The F40PH was designed for Amtrak as a commuter and medium-haul engine, to complement its long-haul fleet of SDP40F diesels. But when the SDP40Fs fell from grace due to poor reliability, a rough ride and derailment issues, the F40PH became the backbone of Amtrak's locomotive fleet for decades.
Introduced in 1976, the F40PH was essentially a passenger version of the mid-1960s GP40 freight diesel. It shared the earlier engine's turbocharged V-16 3000 hp (later uprated to 3200 hp) model 645 motor, and added an HEP (head-end power) generator for passenger lights, heat and air conditioning. An enclosed cowl afforded en-route, all-weather access to the F40PH's engine room if necessary.
In short order, commuter railroads across the United States and Canada followed Amtrak into EMD's order books for this versatile, reliable engine. While Amtrak's fleet was bumped from service in the 2000s by new Genesis diesels, F40PHs remain in use on Via Rail Canada, owner of the largest fleet north of the border, as well as Chicago commuter operator Metra, the largest commuter rail purchaser. Daily Boston-area riders are just now saying goodbye to the MBTA's F40PH fleet, as it's replaced by new engines built by MotivePower Inc. in Boise, Idaho.
Did You Know?
The F40PHs were nicknamed "Screamers" because their engines run at a high rpm even at rest, in order to power the HEP generator that keeps the passenger cars comfortable.