Before exiting the railroad business in 2019, the General Electric Corporation had a long history in the manufacture of passenger train locomotives at its Erie, Pennsylvania transportation division factory. GE built electrics as early as 1904. In cooperation with the Pennsylvania Railroad, GE outfitted its GG-1 electrics at Altoona, starting in 1934. The New York City to Washington DC line was fully electrified in 1935. GE's P40/42 series was to become the last US mass-produced passenger locomotive. Subsequent locomotives have been of European origin.

In 1991, Amtrak purchased a derivative of the "Dash-8" freight engine in 1991, for emergency use as passenger road locomotives. The agency had unfortunately allowed all of its fleet of diesels to age out at the same time, an event that was to take place again two decades later. By 1993 the GE "Genesis Project" resulted in the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) receiving 44 units, road-numbered 800-843. Eventually GE produced 321 "Genesis" series locomotives, most of which ended up at Amtrak. Since 1993 there have been four generations of exterior livery applied to Amtrak owned AMD-103 (Amtrak monocoque diesel, 103 mile per hour), which eventually became known by the more popular designation of P40/P42/P32.

First generation livery for the P40/P42 series was a carry-over of traditional patriotic red, blue, and reflective white stripes laid over a platinum mist base coat. Variously over the years, some striping has been reflectorized (usually white in the early days, but red today). That scheme dated from 1973 on earlier locomotives. "Genesis" design and livery was credited to industrial designer Cesar Vergara, employed byAmtrak 1990-1999 and later by New Jersey Transit. Vergara was brought on by then-Amtrak president Graham Claytor, who is deemed most responsible for upgrading Amtrak's motive power into the 21st century. It was the first computer-controlled passenger locomotive. For the design of the boay, GE and Amtrak collaborated with Krupp Corporation, heir to much of the technology originally pioneered by the Budd Company at Red Lion, Pennsylvania. Some of the early painting was out-sourced to Juniata, close by GE's Erie, Pennsylvania factory.

A minor design variety took place in 1996, changing the fading stripes from the original P40 to a solid band all the way to the rear of the locomotive body. P42's road numbered 1-100 and #112-120 originated that way. It is said that the fading stripes were difficult to maintain and replicate.

Amtrak briefly attempted to restyle its entire fleet livery after 1995. This would become the second generation livery. A few "northeast corridor" locomotives were painted that way in 1997-1999. Two new P42's, road numbers #121 and #122, had it as-delivered. Surviving P40's in the 800 series were redone, as well as P42's #1-28, and some scattered wreck rebuilds.

But a third generation major millenium paint change awaited after 2000. Then, a third generation scheme appeared, with a sweeping blue nose paint job flowing back into the platinum mist. Traditional stripes were gone. Locomotives #123-207 completed the order of P42's from General Electric, and these had bluenose from the start. Eventually, the entire fleet was redone that way, less any units that were destroyed along the way.

For its 40th and 50th anniversaries, Amtrak repainted several Genesis units into retro paint styles. NY Empire Service locomotives were repainted into throwback style. There have also been some other one-off special paint units along the way. Examples include #100 for the "Celebrate the Century" train, and #203 more recently for "Operation Lifesaver" awareness.

In January 2024, P42 #174 came out of the paint booth in what will evidently become the 4th generation paint scheme for the Amtrak P42. It shares the two tone blue of new Siemens Mobility ALC-42 long distance chargers, with red and white accents. Long distance Chargers will presumably eventually replace the worn-out group of P40's and P42's still at Amtrak. So the red white and blue is returning, but not as bicentennial stripes.


Amtrak's 44 P40's (road numbers 800-843) arrived with strobe lights and a fading top side paint band. As they were redone, the top paint band was convered to solid. After the 1997-1999 marketing change, survivors were redone to 2G stripes. Most of the 43 P40's lived out their days that way.
But due to unexpected 2008 Bush stimulus funding, the best 15 surviving P40's were upgraded in 2011 and 2012 to 4,200 horsepower. Those 15 were converted to 3G livery. Operable units that were sold have ended up with Connecticut DOT, renumbered, and restyled again, into CDOT livery.


NRPC (Amtrak) originated in1969 with preliminary legal work. Railroads in the United States were failing, but unlike highways, river transportation, and airways, there was (and still is) a political hesitancy to invest public funds in rail infrastructure. The then-President Richard Nixon signed the authorizing legislation at his home in California. One source said the signing was October, 1970. NRPC was to be a public service agency, not a "profit-making" entity as cash-cow passenger trains once had been for privately owned lines. NRPC had the pick of 20-30 year old obsolete equipment from the railroading industry, and on May 1, 1971 began operating a scaled-down network. In 1971, locomotives wore colors of previous freight line owners, now referred to as "rainbow era" at Amtrak. Some refer to that as a "phase."

As they could, Amtrak begain repainting its locomotives black, usually with a red nose and a "pointless arrow" logo. There were experiments with other colors for the trademarked logo. Orders for new equipment were placed in November, 1972, and new locomotives began arriving in 1973. They had "bicentennial stripes" for the first time, a theme that carried over through 2000. Several of Amtraks heritage painted P42's have brought back the different varieties of the 1970s through 1990's stripes ("phases").

Beginning in 1973, Amtrak began replacing its diesel fleet and re-designing its passenger cars to operate with head-end electrical power provided by an on-board generator (the early days also saw some dedicated "generator cars" for a brief time). The more successful design was the EMD platform from General Motors, which was configured as the "F40." Paint on both the F40 and an ill-fated GE "P30" diesel was in platinum mist with the patriotic stripes, the design probably still to this day most associated with the history of passenger rail in the United States under Amtrak.

Against all odds,Amtrak survived until the late 1980's, and once again it became clear that the second-generation EMD's would need to be replaced. Politics again entered the picture, and Amtrak was forced to abandon many more routes in exchange for one-time appropriations for new locomotives. Enter GE with its "Genesis." Among the routes given up were the Desert Wind and the Pioneer. Las Vegas has not had passenger trains since.

A big P42 order was for 98 units, numbered 1-98, but upped to 120. Earliest deliveries had August 1996 build dates. The fading white stripe on the P40's was replaced with a solid one all the way to the rear, a slight change from the 1993 original. This 1996 variety of livery was applied to all of the initial order 1-120, except for 101-111.

It is said that early units were sent from Erie in primer, and painted at the Juniata shops in Pennsylvania. Juniata was originally a Pennsylvania Railroad base, later Conrail during this period, and eventually Norfolk Southern to the present. GE also sold a handful of P42's to VIA Rail Canada, and a small batch of P32 third rail units to Metro-North. The last units produced were in 2001, and none were to follow.

Road numbers 123-168 arrived new in 3G, high skirt paint. Engines 169-207 came in a lower skirt version. All were eventually converted to low skirt.

The first loss of a Genesis locomotive had been #817 at Bayou Canot, Alabama. Two more P40's were destroyed by a semi-truck at Bourbonnais, Illinois on train 59. Of the 1996-built units, roughly 24 still are still in operation at Amtrak into 2024. Overall there are about 150 servicable GE's still available in 2024, even as the first fifty new ALC-42 Chargers have gone into service on overnight trains in the west and south. As of April 2024, the first three 4th generation units (#174, #82, and #167) are out and about, with a few more likely to come out of Beech Grove during each of the next several years. Engine #82 is so far the only Genesis locomotive at Amtrak to have had all four generations of styling. Shopped currently is #106, which is rumored to be the last to be refresh in previous 3G livery.

April 3, 2024 Update from