Railroads & Locomotives Locomotives Amtrak GP40 diesel locomotives

Amtrak GP40 diesel locomotives

By Brian Schmidt | June 16, 2024

GP40 and GP40TC models made for some variety on Amtrak’s roster in the early 1990s

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Amtrak GP40 diesel locomotives came in two flavors: eight former GO Transit GP40TCs acquired in October 1988 and 15 straight GP40s leased between May 1991 and June 1993. The 3,000 hp GP40 is a standard bearer of freight motive power in the second half of the 20th century. Introduced by EMD in 1968, the model sold 1,243 units with its successor GP40-2 adding another 1,131 units.


Silver-and-black diesel Amtrak GP40 diesel locomotives with red, white, and blue stripes
Amtrak 192, a former GO Transit GP40TC, speeds a train north to Milwaukee in February 1989. J. David Ingles, Brian M. Schmidt collection


Eight GP40TC units were custom built by General Motors Diesel Division in London, Ontario, in 1966. They would handle commuter trains for the Government of Ontario Transit, the provincially funded passenger carrier. The units were equipped with head-end power systems for electric lighting, heating, and cooling of commuter cars. This was accomplished with a lengthened SD40 frame of 65-feet, 8-inches compared with a frame of 59-feet, 2-inches for a standard GP40. Prior to their sale to Amtrak, their air system was modified from original to reduce trackside noise. One easy spotting feature, aside from their added length, is the appearance of a panel carrying the Amtrak name on the front handrails.


They initially carried Nos. 192-199 in Amtrak service and often appeared on short-haul routes in the Midwest. However, they were renumbered 520-527 to accommodate the delivery of the GE P42 units in the mid-1990s. They were rebuilt by Norfolk Southern at its Juniata Ships in Altoona, Pa., in 2004-2005, emerging with a GP38H-3 and retaining their 520-series numbers.


Amtrak also rostered 15 classic GP40 units in the early 1990s, Nos. 650-664, on short-term lease. They include units originally built for New York Central (six units), Illinois Central (one unit), Penn Central (five units), and Milwaukee Road (three units) between 1966 and 1968. Before coming to Amtrak, these units also spent time working for Kyle Railways, Helm Leasing, and Boston & Maine. A report in the November 1992 issue of Trains indicated that these units were intended to be on lease for five years, but were returned after just two years.


As these units were not equipped for generation of head-end power they were always used to supplement the predominant, and mechanically similar, F40PH locomotives on the roster until the new GE P40 “Genesis” diesels could be delivered in 1993.

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