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Amtrak Locomotives: A Humble Historical Gallery

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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.
F40PH's 265 287   316  
332 334 358 374 388

P40DC's 805 812 816 822  
B32-8 503  
P42DC's 9 10  12 13
  16 18 19 25

42 43 44 50 52 59
62 65

74 75 85 86 88

123 129   129 133 137

145 146 155 156 156

168 186 191 191 193 194 197 198
201 203

F59 PHI's 450 453

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.

 In 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.
  July 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 three F40's.

Bottom: the prior week (December 28, 1997) the same power leads the train through Crescent siding.

  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 and 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 Heritage Scheme)

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 Palisade (4/28/2014)
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 other cars).
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.
   P42 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 train.

Note: In 2011, No. 145 was designated as the Heritage Unit for the Phase 3 scheme and repainted.

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 windows.
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 V scheme.

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?).

TOP: 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 here.

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.

 No. 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.
Side 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 Denver.
 No. 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 white beard.
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.
 No. 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.
 No. 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 depot.
 No. 85, same train as above.  There's not a lot of room for photos right here!  Standard Phase 5b scheme.
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.

Top: 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 shot...

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 station, 9/24/2011.
No. 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)

No. 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.
No. 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. (2/18/2018)

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 left corner.

Here 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 trailing position.

Here 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 motion here...

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. (9/01/2018) 

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 track.
No. 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 transpire.

For more information on the Genesis series, visit -- a very informative and comprehensive website dealing with this series of locomotive.


?  James R. Griffin.  All rights reserved.