I originally posted this on my old website on March 26, 2009.
Amtrak trains in the Pacific Northwest typically fall into two categories. First, there are the long-distance Coast Starlight and Empire Builder, which typically use General Electric P42DC locomotives and double-deck Superliner cars. Second are the Cascades trains, which typically use articulated Talgo trainsets with an Electro-Motive F59PHI on one end and a Non-Powered Cab Unit (NPCU) rebuilt from a retired F40PH locomotive on the other, all painted in the unique Cascades paint scheme. However, there are times when Amtrak has to occasionally substitute different equipment on these routes, due to maintenance issues or short-term increased demand. This page shows some examples of these "pinch hitters."
F59PHIs on the Coast Starlight
Amtrak's F59PHIs were delivered in 1998. Amtrak has two groups: #450-464 are assigned to Amtrak's Surfliner service between San Diego and San Luis Obispo on the Southern California coast. #465-470 are assigned to the Cascades in the Pacific Northwest. The two groups of units have similar paint schemes but with different colors: silver and blue for the Surfliners and white and green for the Cascades.
Sometimes the Surfliner units are seen in the Pacific Northwest on the Coast Starlight, either filling in for a P42DC, or deadheading to fill in for a Cascades F59PHI. Occasionally the Cascades units are seen filling on on the Coast Starlight as well.
B32-8WHs on the Coast Starlight
Amtrak's General Electric B32-8WH's #500-519 were built in 1991 and are Amtrak's oldest diesel locomotives still used on passenger trains, though usually as backup locomotives. They are more often used as switchers. They are sometimes used to replace a P42DC on the Coast Starlight, or are deadheading for use in Cascades service.
P42DCs on the Cascades
The most readily-available replacement locomotives for the Cascades trains are the General Electric P42DCs used on the Coast Starlight and Empire Builder. Amtrak has a total of 207 of these locomotives, built between 1996 and 2001, and numbered from #1-207.
P42DC's #97 & #188 can also be seen on the Cascades at the end of the following video, which I filmed on August 17, 2008. (Non-Cacades NPCU #90278 is also in this video.)
Surfliner F59PHIs on the Cascades
The Surfliner F59PHIs #450-464 are identical to the Cascades F59PHIs #465-470 except for paint, so they are ideal replacement locomotives for Cascades service.
B32-8WHs on the Cascades
Occasionally a B32-8WH from the #500-519 group will fill in on the Cascades as well.
Non-Cascades NPCUs on the Cascades
There are a total of six Non-Powered Cab Units (NPCUs) that were rebuilt from F40PH locomotives specifically for Cascades service: #90230, #90250, #90251, #90252, #90253 & #90340. Amtrak has other NPCUs in use in other parts of the country that wear standard Amtrak paint and have a roll-up door in the sides for baggage. In 2008, Cascades NPCU #90230 went back east and was replaced by standard NPCU #90278.
The following video includes several examples of Amtrak locomotives filling in, including P42DC #193 on the Cascades, Surfliner F59PHI #462 on the Coast Starlight and Non-Cacades NPCU #90278 on the Cascades.
Continue to Part 2…