP generator engine (as opposed to shaft driven on previous F40PHs); rebuilt from MPI (MotivePower Industries). Most Caltrain F40PH-2 locomotives were also rebuilt into this variant.
  • F40PH-2C - Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA)'s version of the F40PH with "wind-breaker" covers and separate HEP generator on a stretched frame; 1050-1075 EMD built. 1025-1036 were built by MK Boise and classed as F40PHM-2C.. Caltrain also owns three of these, easily identified by their lack of a headlight in the nose. All but one locomotive in the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) fleet is also of this type.
  • F40PHL-2 - Modified cab version of the F40PH built for Tri-Rail, and rebuilt from MPI
  • F40PH-2D - Canadian version of the F40PH, only produced for VIA Rail Canada. Featured desktop controls and were rated 3000-3200hp. Geared for a maximum of 90mph, but most have since been regeared for 95mph. Classed by CN as GPA-30a/b/c/d. Rebuilt into F40PH-3D between 2008-2012.
  • F40PH-3 - Any F40PH that has been rebuilt recently. Was also built new by MPI


  • The F40PH was one of the first EMD passenger locomotives to use the 645-series prime mover, and was one of the first production EMD unit to utilize Head End Power (HEP).
  • Early F40PH units were delivered in the railroad's "Phase I" scheme.
  • Via Rail in Canada still uses their F40PH's in regular service.
  • The majority of surviving Amtrak F40PH NPCU locomotives have unique "attic" storage compartments where the original radiators were.
  • NPCU's are popularly nicknamed "cabagge" cars because of they are baggage cars with cabs.
  • Amtrak F40PH 406 was rebuilt with a CAT Marine Power prime mover that's used for HEP and it's original number was reactivated in Amtrak's roster.
  • NPCU's don't have HEP and they're numbered in the "90" prefix series.
  • Amtrak Today currently owns 10 original F.40.P.H.s as of 2010, the units are 401-409.
  • The CAT Marine Power prime movers are proven to rate up to 480 horse power instead of the usual 3000 horse-power that the original 645-series prime mover has.
  • Amtrak F40PHs 403, 405, and 407 are currently being rebuilt with CAT Marine Power prime movers at Beech Grove, IN as of September 26th, 2012 and will return to service (according to Eastern Railroad News).
  • There are 22 NPCUs numbered 90200, 90208, 90213-90215, 90218-90222, 90224, 90225, 90229, 90230, 90250-90253, 90278, 90340, 90368, and 90413.
  • When Amtrak F40PH 406 was originally built in 1988, it originally had a center marker light above the cab, and it got replaced with a center ditch light when it was overhauled in 2000, but when it was rebuilt with the CAT prime mover in 2011, the center ditch light was removed and the center marker light was reinstalled.
  • 90368 was the first NPCU built for Amtrak.
  • 90413 was the last NPCU built for Amtrak.
  • 90229 was the last NPCU in Phase 4 paint, but was overhauled and repainted in Phase 5 paint in May 2014.
  • 90221 was the first NPCU in Phase 5 paint.
  • The NPCU units aren't powered, but Amtrak still classifies them as true diesel locomotives because they are also maintained at locomotive shops and they still have their drive wheels.
  • CNRY (Cincinnati Railway) #381 is a former Amtrak Surfliner (from Amtrak California) F40PH unit which still retains its original scheme. Although no longer owned by the company, it now currently resides serving the Nashville Star commuter railroad company and still (as of 2012) retains it's Surfliner scheme.
  • CSX operates a fleet of former Amtrak F40PH units as part of their "business fleet", to which they commonly haul business or track inspection trains. (Aside from special excursions.) These units actually replaced their F-units which originated from their predecessor's heritage.
  • Several shortline railroads own F40PH units, and often use them for freight operations as a heavy-duty cowl unit.
  • The majority of shortlines which own F40PH units for freight and passenger service are actually from Amtrak's heritage.
  • Such shortlines as the Grand Canyon Railway own F40PH units for dual service (freight and passenger), yet often serve as spare units for as a temporary replacement if their historic steam locomotives and early diesel locomotives aren't operational for any of their usual excursions.
  • Amtrak F40PH units 401, 402, 404, 408, and 409 are still sitting in storage at Bear, Delaware as of February 2013. A rumor has been stated mentioning that these particular units will be rebuilt with CAT Marine Power prime movers at Beech Grove, Indiana and will return to service, but no statement has been made for their intended use. 
  • Amtrak No.'s 90224, 90278, and 90413 are the only 3 NPCU's that are equipped with Graham-White 373 Electronic Bells.
  • 90230, 90250-90253, and 90340 were built without baggage doors, yet are used as cab cars.
  • 90219, 90222, and 90368 are the last 3 NPCU's in Phase 3 paint, but 90219 and 90222 are both in the process of becoming overhauled and repainted in Phase 5 paint at Beech Grove, IN. (90368 returned to service in early 2013.)
  • 90215, 90218, and 90225 were overhauled and repainted in the "1985 vintage Caltrain colors Amtrak California" paint at Beech Grove, IN. (90218 was finished in March 2013, 90225 was finished in June 2013, and 90215 was finished in October 2013).
  • GO Transit was the only railroad who did not consider the F40PH to be a success in their fleet. As they had their HEP driven directly by the engine, they were underpowered.

See AlsoEdit

SourcesEdit (Images Amtrak #381: the sole-surviving former Amtrak California Surfliner F40PH to still be in service and retain its previous owner's scheme)


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