• Christian Rosselli

Doppler Dreams

How the Amtrak locomotives of the past and their horns made me fall in love with trains.


The Doppler Effect from Wikipedia:

The Doppler effect (or Doppler shift) is the change in frequency of a wave (or other periodic event) for an observer moving relative to its source. It is named after the Austrian physicist Christian Doppler, who proposed it in 1842 in Prague.

K5LA Horn

* K5LA horns, designed by Nathan Manufacturing, LLC,  were commonly used with Amtrak and various freight lines over the past several decades. If you grew up around trains in the 1990's,  then you've definitely heard this horn.  Again from Wikipedia:

The K5LA five-chime assembly has five bells whose musical chord helps the horn to be heard and lessens complaints. The bells may be reversed[2] for trains that go backwards and help those working at the back of the train hear the horn on the front. The K5LA is the most popular horn in use today, with a B major 6th chord (D-sharp, F-sharp, G-sharp, B, D-sharp).[1] Though first used by Chessie System,[3] it was developed for Amtrak as a variation on the original K horn, and is the standard horn for Amtrak, CSXNorfolk Southern,[4] and Illinois Central as well as commuter and passenger trains.[5]

Just Another Train Nerd


As many of you know, I am a train geek, nerd, junkie, or enthusiast, if you will.  I grew up around trains in the early 1990's and was spoiled by my parents every chance I got, to see as many trains as possible.  I also had the great fortune of being exposed to people, other train enthusiasts, who helped feed this fire throughout my life.



The sound of a passing train whistle in the dead of night, otherwise known as The Doppler Effect, was a vital part of my childhood.  No matter how you look at it, trains, the sight and sound of them, the passion for them, even the smell of them, have always played an integral role throughout my life.  In particular, it was the now vintage locomotives Amtrak used for well over two decades, the EMD F40PH, that became the face of the American passenger rail system from 1978 to about 2001. Over two decades.   You could see these engines everywhere. They were magnificent, powerful, unapologetic, dirty and bad-ass, flying through the sprawling countrysides or vast urban landscapes of our country's most populated cities.  And they had a particular hum to them as well.  If you were lucky enough to be around an Amtrak F40 in the 90s and witness one of these beauties up close, you'd probably understand why I get so giddy and excited.



Looking at the above photo is like experiencing that same feeling all over again. And it happens every time. Growing up, these engines had been the face of Amtrak for years and I truly miss them.  Amtrak will never be the same.   Sadly, in 2001 they were taken out of service and replaced with a sleeker, faster, more aerodynamic Genesis P42 which were a more fuel-efficient alternative in the long run.  These engines are incredible as well but nothing, in my opinion, comes close to the grandeur of an F40PH.


Mdamttc199. "The BEST Old School Amtrak K5LAs" Video. YouTube 9 Aug 2015. 21 Nov 2015


#dopplereffect #audio #amtrak #trains #K5LA



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