Why two locomotives on Amtrak derailment?

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Why two locomotives on Amtrak derailment?
Posted by Tdub on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 6:55 AM

I have just recently become a railfan over the last couple of years and have always wondered why some passenger trains have two locomotives. Now I see the the train involved in the Washington state derailment had a locomotive on the rear. Why is that? Was it pushing? Was it there for an easy turnaround at their destination? Additional speed? Any input will be appreciated. Thanks.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 10:06 AM

A lot of the short-haul trains out of Chicago, especially to Milwaukee and Detroit, have a similar arrangement.  It facilitates a quicker turnaround at the other end of the run.  Locomotives are usually only used when a cab car is not available.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by CShaveRR on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 10:41 AM

Locomotves on both ends will be found on most, if not all, of the trains that operate at 110 m.p.h.  Apparently one unit and a cab car can't make it work.  I was under the impression that the Milwaukee trains were using Cabbages at one end.

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Posted by NorthWest on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 10:46 AM

The leading locomotive was an SC44 Charger, which have been in service for only about a month. They are doubled up with the locomotives that they are set to replace in order to break them in and recover if any issues arise.

Cascades are normally operated with a cab car and only one locomotive.

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Posted by VOLKER LANDWEHR on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 10:50 AM

Here is a photo of a typical Cascade Train: http://media.oregonlive.com/commuting/photo/130626-mt-bachelor---eugene-or-5jpg-cc6c4dfa7ba980c3.jpg

I think it is possible that the second locomotive is kind of a protection in case the relatively new Siemens SC44 failes.

The trains had one P42 before.
Regards, Volker

Edit: NorthWest was faster

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Posted by richg1998 on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 11:52 AM

No turntables anymore.

Some commuter rails have a car on the end with driver control for reversing the run.

Rich

 

N

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 12:09 PM

richg1998

No turntables anymore.

Some commuter rails have a car on the end with driver control for reversing the run.

Rich

Most diesel-powered suburban operations are push-pulls.  It's a lot cheaper than having to turn the locomotive and move it to the other end of the consist.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by Tdub on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 3:51 PM
Thanks for the info. So the rear locomotive is just being "dragged" so to speak in this situation? Thanks again.
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Posted by Tdub on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 3:54 PM

Thanks to all for the replies. So let me get this right. If a cab car is in use, the locomotive is pushing it but the engineer is operating the train from the cab car?

Lab
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Posted by Lab on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 7:41 PM

When I rode the wolverine from Jackson mi to Chicago and return a few months ago there only the engine pulling the train. No engine or cab car on the Rear. When boarding in Chicago we walked past the engine which had pulled the train into the depot. The rest of the train was seperate by about one car length with a different engine at the other end to pull us out.

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Posted by LithoniaOperator on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 8:32 PM
Looks can be deceiving. I am a retired commercial photographer, and I used to do a lot of work for the Downeaster here in Maine. The Downeaster appears to have an engine on each end, but in reality there is only one engine, and it is always on the north end. It is a typical modern AMTK loco; I believe it's a GE P42DC. On the south end is what the crew guys here call a cab-bag. It is a former EMD F40, but it has no engine inside. Where the engine used to be is now for baggage. The cab is functional, though, and can control the P42DC on the opposite end of the train. When going south the engineer is in the cab-bag, and the train is in push mode. I've wondered if this is one of the longest regular push operations in the country. (I have no idea.) I've taken photos of trains my whole life. Early on in my time shooting for NNEPRA (who manage the Downeaster, which is operated under contract by Amtrak), I was standing at a very scenic location in New Hampshire waiting for the southbound train to come. It appeared, and I started shooting, with a 300mm f2/8 lens. I love the compressed perspective with long lenses. Suddenly I noticed something odd: there was no exhaust, no heat, no anything coming out of the top of the "F40." I was experienced enough to concentrate and get my shots, THEN ponder this. Quite the aha moment!
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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 10:57 PM

Lab
When I rode the wolverine from Jackson mi to Chicago and return a few months ago there only the engine pulling the train. No engine or cab car on the Rear. When boarding in Chicago we walked past the engine which had pulled the train into the depot. The rest of the train was seperate by about one car length with a different engine at the other end to pull us out.

