Written by: Gary Dolzall
Amtrak’s GE Dash 8-32BWH, now available for Train Simulator, will be perfect for passenger duty on a variety of routes, as Gary Dolzall reports
Train Simulator’s distinctive Amtrak General Electric Dash 8-32BWH diesel, which is now available, will be ideal for service on a variety of U. S. routes, whether the location is Florida or Pennsylvania, Chicago or Utah, the Pacific Northwest or Southern California!
In an earlier feature article – “Born of Urgent Need” available here – we explored the development and history of this unique and venerable diesel locomotive that entered service a quarter-century ago and continues to serve Amtrak today. When the General Electric Dash 8-32BWH debuted in August 1991 it was in appearance unlike anything on the Amtrak roster, featuring a North American-style wide cab set in front of a traditional road-switcher carbody, and dressed in a flashy Amtrak livery that enthusiasts’ informally dubbed the “Pepsi can” scheme.
The unique locomotive was, in truth, a modified version of General Electric’s existing Dash 8-32B freight diesel which had first been constructed in 1989, but the design of the Dash 8-32B freighter provided GE with an opportunity to produce an able passenger diesel and to fulfill Amtrak’s immediate need for additional motive power while the national passenger carrier’s landmark GE “Genesis” diesels were still in development.
By taking the basic hardware of the Dash 8-32B freight version, including its 3,200-horsepower 7FDL 12-cylinder power plant and FB-2 two axle trucks (in B-B configuration) and building the new passenger locomotive on top of the slightly longer frame of a GE’s Dash 8-40B in order to include head-end power (HEP) equipment, the Dash 8-32BWH could hit the rails quickly.
Amtrak ordered 20 Dash 8-32BWHs (also often called P32BHs), which were constructed by GE between August and December 1991, and given Amtrak road numbers 500-519. The stylish GE diesels were immediately assigned to both short-haul and long-distance runs by Amtrak, which included the California’s Bay-Area Capitol service trains, the Los Angeles-San Diego San Diegans, the Los Angeles-Ogden (Utah) Desert Wind, and, perhaps most notably, the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief, successor to the famed Santa Fe Super Chief. By the mid-1990s it was also common to see one or more flashy Dash 8-32BWHs, often lashed up with an EMD F40PH, powering another of Amtrak’s long-haul flagships, the California Zephyr.
With the arrival of Amtrak’s Genesis diesels (the Dash 8-40BP followed by the P42DC), the Dash 8-32BWHs were increasingly reassigned, primarily to short-haul services ranging from “Amtrak California” services to Chicago-based trains such as the Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg to the Amtrak Pennsylvanian. Nonetheless, it remained not entirely surprising to on occasion see a Dash 8-32BWHs heading up long-haul trains such as the Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, or Sunset Limited when Amtrak’s motive power distribution requirements dictated. Indeed, the Dash 8-32BWHs have even demonstrated their versatility (and perhaps a bit of their freight-locomotive design lineage) by being assigned late in life to maintenance-of-way and terminal switching duties at major Amtrak yard facilities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D. C., Miami, and Sanford, Florida (home to Auto-Train).
All of which means the Amtrak Dash 8-32BWH will be authentically suited to service on a variety of popular Train Simulator U. S. routes, including Miami-West Palm Beach; Horseshoe Curve; the Aurora-Chicago “Racetrack;” Soldier Summit; Marias, Stevens, Donner, and Cajon Passes; and the Pacific Surfliner route. The Dash 8-32BWH is provided in both its original flashy “Pepsi can” livery and its current-day blue-and-silver scheme, also making it perfect for use in multiple eras across the locomotive quarter-century-long service career.
Dovetail Games’ new Amtrak Dash 8-32BWH DLC includes a full set of Amtrak Superliner equipment in Phase IVb livery and three career scenario for the Miami-West Palm Beach route. And there is no doubt whatsoever that this distinctive Amtrak diesel will became a real favorite of Steam Workshop creators who will put the versatile locomotive to work on a variety of Train Simulator routes across the U. S., from coast to coast! – Gary Dolzall