E60 Quick Facts:
- Twenty six built by GE, Erie, PA, 1974-6.
- 6,000+/- Horsepower.
- Weight 183 tons.
- Original cost $692,000.
- Designed for 120 MPH passenger service on Northeast Corridor
- Ran regularly, at reduced speed to avoid derailment, until 1984, then on standby service.
- No. 603 donated by Amtrak. Rest of fleet scrapped (or earlier modified for other use, sold to other lines).
When Amtrak started operations on May 1, 1971, it initially relied on an inherited and aging fleet of GG1 electric locomotives for its electrified passenger service. Looking to replace the GG1's, Amtrak ordered 26 new electric locomotives from General Electric of Erie, PA in 1973. These were classified as E60, were built between 1974 and 1976 and assigned road numbers between 950 and 976 (though later the 14 units remaining with Amtrak were re-numbered within the 600-621 range -- not all numbers being used).
This was Amtrak’s first new electric locomotive purchase and coincided with orders for new diesel-electrics from both General Electric and General Motors. The order was split between 15 class E60CP units with steam generators for older passenger equipment, and 11 E60CH units with newer Head-End Power (HEP) generators for the newly ordered Amfleet and rebuilt Heritage Fleet equipment.
The E60’s, like Amtrak’s first diesels, were based on existing locomotives designed for freight service. They feature a boxy, dual-cab car body and ride on a pair of three-axle trucks. Their as-built weight of 387,000 lbs. was more than double the optimum weight for passenger service and contributed to poor running during testing. The locomotives had a tendency to yaw sideways when accelerating, placing high stress on the rails. The Federal Railroad Administration refused to allow the E60’s to operate at the intended 120 mph after they derailed twice during testing.
After numerous refinements and additional tests, the locomotives entered passenger service at slightly reduced speeds. However, they encountered new problems when turning on the tight radius return loops at Sunnyside yard, New York. The locomotives had been designed for close coupling with passenger equipment…so close that the diaphragms on their coaches would sheer the headlights off of their nose. All headlights were subsequently moved above the cab windows.
By 1984, with the arrival of new AEM7 electrics, most of the E60 fleet went into storage (accompanying the GG1’s they were meant to replace). Ten units (958-963, 967, 971-973) were sold to New Jersey Transit in 1984. Two additional units, 966 and 968 were sold to the Navajo Mine Railroad (the current status of these locomotives is not known). The remainder of the fleet (then numbered between 600-612 and 620-621, with not all sequential numbers used) spent the next two decades in and out of storage lines, being reactivated during peak seasons or during the overhaul of AEM7’s. When returned to service, they were used mainly on heavy, long-distance trains (the Crescent, Silver Meteor, Broadway, etc.) and special movements including circus and mail trains, or maintenance of way runs. In 1998, some were upgraded to E60MA’s, to haul heavy long-distance trains between New York and Washington.
No. 603 is believed to have been built in June 1976. Unlike those units delivered with steam heat, the 603 was never modified, retaining its original underbody. 603 also retains the original doors and windows, which had been replaced on several other units. For these reasons, this unit was selected for preservation at the Museum.
By 2003 only a handful of E60's remained on Amtrak. These were scheduled for overhaul and new cab-signal equipment to permit 120 mph running, comparable to the rest of Amtrak's fleet. None of these overhauls were fully completed when word was passed down to scrap the entire fleet.
No. 603, however, was literally within 24 hours of being tested for return to service when the final order to scrap was issued. The locomotive has been equipped with the new cab signal system, and is mechanically sound. It retains much of its original equipment and configuration.
More E-60Typical Facts:
- Length 70 ft.
- Wheel arrangement C-C
- Max. short time rail HP 9,800
- Max. tractive effort 75,000
- Continuous rail HP 5,100
- Continuous tractive effort 34,000 at 56 mph
- Accelerate four Amcoaches (0- 120 mph) 2.91 min., 4.17 miles
- Accelerate seven Amcoaches (0-120 mph) 5.16 min., 7.79 miles
- Equipped with 750 kw. motor alternator set to power Amfleet cars
No. 603 was delivered by a Amtrak special movement to Leaman Place Junction in January 2004, where the Strasburg Rail Road then hauled it to Strasburg. In keeping with FRA regulations, the Amtrak name was covered over with duct tape.
The Museum believes that this fine example of a new age of locomotives, with its Amtrak association that many people will recognize, will promote an understanding of the continued importance of railroads in contemporary life. Research continues on this.
Special thanks to Amtrak for their commitment to railroad history preservation!