Railroads & Locomotives Locomotives Amtrak E44 electric locomotives

Amtrak E44 electric locomotives

By Brian Schmidt, Classic Trains Editor | June 2, 2023

These eight roster oddities likely never turned a wheel in revenue service for Amtrak

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Amtrak E44 electric locomotives are eight roster oddities that likely never turned a wheel in revenue service for the passenger carrier.


Silver-and-black Amtrak E44 electric locomotives stored in a line
Amtrak E44 electric locomotive No. 503 and mates are stored at Wilmington, Del., in the 1990s. Brian M. Schmidt collection


The Pennsylvania Railroad acquired 66 of the 5,000-hp, six-axle E44 electric locomotives from General Electric, Nos. 4400-4465. Built at Erie, Pa., between 1960 and 1963 the motors were 69-feet, 6-inches long and weighed 384,260 pounds. They operated on 11,000-volt A.C. overhead power and were known as “bricks” for their box-like appearance. They hauled freight for PRR successors from northern New Jersey to Potomac Yard in northern Virginia for Penn Central and Conrail until 1981.


Amtrak acquired eight E44 electric locomotives from New Jersey Transit in June 1987 which had previously acquired the units from Conrail after it wound down electric freight operations on the Northeast Corridor. They were considered for maintenance-of-way service on the electrified NEC, which Amtrak acquired outright on April 1, 1976, in lieu of its continued operation under Conrail auspices. However, Amtrak nixed this idea in light of federal regulations regarding the toxic PBC (polychlorinated biphenyl) chemicals used in their transformer coolant oil. (The use of polychlorinated biphenyl in transformers is widely cited as a reason for the lack of an operable GG1 electric today.)


Amtrak E44 electric locomotives carried Nos. 500-507. They were all officially stricken from the Amtrak roster by 1991 when the 500-series was assigned to the new GE P32-8WH diesels.


One resides today at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, which acquired it in April 1991. Built as the No. 4459, it was the last new electric locomotive acquired by the Pennsy and came to the museum in Amtrak platinum mist-and-black paint as the 502. It was displayed outdoors in its Amtrak paint for several years and subsequently restored to its original Pennsylvania Railroad appearance for display inside the museum. As of October 2019, it was paired with GG1 4935.


Former Amtrak E44 electric locomotive on indoor display at museum
Pennsylvania Railroad E44 No. 4465, the former Amtrak 502, is displayed indoors at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg with a GG1 electric in 2019. Brian M. Schmidt photo

2 thoughts on “Amtrak E44 electric locomotives

  1. i remember these. my family moved to Devon Pa just outside of Philadelphia in 1966 when i was 9. we lived near the tracks coming in from Harrisburg and my elementary school was on a hill overlooking the tracks as well. I’d never seen an electric railroad locomotive so didnt know what to expect. saw GG1s and E44s as well as PRR diesels. in those days we didnt have air conditioning at home or in school so windows were always open unless it was storming. i could hear the trains and if in school i’d be staring out the windows or if at home i’d run down to the tracks to see the monsters rolling thru. it was non-stop in those days. as a kid i didnt know anything about PRR and NYC merging. glad i saw them when i did.

  2. If I remember well New Haven also has some of these motors?
    Why is the oil in the transformers not replaced by modern oil in order to have the possibility to run these electric motors and the GG-1’s again?

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