F59PHI - Amtrak West's New Locomotive
Amtrak West introduces the new F59PHI locomotive! The F59PHI locomotive
#450 arrived into Los Angeles deadhead on train #3, The Southwest Chief, on
Friday, May 15, 1998. The F59PHI will be used on various Amtrak West routes
including the San Diegans, the Pacific Northwest and the new Las Vegas
The F59PHI locomotive #450 began service on Wednesday,
May 27, 1998 on southbound San Diegan Train #568 and was seen again on
northbound San Diegan Train #575.
Another F59PHI, locomotive #451 began service in June of 1998. I first
saw it in service on northbound San Diegan Train #577 at 12:36pm on
Wednesday, June 10, 1998. However, I was not in the office for the last
few days. I believe it arrived into Los Angeles last week and may have
started service anytime over the last week. I saw both new F59PHIs go
by the Fullerton Santa Fe Depot today.
Current status: #450, #451, #453, #454, and #458 are now all in service on
the Amtrak San Diegans. #457 arrived on the westbound Amtrak Southwest
Chief on Thursday, September 10, 1998 and will probably be in service this
week. #452 is still at the factory with computer problems. The other
F59PHIs are also reported to have computer problems, but are in service
anyway. My guess is once they find a solution to the computer problem with
#452, they will probably apply it to the other F59PHIs.
Click on each photo below to display a larger image.
This story started on Tuesday, May 12, 1998. We got a call that the
new Amtrak F59PHI locomotives should start to arrive soon and that the
first of them might already have arrived that morning on the westbound
Amtrak Southwest Chief, train #4. Our videocamera was not turned on
that morning, so we weren't able to look at a playback. The webcam was
operating at that time, but we do not save the video from the webcam.
To make sure I didn't miss it again if they started to arrive on
Wednesday, I came into the TrainWeb office about 5am and started our
video recorder. I wasn't able to use the timer to automatically start the
recording as a recording was already in progress when I left the office
the night before.
As it turned out, the F59PHIs did not start to arrive until Friday.
The Wednesday morning tape did show something unusual, however. The
westbound Southwest Chief was bringing in another remodeled Pacific
Parlour Car for the Coast Starlight!
I should have set up the video recorder to automatically start on
Friday morning, but I didn't. I did, however, plan to arrive at the
Fullerton station early and take both video and still shots. The
Amtrak Reservations and
Arrival Status Web Site indicated the train was running about 30
When I drove my car into the Fullerton parking lot, I thought I still
had a few minutes, but the train pulled in just as I was walking from
the parking lot to the TrainWeb office! All the cameras were upstairs
and I knew I wouldn't have enough time to get them and then to get to
the front end of the train. Sure enough, the new F59PHI was on that
train! It was deadheading as the 3rd or 4th engine behind the lead
I made it up to our office with the Southwest Chief still in the station,
but it pulled out before I could even get my hands on the cameras.
Checking the Metrolink schedule, I noticed that the next Metrolink train
heading to Los Angeles would be leaving Fullerton in about 20 minutes at
about 7:40 A.M. That would work! The Southwest Chief should still be at
the platform at LAUS when my Metrolink train arrives. The platform work
of unloading passengers and baggage would take at least 20 minutes, so
the whole Southwest Chief should still be in the station.
FRI MAY 15 1998 07:40 AM FULLERTON CA
As another good sign, I heard over the radio scanner before I left the
TrainWeb office that the Southwest Chief had been given authority to
"pull right to the bumper" when they got to LAUS. I guess the Engineer
and Conductor were wondering if the express cars (and maybe the new
locomotive) were to be pulled off the train before they pulled into
the station. This was definitely a good sign that they were given
clearance to pull right into the station! That meant they would not have
torn the new locomotive off the train before I arrived and it should be
sitting right at the platform.
FRI MAY 15 1998 08:15 AM LOS ANGELES UNION STATION (LAUS) CA
The Metrolink train got to LAUS right on schedule as it usually does.
The Southwest Chief was just two tracks over from us. Since I was at
the head of the Metrolink, I just had to step off and follow the sidewalk
that goes by the head of all the trains pulled into LAUS. Within moments
I could see the new F59PHI!
The Southwest Chief was at the furthest platform. There is a parking
lot right next to that track. I was able to walk right into that lot
and take a number of photos of the new locomotive. Most of those are
seen above. Unfortunately, some of the cars parked in the lot were
a bit in the way and do appear in some of those photos.
Next, I took photos from the platform side of the track. This was a
bit close to get good photos of the entire locomotive, but it did
allow me to get a few detailed shots. Just then, a number of men in
hardhats approached the locomotive. They studied the outside, but I
never saw them climb into it. I walked down the passenger ramp and
took a few shots from there, which was a bit of an interesting angle.
FRI MAY 15 1998 08:30 AM LOS ANGELES UNION STATION (LAUS) CA
I tried to purchase a Pacific Class ticket from LAUS to San Diego and
then a return ticket back to Fullerton. I was able to get the Pacific
Class ticket from San Diego to Fullerton on the 3 PM train, but
Pacific Class was sold out for the next southbound train (10:15 AM)!
They had some availability for the 12:40 PM train, but I didn't want
to wait for that. Thus, I just purchased an unreserved seat for my
trip down to San Diego.
Now I just had to figure out what I was going to do with myself for
the next hour and 45 minutes. I wandered about LAUS and took a few
photos, including the area of the historic ticket windows that is no
longer open to the public.
Click here to see the photos that
I took around Los Angeles Union Station.
That still left me an hour and a half until
my train. I wasn't looking forward to boarding a train that I knew was
Just then, I heard the first call for the northbound San Diegan. That
gave me an idea of how to kill two birds at once. I could take the
northbound train for a stop or two and then board the southbound before
all the crowds in Los Angeles! A quick check of the scheduled showed that
I would only be able to go one stop to Glendale and safely make a
connection to the southbound train. I started to head for the ticket
window, but the line was pretty deep and the 9 AM departure time for the
train was arriving rapidly!
I noticed that LAUS had installed a couple of the automated ticket
machines. One was not operating and the other one didn't have a line.
It was my only hope of obtaining a ticket in time! The machine worked
fine except that I quickly learned that you can't buy a ticket to all
available destinations! Glendale, Burbank and Van Nuys were not available
destinations on the automatic ticket machine. Thus, I ended up
purchasing a round trip ticket to Simi Valley for $17. If I had just
gone ahead and boarded without a ticket, the onboard purchase penalty
for boarding at a staffed station without a ticket would probably have
been almost as much.
The northbound train was well populated, but not anywhere near
"sold out". The ride from LAUS to Glendale was swift and uneventful.
The southbound train was running about 20 minutes late. That gave
me a chance to photograph a couple of Metrolink trains, the Glendale
Station in its current state of rebuilding, and even the arrival and
departure of the Amtrak Coast Starlight!
Click one of the following for the photos I took in Glendale:
I was able to easily find a seat on the southbound Amtrak San Diegan,
even a window seat that would be on the coastline side of the train
south of Los Angeles. Once we pulled into Los Angeles, however, every
seat on the train filled up!
FRI MAY 15 1998 09:30 AM LOS ANGELES UNION STATION (LAUS) CA
The train left LAUS late, so I guess I would actually have had time
to wait in that ticket line. But how can you figure that out when
you are in the station?
As the train pulled out heading south and passed the Redondo Roundhouse,
I saw that the F59PHI had been moved to that yard. There were a number
of people in the doorway to the train. My train was a good distance
from that location in the yard and there were a number of obstructions,
but I did my best to take a few more shots. The nice thing about these
photos is that the new locomotive was no longer attached to other
locomotives in front of it and I could thus clearly see the front of
FRI MAY 15 1998 10:25 AM FULLERTON CA
I had called Ray Burns, who works with me at TrainWeb, to meet my train
as it pulled into the Fullerton Station. These photos needed to be
developed and I didn't want to wait until I got back from San Diego.
Thus, we made a plan for Ray to take the photos from me and have them
developed at a one hour photo shop so they could be posted to the web
later that day. Also, I didn't have time to grab my notebook computer
out of my trunk that morning. I wanted to use it on my round trip to
San Diego. So, Ray would also have my computer for me as I momentarily
stepped out of the train in Fullerton.
Everything worked according to plan! Ray got the film from me and took
it to a one hour photo shop and I got my computer from Ray (which
allowed me to type all this on my way to and from San Diego on the train)!
FRI MAY 15 1998 01:23 PM SOLANA BEACH CA
That catches you up to where I am right now! We are sitting in the
station. The engineer has just blown the horn so I guess we are
"high ball" to go!
Here are addition web sites with info on this new locomotive: