The EMD F59PH is a four-axle 3,000 hp (2 MW) B-B diesel-electric locomotive built by General Motors Electro-Motive Division in two variants from 1988 to 2001. The original F59PH was designed in consultation with GO Transit for commuter operation in Toronto. The design was successful and became the backbone of GO Transit's fleet for two decades. Another major operator is Southern California's Metrolink, which launched with F59PHs in 1992. Production of the F59PH ended in 1994, with 73 locomotives built.

NCDOT F59PH No. 1893 and F59PHI No. 1755 leading a Piedmont.

The F59PHI was designed for Amtrak California intercity service and began production in 1994. It is distinguished from the F59PH by its streamlined cab. A total of 83 F59PHIs were built between 1994–2001, primarily for commuter operators.


Two F59PH locomotives owned by GO Transit at Oakville station. GO has since discontinued the majority of these locomotives but a handful remain in regular service. Several ex-GO units are now operated by other services.
Type and origin
Power typeDiesel-electric
BuilderElectro-Motive Division (EMD),
General Motors Diesel (GMD)
Build dateMay 1988 to May 1994
Total produced73
Gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length58 ft 2 in (17.73 m)
Prime moverEMD 12-710G3A
Engine typeV12 Diesel
Performance figures
Power output3,000 hp (2.24 MW)
LocaleCanada, United States

The F59PH was the first in the "F59" series of locomotives. Between May 1988 and May 1994, 73 locomotives were built for two commuter transit railroads: GO Transit of Toronto and Metrolink of Los Angeles.[1]

The locomotives were equipped with a turbocharged EMD 12-710G3A, a 12-cylinder, two-stroke Diesel engine (prime mover), front and rear platforms, a full-width cab with a three-piece windshield. Earlier EMD cowl-type locomotives had used a two-piece windshield, while the Canadian comfort cab used a four-piece design.[2]

Many F59PH locomotives are still in use today, mainly on commuter railroads.

Metrolink has rebuilt five locomotives with an upgraded cooling system, an upgraded 12-710G3Eco Tier 2 engine, and an E-bell, and renaming them F59PHR. Even as Metrolink purchases new locomotives, it intends to keep its upgraded F59PHR units as yard switchers in maintenance facilities.

NCDOT 1859 was also rebuilt to the same F59PHR standard in 2018.

GO Transit began retiring its F59PH locomotives in 2008 in favor of newer MPI MPXpress locomotives.[2]

Fleet details

Operator Number Year built Unit numbers Comments
Exo 10 1988-1990 1340-1349
GO Transit 8 1988–1994 557–564
  • GO Transit owned 49 locomotives (520–568), but most have been retired and replaced by new MPI MP40 locomotives.
  • Units refurbished in 2011 remain in service.
  • Remainder to be replaced by MP54AC.
Metra 3 1988 97-99
  • Three ex-AMT locomotives are painted in 2003 style similar to MP36s.
Metrolink 25 1992–1993 851–873 18520, 18522, 18533
  • 855 destroyed in the 2008 Chatsworth train collision and scrapped.
  • 3 units leased from GO Transit.
  • To be replaced by F125
Amtrak 6 1988-1990 1810, 1859, 1869, 1871, 1893, 1984
  • Owned by NCDOT and used on Piedmont service.
  • Purchased secondhand from GO Transit and rebuilt by American Motive Power.
Trinity Railway Express 7 1988–1994 525, 527, 528, 565–568
  • Purchased secondhand from GO Transit.
RB Railway Group 12 1988-1990 18520–18524, 18531, 18537–18538, 18547, 18551, 18554
  • Purchased secondhand from GO Transit.
  • Company leases units to commuter operators. Currently units 18520, 18522 & 18533 are leased to Metrolink, to replace engines out of service for installation of positive train control equipment. Some units are scheduled to be used on the proposed SEMCOG Commuter Rail.


