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GO Transit Motive Power
The F59PH Development and History

[ Why The F59PH? | Design Concepts | Final Version | Major Sub-System | HEP | Trucks | Wheel Creep |
| Brakes | Engine Specs | Computer | Models/Classes | Main Exterior | 536 to 568 |
| HEP Improvements | New Additions | 1P | 2P | Suppliers | 520 to 568 Comparison]



In 1986, GO Transit officials vigorously needed a standardized, system-wide locomotive (and commuter car) equipment to pull-push a loaded ten car bi-level train commuter and with a tractive effort to meet and later increase schedule times. The primary rational was targeted at replacing the “oddball motive power roster” in use at this time with a more reliable and efficient engine model. Stocking and finding spare parts as well as paying interest on stocked parts for the current operating equipment was making a huge demand on the GO operational budget and taking funds away for new power and corridor expansion. Mounting mechanical breakdowns in their original purchase of the GP40TC (500-507), the F40PH (500-515), the GP40-2(W) (700-710), the second hand and modified equipment (GP40-M-2 (720-726), APU (800-2), and ACPU (900-908, 910-911)), was accelerating.After much research and consideration the 12 cylinder 710G3 engine was selected. This engine was able to operate at 3000HP.

Next, the Hotel Power supply. It was preferred that it be an independent engine and not linked to the 710G3 engine. Further, the Head-End Power (HEP) for the coaches had to generate a three phase, 575 volt, AC power supply for coach heaters, air conditioning, battery charging, and lighting. The Detroit Diesel 8V-149 twin turbocharged/intercooled series engine was the choice for the HEP.

The locomotive operating cab design had input from several sources. Canadian National and Canadian Pacific operating personnel, General Motors Diesel Division, GO Transit designers and Management, and Operating Brotherhood Representatives from both Railways were challenged about design and safety features so come up with the best and safest cab design.

The F40PH design was the initial design model. They studied mostly it's many design flaws and how they would be avoided for the F59PH. Such F40PH issues included poor accessibility into and out of the cab (especially under emergency situations), the short hood was claustrophobic and difficult to service, headlight glare obstructed the engineer's view at night, the windshields were difficult for crew visibility and hard for maintenance to clean and repair. And under the long hood, it was difficult to service, clean, walk.

General Motors solutions included: extending the underframe by two feet, a front walkway with inclined side steps, a front entrance door to a vestibule which also contained a toilet and locomotive equipment, eliminating both side cab doors, and a frontal three window windshield (some still argued against because of blind spotting with the window frames (worse in the MP40, it looks like a Lionel track in front of the hogger)).

The technical research team also examined and selected other operating features such as: an easier line of sight to the gauges, speedometer, radio and PA communications, alarm signals, an Event Recorder, an easy to use but highly effective Crew Vigilance System, Window style and passenger visibility, cab ventilation and air conditioning, cab heating, comfort and durable cab seats, cab noise, and the now familiar desk top mounted console controls for the throttle and braking.



Improvements to the final short hood cab therefore includes:

- improved front and side visibility

- side doors gone for front vestibule, rear to engine room

- front walkway with inclined side steps

- three fresh air vents (one in the ceiling, one on each side wall

- two floor mounted high-back, adjustable, high-comfort operators' seats

- modern desktop control console with newly designed General Motors minimechanical, roller switch type throttle controller and a 30A-CDW Wabco brake controller

- full-width upper console

- Bach-Simpson analog LED speedometer with speed highlighted at 10 mph increments

- Bach-Simpson event recorder/train monitoring system

- integrated PA communications

- Vale-Harmon VHF and Motorola UHF radios

- audio speaker mounted left side of can, upper console

- fault display panel mounted in upper console

- an acoustic package to achieve a maximum interior noise level of 78 dbA (interestingly, wayside noise with the main engine at full throttle and auxiliary engine operating 78 dbA at 100 feet).



The F59PH is a full wide-body, four axle B-B locomotive with a 54 foot frame (GMDD extended 2 feet - see F40PH flaws above). These improvements resulted in fuel consumption savings from better metals, better engine design and operations, low idle speeds.

