|Over the years I've
encountered a few different types of Amtrak
locomotives. All of these examples are from
the west, mostly on the California Zephyr,
the Southwest Chief, or the Ski Train.
Paint schemes have changed over time, as have the
models of locomotives. I have photos of
basically all types and livery in use on western
long-haul trains since the start of the Amtrak California
Zephyr era in 1983.
Photos are arranged chronologically, but
you can use the table of links below to jump
directly to a specific unit.
|Here's a cross-reference by number,
if you are looking for photos of a particular unit.
EMD Cowl Units: the F40PH
The F40PH is basically a cowled version of the
GP40-2, with an added Head-End Power (HEP)
generator. These 3000-HP units began
arriving in the late 1970s, and served Amtrak well
for over 20 years. Arriving in three groups,
they were numbered (by group) in the ranges 200 to
229, 230 to 328, and 329 to 400. The first
group had smaller 1,500-gallon fuel tanks; the
latter two groups had the larger 1,800-gallon
version. Most F40PHs have now been retired
or sold to other operations, so there is no real
numbering conflict with the higher series of P42s.
March 1984, Amtrak F40PH locomotives Nos. 374 and
265 are leading the California Zephyr
westbound near tunnel 1, above the Highway 72 bridge
just west of Denver. No. 374 is in the
relatively-new Phase III paint scheme, whereas No.
265 is still in Phase II.
1986 has Nos. 358 and 316 on the point of train No.
6, a half-mile east of the photo above.
|| No. 287
leads No. 6 on June 30, 1995 at Glenwood Springs,
CO. By now there often were AMD103s on the
route, and the days of the F40s were numbered.
| Nos. 388 and 298
are leased to Ansco to power the Ski Train
for the 1997/1998 season. Here they're grinding up
through Plainview on January 2, 1998. A common
arrangement for two seasons, it turned out that to
have only two units on the long train-- one running
HEP as well as traction power-- was to operate right
on the margin of reliability. Eventually, the
operation began using
Bottom: the prior week (December 28, 1997) the
same power leads the train through Crescent
Nos. 334, 332, and 40-(something) are being
leased by Ansco to power the Ski Train in August
1999. Here the trio is at Winter Park, CO,
waiting while the train unloads passengers.
Afterwards, they will take the train to Tabernash to
be turned, and bring it back for loading later in
the day. By this time, very few F40PH's were
left in Amtrak service.
| For more views
of F40 locomotives continuing in service for other
railroads, see here
GE B32-8 Units
To my knowledge I only saw one of these, ever. They wore
a unique paint scheme (dubbed the "Pepsi Can" by
railfans). I only caught the unit on analog video;
here is a screen capture of No. 503.
Here No. 503 is the trailing unit on the
westbound California Zephyr at Rocky. This scene
was on January 4, 1997.
GE Genesis (AMD103) Units: the P40
The AMD 103, or "Genesis" series, of locomotives was
rolled out in 1993 as the next generation of diesel road
power for Amtrak. The first group generated 4,000
HP, and are designated as type P40. They are
numbered in the range 800 to 843. Most were
gradually mothballed as the P42's came online, but since
circa 2013 some have been reactivated.
|| Two P40s, Nos. 822
and 812, head up No. 5 at East Portal, CO on
November 25, 1994. They wear the first Genesis
paint scheme, where the stripes fade out toward the
back of the unit. This was supposed to be
reminiscent of a ribbon flapping in the
breeze. The scheme did not long endure,
probably because it was hard to maintain. Both
of these units were repainted circa 1999-2000 in the
Phase IV scheme, a la No. 16 below.
(Incidentally, No. 822 is now painted in a
|| A going-away shot:
the same train enters the portal, and we have a
closer look at the back end of the two units.
This scheme was only applied to the P40 series.
|| No. 805 is
captured on video at east Rocky on 1/04/1997.
|| No. 816 has been
repainted into Phase 5 and resuscitated for regular
service again. Here I caught it on No. 6
entering Debeque Canyon in Colorado, just east of
||No. 816 makes frequent appearances on the
California Zephyr. Here it's running second on
No. 6 as it approaches Moffat Tunnel's west portal
on February 18, 2018.
GE Genesis (AMD103) Units: the P42
Beginning in 1996/97, GE released an updated version of
the Genesis, the P42. P42s are nearly identical to
P40s on the outside (minus a rear hostler window), but
have an additional 250 horsepower. They are numbered
in the series 1 to 207. After the advent of the
P42s, the P40s appeared only rarely on western trains.
There have been three different paint schemes applied to
P42 locomotives, plus minor variations. Styles have
changed over time, plus Amtrak has had different looks for
different services. The current standard is the
Phase V design, though the transition has taken more than
three years to complete. (Author's opinion-- they
finally scored a home run in the styling department with
the Acela-inspired Phase V look.)
|Up-close detail photos
of P42 Nos. 75 and 201: click here.
|| P42 No.
