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Amtrak’s “Clocker”, 1975-c1982


Amtrak’s “Clocker”, 1975-c1982

Fred Klein, 2013

Since the 1930s, the Pennsylvania Railroad provided hourly service between New York and Philadelphia on trains that came to be known as “clockers” because of their hourly regularity. Amtrak picked up the service in 1971, though it was mostly a rush hour train that did not run hourly during the whole day. Clockers usually made all the stops as a local train, but many other trains covered the run with fewer stops. Clockers were unreserved, coach class, and had no posh parlor cars. New Jersey Transit assumed the clocker commuter service from Amtrak in 2005.


The black paint scheme that Amtrak used for some of its GG1 electrics was inherited from that used by the former Penn Central. The black scheme was typical of northeast corridor trains in local service, but long distance trains got more attractive locomotives. Black is suited to the gritty appearance of the urban parts of the northeast corridor, but not to vacation trains. The Pennsylvania Railroad built the GG1s in the mid 1930s and they served the northeast corridor well. GG1s accelerate quickly and are well suited to commuter service. The GG1s were retired in the early 1980s (hence the end of this model train’s time period) after long lives. Other electric locomotives such as the AEM-7s and E60s replaced the GG1s. Amfleet coaches were added to Amtrak trains in 1975 (the start of this time period), but other cars could also be found, including old Pennsylvania Railroad coaches and newer NJT cars. In the 1980 time frame, phase III-painted Amfleet cars started replacing the older phase I and phase II scheme of this model train.



An Amtrak clocker with 5 Amfleet cars and one other coach pulled by a GG1 in black Amtrak paint. This is at North Elizabeth, New Jersey, probably in the late 1970s. Picture from Brian Solomon’s Amtrak.


A northbound clocker near the 30th street Philadelphia station in May 1976. Wikipedia photo.


A clocker, the whole train


The GG1 locomotive is in Amtrak’s gritty black paint scheme. It is a Kato model. Clocker trains typically had about four coach cars and a café car. The new Amfleet I coaches (two doors) were introduced on trains including the clockers as soon as they were delivered in 1975. Three Amfleet cars in phase II paint are in this train, all are Bachmann models to which I added body-mount couplers. Two older coaches with the arrow logo are in the train. The first coach is a Walthers model of a 1950s era PS corrugated coach. The last car is an ex-SP coach. It is a long distance car with large picture windows and is a treat for eastern commuters. It is an Intermountain model.



LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01




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.