F40PH-3s riding Metra rails

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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The first of 41 Metra F40PH locomotives rebuilt under a $91 million remanufacturing contract has returned to service. Now designated as F40PH-3s, these units, features the railroad’s new paint scheme previously applied to F59PHs.

Metra awarded Progress Rail Services Corp. the contract in 2015 to rebuild 41 EMD F40PH-2 and F40PHM-2 locomotives manufactured between 1989 and 1992. The work, being done at Progress Rail’s Patterson, Ga., facility, is expected to extend the life of the locomotives by 10 to 13 years and is a major part of a broader modernization plan to rebuild and replace nearly all the rolling stock that operates on Metra’s non-electrified lines.

The rebuilt locomotives feature a new high-voltage cabinet with a microprocessor control system, remanufactured engines upgraded to U.S. EPA Tier 0+ emissions standards, new and reconditioned accessories, carbody corrosion repair and new paint, rebuilt electrical rotating equipment, rebuilt trucks with new wheels and Positive Train Control (PTC) components. Metra has assigned no. 175, the first F40PH-3, to its lines operated by Union Pacific.

Locomotive 175 also features Metra’s new paint scheme, previously applied to F59PHs Nos. 97-99. Metra Engineer Kyle Nanfeldt designed the paint scheme, an adaptation of the colors applied to Metra’s MPI-built MP36PH locomotives. Metra plans to use a version of it on all future rebuilds and locomotive acquisitions.

Metra says rolling stock modernization is one of its highest capital priorities due to the age of its fleet and “the fact that the condition of cars and locomotives is so essential to providing high-quality, reliable and comfortable service. Fifty percent of Metra’s rolling stock is in marginal or worn condition, with 18% of railcars dating from the 1950s to the 1960s. By the end of 2016 we will have renovated about 70 cars in-house. We also will have modernized about a dozen locomotives, some in-house and some by a vendor. The agency’s in-house railcar rehabilitation program is the largest and most productive of any railroad nationwide.”

Metra has begun design of a $20 million expansion of its main railcar rehabilitation facility at 49th Street and the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago. Renovation of this facility, which was built in 1947, will enable Metra to increase throughput of rehabilitated cars by 33%. Construction work to update that facility is expected to begin in late 2017.

The F40PH-3s and F59PHs “represent our commitment to use our limited capital resources to rebuild our fleet of railcars and locomotives, which remain the oldest of any of our peer railroads,” said Metra Executive Director and CEO Don Orseno. “Our customers deserve a reliable fleet, and this program, which restores locomotives to nearly new condition, is an essential part of our agency’s modernization plan.”

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