The Electromotive Division F40C is a 6 axle, 3,200 HP diesel-electric locomotive built in 1973 for the Northwest Suburban Mass Transportation District (NWSMT) and the North Suburban Mass Transit District (NSMT) of Chicago, IL, which later reorganized as the Regional Transporation Agency (RTA), with commuter rail later being operated under the name of METRA. The F40C is basically a cowl version of the SD40-2 freight locomotive, and was based on the design of Amtrak's SDP40F, and rides on the same frame and HTC trucks as the SD40-2. It also uses the same 16 cylinder 645 prime mover, but the engine was rated at 3,200 HP and equipped with Head End Power (HEP) to heat, cool and light passenger cars.
In early 1973, NWSMT and NSMT ordered 15 locomotives for use on Milwaukee Road's Chicago commuter train services, to replace aging EMD F and E units. EMD at the time had been building the SDP40F for Amtrak, and it was decided to build a locomotive based on the SDP40F design. NWSMT/NSMT specified that the units had to be equipped with Head End Power, as this is what the majority of the Chicago area commuter cars utilized for power. This resulted in the standard 3,000 HP 645 engine's output being bumped up to 3,200 HP so as to provide enough power for HEP and propulsion. The most distinguishing feature of the F40C was that they featured fluted stainless steel panels on their flanks that matched the bi-level commuter cars operated by Milwaukee Road. Other features included nose mounted marker lights for push/pull operation, a 3 Chime Leslie RS3L horn, and a cab mounted gyra light. The units were delivered as NWSMT 40-52 and NSMT 53 and 54.
About a year after entering service, the F40C leases were transferred to the RTA, formed in 1974, who then subleased them to Milwaukee Road. As a result, their reporting marks were changed to MILW, and small "The MILWAUKEE Road" heralds adorned the sides of their noses. Following MILW's bankruptcy, the units were transferred to Northeast Illinois Commuter Railroad Corporation (NIRC), which became RTA's "METRA" in 1983. Following the transfer to METRA, the units recieved METX reporting marks and new paint and numbers, becoming 600-614.
The F40C's were standard power on METRA's former Milwaukee Road lines for the next 2 decades. As time went on, the units recieved upgrades like 5 chime Nathan air horns (usually P5A's), roof mounted air conditioners, and FRA mandated ditch lights. They operated alongside and occasionally with METRA's large fleet of F40 locomotives, before finally being retired in the early to mid 2000's. METRA's order for new MP36-3S locomotives from Motive Power Industries effectively sidelined all of the F40C's, and most were sold off or scrapped. As of this writing, METRA retains 2 F40C's as back up power.
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