Tag Archives: F40C

Chicago: The Other 611

February 2003.

For many railway enthusiasts, the number 611 immediately conveys mental images of Norfolk & Western’s magnificent streamlined 4-8-4 steam locomotive. But the number is shared with another interesting engine.

On clear morning in February 2003, I arrived in Chicago on Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited. Marshall W. Beecher met me at Union Station and we set out to explore Chicago’s railroads.

We stopped in at A2 tower, a busy place where the former Chicago & North Western crosses the former Milwaukee Road lines from Union Station. In addition to mainline suburban trains, a yard between the two mainlines west of the tower produces a host of light engine and equipment moves.

Metra 611 at A2 Tower Chicago in February 2003. Exposed on Fujichrome with a Nikon F3.
Metra 611 at A2 Tower Chicago in February 2003. Exposed on Fujichrome with a Nikon F3.

Metra 611, one of only a few remain F40Cs, was on its way to the yard. The light was perfect and I made this portrait of the unusual locomotive. The F40C was built in 1974 for Milwaukee Road’s Chicago suburban service and the near cousin to Amtrak’s unsuccessful SDP40F. By 2003 only a few remained in service.

My most recent book Chicago: America’s Railroad Capital is a collaborative project with Michael Blaszak, John Gruber and Chris Guss, and features many one of a kind photographs. It is available now through Voyageur Press. This illustrated volume illustrates the history of Chicago’s railroad from the steam era through the present.

Take a look! Keen observers will find yet another 611 displayed in the book’s pages.


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Locomotive Geometry Part 4; Chicago Metra’s F40C


Passenger Six-Motor.

Metra F40C number 611 in February 2003.
Metra F40C number 611 in February 2003.

Chicago suburban passenger railway, Metra operated the only fleet of Electro-Motive Division F40Cs a six-motor cowl-type passenger locomotive similar to Amtrak’s SDP40F, but equipped with HEP (headend power), and featured corrugated stainless-steel side paneling. The 5 EMD F40Cs, were acquired through Metra predecessor agency for service on Milwaukee Road. Numbered 600-614, the F40Cs were the last Metra heritage units in regular passenger service.

These were an unusual modern application of a six-motor diesel for passenger service. Since the mid-1970s, most passenger locomotives have been four-motor ‘B-B’ models.

They exhibit General Motors classic well-balanced utilitarian appearance, and are similar to other cowl models built from the late 1960s and mid-1970s.

METRA F40C 614 works west at A2 tower on June 22, 2004.

These were among the locomotives I featured in my popular book EMD Locomotives published in 2006. Available from my publish Voyageur Press or at Amazon. I also discuss their history in my recent North American Locomotives.

A pan photo of Metra 606 catches the evening glint near Tower A5.

I like to offer special thanks to Marshall Beecher for providing location assistance in Chicago.

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