Written by: Gary Dolzall
Train Simulator’s Peninsula Corridor route, now available, features the powerful and stylish “MPXpress” MP36PH-3C
Out now for Train Simulator is the Peninsula Corridor route as operated by Caltrain between San Francisco and San Jose, California, and the featured locomotive for the new route is the highly distinctive, powerful. and modern Motive Power (MPI) “MPXpress” MP36PH-3C.
If a diesel locomotive can, at once, be both stylish and rather brutish, the MPXpress fits the bill. Packing 3,600-horsepower and constructed to American Public Transportation Association’s stringent crash worthiness standards, the MP36PH-3C stretches to 70-feet in length, stands 15-and-a-half feet tall, weighs in at more than 280,000 pounds – and yet manages a sleek, rather European-style visual panache.
Introduced in 2002 by Motive Power, Inc. (a Wabtec company), the MPXpress line of diesel locomotives has, largely, become the standard-bearer for commuter motive power in North America. The first customer for the MPXpress series of locomotives was Chicago’s rail commuter operator, Metra, which acquired 27 units in 2002-2003 designated the MP36PH-3S. These locomotives were powered by EMD-derivative 645-series 16-cylinder power plants which supplied power both for traction and, via a static-inventor HEP system, for train requirements.
What would become the most popular edition of the MPXpress line of locomotives was born when Caltrain in 2002 ordered six MP36PH-3C diesels for use on its new “Baby Bullet” express commuter trains. Like the previous Metra locomotives, the MP36PH-3C employed a 16-cylinder, 3,600-horsepower 645-series power plant to provide traction, but the “-3C” model was equipped with a separate Caterpillar diesel to supply HEP power. Dressed in a red, white, and black livery and wearing road numbers 923-928, the Caltrain MP36PH-3Cs entered service in 2003 and have now worked for more than a decade on the Peninsula.
Since its debut on Caltrain, the MPXpress MP36PH-3C has been put into service by 10 commuter railroads and can be found from coast to coast in the United States. MARC (Maryland Area Regional Commuter) is the type’s largest fleet operator with a roster of 26 units. The MP36PH-3C was designed to be compliant with Tier 2 emissions standards, and in 2007 the locomotive was joined in the MPXpress line by the Tier 3, 4,000-horsepower MP40PH-3C which is powered by an EMD-derivative 710-series power plant and is presently operated primarily by Toronto’s GO Transit. Another MPXpress model, the MP32PH-Q, has been constructed for Florida’s SunRail commuter system using reconditioned EMD 645-series power plants and is rated at 3,200 horsepower. In total, more than 220 MPXpress locomotives are in service across North America. And representing the next generation of MPI commuter power is the MP54AC, a locomotive based upon the MPXpress design but powered by two Cummins QSK60 Tier 4-compliant diesel engines providing up to 5,400 horsepower. The MP54AC is making its debut on Canada’s GO Transit rail system.
On the Train Simulator Peninsula Corridor route, the MP36PH-3C is authentically matched with Bombardier bi-level commuter equipment and you can operate Caltrain’s Baby Bullet trains either from the modern desktop-style controls of the MPXpress diesel or from a Bombardier cab car. With 3,600-horsepower at call, track speeds of up to 79 miles per hour, and more than 20 stations to serve, the combination of the MPXpress locomotive and Peninsula Corridor route brings the best of contemporary North American commuter railroading to Train Simulator! – Gary Dolzall ■