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GE "Genesis" Series

Published: November 26, 2023

By: Adam Burns

The Genesis was a series of passenger diesel locomotives produced by GE Transportation Systems, a subsidiary of General Electric, produced between 1992-2001.

Introduced in 1992, these locomotives were built for Amtrak and Metro-North in the United States, as well as VIA Rail in Canada.

They are known for their distinctive streamlined design and are more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly than their predecessors. The Genesis series includes several models including the P40DC, P42DC, and dual mode P32AC-DM.

Outwardly, all variants appear nearly identical with a sharp angular nose and smooth, streamlined carbody.  While most of the 321 units produced still remain in service today, some of the earlier P40DCs have either been sold, modified, or scrapped.

It appears the Genesis locomotives, which have become a common sight leading Amtrak trains for 30 years, will eventually be phased out of service in the coming years as the carrier continues to acquire new ALC-42 "Chargers" from Siemens.

Photos

13o2591278175290612970-38099.jpgAmtrak P42DC #32 has the "Auto Train" at Sanford, Florida on March 5, 1997. Warren Calloway photo.

P40DC

By the 1990s, General Electric was the preeminent locomotive manufacturer in North America.  Its 'Dash 8' and 'Dash 9' freight line, as well as its popular AC variant, were selling thousands during this time and it's no surprise GE was also tapped by Amtrak when it came time to replace its aging F40PHs.

In his book, "Locomotives: The Modern Diesel & Electric Referenece, Second Edition," author Greg McDonnell notes GE was awarded a contract in 1991 to supply Amtrak with 52 new locomotives.  The first 20 were the Dash 8-32BWH's which carried a very similar appearance to the builder's freight line.

The remaining 32, however, looked entirely different.  The Genesis series represented a significant evolution in American railroad technology. Amtrak required the new model, designated Dash 8-40BP (or P40DC), to boast 4,000 horsepower, be HEP equipped (and while idling at stations) and dual-mode capable.

The P40DC, designed in conjunction with GE's German subsidiary, Krupp Verkehrstechnik GmbH, featured a monocoque carbody and bolsterless trucks sporting hydraulic shocks and Flexicoil suspension.

The locomotive featured GE's trusted FDL16 prime mover along with an 800 kilowatt, 480VAC three-phase 60-cycle GTA33A1 HEP alternator.  Other modernities for that time included microprocessor controls, Integrated Function Control, and MicroSentry wheel-slip control.

The carbody was designed by Cesar Vergara, Amtrak's manager of car design.  The full-length carbody was different from anything previously seen in American railroading and almost carried a European look with the heavily slanted nose.

The first production P40DC, #800, was unveiled on December 2, 1992. It entered revenue service on March 9, 1993, showcasing its advanced features to the public.  Ultimatey, Amtrak wound up with 44 P40DCs numbered 800-843.

P42DC

Following the successful introduction of the P40DC, GE unveiled the P42DC - the next production model in the Genesis series in 1996.  It carried the same carbody but featured greater horsepower (4200) and improvements to overall electronics and microprocessor controls.

It was first displayed on February 7, 1996 and began its revenue service on August 20, 1996. It became a critical part of Amtrak's fleet with Amtrak eventually rostering a total of 207 units when production ended in the fall of 2001, numbered 1-207.

Interestingly, Canadian carrier VIA Rail came in late and purchased a small fleet of these locomotives.  Delivered between October-December, 2001 these twenty-one units were numbered 900-920.

P32AC-DM

The P32AC-DM was the final model in this compelling series, and a demonstration of progress for diesel-electric technology. This model was specifically designed for both diesel and electric modes to operate into and out of New York's Grand Central Terminal and Pennsylvania Station. 

Once again, this locomotive appeared nearly identical outwardly to the P40DC and P42DC.  Aside from its dual mode capabilities the model featured a 12-cylinder FDL engine that could produce 3,200 horsepower sporting AC propulsion while electric mode provided 2,700 horsepower.  The P32AC-DM was unveiled on April 10, 1995 and entered revenue service on January 2, 1996.

Aside from Amtrak's eighteen examples, Metro-North purchased thirty-one units numbered 201–231. All Genesis series locomotives were engineered and assembled in the United States at GE Transportation's manufacturing facility in Erie, Pennsylvania.

This facility was long-established as GE's main manufacturing plant for locomotives, contributing to job creation and economic impact in the local area.

981236152351361274889152157826.jpgAmtrak P42DC #42 is seen here on display at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer wearing a special livery honoring veterans on May 30, 2014. Warren Calloway photo.

The production timeline for the Genesis series is as follows: P40DCs were produced in 1993, P42DCs were manufactured from 1996 to 2001, and P32AC-DMs were in production from 1995 to 2001.

A total of 43 P40DC locomotives were produced for Amtrak, while 207 P42DC locomotives were also purchased by the same operator.  In addition, VIA Rail acquired the 21 units previously mentioned.  Finally, Amtrak picked up 18 P32AC-DMs and Metro-North another 31.

Amtrak's fleet of Genesis series are easily identified by their road numbers. The P40DC units are numbered from 800 to 843, while P42DC units are numbered from 1 to 207. The P32AC-DM models have road numbers from 700 to 717.

Total procurement costs for these locomotives have not been fully disclosed due to proprietary reasons. However, public information indicates these diesel-electric locomotives' estimated cost is between $2 and $5 million per unit, varying by model and specifications.

