First delivered to Amtrak in 1993, the GE Genesis Series Locomotives have formed the backbone of the carrier’s diesel fleet for decades. These locomotives replaced the venerable EMD F40PH’s on much of the network, and continue to earn their keep, hauling trains across the country.
Developed in the early 1990s, the Genesis Series locomotives were built with the cooperation of both Amtrak and General Electric, to produce an innovative, high speed locomotive, capable of being utilized throughout the entire system. Although GE was emerging as one of the premier locomotive builders in North America, they lacked the engineering skill to create the modern passenger locomotive Amtrak desired. Thus, GE partnered with German firm, Krupp, who designed the Genesis Series’ monocoque body. Krupp, known in Germany for their successful construction of the ICE 1 trains, developed a streamlined, futuristic body for the locomotive, however, not without production delays.
Due to the demand of new motive power, Amtrak and GE settled on an agreement for the manufacturer to produce 20 less units of the monocoque design, and instead deliver 20 passenger locomotives based on the B40-8W freight locomotive in use on the Santa Fe. These units were designated as B32-8WH, and were delivered in 1991, two years prior to the delivery of the Genesis series.
The Genesis Series encompasses a low profile design, which was fourteen inches lower in height than its F40PH predecessors. The monocoque body serves as an integral part of the locomotive’s structure, rather than merely hiding the locomotive’s prime mover and other internal components. Due to its lightweight design, the locomotive’s boasted significant fuel savings as compared to its predecessors. Aside from the LRC locomotive, the Genesis Series was one of the lowest profile locomotives in North America, as they were designed to adapt to all clearances on the Amtrak system.
The Genesis series of locomotives were produced between 1993-2001 for Amtrak, Metro North Commuter Railroad, and Via Rail Canada. Forty-four P40DCs were delivered in 1993, 207 P42DCs, built between 1996-2001, while Via Rail purchased 21 for use on its Quebec-Windsor Corridor in 1998 to replace their LRC locomotives. Amtrak took delivery of 17 P32AC-DM locomotives between 1995-1998 for its Hudson Line services, while Metro North also took delivery of its P32AC-DM locomotives between 1995-1998 to replace the aging FL9 locomotives.
Second hand owners include New Jersey Transit, who acquired four P40DC locomotives from Amtrak for their short lived New York-Atlantic City ACES train, which ceased operation in 2012. Although acquired for ACES service, the units could oftentimes be seen wandering the system on various services. The NJT units were later sold to the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT) in 2015. The Genesis locomotives were chosen for this service because of their low profile design, allowing them to fit in the Hudson River Tunnels leading to Penn Station. Additional second hand owners of the Genesis locomotives included the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT) for their Shore Line East Service, which were purchased from Amtrak.
The GE Genesis Series was one of the first passenger locomotives built from the rail up for decades, as many of its predecessors were based on freight locomotives. Its lightweight monocoque carbody provided for 22% in fuel savings and produce 25% more horsepower, significantly improving the efficiency of the locomotives. Although the monocoque carbody proved significant in weight savings and fuel efficiency, it proved expensive and time consuming during routine maintenance, as the carbody hindered the access of maintenance crews to vital components. Furthermore, due to the unfortunate frequency of grade crossing collisions, a bolt-on nose was added later to the units in order to streamline repairs, and lessen costs.
The designations for the Genesis Series is as follows; P40DC, Passenger 4000 horsepower, DC Traction. P42DC; Passenger 4,250 horsepower DC Traction. P32AC-DM; Passenger 3,200 horsepower AC Traction Dual Mode. The dual mode traction of the P32AC-DM allow the units to run on both third rail electric power, and diesel-electric power.
Although the locomotives have similar exterior appearances, there are a few subtle differences between the three types of units. Both the P40DC and P42DC are powered by 16 cylinder engines, while the P32 AC-DM is powered by a twelve cylinder engine. Furthermore, the P32AC-DM has subtle differences concerning the cooling grills on the sides, as well as encompassing a different style radiator fan on the roof of the locomotive. Additionally, upon delivery, the P40DC was rated for 103 mph, denoting the AMD-103 designation, Amtrak Monocoque Diesel 103 mph, however, they were later upgraded to 110 mph to match the speed of the P42DCs.
With the delivery of 207 P42DCs being completed in 2001, many of the original P40DC’s seen as surplus locomotives, and stored in their yard in Bear, Delaware for nearly 17 years. In 2010, due to a stimulus program known as the TIGER grant, 15 of the locomotives were returned to service, and configured to P42DC specs.
The P32AC-DM, designed to operate on both diesel electric power and third rail, is utilized on the former New York Central’s Water Level Route, now called the Hudson Line. Due to diesel exhaust being prohibited in both Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal, the locomotives were required to pick up current from the third rail.
The Genesis locomotives power the passenger cars with a shaft driven head end power system, similar to their predecessor F40PH locomotives. When the HEP was activated, power to the traction motors decreased. The P40DC encompasses 4,000 horsepower with zero HEP load, and 2,525 horsepower under HEP at 900 RPM. The P42DC, encompassing 4,250 horsepower, and 2,525 when supplying power to a train, where the HEP is activated at 900 RPM. The P32AC-DM, rated at 3,200 horsepower with zero HEP, delivers 2,900 horsepower to the traction motors when under full HEP load.
The Genesis series of locomotives ushered in a new era of modern locomotives to the North American locomotive market. It allowed for high speed corridor services, and reliable and efficient long distance service. However, even the newest locomotives in the Genesis series are approaching the twenty year mark, and orders for the replacement of the locomotives were placed in 2018. Amtrak is to receive 75 Siemens SC-44 Charger locomotives, designed to replace the Genesis units on long distance services, these are planned to be designated ALC-42. Amtrak currently has Siemens Charger locomotives operating on corridor services in the west and mid-west.
Furthermore, Via Rail Canada is also replacing their Genesis Series locomotives, placing an order for 32 train sets for use on their Quebec-Windsor City Corridor. The existing LRC and Budd heritage equipment will also be replaced upon the arrival of these train sets. These train sets are similar to the SCB-40 train sets currently operating on the Miami-West Palm Beach, Virgin Train USA service (formerly Brightline).
Although the Genesis locomotives will cease to exist on long distance Amtrak and Via Rail corridor services, many of the locomotives are likely to be sold to new owners, where they will receive a second lease on life. The P32AC-DM locomotives, operating for both Amtrak and Metro North are likely to continue to be utilized for years to come, as replacements have not yet been discussed; additionally, many P32 AC-DM locomotives have gone through a rebuild program, extending their useful life.
Although the days for the Genesis series are numbered, the units have provided years of reliable service, and will continue until they are replaced. Upon the delivery of the new locomotives, another chapter will come to an end for passenger rail in North America.