19 is on No. 5 at Rocky Flats, CO on
12/26/1998. It wears the second Genesis
scheme-- solid stripes all the way to the back
doors. This simplified design is basically a
modified Phase III look, adjusted to deal with the
nose contours on Genesis units. About two
years later it received the Phase IV scheme, and
towards the end of 2003 was put in Phase V colors.
|| A pair
of P42s led by No. 44 (No. 62 is trailing) have
train No. 5 at Grand Junction, 8/01/1998.
Notice that the Genesis Phase III stripes do not
line up with the stripes on the baggage car (or any
|| Here's the opposite side
of No. 44, as the train pulls out of the
station. You can see the stripes well.
The angle of the photo doesn't show the large number
very well, just small numbers on the cab doors.
No. 16 has the eastbound CZ at Glenwood Springs on
August 7, 2001. It's in the Phase IV Intercity
scheme, not as commonly seen in the West as the
other schemes, even though it matched the current
Superliner Phase IV look. This unit was
repainted in Phase V in Spring 2003.
|| Two P42s, Nos. 129 and 145, lead
the westbound CZ at Clay (west of Denver) on
8/5/01. They are in the Phase V paint scheme,
the Amtrak design of choice at present. Some
refer to this as the "Shamu" look (ever been to Sea
World?). The third unit is still in the
modified Genesis phase 3 scheme (without the
dots). Yes, this view was shot from aboard the
Note: In 2011, No. 145 was designated as the
Heritage Unit for the Phase 3 scheme and
|| P42 No.
10 is on the team track at Denver Union Station on
New Years Day, 2004. It's seen from the lounge
car of Train No. 5 as it departs the station.
No. 10 wears the revised Phase V scheme with the
lowered skirt stripes.
|| P42 No.
155 is on the point of Amtrak No. 5 on New Years Day
2004 at Glenwood Springs. She wears the
original version of Phase V. Note that the red
sill stripe is slightly higher, with a blue
pinstripe below, and dark gray below that.
There's also a small Amtrak logo below the cab
|| P42 No. 65 is the trailing
unit on Amtrak No. 5 on New Years Day 2004 at
Glenwood Springs. She's in the modified Phase
| Top: No.
25 sits in at Denver Union Station on
12/31/2006. Amtrak has been keeping a spare
unit here to protect the California Zephyrs.
At the time of the photo, Denver was buried under
its second blizzard in a week. The Ski
Train in the background had been annulled the
previous two days due to conditions on the UP.
Bottom: Here's No. 25 again, this time in warmer
climes on the eastbound Southwest Chief at
Gallup station, 9/24/2011.
|| No. 75
is running second on the eastbound California
Zephyr at Grand Junction, CO on
1/05/2006. On this day the train was being run
as a stub operation west of Denver, terminating at
Grand Junction, and as such was run without
sleepers, baggage car, or lounge. This
locomotive has obviously run into something--
probably a grade crossing accident-- giving her a
nasty crease across the nose. There is no
builder's placard on this side, probably lost during
multiple repaintings (or wreck damage?).
No. 201 is on the point, same train as No. 75
above. She looks sharp in late Phase V,
despite several dings in the paint that have rusted
through. Note the mismatched paint on the
access panel below the engineer's window. More
views of No. 201
MIDDLE and BOTTOM: No. 201 leads train No.
5 westbound through Byers Canyon on August 9,
2007. The alignment of US 40 on the opposite
side of the canyon allows for good viewing in most
cases, except for the code lines which were still
in place at this time.
18 trails on train No. 5 on 8/09/2007 in Byers
Canyon, CO. A decent overhead shot which shows
an interesting weathering feature: since Amtrak
usually runs elephant-style, the exhaust grime
sweeps almost exclusively to the rear of the unit.
|| No. 59
leads train No. 5, the westbound California
Zephyr, on 12/6/2008. Photo taken at the
base of the Big 10 curves west of Denver. This
shot clearly shows the two different shades of blue
that have been used on these units-- the panel
around the headlights has the grayer version.
profile of No. 197 as it trails on train No. 5, the
westbound California Zephyr, on
12/6/2008. The train is passing the east
signals of Clay siding, about 20 rail miles west of
186 leads train No. 4, the eastbound Southwest
Chief, at Albuquerque on 2/26/2009.
Typical Phase 5B unit. The conductor was quite
a character, sporting an Aussie-style hat and full
|| No. 88 is the trailing
unit on train No. 4, the eastbound Southwest
Chief, seen at Albuquerque on 2/26/2009.
Typical Phase 5B unit.
123 with 113, in Seattle on 7/24/2009. Picture
is a little fuzzy-- we were on a moving tour bus at
the time. Not sure what train this is, but it
includes a Pacific Parlour car, which probably makes
it the Coast Starlight.
191 is on the point of No. 4 at Albuquerque on
2/07/2010. The power have just been fueled and
are pulling forward to the passenger platform at the
85, same train as above. There's not a lot of
room for photos right here! Standard Phase 5b
|| No. 86
is on the eastbound Southwest Chief at
Perea (east of Gallup, NM) on 9/11/2010. The
hurtling train left me no time to get a better
vantage point than this.
No. 137 on the eastbound Southwest Chief at
Prewitt, NM, 2/21/2011. The train is flying
past at full speed (79 mph) making it difficult for
my auto-focus to adjust. I got lucky with this
Bottom: No. 137 is trailing unit on No. 5, the California
Zephyr, at Westwater, UT. In truth, my
attention was more focused on the leader, Heritage
unit No. 156...
|| No. 194
is trailing unit on the eastbound Southwest
Chief at Prewitt, NM, 2/21/2011.
|| No. 50
on the eastbound Southwest Chief at Gallup
146, seen from 300 feet above in Ruby Canyon, west
of Grand Junction. The pilot is at the east end of
the bridge over McDonald Creek. Trailing unit is No.
24. (Train is No. 5, April 26, 2014)
| Heritage Unit No. 156, three views
at Westwater, Utah. This unit completely
deserves a full roll-by...
in 2011, Amtrak decided to commemorate its 40th
anniversary by repainting one locomotive after
each of its historical paint schemes. No.
156 sports an adaptation of the first scheme used
after Amtrak's creation. The heritage units
are extremely popular among railfans, and this one
is arguably the most popular of them. It's
definitely my personal favorite, although the
Phase 2 unit is a close second.
(Train: No. 5, 4/27/2014, 4:30 PM)
203 on the point of No. 6 entering Debeque Canyon
just east of Palisade, Colorado. Note that one of
the center headlights is dark.
|| No. 168
heads train No. 5 past Utah Junction (Denver, North
yard) on the gray morning of December 16, 2014.
129 trails on train No. 5 past Utah Junction
(Denver, North yard) on December 16, 2014. See the
other link for this unit-- it had been on the point
when we rode the same train in August 2001. At that
time it was in the original Phase 5 scheme with the
high sill stripe.
|| No. 198
leads the eastbound Chief at Grants on 8/29/2015.
This was one of those moments when the gates come
down just as you park the car, and here comes the
train! Lucky I got any photos at all.
|No. 191 on the
point of No. 5 on 2/18/2018. The train has
paused just short of the east switch at Fraser,
while the crew of the special Winter Park Express
swap ends with the locomotives.
|No. 52 is the trailing unit on
train No. 5, same train as directly above.
|Heritage unit No. 156 had
the honors on the Winter Park Express for a few
weeks in 2018. This day (2/18/2018) it was the
eastward-facing unit, so it led on the return
trip. Here it's waiting at Fraser siding after
the power had swapped ends on the 9-car train.
Note there are several severe chips on the front
is the builder's plate for this unit.
|No. 193 was the other unit
serving on the Winter Park Express on
2/18/2018. It led on the westbound trip; here
it's been set up for the return trip and is in
is the builder's plate for this unit.
|No. 9 is leading train No. 6 past
the new heated platform at Winter Park ski
area. Within a few seconds it will duck into
the Moffat Tunnel. (2/18/2018)
|Heritage Unit No. 42, the
Veterans unit, is running third on train No. 6 at
Winter Park (2/18/2018). Unfortunately I was
badly-positioned for a broader photo-- not to
mention the fact that the train is in
|No. 43 is hustling eastbound
train 6 into Glenwood Springs on the first of
September, 2018. The hill overlooking the yard
seems a good place for train-watching, but it's
surprisingly difficult to get a decent photo there,
due to the encroaching visual clutter.
|No. 12 is the trailing unit on
the train above, at Glenwood Springs (9/01/2018).
|Sometimes you just can't get a
clean shot. Here No. 133 is on the point of
train 5 as it approaches the Glenwood depot.
I'm shooting over a road, over a fence, over I-70,
over the Colorado River, and between the
cottonwoods. P-40 No. 816 was running second, but
its photo is even worse than this one.
|And then, a couple of days later
you get money shots like this one of No.74 leading
train 6 through De Beque canyon. (9/03/2018)
|No. 13 is the trailing unit on
train 6 in De Beque canyon (9/03/2018).
EMD F59PHI Diesels
These locomotives were purpose-built for commuter
railroads. 15 are in dedicated service on the Surfliner
trains. I managed to bag a couple of them
during a trip to San Diego.
No. 450 is leading a Surfliner train flying
through through Rose Canyon in north San Diego. If
you walk in this area, be aware these trains
approach fast and quietly. Note it's on the far
453 in nearly the same spot as the photo above,
except that it's pushing backwards up the valley.
Note it's on the near track.
Given the history of Amtrak's painting practices,
we can no doubt expect new paint schemes to appear as time
goes on. The locomotive fleet, however, is likely to
remain stable for some years, since most of the units in
service have been running for less than two decades.
You can be sure we'll be watching for whatever might
For more information on the Genesis series, visit 4rr.com
-- a very informative and comprehensive website dealing
with this series of locomotive.