F40 on the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner
Wednesday, May 16, 2001
I have not seen an F40 locomotive on the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner route for many months.
Shortly after Amtrak West received a large shipment of F59PHI locomotives, they have been using them on all of the
Pacific Surfliner trains. Even the single level consists made up of either Amfleet cars or Horizon cars have been
using the F59PHI locomotives.
Then, a few days ago, I saw an F40 locomotive on one of the new Amtrak Pacific Surfliner trainsets!
Not only that, but it was painted in the new Pacific Surfliner color scheme!
Above is a photo of that locomotive which was taken on Wednesday, May 16, 2001.
This F40 is not just a Cab Control Car or a "Cabbage" Car. This F40 was the only locomotive and source of power for
this train. There was only one locomotive on this train and this F40 was it!
If you don't know what a "Cab Control Car" or a "Cabbage" Car is, it is a car that has all the controls needed by
the engineer to run the train, but it does not have an engine to power the train. Many single level Amtrak trains
have a locomotive at one end of the train and a Cab Control Car at the other end of the train. Often, the Cab Control Car
is just another passenger car with a control booth for the engineer at the end of the car. Amtrak has converted a number
of old F40 locomotives into Cab Control Cars by removing the engine and fuel tanks, but leaving the engineer controls
intact. On some old F40 locomotives, they have also installed a roll up door on the side so that checked baggage can be
stored in the space where the engine used to be, hence the name "Cabbage Car" for Cab Baggage Car. I don't think
an F40 has ever been used as just a Cab Control Car or a Cabbage Car on the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner route nor on the
previous Amtrak San Diegans route. As mentioned above, it is not being used in such a configuration on today's train
either. The F40 on today's train was the only locomotive on this train.
Before the Surfliner Cars started to be delivered, Amtrak would often run single level trainsets with an F40 at each
end of the train. These were neither Cab Control Cars nor Cabbage Cars, however. They would be fully functional F40
locomotives and would usually simultaneously provide drive power to the train.
A large shipment of F49PHI locomotives was sent to Amtrak West long before the first Surfliner Cars began to appear.
The F40 locomotives were very quickly phased out and we've hardly seen any F40 locomotives on the Amtrak San Diegans
route and then the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner route for years! Once in a great while we would see an Amtrak Pacific Surfliner,
either the old single level or the new double level, with an F59PHI on both ends of the train, but that was pretty rare.
My understanding is that all 9 sets of Pacific Surfliner cars have been delivered. I believe that 2 more sets will be
delivered, but those 2 additional sets are not specifically for the current Amtrak Pacific Surfliner route. I've heard
they may be targeted for a new daytime route that may open between Los Angeles and San Francisco via the coastline.
We still see one or two single level trainsets each day. I'm not sure why Amtrak West isn't running Pacific Surfliner Cars
on 100% of the runs since they do have all of the trainsets. The 9 sets are supposed to be enough to cover all the runs
plus enough to pull sets out for scheduled maintenance. Seeing an F40 in the Pacific Surfliner colors caught me totally
by surprise, especially after an absense of so many years of not seeing any F40 locomotives at all! Since the F40
locomotives have been painted in the new Pacific Surfliner color scheme, it has to be assumed that these F40s will be in
regular use on the Pacific Surfliner route. So, the question is, why are there no longer enough F59PHI locomotives for
all the Pacific Surfliner runs?