Data Sheet and Specifications

Entered Production3/1993 (Burlington Northern/GE #7400-7402)
Years Produced3/1993 - 12/2001
GE ClassP40DC, P42DC, P32AC-DM
Engine (P40DC, P42DC)7FDL16 (16 cylinder)
Engine (P32AC-DM)7FDL12 (12 cylinder)
Engine BuilderGeneral Electric
Horsepower (P32AC-DM)3200
Horsepower (P40DC)4000
Horsepower (P42DC)4200
RPM1050
RPM (HEP Mode)600-900
Length69' 0"
Height (Top Of Rail To Top Of Cab)14' 4"
Width10' 0"
Weight (P40DC)263,000 Lbs
Weight (P32AC-DM)275,000 Lbs
Weight (P42DC)269,000 Lbs
Fuel Capacity2,200 Gallons
Air Brake Schedule26L (Westinghouse)
TrucksB-B
Truck TypeBolsterless (Krupp Verkehrstechnik GmbH)
Truck Wheelbase9' 0"
Wheel Size40"
Traction Motors (P40DC, P42DC)752AH (4), GE
Traction Motors (P32AC-DM)GEB15 (4), GE
Traction AlternatorGMG195, GE
HEP AlternatorGTA33, GE
MU (Multiple-Unit)Yes
Dynamic BrakesYes
Gear Ratio83:20
Tractive Effort/Starting (P40DC, P42DC)63,000 Lbs
Tractive Effort/Continuous (P40DC, P42DC)38,000 Lbs at 38 mph
Tractive Effort/Starting (P32AC-DM)62,000 Lbs
Tractive Effort/Continuous (P32AC-DM)25,500 Lbs at 64 mph
Top Speed110 mph

Production Roster

P40DC

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date
Amtrak 800-843 47268-47311 1427 3/1993-4/1993

P42DC

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date
Amtrak 1-30 49320-49349 1430 8/1996-11/1996
Amtrak 31-98 49569-49636 1430 12/1996-6/1997
Amtrak 99-120 49951-49972 1431 6/1997-9/1997
Amtrak 121, 122 52585, 52586 1435 8/2000
Amtrak 123-147 52803-52827 1435 10/2000-2/2001
Amtrak 148-160 52844-52856 1435 2/2001-4/2001
Amtrak 161-207 53017-53063 1435 4/2001-10/2001
VIA Rail 900-920 53216-53236 1437 10/2001-12/2001

P32AC-DM

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date
Amtrak 700-709 47920-47929 1428 4/1995-7/1995
Amtrak 710-717 50190-50197 1433 1/1998-3/1998
Metro-North Railroad 201-205 48676-48680 1429 7/1995-8/1995
Metro-North Railroad 206-212 50287-50293 1432 11/1997-3/1998
Metro-North Railroad 213-218 50570-50575 1433 4/1998-5/1998
Metro-North Railroad 219-231 52828-52840 1436 5/2001-8/2001

091247231461325278592963892087.jpgAmtrak P42DCs #63 and #165 have the eastbound "Capitol Limited" operating over CSX at Dawson, Pennsylvania on May 30, 2006. Wade Massie photo.

Each GE Genesis locomotive model has its unique technical specifications. For instance, the P40DC is 69' 0" long, 14' 4" tall, 10' 0" wide, weighs approximately 263,000 lbs, and has a maximum speed of 110 mph.

Similarly, P42DC's available data includes it being 69' 0" long, 14' 4" tall, 10' 0" wide, weighing around 275,000 lbs, and achieving a maximum speed of 110 mph. The P32AC-DM measures 69' 0" in length, stands 14' 4" in height, spans 10' 0" in width, weighs roughly 269,000 lbs, and can reach up to 110 mph in standard mode and 60 mph in full electric.

Amtrak's entire fleet of P40DCs have either been sold, rebuilt, or scrapped.  Three units were destroyed in wrecks; #819 in the 1993 Big Bayou Canot wreck and #870 and #829 in the 1999 Bourbonnais, Illinois crash.  In 2005, Connecticut DOT acquired eight for Shore Line East service (#833, #834, #836, #838, #840-843) while four others were rebuilt and sold to New Jersey Transit in 2007 (#808, #810, #812, #820).

The remaining 29 units were retired although 15 were rebuilt following funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The first examples were completed in March, 2010 at the Beech Grove Shops.  All 15 units have been upgraded to P42DC specifications with 4,250 horsepower.

Sources

  • Foster, Gerald. A Field Guide To Trains. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1996.
  • Marre, Louis A. and Pinkepank, Jerry A. Contemporary Diesel Spotter's Guide, The: A Comprehensive Reference Manual To Locomotives Since 1972.  Milwaukee: Kalmbach Publishing Company, 1989.
  • McDonnell, Greg. Locomotives: The Modern Diesel & Electric Reference, 2nd Edition. Buffalo: Boston Mills Press/Firefly Books, 2015.
  • Solomon, Brian. American Diesel Locomotive, The. Osceola: MBI Publishing, 2000.
  • Solomon, Brian.  GE and EMD Locomotives:  The Illustrated History.  Minneapolis:  Voyageur Press, 2014.
  • Solomon, Brian. GE Locomotives: 110 Years Of General Electric Motive Power. St. Paul: MBI Publishing, 2003.

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