Amtrak NPCU's on the Michigan Line

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Amtrak NPCU's on the Michigan Line

Unread postby Ypsi » Sun Mar 22, 2015 10:20 am

This is something a bit different I did this week, I went back and saved some older footage off my old desktop for a video. This video is a look back on NPCU's on the Michigan line, which ran up until about 2-3 years ago when the 110mph section went full time. I took the old 640 footage, gave it an "HD" crop and reuploaded the best footage j had in this video. It was fun to look back and see my videos of these units, and i hope you guys enjoy! 8)



Amtrak was once the home to hundreds of F40PH's, but as Amtrak entered the 90's and early 2000's the F40PH's were slowly retired. Thankfully for fans of the classic EMD some of the F40PH's were turned into Non-Powered Control Units or NPCU's for short. These cab cars were also called cabbages, a combination of the words "cab" and "baggage" since they had baggage compartments installed on many units. Some of the NPCU's retained their classic red, white, and blue stripes, while others were painted in a modified phase 5 scheme. A handful of the units were equipped ITCS to operate on the Amtrak Michigan Line in a push pull configuration with a P42 providing the power. The units received a "90" in front of their original F40PH numbers to distinguish them, and put them in a number series similar to the coaches on Amtrak. The pool of ITCS equipped units included 90200, which was also the first F40PH built, 90215, 90218, 90219 wearing phase 3 paint, 90222 wearing phase 3 paint, and 90225. Other NPCU's have been spotted on the Michigan Line, but generally the ITCS NPCU's were used.

In this video we take a throw back to 2009-2012, at some of the final runs of NPCU's on the Michigan Line, ending a nearly 30 year run of some type of F40PH (powered or non) regularly providing service on the Michigan Line. These units with their classic lines, and in some instances paint, soldiered on until the high speed portion of the Michigan Line was fully cleared for 110mph running, which the NPCU's are not cleared for. Now a pair of P42's make the run, allowing for a faster time to reach the top speeds. The NPCU is gone for now, but I am thankful to have been able to gather lots of videos, and put the best of the best I took in this throwback video.

For this project I looked for my best NPCU videos, specifically ones where I used a tripod or that were just too cool to not share. I edited them into a wide screen crop, put them all together, and made one completion throw back video. The videos were all originally shot in 640p, so the quality is not where I am at now, but overall this did not turn out too bad.

In the first scene on Fathers day of 2009, Amtrak 90200, also the first F40PH, leads a lengthy 8 car 353 west at 10mph. The train has to run slow thanks to bad signals but I don't mind, a nice way to start this throw back.

In the second scene Amtrak 353 is racing west with Amtrak 90215 leads another 353 west wearing phase 5 paint.

A P42 is leading the way and smoking it up as Amtrak 90215 trails on Amtrak 352.

In a nearly identical scene Amtrak 90200 trails on 352

On a spring day a phase 3 Amtrak 90222 is on point on 353 as they highball and depart Ann Arbor, classic paint and F40PH car body.

Later that summer Amtrak 90222 is seen leading train 352 east with a phase 5 P42 pushing on the rear.

On a cold evening Amtrak 90219 is leading 354 east also wearing phase 3 paint.

In a light snow Amtrak 353 heads east on the next day, this time with 90219 on the rear.

Again in a snowy scene, Amtrak 90215 is on point of a 353 heading west around noon time. The crew gave a little extra horn even on this run.

The final train in this video was also probably the coolest for an NPCU to be seen leading. Amtrak 350 clears with 90200 leading and Amtraks last dome car in consist.

So wraps up a throwback to a classic former locomotive that is done on most Amtrak routes, and numbers will soon dwindle.
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Re: Amtrak NPCU's on the Michigan Line

Unread postby SD80MAC » Sun Mar 22, 2015 12:22 pm

We still see them regularly on 370/371 :)
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Re: Amtrak NPCU's on the Michigan Line

Unread postby Pixl » Sun Mar 22, 2015 3:16 pm

Very nice video. Very relaxing to listen to Amtraks horns on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Thanks for posting.
I did get burned by my first encounter of a NPCU when a friend and I jumped on a Chicago-Milwaukee train. We looked at the engine (we thought) and boarded and seated accordingly to face forward. When the train pulled out we were facing backwards!! Had a hard time finding seats the other way. Ha.
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Re: Amtrak NPCU's on the Michigan Line

Unread postby ConrailMan5 » Sun Mar 22, 2015 5:34 pm

Looooove the tripod and videography work of you early videos :mrgreen:

I never realized how much I miss the mechanical bell sound rolling by my house. Ive gotten so used to the E-Bells on the P42's. I wonder if down the road they"ll make P42 Cabbages :lol:
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Re: Amtrak NPCU's on the Michigan Line

Unread postby hoborich » Mon Mar 23, 2015 11:37 pm

It must feel strange for the engineers to open the throttle and feel the train accelerating with no engine noise. It has to be a very quiet ride.
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Re: Amtrak NPCU's on the Michigan Line

Unread postby Buster Manning » Tue Mar 24, 2015 10:46 pm

hoborich wrote:It must feel strange for the engineers to open the throttle and feel the train accelerating with no engine noise. It has to be a very quiet ride.


Yes it was....still wore earplugs account of the horn though..I myself enjoy the old style control stand compared to the desk top now prevalent....

Wondering why I can't see the video....
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Re: Amtrak NPCU's on the Michigan Line

Unread postby Ypsi » Tue Mar 24, 2015 11:36 pm

Buster Manning wrote:
hoborich wrote:It must feel strange for the engineers to open the throttle and feel the train accelerating with no engine noise. It has to be a very quiet ride.


Yes it was....still wore earplugs account of the horn though..I myself enjoy the old style control stand compared to the desk top now prevalent....

Wondering why I can't see the video....


Here's the link https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6OTfCTJrWHE

Maybe doesn't want to play on your devise because of the add or whatever.. Either or that link should work. The clip that really shows the quietness is 90222 leading 353 out of ARB. Looking back the variaty was nice with the NPCU's as compared to now where we only get the P42's and standard sets.
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Re: Amtrak NPCU's on the Michigan Line

Unread postby J T » Wed Mar 25, 2015 9:52 pm

Thank you for not capturing the SPOC. :twisted:
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Re: Amtrak NPCU's on the Michigan Line

Unread postby Burb8145 » Mon Mar 30, 2015 10:49 pm

I remember seeing one of these in Phase III pushing the super-delayed #350 (so delayed, it had to be replaced by a bus beyond Detroit, however, I disembarked at the stop before that, Dearborn) back in April 2009. Two days earlier, though, my #351 probably had P42s at both ends.
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