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Amtrak Locomotives: A Humble Historical Gallery

Over the years  I've encountered a few different types of Amtrak locomotives.  All of these examples are from the west, either 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 the other types and livery in use on western long-haul trains since the start of the Amtrak CZ era in 1983.  (I saw some electrics on the Northeast Corridor in Washington DC, but I didn't feel comfortable digging out a camera while waiting for the Metro...)

Some of these photos have appeared elsewhere on my site, but most are new images.  I have gathered them all here for ease of reference and for topical consistency.

Photos are arranged chronologically, or 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
P40DC's 805 812 822  
B32-8 503  
P42DC's 10 16 18  
19 25  25 44 50 59 65
75 85 86 88
123 129 137 145 155
186 191 194 197

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. 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 and P42

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.

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.
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.

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 the CZ.   Nearly all were in storage by 2003.

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.
Another pair of P42s led by No. 44 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.
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.
No. 25 sits in the same location as the previous photo, 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.
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.
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...
No. 194 is trailing unit on the eastbound Southwest Chief at Prewitt, NM, 2/21/2011.
Here's No. 25 again, this time in warmer climes on the eastbound Southwest Chief at Gallup station, 9/24/2011.
No. 50 on the eastbound Southwest Chief at Gallup station, 9/24/2011.


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 a decade.  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.


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  James R. Griffin.  All rights reserved.