The westbound Sunset Limited at El Paso in January 1982, led by a GE P30CH locomotive. Click to enlarge.


GE Transportation logo.


The GE P30CH (nicknamed "Pooch" because of the similarity of the designation) was one of the first brand-new diesel-electric locomotives built for Amtrak by General Electric during Amtrak's early years. The design was based on the GE U30C, but had a cowl car-body like its EMD competitors. Amtrak operated them between 1974 and 1992.

The designation "P30CH" stood for the following: "P" for passenger service, "30" for the 3,000 horsepower V16 GE 7FDL diesel engine, "C" for C-C wheel arrangement, and "H" for head-end power.

Amtrak ordered 25 P30CHs in 1974, following up on its order of 40 EMD SDP40Fs in 1973. The P30CH was the first Amtrak diesel locomotive built from the factory to offer HEP (head end power) in the form of 2 Detroit Diesel generator sets, each rated at 375 kW for a combined total of 750 kW. The six-axle P30CHs, which cost Amtrak $480,000 each,  were plagued with mechanical problems and were never very popular with crews or Amtrak management. In the mid-1970s Amtrak moved away from six-axle designs in favor of four-axle units; four-axle locomotives could better handle routes with numerous curves.  Ultimately the four-axle EMD F40PHs quickly began to supersede the P30CHs soon after their introduction by Amtrak.

Amtrak leased fifteen to the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1978 for use on the Peninsula Commute between San Francisco and San Jose, California. Caltrans leased several P30CHs for its abortive Oxnard–Los Angeles "CalTrain" commuter service.

Two units were wrecked prior to official retirement. In 1978, P30CH No. 713 was involved in a collision with some log trucks. In 1979 P30CH No. 715 was involved in a collision with an Illinois Central freight train.

In the later years of their Amtrak careers, the locomotives were used regularly into the mid-1980s on the Sunset Limited and Auto Train routes.  With the introduction of the Genesis series and the Dash 8-32BWH series, the P30CHs had their final runs in late 1991;  (with one being sold off for use in safety tests) and all have been presumed scrapped.


Original owners

GE produced 25 P30CHs, all of which were delivered to Amtrak:

Original Owner / Road Numbers / Quantity / Builder Numbers / Notes
Amtrak / 700-724 / 25 / 40694-40718 / 15 units leased to Southern Pacific in 1978. 715 wrecked and retired after being involved in the Harvey, Illinois train collision.


Type and origin

Power type: Diesel-electric
Builder: GE Transportation Systems
Model: P30CH
Build date: 1975–76
Total produced: 25
​• AAR C-C
• UIC Co′Co′
Gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Trucks: GE 3-axle floating bolster
Wheel diameter: 40 in (1,016 mm)
Minimum curve: 29° (199.70 ft or 60.87 m)
Wheelbase Locomotive: 46 ft (14.02 m)
Truck: 13 ft 7 in (4.14 m)
Length: 72 ft 4 in (22.05 m)
Width: 10 ft 8.8 in (3.27 m)
Height:15 ft 4+1⁄2 in (4.69 m)
Axle load: 64,333 lb (29,181 kg)
Adhesive weight: 100%
Loco weight: 386,000 lb (175,087 kg)
Fuel type: Diesel
Fuel capacity: 3,600 US gal (14,000 L; 3,000 imp gal)
Lubricant capacity: 380 US gal (1,400 L; 320 imp gal)
Water capacity: 385 US gal (1,460 L; 321 imp gal)
Sandbox capacity: 56 cu ft (1.59 m3)
Prime mover: GE 7FDL16
RPM range: 450-1050
Engine type: V16 diesel
Aspiration: Turbocharged
Displacement: 175.2 liters (10,690 cu in)
Alternator: GTA11
Traction motors: 6x GE 752 DC traction motors
Cylinders: 16
Cylinder size: 10.95 liters (668 cu in)
Transmission: 75:28 gearing
MU working: Yes
Train heating: Locomotive-supplied head-end power rated at 750 kW
Loco brake: Pneumatic (26L) & Dynamic
Train brakes: Pneumatic
Performance figures
Maximum speed: 103 mph (166 km/h)
Power output: 3,000 hp (2,200 kW)
Tractive effort: 58,980 lbf (262 kN) @ 14.7 mph (23.7 km/h)
Operators: Amtrak, some leased to SP
Nicknames: Pooch
Last run: 1992
Disposition: All presumed scrapped, none preserved