The EMD F59PHI is a quasi-high speed locomotive produced by Electro-Motive Division (EMD) from 1994 to 2001. It features an isolated cab, lightweight body, and a streamlined shape, features that were absent on the original commuter F59PH.
First built for the California Department of Transportation, the F59PHI has seen service in all four corners of America, (Mostly seen in California) as well as in the Pacific Northwest/Montreal area in Canada.
In 1990, the State of California passed a bill that would result in massive funding for the state transportation systems. It also resulted in a separate, state funded system of regional Amtrak routes.
CDoT wanted a locomotive that was both reliable and attractive. They approached EMD, who responded with the lightweight, high-speed F59PHI locomotive.
Soon after, more orders arrived. Amtrak ordered 21 of these locomotives for their Pacific Sufliner service (separate from Amtrak California), and the North Carolina Department of Transportation also selected it as their primary motive power. West Coast Express (operated by TransLink) in Metro Vancouver, also selected it for starting up its service.
Montreal’s Agence de Metropolitaine de Transport bought 11 of these locomoties to go with their Bombardier BiLevel coaches, which were just arriving.
The F59PHI was produced until 2001. It was taken off of EMD’s lineup because it wasn’t able to meet the EPA Tier 1 regulations.
Some of Amtrak California’s F59PHI’s have been rebuilt by EMD, these are ECO repowers.
Sound Transit’s 2015 budget outlines plans to overhaul seven F59’s and four of those will be overhauled to Tier 3 standards. (Most likely by EMD as ECO repowers).
Differences between the F59PHI and the original F59PH
An SD40T-2 is a 6-axle diesel-electric locomotive built by General Motors Electro-Motive Division having a 16-cylinder EMD 645E3 diesel engine producing 3,000 horsepower (2,240 kW). 312 SD40T-2s were built for North American railroads between April 1974 and July 1980. This locomotive and the SD45T-2 are popularly called tunnel motors, but EMD’s term is SD40-2s with “cooling system modifications” because they were designed for better engine cooling in tunnels. The difference between this locomotive and its non-tunnel motor cousin, the SD40-2, are the radiator intakes and radiator fan grills located at the rear of the locomotive. The radiator air intakes in this model were along the deck to allow more fresh, cooler air to enter and less hot exhaust fumes lingering around the tunnel’s ceiling.
EMD SD45T-2 vs SD40T-2 radiator fan motor access doors
This locomotive model was purchased by the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, the Southern Pacific Railroad, and its subsidiary Cotton Belt. Southern Pacific’s version has a 4,400-US-gallon (16,700 L; 3,660 imp gal) fuel tank and is 70 feet 8 inches (21.54 m) long. Rio Grande’s version has a smaller 4,000-US-gallon (15,100 l; 3,330 imp gal) fuel tank. After merging with Rio Grande, the Southern Pacific and later Union Pacific owned every SD40T-2.
In 2005, most of these units were owned by Union Pacific or leasing companies. By 2008, none were left in service on UP with SP or DRGW reporting marks. DRGW 5371 was the last one, retired in March 2008, and now resides at the Utah State Railroad Museum in Ogden Utah. Another SD40T-2 is preserved at the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad in Boone, Iowa. UP still runs a few units repainted in its own livery.