FIRST OF THE 1997-BUILT AMTRAK P42 LOCOMOTIVES

Here are the 50's road numbers in the 1997 Amtrak Genesis order, now 27 years of age. Most of this group of nine are still working the Texas Eagle, with occasional rescue service for Illinois services. As yet no Charger is known to have gone to San Antonio on the Texas Eagle, although at least one did travel to Savannah, Georgia for crew and contractor familiarization, and by January 2024 their use on the Palmetto was routine. In late 2023 Chargers began serving on Florida Silver Service trains, and at least one went on the Crescent. Those on Silver Service and Crescent sets were remaining as trailing units as of mid January.

Serial numbers for 50-59 are between 49588 and 49597 and there were no anomalies. Build dates were January and February of 1997. After delivery in the 1993 style paint, all were refurbished, with #52 going first through 2G northeastern livery, circa-1998. All others went directly into 3G millennium paint. Engine 51 was the first, and received the high skirt. The others were after the painting scheme changed in 2001. Engine 52, before it went out of service, was also one of the first to have a "big game" sticker, in 2011, when it was used on the Heartland Flyer.

RECENTLY OVERHAULED/REPAINTED WITHIN THE PAST FIVE YEARS

#50 - Repainted November 25, 2019 (big game stickers removed).
#51 - Repainted December 23, 2019
#54 - Repainted June 20, 2020
#57 - Mechanical May 31, 2021 (was at the shop for six months)
#55 - Mechanical October 11, 2021
#58 - Mechanical July 11, 2022

OUT OF ACTION
#52 Serial Number 49590 (January 1997).

ILLINOIS "HIGH SPEED"

This group was selected to serve Illinois "high-speed" Lincoln service between Chicago and St. Louis (110 mph). The higher speed corridor was designated in 1992, although initial funding for improvements did not develop until 2010 and afterward. Modifications included a cab-top equipment box. A small state of Illinois logo on the skirts was applied as early as February 2013, evidently to all but #56. It was often difficult to see the decals, since Amtrak is notorious for not washing its locomotives. If #56 had them, they did not stay very long. These "higher-speed" units did not run exclusively in Illinois, but were at the time the only ones properly equipped for the former Chicago and Alton line. They never actually ran above 79 mph except in a few test cases. Higher speed running under positive train control finally started in May, 2023, but P42's were mostly gone from Lincoln Service by then, replaced by Siemens Chargers.

Fifteen years after construction begain there are still no serious timetable changes to reflect improvements. Travel between St. Louis and Chicago still takes twice as long as it did 100 years ago in the steam era. However, among other projects, passing sidings were added, 39 road crossings were closed, and over 200 were upgraded. Designated GE P42 units received special positive train control (PTC) and cab signal configurations for use on the Union Pacific there prior to PTC implementation. As with the Michigan units, these had additional equipment boxes and antennae coming and going from the cab tops over the years as various systems were unsuccessfully tried.

In July 2021 portions of the route from Joliet to just south of Alton (Wann) were finally certified for 90 mph running under PTC. Originally the Texas Eagle was not included in the plan, but the restriction has now been lifted. So some 80-90 mph running for P42's was common in spots during 2022. Trains 21/22 are still a likely places to find several of this 50's group on Texas Eagle rotation. Siemens Chargers on the Lincoln Service trains can now hit 110 mph in spots. Their top speed is rated at 125 mph, as opposed to the P42 which was originally designed for a 104 mph top speed. P42's have though been known to easily hit 100 mph in Illinois since May 2023.

UP has now de-commissioned its older cab signal systems, and all trains on the line now utilize upgraded PTC. The upgrade of the Union Pacific (former Chicago and Alton) in Illinois was rather unusual, since government funding was used to improve privately owned corporate trackage. It took 4 different PTC system failures and over a decade to finally find one that worked to the satisfaction of the Federal Railroad Administration. Finally, in July 2023, Amtrak announced that it was reducing timetable running times across Illinois by about 15 minutes. Possibly there may be more adjustments in the future, but Amtrak management prefers to keep extra padding in schedules so that trains will not be "late" at their end terminals. There is no question, however, that the two billion dollars and over a decade spent have resulted in a safer railroad.