Major components both new and improved older ones included:

- 12 cylinder 7l0G3 turbocharged engine (520-535 - later orders upped this to a 12-710G3A)

- AR15/CA5 main alternator

- D87B traction motors

- high-capacity 74 VDC 24 KW auxiliary generator

- 8V-149TI auxiliary diesel engine with a 500 KW/575 VAC Stamford alternator

- mechanically bonded radiators

- blended dynamic brake

- improved layover protection for both engines

- self-test microprocessor for excitation control and diagnostic display

- a redesigned main electrical control cabinet with compartmentalized functions

- improved fuel economy (upwards of 22%) because of main and auxiliary engine improvements

- reduction in locomotive auxiliary weights to cooling fans, traction motors, traction motor blower air intake shutter

- use of a 200 rpm low idle speed

- reduced wheel and brake shoe wear with blended dynamic brakes

- improved wheel creep and slip control systems reducing sand use

- reduced trouble shooting and maintenance with better a microprocessor

- elimination of the 45 day intermediate maintenance inspection and changed to 90 day intervals and extended serving on other components

- a layover monitoring system

- improved Salem air driers minimizing freeze ups

- incorporated use of main engine purge-start system

- mechanically bonded radiators

- starter motor thermal overload protection

- soak back pump failure protection automatic coolant dump valve on main engine

- 20 amp layover charger to improve battery reliability

- auxiliary 120 VAC shop lighting system to improve maintenance environment and reduce impact on battery power consumption

- modified HEP engine oil level gauge system to allow for level check and addition while engine is running to save wear on starter motors

- maintenance and servicing doors on right and left side of long hood.

- microprocessor traction controls combined with the D87B

traction motors provide for continuous traction at full HP equal to 24% adhesion (an increase of 33% compared) even on poor rails.



The main engine, the 12-7l0G3 now included improvements to:

- a piston stroke of 11 inches (vs a 645 engine stroke of 10 inches) - same bore but longer stroke adding 10% displacement improvement

- improved combustion chamber

- high efficiency Model G turbocharger

- modified fuel injector

- lower gaseous emissions

- new camshaft

- larger diameter crankshaft


The HEP Auxiliary Engine also had some new features and improvements:

- 8V-149 turbocharged/intercooled engine

- canister-type silencer

- independent inertial intake air filtration system, ducted separately to the alternator and engine secondary filter media system

- skid-mounted on spring isolators to reduce vibration

- large maintenance doors in the end of the locomotive for maintencance and/or removal

- independent cooling system with mechanically bonded radiators

- quick disconnect fittings

- mechanical fuel pump

- digital tachometer

- induction heater layover system

- single electrical equipment cabinet with separate control panel

- less souping when operated at less than full load for

extended periods.


F59PH Trucks are 2-axle modified GP type:

- single brake shoes with modified rigging

- 40 inch wheels with modified Heumann profile

- yaw dampers for amelioration of truck hunting (this would realize at least a 15% increase in speed

- tapered Timken journal bearings

- Nylatron pedestal liners

- fibreglass gear cases

- low profile elliptic springs in the secondary suspension

- D87B traction motors incorporating new armature coil insulation, improved armature cooling, a revised commutator, and four-brush holders.

- the carbody above the trucks is wide hence the F designation in the model. It also maintenaces crew protection at 1,000,000 pounds



The F59PH locomotive is equipped with a computer controlled The Super Series wheel adhesion control system assists in attaining higher levels of tractive effort and is computer controlled. Microprocessor controlling the wheel slip, rail adhesion for a continuous traction at full horsepower equivalent has increased the F59PH`s power to 33% even under poor rail conditions.

The system allows locomotive to wheels slip so long as tractive effort is maintained. This results in consistent pulling power without redcuing power of the locomotive during slippery rail conditions (ice, snow, leaves, grass, oil et al).

The F59PH-1 locomotive advantages over the F40PH-2:



GO Transit required a locomotive to have a higher deceleration rate than other non-commuter train services because of the many and frequent passenger stops required, and a consistent one from a maintenance cost viewpoint. This fact generates high thermal demands on the locomotive wheels. Overheated wheels are a rarity, however, thermal cracking is a more frequent occurence resulting in units being pulled out of service for repairs or replacement of wheels while incurring higher maintanence costs.

