Fond Farewell. Twenty years ago, a new breed of locomotive first traveled the rails between San Luis Obispo and San Diego. The new, sleek F59PHIs with their simple, yet beautiful paint scheme took over for the F40PHs that had long provided the power for San Diegans trains along the route. In 2000, the route was rebranded as the Pacific Surfliner, and with it came new bi-level coaches that matched the F59s in both height and livery. The result was a quite classy-looking train running a route that would become one of Amtrak's most heavily traveled. Over the next eighteen years, Surfliner trainsets have largely gone unchanged: an F59 locomotive with 5-7 Surfliner cars in tow, with the occasional P42 and Superliner coach making appearances from time to time (the latter becoming all but standard nowadays). This year, however, marks the end of Amtrak's lease with Progress Rail for the F59s, and the State of California has decided to purchase its own fleet of locomotives for the Surfline in the form of Siemens Chargers to replace the F59s. The Surfliner F59s, along with their sister units from the Cascades service in the Pacific Northwest, were all sold to Metra in Chicago. Most have already arrived there and some have even begun service in their new home. With the arrival of the Chargers, Surfliner trains will take on a distinctively (and arguably less striking) new look.
Here, F59PHI #459, on one of its final trips in Southern California before being sent off to Chicago, pushes Surfliner train #579 to Los Angeles, having just departed Santa Ana. Though it has a shattered numberboard, it otherwise looks just as sleek as it did twenty years ago when it first graced these rails. I grew up watching and riding behind these units throughout my childhood and into adulthood and though this is likely the last photo I will ever take of an F59PHI wearing Surfliner paint, there will certainly be many fond memories left behind.
Some of the best passenger locomotives that EMD ever made (aside from the F40PH). With all Amtrak F59s gone from the Surfline, the only place that they can be seen is with Caltrans (Amtrak California).