By Daniel Garcia
Revised by James Bow
Streamline Comes Back in Style (Sort of)
In 1977, as GO Transit contemplated further expansion of the network, they decided the time had come to purchase more locomotives. The GP40s had performed admirably, so GO looked again to General Motors for the next pieces of equipment.
By this time, however, a new locomotive had come on the market. The F40PH was designed by General Motors for Amtrak to upgrade their rag-tag fleet and provide a more unified look. The F40 was designed to be a lightweight, speedy locomotive based on the GP40, but modified with a cowl (full-width) body. The engine was the same 16-cylinder 645E as the GP40 and the locomotive included the Dash-2 electrics of the later models of the series.
Amtrak had also asked that an HEP generator be included in the engine, to reduce equipment costs. However, the HEP generator sucked power from the main diesel engine. So, while a dedicated engine was theoretically capable of offering 3,000 horsepower, only 2,400 turned out to be available for the train. Still, the F40PH proved popular with Amtrak and, by 1984, they owned a fleet of 210 units.
In 1978, GO Transit took delivery of six F40PHs, numbered 510-515. However, GO found that while the equipment may have been good enough for Amtrak’s shorter, lighter trains, they were hard-pressed to pull GO’s long line of bilevel cars through rush hour service. The horsepower requirements for the trains, combined with the power leeched by the HEP generators required GO’s F40PHs to run at full power almost all of the time. As a result, the F40PHs were “affectionately” referred to as “Screamers”, “Thunder Liners” and “Thunder Wagons” by crew members.
When the higher-powered F59PHs came on the market, GO jumped at the chance to purchase these vehicles, and GO’s six F40PHs were retired in 1988, after just ten years of service, and ahead of the older GP40-2Ls. They remained on GO property until 1990 when they were sold to Amtrak to be renumbered 410-415. Amtrak also rebuilt the vehicles, adding dynamic brakes.