Engine #15 is the first of the class of October, 1996 from Erie. In early April 2018 it was operating out of Washington, DC.
At Washington's Union Station, Amtrak trains continuing to and from the northeast corridor are required to change their electric locomotives over to diesel. These through trains include named trains (Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Crescent, Palmetto, Carolinian) and numbered Virginia regionals. The Washington DC group are serviced at Ivy City Yard, but generally return to Chicago by way of the Capitol Limited for more serious inspections and/or maintenance.
At update times, in November and December 2018, #15 was somewhere in New England, possibly on the Downeaster or standing by at New Haven or Niagara Falls. As of June 2020 it was stored active at New Orleans.
Typically a locomotive that is not causing problems can stay at the same terminal for as long as 90 days without having to return to a major shop for inspections and maintenance. With the new layover facility at Brunswick, Maine, more work can be done there than in the past, and a locomotive on the Downeaster may not be seen anywhere else again for a longer period of time. While the Downeaster originally used northeastern units in the road number 101-111 group, in recent years more Chicago units have moved to the east coast.
Since 2008, Amtrak has been legally required to account separately for its northeast corridor, its few remaining long distance routes, and those it operates under contract for various states. In California and Maine, the oversight has been given to specially chartered authorities. In the other states it is generally the state highway department. For the most part its management has deliberately refused to do so, and continues to intermingle funds and equipment between its various units without regard to Congressional directives.
Beginning in 2017, however, state-owned or authority-owned Charger locomotives were deployed in the west and midwest. The last of these went into service in March 2020, just in time to be parked for a virus epidemic which caused the cancellation of many trains.
Complete deployment in Michigan with the four year old Chargers was completed in 2020. The locomotives have been experiencing overheating problems, and are in the process of being modified. While a planned order for state-owned passenger cars on hold, a bit of a division between the operating groups has started to develop. For example, state-owned Cascades and joint-power operated San Joaquin's in California now own and operate their own complete trainsets, borrowing Amtrak equipment only as needed to handle emergencies such as the suftline mudslides that blocked freeways in southern California. This equipment is also maintained on the west coast.
Engine #15 for many years was assigned to New Orleans, and was maintained there. It was an extremely frequent hauler of the City of New Orleans, trains 58 and 59. Two F40's routinely ran on the City until the equipment was changed to superliners in the early 1990's. It was one of the last steam-heated trains in the system until that time. In the mid-90's, a then-new B32 (500 road numbers) routinely pulled the train for a period of years, with an F40 trailing. As the P42's began to arrive, the 500s were replaced, and two P42's ran with a baggage car. For a time the 500's went to commuter duties in Michigan, but were ulitimately relegated to terminals as shop switchers.
Today, following numerous budget cuts, the baggage car a sleeper, and one locomotive were eliminated on Trains 58 and 59. The train typically runs with just one P42 today unless a position move is needed for other equipment.
In June 2020, due to a virus outbreak, Amtrak announced plans to reduce its overnight trains to three days a week (the Sunset Limited and Cardinal already are, and have been for years, with poor success). Previous attempts to reduce these trains to less than daily failed in the 1990's, ending up costing Amtrak more money due to cancelled connections and loss of ridership. One wonders why they would try this failed effort again.
In August 2018, Amtrak management received proposals from outside vendors for the replacement or rebuild of P42's. This was supposed to have happened in 2008, but was delayed due to the emphasis being placed on the northeast corridor. It did not happen in 2018 either.
A logical replacement would be the Siemen's Charger, of which 69 commuter versions have already been built and put into service on commuter routes. There was never any committment from Amtrak as to the outcome of the solicitation for rebuild proposals (RFP), and instead the organization chose to go with the Chargers from the Siemens Corporation.
General Electric, which had been under intense financial pressure from stock speculators, no longer builds passenger locomotives, and is no longer an interested player. Progress Rail (an offshoot of General Motors, Electromotive Division), which has supplied F125's to Los Angeles Metrolink from its factory in Indiana, may be interested, but reviews on the locomotive's performance have been mixed so far. Replacements for the P42's, it seems, will come from overseas suppliers such as Siemens, if at all. Overheating and other issues must be overcome first. At that point, #15 likely will be scrapped.