BioEditThe GE (General Electric) P30CH ("Pooch" as nicknamed by railfans, employees, and train enthusiasts) is a type of six-axle, 3,000hp diesel locomotive built from 1976-1977 with only 25 built specially for Amtrak in the United States.
They were retired from service in 1992 after having an otherwise varied career. Some, however, were leased to CalTrain (and Southern Pacific) during 1978 and served in commuter service between San Jose and San Francisco, along with the aborted Oxnard-Los Angeles route.
All were been scrapped, and were initially replaced with the EMD F40PH years prior to their full retirement (which, ironically, the P30CH was initially meant to replace the F40PH and SDP40F due to speculated rumors regarding the HTC and Blomberg truck designs). Coincidentally, the launch of the Genesis Series marked the demise of the P30CH's successor (F40PH) a year later in 1993.
The locomotive was essentially the cowl-bodied passenger variant of the U30C, while also serving as somewhat of a successor to the U30CG ordered by the ATSF in 1967. Although both locomotives were initially commercial failures, GE eventually perfected the streamlined passenger diesel locomotive concept upon partnering with Krupp in developing the "Genesis" line (more specifically, the AMD-103) for Amtrak in the early 1990's.
The P30CH was originally intended to be the very first type of completely new six-axle passenger diesel locomotive built for Amtrak (not to be a kitbash like the SDP40F), which was first ordered during 1974-1975. Yet, as a result of mechanical and electrical problems as a result of design issues regarding the P30CH's body. Furthermore, orders weren't fully received until shortly after the first shipments and arrivals of the company's first brand-new EMD F40PH units; which began arriving to revenue service in March 1976. In other words, they were originally intended to be the first entirely new model of diesel locomotive ordered by the newly-established railroad, though the orders came later than expected, and the units weren't placed in active service until long after said units were completed.
The P30CH was an initial success at first upon arrival to Amtrak after GE diagnosed and corrected the early problems faced with the model, and was primarily used for their high-speed and long-distance "Auto Train" service. Though, units were also typically assigned for trains such as the "Sunset Limited" and the "Southwest Chief" as well as various others (including short-distance commuter service between Cumberland and Baltimore, Maryland). They were popular with most crews; but after only several months of service, they began to reveal their countless flaws which doomed the model's success. Such issues resulted in crankshaft failures, traction motor malfunctions, bad axle configurations (resulting in an uneven weight distribution), and dynamic braking response issues (the braking issues even resulted in two units causing a major wreck in Beech Grove, Indiana sometime in May 1978).
They served Amtrak until the late-1980's, and were all were scrapped by 1992.
Some units were later rated at 2,800hp as an attempt to fix the wear and tear issues involving the traction motors.
The F40PH was furthermore built and favored by Amtrak due to the otherwise lackluster performances caused by their newer six-axle diesels. Among one of the notable issues was the inability to navigate tight curves at high speeds, for the SDP40F had a tendency to derail as a result of the unbalanced weight of the water for the steam generator forcing the locomotives to topple over. The derailment problem was originally thought to have been a result of the newly-designed HTC trucks from EMD, however.