Suspect Chicago is a service point for the Michigan service and leaving a engine in Chicago may be the normal service routine.  Inbound with a locomotive for servicing and outbound with freshly serviced power.

         

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Thursday, December 21, 2017 6:47 AM

Tdub

I have just recently become a railfan over the last couple of years and have always wondered why some passenger trains have two locomotives. Now I see the the train involved in the Washington state derailment had a locomotive on the rear. Why is that? Was it pushing? Was it there for an easy turnaround at their destination? Additional speed? Any input will be appreciated. Thanks.

 

The rear locomotive was idling. The lead locomotive was doing all of the work. The rear unit would be the lead unit on the return trip.

 

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Posted by Tdub on Thursday, December 21, 2017 9:32 AM

Thanks Broadway Lion and everyone else on this forum. Thank You!

Lab
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Posted by Lab on Thursday, December 21, 2017 9:42 AM

BaltACD

 

 
Lab
When I rode the wolverine from Jackson mi to Chicago and return a few months ago there only the engine pulling the train. No engine or cab car on the Rear. When boarding in Chicago we walked past the engine which had pulled the train into the depot. The rest of the train was seperate by about one car length with a different engine at the other end to pull us out.

 

Suspect Chicago is a service point for the Michigan service and leaving a engine in Chicago may be the normal service routine.  Inbound with a locomotive for servicing and outbound with freshly serviced power.

 

In the past the Wolverine had 2 engines 1 on each end. Later they ran an engine on one end and a cab car on the other, pulling in one direction, pulling in the other. Now they swap engines at both ends of the run, but do not turn the cars.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, December 21, 2017 6:21 PM

Lab

 

 
BaltACD

 

 
Lab
When I rode the wolverine from Jackson mi to Chicago and return a few months ago there only the engine pulling the train. No engine or cab car on the Rear. When boarding in Chicago we walked past the engine which had pulled the train into the depot. The rest of the train was seperate by about one car length with a different engine at the other end to pull us out.

 

Suspect Chicago is a service point for the Michigan service and leaving a engine in Chicago may be the normal service routine.  Inbound with a locomotive for servicing and outbound with freshly serviced power.

 

 

 

In the past the Wolverine had 2 engines 1 on each end. Later they ran an engine on one end and a cab car on the other, pulling in one direction, pulling in the other. Now they swap engines at both ends of the run, but do not turn the cars.

 

I wonder if the fact that the Wolverine corridor has some 110 mph running, if they prefer to have an engine at the front.

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Posted by LithoniaOperator on Saturday, December 23, 2017 10:49 AM

Tdub
Thanks to all for the replies. So let me get this right. If a cab car is in use, the locomotive is pushing it but the engineer is operating the train from the cab car?

Correct.

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Saturday, December 23, 2017 11:18 AM
Anyone know why it was a P42 and not an F59PHI as have traditionally been used in the service? Also, this is a broader Amtrak question. At least Amtrak California, I've noticed that on a line using protection equipment (such as Horizon/Amfleet coaches on the Pacific Surfliner) the power is almost always P42s not the typical F59PHis used with the regular sets. Anyone know why P42s pull this detail when 2 locos are needed for push pull? Is it just a matter of not having sufficient F59s?
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Posted by NorthWest on Saturday, December 23, 2017 11:41 AM

The Cascades F59PHIs are ailing as the bare minimum of maintenance has been done in the last couple years. 467 is out with wreck damage after the summer derailment at Bridge 114, 466 is out with minor damage after hitting a tree, 468 and 469 are in service, 470 was in service but I haven't seen it in about a month, 465 was out of service for months but now is back. P42s have been filling the gaps.

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Posted by erikem on Saturday, December 23, 2017 11:45 AM

MidlandMike

I wonder if the fact that the Wolverine corridor has some 110 mph running, if they prefer to have an engine at the front.

I would assume that they would at least use a cabbage "car". A second engine would be useful as opposed to dead weight that would help get the trains up to 110MPH.

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Posted by PJS1 on Saturday, December 23, 2017 5:25 PM
The Heartland Flyer usually has a P42 on the south end of the train and a cabbage unit on the north end of the train.  If the cabbage unit is out of service for maintenance, the train has a P42 on the south end and a locomotive on the north end.  According to what one of the Fort Worth based conductors told me, only one of the units is powered-up even though the train has two locomotives.  The Flyer has locomotives or fake locomotives at both ends of the train because of the cost and logistics of turning the train in Fort Worth and Oklahoma City.  The push-pull operation produces a better outcome. 

I rode the Cascades a couple of years ago.  The train was not turned in Portland or Seattle, which I suspect is the reason for having a locomotive at both ends of the train. 

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Sunday, December 24, 2017 12:00 AM

NorthWest

The Cascades F59PHIs are ailing as the bare minimum of maintenance has been done in the last couple years. 467 is out with wreck damage after the summer derailment at Bridge 114, 466 is out with minor damage after hitting a tree, 468 and 469 are in service, 470 was in service but I haven't seen it in about a month, 465 was out of service for months but now is back. P42s have been filling the gaps.

 

 

Makes sense, does anyone know, is this a full replacement of the fleet? the F59s could, presumably go through the same upgrade the Amtrak California units went through if the desire was to keep them.

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Posted by NorthWest on Sunday, December 24, 2017 12:06 PM

It's a full replacement, 8 (now seven for a while) SC44s for 6 F59PHIs. I'll be sad to see them go, but they've let them become pretty beaten down.

(Though 465 came back with retouched paint a couple months ago, so...?)

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Sunday, December 24, 2017 4:24 PM

MidlandMike
I wonder if the fact that the Wolverine corridor has some 110 mph running, if they prefer to have an engine at the front.

It was my understanding that the P42's while able to run at 100 mph took to long to accelerate to get up to 110 so they were using two to have the HP to accelerate guickly to 110. The Siemans chargers are expected to do it solo. So they may go back to a Cabbage on one end with the Siemans on the other. Amtrak uses cab cars (former PRR Budd built metroliner cars) on the Keystones (Harrisburg PA) trains and in California on the SanDiego-LA-Santa Barbara route. Grade Crossing accidents are better survived in a locomotive or Cabbage than in a cab car. On my last  trip on a San Diego-LA train with a cab car (Alstrom Surfliner) leading had the front of the car roped off, and I requested the engineer whether I could forward to look out the front and she told me NO so I stayed behind the rope. LA's Metrolink has had issues with their Hundai-Rotem cab cars. In February 2015, a Metrolink commuter train collided with a utility truck on a grade crossing in Oxnard, Calif.  The pilot assembly detached from the cab car it derailed. The incident killed the engineer and injured more than 30 passengers. Not sure what statistics are for Metra's cab cars but I don't remember many crew fatalities in vehicle-train collisions. 

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Posted by MidlandMike on Sunday, December 24, 2017 8:02 PM

Electroliner 1935

 

 
MidlandMike
I wonder if the fact that the Wolverine corridor has some 110 mph running, if they prefer to have an engine at the front.