The locomotive enginer on pre-dynamic brakes freight and passenger trains, often had extra operational demands and control issues for extended time especially on descending grades. The hogger not only operated the dynamic brake in such cases but also the the air brake system (automatic (train) and independent (locomotive)) valves as well as throttle modulation often in fast dizzling sequences.

Dynamic braking (DB) was developed to reduce the amount of braking on freight and later passenger trains where frequency of stops and fast deceleration was required while saving wear and tear on the locomotive engineers, wheels, and maintennce costs.

The blended brake developed out of a need to enhance DB and to ensure the hogger`s role was not complicated more. The Wabco 30A-CDW brake valve controls the blended brakes (it houses the automatic, the independent brake controls and the Cut-Off Pilot Valve set to Passenger, Freight or Out). Basically, it operates the same way as the pneumatic brake. The operating procedures are used and the DB is automatically cut in on a service application. The dynamic braking is therefore maximized - air braking compliments and supplements the dynamic braking. (Blended braking nullifies at speeds below 2 mph.)

To kick in the effects, a service brake application is applied. The brake cylinder pressure is controlled by the IOD module. The valves precisely regulate the brake cylinder pressure. This action is alternated between a holding and releasing pressure with control from the onboard microprocessor. The microprocessor monitors and calculates the dynamic braking needed based on the amount of traction motor and armature currents.

It was found in the DB development, that at the higher speeds, the amount of grid current allowed (700 amps) is a constraining factor of the dynamic brake. Conversely, at lower locomotive speeds, traction motor current (975 amps) is a constraining factor for dynamic braking. The most effective application range is the mid-range speed. With the gear ratio of 66:20, maximum braking is between 18 and 60 mph for optimum application.

A combined brake maximizes the use of DB by causing the DB to reach maximum value whenever blending is desired. Air braking plus dynamic braking is realized only when a full service application of the brakes is made. The automatic brake valve (train brake) sets the braking effort based on the positioning of the brake valve handle.

Interestingly, the F59PH locomotive decelerates a bit less than the bi-level cars. By doing this, the locomotive will not "bunch-up" slack in the train when an application is made. Also, when the train is pushing with the cabcar leading, the locomotive will not "stretch-out" the slack when an application to brake is made. (Note: The cabcar does not have an independent (engine) brake, only an automatice brake valve, therefore when an automatic (train) brake application is made in the cabcar it automatically kicks in the blended brake/DB from the locomotive and the independent brake is automaticlally bailed off. In the locomotive the independent brake must be bailed when blended dynamic braking is applied to keep the locomotive brakes off).

There is on average an 50 to 70% amount of energy dissipated by the dynamics with blended braking. Rates vary according to situation though.

Of note, when the blended brake system is applied with the throttle in one of the eight notched positions, the F59 will not retun to power until the blended brake is no longer in application and the throttle sits in idle.

Because of the mixed roster of older locomotives and with different gear ratios and/or with or without DB, the F59PH can operate blended dynamic brakes. However, the unit having the lowest maximum brake current should be in the lead psotiion so it doesn't overload the trailing units brake rating.



The initial order F59PH-1s Numbered 520-535 included:
(note, changes for these units in brackets below: 536-547 (F59PH-2) / 548-561 (F59PH-3) / 562-568 (F59PH-3)):


  • Full Time Idle speed RPM: 200/255
  • Idle speed Normal RPM: 270/314 (343)
  • Idle Speed Low RPM : 200
  • Full Speed RPM: 904
  • Traction output HP: 2800/3000/3030

  1. The larger turbocharger reduces thermal loading of critical engine components and with a 15% increase in air flow
  2. Mechanically Bonded Radiators offer improve reliability, reduce shop and maintenance costs
    Blended Dynamic Brakes effectively reduce wheel and brake shoe wear, significantly reduceing thermal wheel cracking, and again, reducing shop and maintenance costs
  3. The traction Motors are model D87B. They provide significant operational reliability with improved thermal performance. They also send 11% more current than previous generation with no motor size increase
  4. Super Series Wheel Creep provides a 24% adhesion rate, (a 33% increase over the the other mix and match locomotives on the roster)
  5. Fuel Economy is up 22%
  6. The HEP is the Detroit Diesel 8V-149TI turbocharged, intercooled engine. It is linked with the 500KW Stamford alternator, skid mounted on spring isolators reducing vibration and allowing for easier removal through end of locomotive if the need arises
  7. Noise is reduced because the HEP is a separate engine not linked to the l2-7l0G3 main engine therefore, it does not need to run at full throttle.



