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Amtrak’s Northeast Regional, 1975-mid 1990s


Amtrak’s Northeast Regional, 1975-mid 1990s

Fred Klein, 2013

The Northeast Regional is a fast Amtrak train in the northeast corridor between Boston and Washington DC. There is daily all-reserved service nearly every hour, with more trains running from New York City to Washington than run north to Boston. Amtrak completed the electrification of the line north from New Haven to Boston in 2000, so trains in the era of this train are diesel powered north of New Haven. The Regional makes only certain stops and thus is distinct from slower local trains. The train takes about 7.5-8 hours to travel from Washington to Boston.


In 1975, Amtrak bought a fleet of Amfleet I coach and café cars from the Budd company that were made in a rounded shape designed to fit in the smallest eastern tunnels and terminals. These are the Amfleet I cars with two doors per side. Trains usually have 6-10 cars with the business class car in the front and the café car in the middle. In 1974, 1975 and 1976 Amtrak bought 26 E60 locomotives from GE, split between the E60CP with steam generators for heating older equipment and the E60CH with head end power for newer cars such as Amfleet cars. Locomotives and cars were initially in the phase II paint scheme, but were repainted to phase III (like the model train below) in the late 1970s. Amtrak began phasing out the E60 locomotives in 1984 in favor of newer power like the AEM-7. By the early-mid 1990s, phase IV paint replaced the phase III scheme, hence the end of the era for this model train.


The Northeast Regional train pictured below is relatively easy to model because both the E60 locomotive and the Amfleet cars (when available) are made factory painted by Bachmann. Bachmann does not label its model as E60, but that is what it is.



An Amtrak E60CH electric locomotive leading the Colonial at Harmans MD in September 1976. The Colonial was one of Amtrak’s train names used on the daily schedule that later became the Northeast Regional. The cars in the photo are Amfleet I coaches and café cars, except for an unknown car at the end. The E60 and the Amfleet cars are in the phase II paint scheme as adopted in 1975. Dale Jacobson photo from Amtrak by the numbers, by David Warner and Elbert Simon.


An Amtrak E60CP electric locomotive (GE) in phase II paint at Wilmington, Deleware in November, 1975 when it was new. This is the locomotive, right down to the number, that was the prototype for the Bachmann model. Stephen Salamon photo from Amtrak by the numbers, by David Warner and Elbert Simon.


The Northeast Regional, first part


The E60C locomotive is a Bachmann model. The Amfleet I coaches (two doors per side) are also Bachmann models. The coaches are the second generation of the Bachmann Amfleet car with finer molding and detail, better trackability and less rolling friction than the primitive first generation cars that were made in the 1970s. The lighting in each car is excellent. The locomotive and all cars are in phase III paint. I body mounted Microtrains couplers to each coach.


The Northeast Regional, second part


The Amfleet I (two door) café car and two more Amfleet I coaches are Bachmann models. The next to the last coach is a Kato model of an Amfleet II car (one door per side). Amtrak did not buy the Amfleet II cars until the 1990s, so strictly the Kato car should not be in this early train, but I needed and extra car to make up a 7-car train and few would notice the lack of a door.





Solomon, Brian, Amtrak, MBI Railroad Color History, MBI publishing, 2004.

Amtrak by the numbers, by David Warner and Elbert Simon, White River productions, 2011. An excellent guide with thorough car histories and hundreds of photographs.