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GO's MPI Series (MP40PH-3C and MP54AC) Locomotives (2007- )


GO MP40PH-3C unit in service on the Lakeshore GO line.

Text by Edward Brain
revised by James Bow

A New Generation

In the years since its inception, GO Transit, like a number of other agencies across North America, relied on slightly modified freight locomotives to haul its trains. Even in 1967, the age of the streamlined “E” and “F” units were over, and the economics of locomotive manufacturing meant that it was easier to modify a freight locomotive than custom-build a passenger-only design. Although, in the 1980s and the 1990s, some passenger locomotives used body-wide cab noses, the aesthetic of the day was primarily boxy.

In 2005, GO Transit decided to step away from the boxy aesthetic of the F59PH. They contracted with MotivePower Industries Corporation of Boise, Idaho (a subsidiary of Wabtec) to build 27 new, class MP40PH-3C locomotives in order expand its fleet and to begin replacing its fleet of F59PH locomotives which were nearing 20 years of age. The model they selected had been successfully tested by Chicago’s Metra commuter rail service and in Boston.

The MP40PH-3C boasted a streamlined design with a curved nose and swept-back windows, and a full-body cab. It was a remarkable development from the F59PH and gave the GO Train a sleek new look, which GO’s paint scheme enhanced. The first order was for 27 locomotives (numbered 600-626). GO asked for a 4000 horsepower locomotive capable of speeds up to 93 mph. They needed the extra power to haul 12 car trains, which were becoming the norm on the system. The previous F59PHs, which only had 3000 horsepower, were slower and could only pull 10 car trains.

The MP40PH-3C was powered by a 16-cylinder 4000 horsepower EMD 710G3B-EFI-T2 engine with an additional 1000 horsepower Caterpillar C27-ACERT generator to provide head end power (HEP0). This made the model the first GO locomotives to be able to supply power to a 12 car train all by themselves. The locomotives 1,850 US gallon fuel tanks ensured things kept moving throughout the day. The engine design also meant that the MP40PH-3C was more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly than GO’s other locomotives.

Arrival and Breaking In

The first MP40PH-3Cs began arriving in late 2007, and were broken in with the assistance of an F59PH on a train before they were let loose on their own. Deliveries continued through 2008 and into the beginning of 2009. The first line to receive these locomotives in revenue service were the Lakeshore East and West lines followed by the Milton line; these lines already had most of their platforms lengthened to accommodate 12 car trains.

The MP40PH-3C locomotives proved to be powerful and reliable. The GO Transit board were so impressed with the locomotives that, at their July 2008 meeting they agreed to place an order for an additional 20 locomotives (to be numbered from 627 to 646). These vehicles were functionally the same as the first 26, although later units were given a different type of bell, resulting in a slightly different sound. Deliveries of the new locomotives began in late 2009 and continued into 2010. The GO board then exercised their option for an additional ten locomotives (numbered 647-656) which were delivered in 2010.

Further Developments

The introduction of the MP40PH-3C locomotives allowed GO to start retiring its older F59PH locomotives. In the beginning of 2009, eight F59PHs (in the 520-535 series) were retired, with seven offered for sale to other systems. Further retirements were halted as GO found it needed additional equipment to cover increases to its rail service. GO then exercised an option to purchase another ten MP40PH-3C locomotives (numbered 657-666) which were delivered in 2013-4, the last five delivered in Metrolinx’s new two-tone green livery.

Meanwhile, Motive Power Industries continued to improve their locomotive design. To meet increasing air-quality standards, they launched the MP54AC series locomotive. While physically similar to the MP40s, the MP54s provide up to 5,400 horsepower using two Cummings QSK 60 Tier-4 compliant engines. Motive Power Industries calls this vehicle “the most powerful diesel passenger locomotive in North America”. Of the 5,400 horsepower, 4,000 is routed to the pulling effort, while the remaining 1,400 horsepower provides electricity for the rest of the train’s lighting and other systems.

GO Transit turned out to be the first customer to use the MP54AC engine. Motive Power Industries worked with Metrolinx to convert GO’s MP40PH-3C locomotive #647 into an MP54AC, removing the old prime mover and head-end power motor and replacing them with the twin Cummins engines. Additional modifications were made to the body to allow for greater air intake and exhaust. The prototype was delivered to GO Transit in late 2015 and was out for testing on December 12, 2015.

Initially, the deal was for MPI to convert ten of GO’s MP40PH-3Cs into MP54ACs, if the prototype conversion was successful. However, increasing service demands led Metrolinx to order sixteen brand new MP54AC locomotives instead, keeping the remaining MP40PH-3Cs unmodified. Once delivered, the new MP54ACs will replace the remaining F59PHs in service.

Motive Power Industries MP locomotives have been so successful, they will soon become the sole locomotive of GO Transit, and the face of the agency’s rail operations for a generation. The only thing that could challenge the company’s supremacy would be if Metrolinx opts to convert GO Train service to electric operation.

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