In July, 2023, P42 #59 first ran with a Charger on the Capitol Limited. Trains 29/30 introduced the new Chargers in off and on service to and from Washington DC, mostly to move them east for outfitting. For the entire month of July, 2023 Chargers were common on trains 29 and 30, paired with a P42. This was a significant change, because previously only one P42 was making those rounds. In late 2023, though, Chargers were running in revenue service only as trailing units south of Washing DC Union Station. In February 2024 the first Chargers to lead appeared on Crescent, Silver Meteor, and Silver Star, and the first pair of Chargers appeared on a Florida train.

Please attribute to 4rr.com if you wish to use this information or the photos for other than personal use. Not all movements are necessarily captured. The train number is listed with train assignment (except east coast regionals...then normally only south of Ivy City). Earlier data has been moved to the individual unit pages.

TRAIN ASSIGNMENT REPORTS AS OF APRIL 2024

50 LAX 3-27/4-5. T14Apr5/6(w/15Ld). T11Apr7/8(w/15Ld).
51 Ivy City. T86/125-29. NPN T194-30. T87-30. T158-31. T67/186-1. T67-2 NPN. T186-2. T79-3. T80-4. T95-5. T82-6. T19Apr6/7(w/131Ld). T20Apr8/9(w/131Ld). T19Apr9/10(w/196Ld). T20Apr11/12(w/196Ld). Ivy City. T97Apr12/13(w/196Ld).
53 CHI 3-12/4-8.
54 T6Mar26/28(w/817Tr). T5Mar29/31(w/817Tr). T6Apr1/3(w/817Tr). T5Apr4/6(w/817Tr). T6Apr7/9(w/817Tr). T5Apr10/12(w/147Tr). T6Apr13/15(w/147Tr).
55 CHI 3-21/4-9. T352-9. T305-11. T301-13. T300-12. T301-13(w/4611).
56 T22Mar28/29. T21Mar30/31. T22Apr1/2. T21Apr3/4. T22Apr5/6. T21Apr7/8. T22Apr9/10. T21Apr11/12. T22Apr13/14.

57 T22Mar30/31. T21Apr1/2. T22Apr3/4. T21Apr5/6. T22Apr7/8. T21Apr9/10(Veh strike south of CLE add BNSF8761 Ld). T22Apr12/13(w/62+44Ld - 44 set out St. Louis with one complete consist).
58 CHI 1-28/2-13. T307-13(w/4629). STL 2-13/Mar7? NR 3-7/4-7. T302-8.

59 T365-23(w/4629). CHI or STL 3-23/4-8.



Nine of this group were more or less operational in the Chicago-San Antonio corridor April 13 although #53, #58 and #59 have tended to be on light Chicago duty recently. There have been no reports on #53 since March 12. Typically one could be in St. Louis protection. Engine #57 got whacked by a vehicle on train 21 around Meridian, Texas.

Once and a while a #50's unit will fill in for Illinois commuters, St. Louis protection, or other commuter lines out of Chicago where a "state" Charger is ailing or needs help. This is the last place we have seen #53, #57, #58, and #59 recently. Unfortunately we do not necessarily get reports on all such commuter train moves.

As of April 13, exceptions to this group being in the Eagle corridor were #50 on Starlight, #51 on Crescent, and #54 on Zephyr. Due to bad weather in Louisiana and Texas, many trains were delayed, and a Crescent was cancelled. So two sets of Crescent equipment stacked up at NOL. Engine #57 suffered reported front end damage in a vehicle strike incident around Meridian, Texas on train 21-9/10. At least one day's Eagle was cancelled, and two consists moved north on the 12th, one of which was set out at St. Louis.

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Updated April 13, 2024 by 4rr.com