July 1978 - Page 12
AMTRAK GE'S TAKE OVER ESPEE COMMUTER WORK
As a result of an urgent need for additional motive power for freight service, the Southern Pacific finalized a lease with the National Railroad Passenger Corporation in mid-July to allow fifteen of Amtrak's General Electric P30CH units to come west and go to work in the railroad's San Francisco Commute Pool (PACIFIC NEWS, June, 1978). The move, which is initially for ninety days per unit, allows the SP to place its fleet of ten SDP45 locomotives in freight service full time, along with many of the commute pool's GP9 units and a ll three of the GP40P-2's. One of the latter, number 3197, is one of the three locomotives painted in BiCentennial colors by the railroad. The 3000-horsepower Amtrak units ride on six-wheel trucks and are massive in appearance, even when visually compared to the ten SDP45 units which, along with the system's eleven passenger-equipped GP9's, have been the commute operation's mainstay for many years. The GE P30CH units, however, are not equipped with boilers so if the railroad still desires to use substitute motive power for its
commute fleet after winter approaches some other locomotives \Vill have to be acquired. The first two Amtrak locomotives for commute duty worked their way west from New Orleans on Amtrak's Sunset Limited to Los Angeles, for SP acceptance, and then north to the San Francisco Peninsula on the Coast Starlight as far as San Jose. The General Electric units operated on the point of these trains, due to their lack of steam-heating equipment. This same delivery method was repeated for all fifteen units, which usually worked their way
Tipping the scales at twelve tons less than the SDP4S P30CH it has replaced, Street Amtrak Station GE-built and is 70S, above, has just departed San Fourth
rounding the 7th Street Curve to head south toward San Jose on the July 21 running of train 136. One day earlier, opposite top, this same locomotive races, again with train 136, across the San Bruno-Millbrae city line enroute to San Jose with the first-ever run of an Amtrak locomotive service. Amtrak in is Southern minutes following Pacific on commuter train 138, second Only 711 later,
commute assignment for the big GE's. On Saturday, July 22, 70S waits just after noon at Sunnyvale, left, with train 116 before completing the final eight miles of her 47-mile run with a pair of commute cars. This day marked the first weekend of work for the leased Amtrak locomotives and their first regular appearances in off-peak assignments.
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