News & Reviews News Wire Metra SD70MACHs begin revenue service

Metra SD70MACHs begin revenue service

By Chris Guss | November 30, 2023

SD70MACH introduces AC traction to Metra’s diesel fleet

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Metra’s new six-axle power

blue and black diesel at night
Metra SD70MACH No. 507 makes its first run on the point of a revenue train, leading train No. 2135 west of Grayslake headed to Fox Lake where it will tie up for the night. Chris Guss

CHICAGO — Metra has used one of its SD70MACH locomotives to lead a revenue service train for the first time, with locomotive No. 507 powering train No. 2135 on the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 29, from Chicago Union Station to Fox Lake on the Milwaukee District North line.

Metra F59PHI No. 75 was trailing in the consist as a protection unit. After months of no physical testing on the main line, testing on special trains and trailing in revenue consists, the rebuilt locomotives finally received approval to be placed on the point in regular service.

Metra ordered 15 SD70MACHs in 2019, with the first arriving on property in October 2022. Eight have since been received, with delivery halted in mid-2023 so that any bugs could be worked out of the locomotives already on the property. The initial eight units were METX Nos. 500, 502, 503, 504, 505, 506, 507, and 509.

The locomotives, rebuilt from former Kansas City Southern SD70MACs, were first assigned to BNSF service with testing in trail position commencing in June of this year between Chicago and Aurora. In late August, four of the SD70MACHs, METX Nos. 504, 506, 507, and 509 were reassigned from BNSF’s 14th Street maintenance facility to Metra’s Western Avenue shops for testing on the former Milwaukee Road lines to Elgin and Fox Lake.

Testing began in late September and was limited to non-revenue trips between Chicago and Tower B-17 near Bensenville on the Milwaukee District West line, both in lead and trailing positions.

The SD70MACH introduces AC traction to Metra’s diesel fleet along with its B1-1B truck arrangement, with the two axles closest to the fuel tank unpowered. This allows four of the six AC inverters on the locomotive to be assigned to each traction motor, a fifth used for head-end power, and the sixth as a spare for either traction or HEP in case of inverter failure. When the SD70MACH is operating normally, the fifth and sixth inverters will alternate HEP duties to keep usage uniform across the equipment.

With revenue service commencing for the new locomotives, delivery of the final seven units has resumed, with METX No. 511 arriving in Chicago at the end of November.

Along with the former Milwaukee lines, Western Avenue shops also maintains the equipment for the North Central Service to Antioch on CPKC and Canadian National trackage. This means SD70MACHs will be utilized on three of Metra’s routes northwest of Chicago.

12 thoughts on “Metra SD70MACHs begin revenue service

  1. “…North Central service to Antioch on CPKC and Canadian National trackage.” No Mr. Guss and Trains Newswire, not on “CPKC trackage”. The “trackage” between the north end of the Amtrak Terminal and B12 Interlocking is owned by Metra. Disgracefully, CPKC, thanks to the STB and its Chair Martin Oberman, continues to have train dispatching authority on the C&M, Fox Lake, and Elgin Subs but the “trackage” is owned AND maintained by Metra.

  2. I like that they adapted and rebuilt freight units for commuter service. I would guess it’s cheaper? But they certainly look better than all the passenger units these days.

  3. Growing up in Downers Grove in the 70s/80s, I still like the Cascade Green E9s the best. Yes, I know they are not coming back. And Metra is NOT changing the color scheme. Lord knows the Metra themed E9s were HIDEOUS! Worse than the bicentennial GG1s.

    1. Didn’t you see first sentence of second paragraph saying second locomotive was a protection unit. They probably want to get in a number of runs to make sure all the bugs are out.

    1. Occasionally, maybe one of the locos had broken down and just came back from repair, so the company hooks two engines up during testing to ensure they still have a running train if the tested locomotive fails?!

      Dr. Güntürk Üstün

    2. Just my uneducated speculation, but if I had to hazard a guess, they are shuttling an unpowered loco to where it needs to be.

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