The EMD SW1000

The EMD SW1000 was the first model the builder produced originally designed to use its new model 645 prime mover. Built during the mid-1960s it was essentially a second-generation unit. The model featured classic SW series styling (although slight changes were made to the overall carbody) and size with reasonable power. Unfortunately, EMD found it tough to sell the SW1000, as many found the more powerful SW1500 (built during the same time as SW1000) more to their liking (additionally, sales for switchers began to decline in the 1960s as lines found that their older first generation units could be reassigned to secondary and yard duty). Interestingly, despite only a little more than 100 SW1000s built a number of them remain in operation on shortlines and in industrial services, and even Class I BNSF Railway operates a few of the switchers. To date, there are none known to yet be preserved at either a museum or in operation with a tourist line.

A rusty and aging SW1000 soldiers on at BNSF, as #3625 awaits further instructions in Pasco, Washington on June 14, 2011. The switcher started its career as Burlington Northern #432 in 1971.

The EMD SW1000 began production in the summer of 1966 offering a new prime mover and slightly updated carbody. The builder stuck with the typical overall length found in other SW models at just over 44-feet (although the locomotive was about four inches longer than previous designs). However, while the taper near the cab remained, the hood featured harder lines with less beveling and a wider, boxier cab that no longer included an arched roof. The design also went back to a single, conical stack, as had been used on the earlier SW8 model. The SW1000 featured EMD's new model 645 prime mover (the 645E) that was an eight-cylinder engine cable of producing 1,000 horsepower. Once again EMD kept the model light at 115 tons and using General Motors' new model D77 traction motors the unit could produce a respectable continuous tractive effort of 36,000 pounds continuous and 57,500 pounds starting (the same as the SW900).

Birmingham Southern SW1000 #212 and SW1001 #222 stop for a moment while switching the yard in Wylam, Alabama during early April of 1992. Both switchers were purchased new by the shortline.

Of note, beginning with the SW900, EMD began using the number designation of the model to refer to its horsepower rating instead of simply using it to list its sequential order in the series. This dated back to the days of the Electro-Motive Corporation, which had debuted the switcher series in the latter half of the 1930s. Sales for the EMD SW1000 never came around and while it had a relatively long production period, by the time the last unit rolled out of LaGrange, Illinois in October, 1972 just 114 had been built with another 5 constructed for foreign companies. Surprisingly, despite the unit's poor sales performance its reliability and versatility had not diminished as you can still find the SW1000 operating in numerous settings all across the country.

Houston Belt & Terminal SW1000 #53 lays over between assignments with an SW1500 and other power on March 12, 1995.

Interestingly, the company's Ontario plant, General Motors Diesel, did not take any orders for the SW1000. However, five units were sold to foreign companies in Jamaica and Mexico. Two years after the release of the SW1000, EMD cataloged the SW1001, which remained in production for nearly twenty years. This model was a bit more successful but nothing all that spectacular (especially for their standards of the time). The final model that proved truly successful for the company was the aforementioned SW1500, which sold nearly 1,000 examples. Additionally, EMD found quite a bit of interest with its MP15 series, the final switcher model it has ever cataloged do date, which ended production in 1987.

EMD SW1000 Production Roster

Owner Road Number(s) Quantity Date Built
Appalachian Power Company111969
Armco Steel CorporationB8111966
Birmingham Southern Railroad10-1781967-1971
Burlington9310-9321121966
Burlington Northern375-394, 427-449431970-1972
Central Foundry Division, General MotorsNo Number11972
Corn Products Corporation68-6921966-1969
Cuyahoga Valley Railway105011966
Denver & Rio Grande Western140-149101966-1968
Detroit Edison Company21611967
Duluth & Northeastern Railroad3511967
E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company106-10721966-1967
Eastman Kodak Company811968
Great Lakes Steel Corporation5811971
Hampton & Branchville Railroad12011967
Houston Belt & Terminal Railway40-4231968
Inland Steel Company115-11841966-1967
Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation102-10321967-1969
Mobile Chemical Corporation211966
New Orleans Public Belt Railroad101-10661971
Public Service Company Of Indiana111969
Wisconsin Electric Power CompanyNo Number11968
Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company905-914101967-1969



Duluth & Northeastern SW1000 #35 performs its daily work assignments near Cloquet, Minnesota on August 26, 1978.

In any event, aside from the fleet still operated by BNSF Railway, today you can find SW1000s in operation with Terrace Bay Pulp, Cloquet Terminal Railroad, National Railway Equipment, GATX Locomotive Group, Webb Asset Management, Coors Brewery (these units are being sold but the buyer is unknown), Tennessee Valley Authority, Railserve, Inc., East Tennessee Railway, United States Steel, Algoma Steel. So, as you can see, there are several units still out there to see in operation and given the longevity of all of EMD's switchers many SW1000s will likely remain in service for decades to come.

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A History Of Electro-Motive




A History Of General Motors Diesel


Other Electro-Motive Switcher Models



Early Switcher Designs




The "Cow-Calf"




NW2




SW1




SW7




SW8




SW9




SW900




SW1001




SW1200




SW1500




MP15DC/AC/T


Fairbanks Morse's Switcher Models



H10-44




H12-44


Alco's Switcher Models



The S1




The S2




The S3




The S4




The S6




The T6