General Motors Electro-Motive Division F59PH series

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GO Transit 557-b.jpeg
General Motors Electro-Motive Division - F59PH
Years of manufacture 1988-1994 (Original F59)

1994-2001 (F59PHI)

Length 58 feet, 2 inches
Width 10 feet, 3.5 inches
Power/Fuel Diesel
National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) 467-a.jpg

The General Motors Electro-Motive Division F59PH series locomotives are a series of four-axle passenger diesel locomotives built as part of the EMD Dash-3 line. The original F59PH was designed at the behest of GO Transit, while the F59PHI was designed for the California Department of Transportation (Amtrak California). The units are essentially cowl-bodied EMD GP59 units.


In 1985 GO Transit of Ontario, Canada was looking for a new locomotive to increase its fleet, improve reliability and replace the oldest locomotives, which then were approaching 20 years of age.

They approached EMD who proposed a solution: modifying their GP59 design by adding a HEP engine and generator, a full-cowl body, a modified "Safety cab", and a higher-speed (but not "high speed) gearing, and thus the F59PH was born.

The F59 was produced from 1988 to 1994, with GO Transit taking the majority of the 72 built.

The breakdown of the name is as follows: Full cowl, 59-series, Passenger, Head-end power-equipped.

While similar in appearance at first glance to the F40PH, it is quite a different animal. While it has the same amount of horsepower (3000hp), it comes from an entirely different powerplant (12V-710G3A) and an entirely different mode of operation. Because of the separate HEP system, the engine is allowed to rev up and down in response to changes in the throttle setting by the engineer. It also features a front walkway (for easy access to the cab), large equipment doors on the carbody to allow for easy access to the machinery, and a lower gearing to help with the acceleration of the 10-car trains that GO so often runs.

A couple of years afterwards, the Southern Califonia Regional Rail Authority was starting up its Metrolink commuter rail service in the Los Angeles area, and needed some motive power. They approached EMD, and placed an order for 17 units, which was later upped to 23.

Virtually all F59PH's are still in use today. The railroads that own and operate F59PH locomotives are:

  • GO Transit, Toronto, Ontario - 8 (49 purchased)
  • Metra, Chicago, Illinois - 3 (ex-GO)
  • Metrolink, Los Angeles, California - 3 (23 purchased)
  • North Carolina Department of Transportation - 4 (ex-GO)
  • Trinity Railway Express, Dallas, Texas-Fort Worth, Texas - 4 (ex-GO)


In 1990, the State of California approved a bill that would result in massive new funding for the state's transportation department, Caltrans. One of the results of this was a network of State-funded Amtrak services, with equipment purchased by the State.

At this point the only passenger unit marketed by EMD was the F59PH: reliable, but in Caltrans' eyes a little bland. They approached EMD about offering a more streamlined unit to pull their trains, and EMD responded with the fibreglass-and-composite covered F59PHI.

The differences between the F59PH and F59PHI (Isolated cab) are only skin-deep: Other than a nominal increase in horsepower (3200hp from a 12V-710G3C engine) and the addition of the isolated cab to reduce noise and vibration on the crew, the differences are almost exclusively in the composite body panels used to shape the unit on the roofline, nose and along the fuel tanks.

More gearing options have been offered as well: the standard gear ratio is 79:22, which allows for a top speed of 110mph.

At the end of 2001, the F59PHI was quietly dropped by EMD from their product lineup. It wasn't able to meet the Tier 1 emissions regulations put into place on January 1, 2002 as well as not being able to meet the FRA's latest crashworthiness regulations (CFR229.207) of the same day. EMD has since been involved with the development and construction of Alstom's PL42AC's for NJ Transit and MPI's MP40PH-3C's for GO Transit, and has recently announced the development of the F125 high-speed locomotive.

Examples of the F59PHI are currently operated by these companies: