The GE B36-7 was the builder's most powerful four-axle "Dash 7" model. By the time the model
was manufactured during the first half of the 1980s, railroads were
losing interest in high-horsepower four-axle units, instead opting for
six-axle models for main line freight operations. Interestingly, however, General Electric continued to offer four-axle designs
as late as 1990 with its B40-8W (which was part of its later "Dash 8"
series). While the design had the fewest sales of any "Dash 7"
locomotive model, ex-Seaboard units remained in use on CSX until
late 2009. Today, one can still find B36-7s in use on short lines and
regionals. Additionally, given the relative young age of this model,
none are currently in a state of preservation although as the years
progress and units are retired, museums and tourist lines will very
likely pick up examples of the model.
CSX B36-7 #5912 leads freight Q249 westbound along the Pittsburgh Subdivision as it rolls under a signal bridge near the Steel City on the late afternoon of June 8, 1997.
Like its predecessor the GE B36-7 (read B36 “Dash” 7) looked very similar to the model
it was designed after, the U36B, save for its flared rear radiator and
upgraded components and electronics. Overall, the entire Dash 7 line
was simply Universal models that featured new and more reliable
equipment, notably traction motors and the aforementioned electronics.
While the "Dash 7" line was somewhat different in how GE labeled its models the letters and numbers meant virtually the same thing. For instance, in regards to this design the "B" denoted the model
was a four-axle unit (or featured a B-B truck setup), "36" listed the
power rating (3,600 horsepower), and "7" simply referred to the unit as
part of the "Dash 7" line. As always, the model came equipped with GE's 4-cycle model FDL16 prime mover utilizing the company's very reliable, and latest, 752AF model traction motors.
The locomotive could produce the greatest amount of tractive effort of the four-axle Dash 7 models;
65,725 pounds starting and 64,000 pounds continuous. The GE B36-7
began production in 1980, a few years before its predecessor, the B30-7
ended its run. Overall sales were lukewarm although six Class Is
ultimately purchased at least a few units including the Santa Fe (16),
Conrail (60), Seaboard (120), Southern (6), SP (16), and
Cotton Belt. By the 1980s GE had a steady following by some,
such as Conrail and Seaboard, the latter of which purchased the
most B36-7s. Additionally, the Cerrejon Coal Project of Columbia
purchased eight units. In all, General Electric sold some 230 examples by the time production was ended in September, 1985.
Conrail B36-7 #5023 and a helper pull a heavy coke train along the Fort Wayne Line near Glenfield, