Chicago’s Metra approved the purchase of three used F59PH locomotives for $2.5 million to help the railroad supplement its aging locomotive fleet while continuing a longer-term procurement of new or remanufactured locomotives.
The F59PHs, which Metra is purchasing from Progress Rail, were built by the Electro-Motive Division (EMD) of General Motors Corp. in 1988. Metra previously purchased three identical F59PH units from Rail World Locomotive Leasing in 2015. Before being shipped to Metra, Progress Rail will test, evaluate, and make any necessary repairs to the three locomotives so that they are ready for commuter service upon delivery.
“Ideally, Metra would have sufficient funding to replace older locomotives with new ones on a regular basis,” said Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “However, Metra has long been underfunded, forcing us to work with the funding we have available. We believe this purchase represents a great opportunity to further supplement our locomotive fleet and increase our spare ratio.”
In February, Metra also announced the purchase of 21 F59PHIs from Amtrak. These locomotives, which were built by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors in 1998 and have been rehabbed within the last five years, began arriving on Metra property in October and are expected to be in service early in 2019.
The F59PHs are equipped with similar parts and operating characteristics to Metra’s existing fleet of EMD F40s, some of which are 40 years old. That means they can be integrated into the Metra system quickly and without extensive and expensive training of maintenance and operating crews. The F59PHs will also increase reliability, reduce pollution, and be more fuel efficient when compared to the older engines.
In late 2017, Metra issued a request for proposals (RFP) to begin to replace its aging fleet with new or remanufactured locomotives. The RFP calls for a base order of at least 12 new or 15 remanufactured locomotives, with options for up to 30 additional new locomotives or 27 additional remanufactured locomotives, for a total of up to 42 new or remanufactured locomotives. Metra is asking for proposals for both new and remanufactured engines because it wants to weigh the costs/benefits of both options. Proposals are currently being evaluated.
Those new or remanufactured locomotives, however, would not be available until late 2020 at the earliest, while the used F59PHs will be available this year. The F59PHs would supplement the engines purchased under the RFP.
The F59PH purchase will be funded with money already set aside for locomotive purchases.