 

It was my understanding that the P42's while able to run at 100 mph took to long to accelerate to get up to 110 so they were using two to have the HP to accelerate guickly to 110. The Siemans chargers are expected to do it solo. So they may go back to a Cabbage on one end with the Siemans on the other. Amtrak uses cab cars (former PRR Budd built metroliner cars) on the Keystones (Harrisburg PA) trains and in California on the SanDiego-LA-Santa Barbara route. Grade Crossing accidents are better survived in a locomotive or Cabbage than in a cab car. On my last  trip on a San Diego-LA train with a cab car (Alstrom Surfliner) leading had the front of the car roped off, and I requested the engineer whether I could forward to look out the front and she told me NO so I stayed behind the rope. LA's Metrolink has had issues with their Hundai-Rotem cab cars. In February 2015, a Metrolink commuter train collided with a utility truck on a grade crossing in Oxnard, Calif.  The pilot assembly detached from the cab car it derailed. The incident killed the engineer and injured more than 30 passengers. Not sure what statistics are for Metra's cab cars but I don't remember many crew fatalities in vehicle-train collisions. 

 

In my original post I was responding to some one who said that the Wolverines were runniig with one engine at the front and no other engine or cabbage.

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Monday, December 25, 2017 1:19 AM

NorthWest

It's a full replacement, 8 (now seven for a while) SC44s for 6 F59PHIs. I'll be sad to see them go, but they've let them become pretty beaten down.

(Though 465 came back with retouched paint a couple months ago, so...?)

 

 

The follow on question then is if someone else will be picking them up. Metrolink? given there slow implementation of the F125. They are prime candidates for repower I would think.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, December 25, 2017 9:03 AM

YoHo1975
They are prime candidates for repower I would think.

Is there an "ECO-like" Tier 4 repower package that could fit in even a kludged F59 carbody?  I sincerely doubt the old Tier 2 repower will fly as replacement for Tier 4 final units, even if California government tries to cut itself a break; would there be some way to get the Tier 3+ setup in there -- and is there much point in using expensively-modified 3150hp locomotives to do the job much more powerful ones were expected to do?

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Posted by NorthWest on Monday, December 25, 2017 11:57 AM

My guess would be Metra, but as all the Amtrak California, Surfliner-painted and Metrolink F59s are coming into the market in (at least for the first two) better shape, they might be parts sources pending scrapping. I hope at least one gets preserved as the locomotives that built the Cascades franchise, but we will see. A bunch of the worst former GO F59s didn't do particularly well in the after market.

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Monday, December 25, 2017 10:38 PM

Overmod

 

 
YoHo1975
They are prime candidates for repower I would think.

 

Is there an "ECO-like" Tier 4 repower package that could fit in even a kludged F59 carbody?  I sincerely doubt the old Tier 2 repower will fly as replacement for Tier 4 final units, even if California government tries to cut itself a break; would there be some way to get the Tier 3+ setup in there -- and is there much point in using expensively-modified 3150hp locomotives to do the job much more powerful ones were expected to do?

 

 

I didn't think it needed to be Tier 4. Why would it be any different from the other repowers? Amtrak California already has repowered F59s, so it's a known quantity. Of course California may prefer the entire fleet to be Tier 4. Coaster and Metrolink use the model. ACE and CalTrain have older models as do Coaster and Metrolink. With the issues Metrolink is having with the F125, There may be interest on the west coast. If not, Commuter ops in Utah and New Mexico along with many others to the east could see value in rebuilt units. As others have said, I will miss them and their brown and green paint scheme.  

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Posted by VOLKER LANDWEHR on Tuesday, December 26, 2017 9:18 AM

YoHo1975
I didn't think it needed to be Tier 4. Why would it be any different from the other repowers? Amtrak California already has repowered F59s, so it's a known quantity.

EPA distinguishes between freshly manufactured (new or rebuilt with less 25% worth of used parts), refurbished (25-50% worth of new parts), and remanufactured. There are too many additional requirements to name here.

Depending on the grade of rebuilt the emission limits are different.

Since 2015 freshly manufactured and refurbished line-haul locomotive must be Tier 4 compliant.

For remanufactured line-haul locomotive all depends on year of original manufacture. A remanufactured F59PHI needs to be Tier 1+ compliant.

So all depends on the scope of the rebuilding program. But quite likely it will fall into the refurbished category needing Tier 4 compliance.
Regards, Volker

Edit: Definition of remanufactured deleted and posted in my first post on the next side

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