2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Railway transport

WC 715 at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, WI
Power type Diesel-electric
Builder General Motors Electro-Motive Division (EMD)
Build date July 1961 – November 1963
Total production 948
AAR wheel arr. B-B
Gauge ft 812  in (1435  mm)
Length 56 ft 2 in (17.12 m)
Total weight 253,000  lb (115,000  kg)
Prime mover EMD 567D3
Engine type 2-stroke diesel
Aspiration Mechanically-assisted turbocharger
Displacement 9,072 in³ (148.7 L)
Cylinders V16
Cylinder size 8.5 in × 10 in (215.5 mm × 254 mm)
Transmission DC generator, DC traction motors
Top speed 78  mph (126  km/h)
Power output 2,250  hp (1,680 kW)
Tractive effort 63,375 lbf (282 kN)
Locomotive brakes Straight air, Dynamic
Train brakes 26-L air
Locale North America

The EMD GP30 was a 2,250 hp (1,680 kW) four-axle B-B diesel locomotive built by General Motors' Electro-Motive Division of La Grange, Illinois between July, 1961 and November, 1963. 948 examples were built for railroads in the United States and Canada (2 only), including 40 cabless B units for the Union Pacific Railroad.

It was the first so-called "second generation" EMD diesel locomotive, and was produced in response to increased competition by a new entrant, General Electric's U25B, which was released roughly at the same time as the GP30. The GP30 is easily recognizable due to its high profile and stepped cab roof, unique among American locomotives. A number are still in service today in original or rebuilt form.



The GP30 was conceived out of the necessity of matching new competitor GE's U25B. The U25B offered 2,500 hp (1,900 kW) while EMD's GP20 and its 567D2 prime mover was only rated at 2,000 hp (1,500 kW). It also featured a sealed, airtight long hood with a single inertial air intake for electrical cooling, with a pressurised cooling system which kept dust out of the engine and equipment area. Finally, the entire design was optimized for ease of access and maintenance. The U25B demonstrators were receiving much praise—and orders—from the railroads that tested them. Meanwhile, ALCO had been producing the 2,400 hp (1,800 kW) RS-27 since 1959, though it had not sold well.

EMD's engine department managed to get an extra 250 hp (186 kW) out of the V16 EMD 567-series engine; the new engine was designated the EMD 567D3. 2,250 hp (1,680 kW) wasn't quite equivalent to the GE and ALCO offerings, but EMD hoped the railroads' familiarity with EMD equipment would improve their chances. The locomotive in which it would be fitted was improved along the lines of the U25B; sealed long hood, central air intake, and engineered for easier maintenance access. The frame and trucks of the GP20 were carried across; the extra equipment for the centralized air system required more space behind the cab, and since the locomotive was not going to be lengthened, extra space was achieved vertically by raising the height of the locomotive, giving room for the central air system, turbocharger and electrical cabinet all behind the cab. This extra height behind the cab meant that the body style used for previous GP units was not suitable.

A GP30, GP35, and GP20 run light in the late 1980s on California's Cajon Pass.
A GP30, GP35, and GP20 run light in the late 1980s on California's Cajon Pass.

Since EMD needed the new locomotive to be visibly modern and updated, they turned to the GM Automotive Styling Centre at Troy, Michigan for help. The automobile stylists created the GP30's trademark "hump" and cab roof profile. The hump-like bulge started at the front of the cab and enveloped the air intakes for the central air system and the dynamic brake blister. Units ordered without dynamic brakes were the same shape, but lacked the intakes to cool the dynamic brake resistor grids.

For the first time on an EMD hood unit, a low short hood was the default. A high short hood could be ordered, but only holdouts Norfolk and Western Railway and Southern Railway received such units. EMD originally planned to name the locomotive the GP22, and the first demonstrators were put out under that number, but EMD's marketing department decided to leapfrog GE's numbering to make the new locomotive seem more advanced. Marketing literature claimed 30 distinct improvements from the GP20 and that this was the reason for the number.