Three Motorola 6803 microproessors each control a separate function on the F59PH locomotive: logic, excitation, diagnostics/display.

The Logic Computer controls engine speed, locomotive direction, and traction motor switching.

The Excitation Computer controls wheel creep, dynamic braking, and fuel economy and receives throttle and brake information from the logic system.

The Diagnostics/Display Computer system replaces conventional fault annunciators and indicator lights. A four line display panel is used in English.

The computer systems continuosly monitors the locomotive operation and it, if needed, take corrective action. There is an archive module which maintains a ongoing and permanent record of operational data for better maintencae and servicing.

Further, the computer assists in avoiding unnecessary engine shutdowns. The computer will analyze the fault arising and more accurately decide if the problem can be dealt with by the crew or shop personnel.

Faulty components causing a breakdown are recorded and assist in providing locomotive`s status at the time of the event.

Scheduling of routine maintenance, overhauls, replacement of components is also triggered for the shop.


By July 1986, GO obtained $36.2 million to purchase 16 new 3000 horsepower F59PHs engines for delivery between June and August 1988. Eight F59PH units would replace 500-507 and the other eight used for expanded and improved timetable times primarily on the Lakeshore Corridor; other Corridors benefited slightly by saving additional minutes on improved timetable times. As a result of the first F59PH order, GO advertized 500-507 for sale in June 1988. By October 1988, Amtrak purchased all eight units which were shipped on 14 and 21 October 1988. Amtrak then reconditioned and renumbered them to 192-9; they occasionally returned to Canada on “The Maple Leaf” between Toronto and New York City; Amtrak later reconditioned to GP40PH class and renumbered to 520-527; in 2004, Amtrak had them rebuilt by Norfolk Southern to GP38H-3 class, retaining numbers 520-527 where they can still be found operating in the USA.

(Source Notes above from my article in Branchline Magazine 2005, GMDD, GO Transit)













520 - 535

. GCE-430g

. F59PH-1 *

. A-4745 - A-4760

May - Aug 1988


. to replace 500-7, and expand service

* GO indicates models as -1, -2, -3, -4


536 - 541

. GCE-430h

. F59PH-2 *

. A-4875 - A-4880

Dec 1989 -

Apr 1990


. ordered Oct 1988

. See 2B Notes


542 - 547

. GCE-430h

. F59PH-2 *

. A-4881 - A-4886

Mar - Apr 1990


. ordered March 1989

. convention joins 2A and 2B into one order / 2B made after a political announcement in March 1988 for the added six


548 - 561

. GCE-430k

. F59PH-3 *

. A-4914 - A-4927

Jul - Oct 1990


. ordered Oct 1989


562 - 568

. GCE-430m

. F59PH-4 *

. GMD 926354-1-7

Mar - May 1994


. ordered Mar 1993

. traded in for 720-726



. The GO Shield on front handrails - throwback to first GP40TCs which once carried the logo and a Destination Board

. Continued use of original 1967 GO logo and green and white paint scheme and the white “hockey stick” logo on each side panel to roof

. forward walkway front and rear; no external side hand rail walkways / full frame body

. Double swing/sliding and single side panel maintenance doors, both sides

. Improved anti-climber

. Cast bell, unpainted brass colour

. A short hood front personnel door; a rear port-hole door back of the long hood

. Ontario Provincial red ensign flag, both front sides of short hood

. Three colour classification lights relocated from where the sister F40 had them

. Province of Ontario Trillium Logo/Text under each side cab window

. Tight-lock couplers with no slack action

. 54 feet long (2 feet longer than an F40PH-2)

. Counterweight above coupler pocket (installed after delivery)

. Multiple Unit (MU) cable receptacles front/back, yellow colour

. Head End Power (HEP) receptacle front/back, red colour (for train and wayside equipment)

. Number boards with black background and full sized number in Times New Roman-like font under three classification lights  

. 1500 imperial gallon diesel fuel tank

. hogger side only, emergency/personnel door

. No rear inertial filter hood 

. Dash-2 type modified Blomberg trucks

. Whistle - original location (1988) side mounted on the fireman’s side on the slanted upper frame beside the removable turbo exhaust silencer hatch; by August 1990 on all units, the whistle was relocated and centre mounted on the long hood directly in front of the dynamic brake blower fan and behind the turbo charger stack; the hole left by the whistle relocation was handled in three ways: (a) temporary lift ring plugged the hole (eg) 529; (b) temporarily leaving empty whistle mounting bracket in place (eg) 528, and ( c ) all units eventually received a small circular metal cover plate over the hole (some painted, others unpainted until regular servicing)

. Whistle related - fireman’s side a yellow painted handrail below the side mounted whistle to assist with whistle maintenance (feature still present on 520-535 but never on 536-568)

. Brake Pipe hose beside the coupler; Main Reservoir Equalizing, Actuating, and Independent Equalizing air hoses and hose pockets in the GP-9 like pilot (front only), hose pockets rear end

. Three window cab view for improved visibility; sliding side cab windows, rear-view mirrors to assist in rear train physics, passenger assist and safety


LOCOMOTIVES 536-568 - 1989-1994:

New Computer Features and Improved Computer Readout Messages:

. Engine air filter reports “dirty” so the hogger must limited the throttle to notch 6

. Several new air filter indicators

. Engine speed must be increased as needed for the cool down cycle

. HP limited due to higher elevation

. Read out for draining the cooling system

. A new radar blow down switch

. Water drain system disabled or CB open

. ARC module failed or missing message

. Common memory communication failure

. Failure of Logic CPU - open module CB

. Maintenance personnel can save work done on the processor for later recall 

Major Under-The-Hood Improvements:

. The prime mover received several upgrades and was remodelled 12V710G3A (was 12V710G3) - this also saw a HP improvement from 3000 to 3100 and 3300HP

. Wheel slip definitions and actions needed by the unit

. Traction alternator was upgraded and remodelled to AR15 WBC (was AR15)

. Back of unit, roof mounted inertial filter screen hood cover

. Toilet door installed in short hood 548-568 (no door 520-547 until in for service or “1P”)

. ICCU moved to the top of the hogger window on the control console

. Desktop changed for air gauges, dynamic brake, ammeter Light Dimmer Control for better access and readability

. Several changes to the instrument panel and some toggle changed from left-right to up-down

. Some breaker switches and toggles sealed to prevent hoggers from disabling unless advised to do so by Willowbrook Shops

. The “MU Run/Stop” moved to the front of the control console (because it was sometimes accidentally pressed)

. Air compressor underwent improvements; model changed to WLNA9AN (was WLNA9)



. A new, more visual circular red emergency stop press button (before it was hex shape)

. An improved HEP fuse and switch panel for easier readability, access, set up, servicing, and monitoring

. Improved monitoring gauges for the Primary Filter Fuel Suction, the Secondary Filter Pressure, a new “HR Meter” to record the hours and total HEP running time for scheduled maintenance and to work with the original gauges for Coolant Temperature, fuel pressure, oil pressure

. New operating procedures demanded crews and maintenance personnel verify all fuel filter gauges for proper reading and functioning correctly as well as verifying the air filter restriction indicators

. On these units only when starting, the 500KW, 575 VAC IND circuit breaker must be closed

. Changes to the AC Power Train Line set up and connections (five options).


NEW ADDITIONS 536-568 - 1994: 

. addition of a new Main Reservoir Branch air hose (beside the Brake Pipe hose) beside the coupler

. handrail for whistle maintenance on the fireman’s side not present

. fuel tank enlarged to 1850 Imperial gallons (some sources indicate 1800 Imperial gallons)

Special Note 562-568 - These units remained essentially the same with few upgrades:


. One upgrade was the HEP changed to a Caterpillar Diesel Engine using 22 percent less fuel, ran quieter, fewer harmful emissions

. fireman’s side only on cab roof, a square air vent

. two rear marker lights (clear) installed into protruding light stands (562-568 only)


“1P” SERVICE ENHANCEMENT FOR 520-535 - 1998-9:

. Addition of the new Main Reservoir Branch air hose (beside the Brake Pipe hose) at the coupler

. Original number board changed to black background, smaller, narrower grey colour numbers in Arial-like type font

. 529 is the ONLY original number board still displayed (as of 2005)

. Yellow handrail fireman’s side remains 

. Rear of long hood, cover installed to protect inertial filter screen 

. Complete repainting of the unit

. Bell painted green

. Toilet door installed (520-547) if not already done previously in regular maintenance cycle

. Truck / Traction motor reconditioning or replacement

. Province of Ontario text and Trillium logo removed (began August 1992 when the NDP government proposed selling GO Transit then leasing back the equipment. They believed it would save the taxpayers money and reduce GO Transit’s needed funding. The GO Board approved this action August 1992; cutbacks began 03 July 1993. More damage was done by Harris.) When a unit entered for “1P,” it was completely repainted, most logo/text can not be detected now - the red ensign was not removed, only replaced when unit was fully painted.


“2P SERVICE” UNITS 536 TO 564 - 2002 *:

GO 536-564 were due for their “2P” servicing in 2002 which CAD performed. This service was identical to the 1998-9 “1P” service except further upgrades to the frame, trucks, prime mover, HEP overhaul saw a marginal increase to 530 KW, and other essentials mentioned previously.

One physical change to the exterior is the addition of two Recreational Vehicle-like air-conditioning units affixed to the cab roof top and a temperature control installed in the cab. Of note, 520-564 now utilize the new AC units. The box-like AC units first installed and tested in 2001 on 537, 538, and 539 were removed between November 2004 and June 2005 and replaced with the newer AC style.

Also, and less obvious, the air-driven bell clapper is slowly being changed to an electronic solenoid which is cheaper and easier to maintain than the air-driven mechanism. (Note: cab cars 200-241 had their cast bells removed and replaced with a new electronic bell and solenoid clapper between September 2002 and June 2004 for the same maintenance and cost reasons. The newest cab cars (242-245) came with the electronic bell already installed.).

( * Many of the features discussed throughout this paper are displayed on my GO Transit Motive Power Website: . Click the “Under The F59PH Hood” link for more detailed photographs and text. )



  • Steel: Algoma Steel Corp Ltd SaultSte Marie, ON
  • Stelco Ltd Hamilton ON
  • Steel Castings: Dofasco Ltd Hamilton ON
  • Axles: Hawker Siddeley Canadian Steel Wheel Division Trenton, NS
  • Wheels: Hawker Siddeley Montreal Quebec
  • Electrical Devices:
    • Cutler HammerToronto ON
    • Heinemann Electric Montreal PQ
    • Siemens Electric, Montreal, PQ
    • Square D Oakbrook Ill USA
    • Pyle National Toronto ON
  • Engine - Main:
    • Electro-Motive Division General Motors Corporation, La Grange, Ill USA Engine - Auxiliary: Midwest Detroit Diesel Winnipeg MB
  • Air Brake Equipment: Wabco Ltd Hamilton ON
  • Air Drier: SALEM IEC Holden Inc Montreal PQ
  • Filters (General):
    • Farr Inc Montreal PQ
    • Donaldson Filters Ltd Minneapolis Minn
    • American Air Filter Montreal PQ
  • Batteries: GNB Batteries (Canada) Inc Toronto ON
  • air Compressor: Gardner-Denver Quincy Ill USA
  • Bearings: Canadian Timken Ltd Mississauga ON
  • Paint: Dupont Canada Inc. (IMRON) Toronto ON
  • Generators (Alternators): Main & Auxiliary:
    • Electro-Motive Division General Motors Corporation La Grange Ill USA
    • Stamford Newage Equipment Ltd Etobicoke ON
  • Controller (Traction): Knock Manufacturing London ON
  • Operators Seats: Otaco Orillia ON
  • Toilet: Prime Manufacturing Prescott ON
  • Speedometer: Bach-Simpson London ON
  • Event Recorder/Train Monitoring System: Bach-Simpson London ON
  • Refrigerator: Vapor Canada Inc. Montreal PQ
  • Communications Equipment: Vale-Harmon Enterprises Toronto ON
  • Computer: Motorola Toronto ON
  • General Suppliers:
    • Ronsco Supply Montreal PQ
    • IEC Holden Ltd. Montreal PQ
    • Prime Manufacturing Prescott ON
    • Safety Supply Ltd. Toronto ON

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F59PH Diesel Comparison Webpage