Bio EditThe GE (General Electric) P32-8BWH (B23-8BWH, Dash 8-32BWH, P32-8, or simply 'Dash 8') is a type of four-axle, 3,200hp diesel locomotive built in December 1991 with only 20 built specially for Amtrak (though, an additional two were proposed, but were cancelled upon the first orders for the AMD-103 or P40DC).
The locomotive model is essentially a modified B40-8W freight diesel locomotive equipped with an HEP generator for heating and air conditioning to supply the passenger coaches while running in a consist.
They are primarily used as spare units or yard switchers, while two units are currently used for Amtrak California's San Joaquin commuter service: AMTK 501 and 502, which were renumbered to 2051 and 2052. Both units have since received various versions of the distinct Amtrak California scheme as well.
The GE P32-8BWH was one of the first high-tech, high-horsepower passenger diesel locomotives produced by GE. The model was originally built as compensation for the delayed development of the GE P40DC (or AMD-103 "Genesis") passenger locomotive which was finally introduced in 1992, and delivered from 1993 onwards. Nevertheless, the type or variant of Dash 8 model itself was involved as part of the evergrowing success of GE's Dash 8 series or locomotive line's sales which helped boosted GE's income to develop even more powerful, high-tech, and modern diesel locomotives which revolutionized the North American diesel locomotive market and gave GE their current status as the leading locomotive builder.
All 20 P32-8BWH units produced were originally supposed to be the actual original 20 P40DC production model units built for Amtrak. These units; however, were instead delivered as a modified form of a B40-8W (having a B40-8W's carbody, shell, cab, design, etc.) and served as a "tie-over" as a result of a dispute with Krupp and GE realizing that the production schedule would be delayed because of the complex design regarding the bodyshell for the P40DC. Hence, by taking the design of an existing freight diesel locomotive that was both lightweight and compact; yet had enough room for storing the prime mover, HEP equipment; and (in the case of the P32AC-DM) dual-mode equipment for such capabilities (though, the model itself was originally used as a demonstrator to demonstrate the Genesis locomotive's capabilities before becoming dubbed as a "tie-over").
Like its successor, the P32-8BWH was also initially a replacement for the EMD F40PH.
Often times the P32-8BWH can be mistaken for a B40-8W. Though, there are many differences as follows:
- Obviously, Amtrak is currently the only owner for the model, while BNSF (along with various shortlines) are the current owners of the B40-8W.
- The fuel tanks, air tanks, and main battery box are all located within the lower center carbody between the opposing trucks.
- P32-8BWH's are much taller than any other locomotive currently operated by Amtrak (with the exception of preceding F40PH's).
- There are currently no remaining Phase III-painted P32-8BWH units. As of 2015, all currently retain the Phase IV or Phase V schemes (minus #2051 and #2052).
Like other GE diesel locomotive models, the name is as follows:
- "P" - For "passenger".
- "32" - For "3,200hp".
- "-8" - Referring to the series, being the "Dash 8" line.
- "B" - For "B-B" or "Bo-Bo", meaning four-axle.
- "W" - For "wide-cab".
- "H" - For "Head-end", referring to its head-end power generator.
The P32-8BWH was delivered in a unique variant of the Phase III scheme which ironically resembled one of the previous designs used for Pepsi soda cans. Hence, they were referred to as "Pepsi Cans", in which the term or nickname was used by railfans and employees.
The P32-8BWH has never received the same style Phase V scheme as most of the other units owned by Amtrak. Rather, several units painted in said livery retain the yard switcher or road switcher variant as-seen on their GP15D fleet. Hence, the P32-8BWH has almost always been painted in a unique scheme, as well as being one of the only remaining locomotives from the corporation's roster to have units still remaining in the short-lived Phase IV scheme; to which the Phase IV scheme was briefly used on Amtrak's locomotives from around 1997 to early 2001 (said livery was commonly seen on F40PH units, early P42DC units and repainted/newer P40DC units), but still remains on their coaches and other rollingstock, along with the unrebuilt P40DC's which were originally stored at Bear, DE and moved to Beech Grove, IN.
The P32-8BWH and P40DC originally had strobe lights (or "bar lights") and an emergency oscillating red light (seen in the middle between the numberboards), but crews disliked the bright flash of the strobes for they were deemed to be distracting. The original upper strobe lights (seen above the cab windshields to the side) which were equipped were removed by 2001 as with the lights utilized on Amtrak's original fleet of P40DC (AMD-103) units. Amtrak also removed the oscillating red light because marker lights initially served the same purpose, furthermore reducing maintenance costs. Currently, the units are equipped with ditch lights and marker lights in place of their original strobe and oscillating lights.
Like the P30CH, the P32-8BWH was originally intended to serve one initial purpose, but eventually became regulated to spare use.