Amtrak/NCDOT RNCX EMD F59PHI #1797, "City of Asheville", leading the Piedmont north out of Charlotte, North Carolina on February 20, 2003
Type and origin
Power typeDiesel-electric
BuilderGM Electro-Motive Division (EMD)
General Motors Diesel (GMD)
Build dateSeptember 1994 to 2001
Total produced83[1]
Gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length58 ft 7 in (17.86 m)
Prime moverEMD 12-710G3C-EC
Engine typeV12 diesel
Performance figures
Maximum speed110 mph (177 km/h)
Power output3,000 hp (2.2 MW)
Tractive effortStarting: 290 kN (65,195 lbf),
Continuous: 170 kN (38,218 lbf) @ 16 mph (25.7 km/h)
LocaleNorth America

The EMD F59PHI is a common diesel-electric locomotive on passenger trains in North America, built originally by General Motors Electro-Motive Division (EMD), now built by the successor company, Electro-Motive Diesel, which is owned by Progress Rail Services, itself a division of Caterpillar.

First built in 1994, the locomotive is a 3,200 hp (2.4 MW) B-B diesel-electric locomotive intended for service on North American mainlines.[3] This locomotive is equipped with a turbocharged EMD 12-710G3C-EC, a 12-cylinder, 2 stroke diesel engine (prime mover). The main (traction) alternator converts mechanical energy from the prime mover into electrical energy that is distributed through a high voltage cabinet to direct current traction motors. Each of the four traction motors is directly geared to a pair of driving wheels. The gear ratio of the traction motors (model D87BTR) to wheel axle determines the maximum operating speed of the locomotive; a standard F59PHI has a gear ratio of 56:21 which provides a top speed of 110 mph (180 km/h).

The F59PHI has a fully enclosed carbody which provides protected walkways for easy access to the engine room and trailing units. This arrangement allows routine maintenance while the locomotive is in service. The noteworthy aspect of this locomotive's exterior is the use of composites to present a streamlined appearance.[3]

To supply electrical power for passenger service, the F59PHI is equipped with a secondary electrical generator referred to as the Head End Power (HEP) unit. The head-end generator generates AC power at 480 V, 60 Hz AC, and can be rated between 500 and 750 kW (670 and 1,010 hp) to provide power to the passenger carriages for lighting, electric heating, and air conditioning. The head-end generator is powered by a second diesel engine dedicated to it. With this arrangement, the prime mover is not burdened by head-end power generation and consequently is used solely for supplying tractive effort.

When it debuted for Caltrans in late 1994, the F59PHI was the first locomotive in the United States which met California's stringent emission standards.[3]

Fleet details

Operator Number Year built Unit numbers Comments
Amtrak 2 1998 1755, 1797 Owned by NCDOT and used on the Piedmont
15 1994 2001-2009 Owned by Caltrans and used on the San Joaquin and Capitol Corridor
2001 2010-2015
Exo 11 1995 1320-1330 Used on Vaudreuil–Hudson, Saint-Jérôme, and Candiac lines
Metra 21 1998[4] 73-93 Ex-Amtrak units 450–470, the first of these units were delivered to Metra in late October 2018.[4]
Metrolink 14 1994-1995, 2001 874-887
North County Transit District (Coaster) 2 2001 3001-3002
Sound Transit (Sounder Commuter Rail) 11 1998-2001 901-911 All locomotives rebuilt with engines that meet the Tier 3 EPA standard to reduce emissions and provide fuel savings.[5]
Trinity Railway Express 2 2001 569-570
West Coast Express 5 1994-1995 901-905

See also


  1. McDonnell 2015, p. 208
  2. Solomon 2011, p. 159
  3. "F59PHI debuts in California". Railway Age   via HighBeam Research (subscription required) . December 1, 1994. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved 2012-12-27.
  4. "Metra moves to buy newer engines" (Press release). Metra. February 21, 2018.
  5. "MOTION NO. M2016-123 Sounder Locomotive Overhaul Contract Amendment" (PDF). Sound Transit. December 15, 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 26, 2017. Retrieved February 25, 2017.


  • McDonnell, Greg (2015). Locomotives: The Modern Diesel and Electric Reference (2nd ed.). Richmond Hill, Ontario: Boston Mills Press. ISBN 978-1-77085-609-7.
  • Solomon, Brian (2011). Modern Diesel Power. Minneapolis, MN: Voyageur Press. ISBN 978-0-76-033943-5.

Further reading

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