Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: JamesT4, metraRI

  by Milwaukee_F40C
Which locomotives, besides the F40PHM-2s and the F40Cs (and the MP36s, and the switchers), haven't been rebuilt anyway? I know some F40s have been worked on "in house" but I could see that Metra might want to either have them fully match the rest of the fleet or dump them.
  by Metra210
After reviewing the dizzying list of capital projects that Metra is considering, my guess is that the agency will first tackle those projects which require less time and money to complete before it takes on those that require more to finalize. Besides, I don't see the agency retiring any locomotives anytime soon, but if it does, the only ones I can think of that will be replaced are the F40PH-2s which were never sent to rebuild.

According to Metra, it is less expensive to buy new locomotives meeting Tier III emission standards than rebuilding the current locomotives to meet those standards. Wasn't this done during the last rebuild program? If Metra can send 49 F40PH-2s to Progress Rail for rebuild, thus giving them a life extension of at least 10 years, then how come the agency cannot send the remaining 34 to PR or another manufacturer for rebuild? And if Metra does decide to buy new locomotives, what model or manufacturer are they currently considering? EMD I hope.
  by doepack
The 35 F40PH's that weren't rebuilt are units 150-184; about 27/28 of which are assigned to the UP district. Currently, Metra is still upgrading the in-city bridges on UP/N, a project that's still 6 or 7 years away from completion, according to Metra's estimates. With that in mind, I would hope these new units, wherever they come from, can be used on all routes, and not be prohibited from some lines due to weight restrictions as was the case when the MP's came on the property.

Speaking of which, those 26 units cost about $80 million when purchased ten years ago. I don't see Metra spending that kind of money (or more) for new units especially since no significant local funding sources have been identified because the state is broke. So I'd look for them to tackle the cheaper projects on the "wish list" that can be paid with a portion of their federal funds...
  by Milwaukee_F40C
I don't remember starting this thread, so was it split off from something or were posts deleted?
  by F40CFan
If they do purchase new, I hope they take a serious look at the EMD F125. Especially after the MP36 debacle.
  by Tadman
Omigod the debacle was ten years ago! It's a long ago memory. At this point in time, the MP's are as long-lived as the F40M's were when the MP's came on line.

Internally, the locomotives are essentially the same as the rest of the fleet, given 645 engines and blomberg-like trucks. Not only that, they have static HEP inverters meaning they use less fuel (IE gets people downtown cheaper) and they actually rev up and down like a classic locomotive, and you can walk past them in the terminal without industrial grade ear protection.

Also, EVERY new fleet has teething issues. South Shore had problems with their 300's despite the fact they were exactly the same car as the Metra 1200's. NJT had issues with the PL42 and ALP45DP, LIRR certainly had issues with the DE/DM fleet, Illinois Central had plenty of issues with the original Highliners... the list goes on, problems get solved, and the rolling stock becomes part of the landscape.It's rare to have a true loser like the Metroliner EMU.
  by F40CFan
Those things are still dropping like flies. We have had more instances of mechanical failures since they dumped the BNSF MPs on the MILW/NCS. Talking to the crews, more times than not, its an MP that failed. One of the main problems I've heard is that they leak and water gets into the generator. Maybe they changed something with the later models on other railroads and that's why they don't see the same problems.
  by Tadman
You may perceive that, but I don't buy it for a minute. The evidence is stacked against that claim. First, the Chicago Trib just got done blaming Metra for the polar vortex. If there were a real problem caused by people or equipment, you can only imagine the stink they'd raise. It'd get the kind of headlines that Phil Pagano or Alex Clifford got. Instead, it gets zero. Second, the railroad industry is like swiss cheese. Everybody hears everything. It's so obvious that Helen Keller could make you a short list of troublesome engines on the US system, and the MP just isn't one of them.
  by F40CFan
I'm sorry, but I do trust the opinions of those who actually have contact with the equipment. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.
  by byte
The "issue" of failing MP36s will never be totally clear to people who don't specifically work for Metra unless Metra decides to release statistical data indicating the average availability rate of each type of unit they roster. Until then it's all rumors or speculation.

For what it's worth, when I was a regular commuter on the Rock (2009-2012) I was never directly affected by an engine failure. I think I was indirectly affected by an engine failure once or twice, but never on a train I was riding. That's a pretty low number of failures over the course of two and a half years, regardless of what type of locomotive they're running. If 47th shop can keep things running smoothly, maybe the problem is not with the engines but instead with Western Avenue / the Zephyr Pit. Shops operating beyond capacity, inadequately trained personnel, etc.
  by Milwaukee_F40C
Occasional but minor delays regularly caused by the gremlins of a specific type of equipment probably aren't likely catch the attention of the Chicago Tribune. To the general public it probably looks like generic "equipment delays" without them making the connection with the MP36. But that doesn't mean the MP36 couldn't be having more problems than F40PHs. They could also be spending more time in the shop due to problems found in service or during inspections, that don't necessarily cause delays or service problems, but nevertheless have to be fixed. I have no idea, I'm just stating possibilities.

Before F40CFan brought up the mechanical failures he heard about, I was going to say that it looked like Motive Power did a decent job with its first series introduction. As long as they fixed any problems and stick with the production process and techniques that they know are successful, they deserve consideration from Metra. If Metra buys new locomotives, I hope they pick the lowest cost offer that meets requirements, and hopefully by luck they won't be lemons. There's a lot that can go wrong. Passenger locomotives are a very small, subsidized sector of the domestic locomotive market. All the new models are being designed from scratch on limited budgets to meet new operational and design requirements that didn't exist before, and can't be adapted from freight locomotives. In the past, almost all passenger locomotives had more in common with freight locomotives.
  by F40CFan
I've been riding the Milwaukee West Line since April 1978, so I've seen the F40PHs when they were new. The F40Cs were only 5 years old at the time. There were mechanical failures, and they did decrease over time. It just seems that the MPs have had more than their fair share. That could very well be because the newer passenger locomotives are not based on tried and true freight designs.

I see that the MBTA has taken delivery of the first MPI HSP46. Since this is a totally new design based on GE prime movers and electrical equipment, it will be interesting to see how they shake out. I'm sure they will be up for consideration when Metra starts shopping.
  by dowlingm
Does Metra have any route which could use an F125 to its capabilities? As for the MP36, we in Toronto seem to have done reasonably well with the MP40, but Metrolinx went with separate HEP from day 1 there (presuming the 645 vs 710 not being material) and have opted to persist with the platform through both follow on orders and the move to Tier 4 via QSK60 re-powering. We'll have to see how the latter works out, mind...
  by Milwaukee_F40C
Train stations are about fifteen feet apart on most lines, so even if the speed limits were 125, the trains would never reach that. The max on Metra is 79 mph. They might be able to take advantage of higher acceleration capabilities from the F125 depending on how good that is. There are some lines with longer distances between stations and only a few round trips per day, and almost no freight traffic, where converting all runs to higher acceleration locomotives could tighten up the schedule. It probably wouldn't make much difference on the high traffic (freight and passenger) or high station density routes, and schedules would have to be kept the same as long as less agile locomotives are also used on the same runs. But even if the full capabilities of the F125 can't be used, it shouldn't be rejected unless this unneeded performance simply ends up being far more expensive than other perfectly adequate models.