An EMD GP30 originally owned by the L&N -- Oak Ridge, TN.
An EMD GP30 originally owned by the L&N -- Oak Ridge, TN.

Sales and in service

The GP30 successfully countered the GE threat and kept EMD in the dominant position in the North American diesel market. While losing a little power to the GE and ALCO competition, the solidity and reliability of the GP30—and the familiarity of railroad mechanical departments with EMD products—ultimately won many more orders for EMD. 948 were sold, in comparison to 478 U25Bs. In addition, the GP30 was only sold until the end of 1963, while the U25B was available until 1966.

Most major railroads ordered GP30s, and many smaller ones did too. The largest orders were from the UP (152), SOU (120), ATSF (85), and the B&O (77). The sole purchaser of B units (by the mid 1960s generally an outdated concept) was the UP, who kept the practice of running its locomotives in matched sets much longer than others. Eight of those 40 B units were fitted with steam generators for heating passenger trains, the only GP30s to receive them.

Some units for the GM&O, MILW and SOO were built from ALCO trade-ins and ride on AAR type B trucks instead of the standard Blomberg Bs. An indisputable tribute to the quality of the GP30 design is the fact that a good number are still in service as of 2006, which is a service lifespan of over 40 years and well in excess of the design life of 25-30 years for the average diesel locomotive. Furthermore, when life-expired, some railroads chose to give them major rebuilds instead of scrapping them.


The Burlington Northern Railroad was the most extensive rebuilder of GP30s. Finding a need for modernised units of lower power, it sent GP30s—-both its own and units purchased from other railroads-—to be rebuilt. Seventy units were sent to EMD and 65 to Morrison Knudsen (now MotivePower Industries) for rebuilding, and the rebuilds are known as GP39E and GP39M respectively. The changes included new generators, Dash-2 modular electronic control systems and 567D3 engines upgraded with EMD 645-series power assemblies, rated at 2,300 hp (1,720 kW) and designated 16-645D3. These units are still in service on local and smaller lines throughout the BNSF Railway system.

The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, meanwhile, performed a similar upgrade in its own Cleburne, Texas shops, stripping the locomotives down to bare metal and rebuilding with new equipment. The 567 engines retained their 2,250 hp (1,680 kW) rating but were upgraded with 645-series power assemblies. The generators and traction motors were upgraded and control and electrical equipment was replaced. The trucks received Hyatt roller bearings and single-clasp brake systems. Rooftop air conditioners and new horns were added. The locomotives were repainted in the blue and yellow Yellowbonnet scheme, and designated GP30u (for upgraded). 78 of these survived until the BNSF merger, and most are still in use in secondary service.


According to John Komanesky's Preserved Diesels site, 16 GP30s have been preserved by a variety of museums, societies and tourist railways. This is in addition to a number still in operational use. A number of these preserved locomotives are in operational condition.

Union Pacific GP30 849 is in the collection of the Western Pacific Railroad Museum and is operational.

Units produced

Railroad   Quantity  Road numbers
Alaska Railroad
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway
Atlantic Coast Line Railroad
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
Chesapeake and Ohio Railway
Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad
Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad
Chicago Great Western Railway
Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad 
Chicago and North Western Railway
Canadian Pacific Railway
8200, 8201
Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad
Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad
Great Northern Railway
Kansas City Southern Railroad
Louisville and Nashville Railroad
New York Central Railroad
New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad
Norfolk and Western Railway
522–565 (high nose)
Pennsylvania Railroad
Reading Railroad
Phelps Dodge Corporation
Seaboard Air Line Railroad
Soo Line Railroad
Southern Pacific Railroad
Southern Railway
2525–2644 (high nose)
St. Louis Southwestern Railway
Toledo, Peoria and Western Railway
Union Pacific Railroad
112 (A)
700–735, 800–875 
40 (B)


In the 1993 film The Fugitive, a high nose GP30 painted in the livery of the Illinois Southern Railway is one of two locomotives involved in the train wreck that frees Dr. Richard Kimble from custody early on in the story.

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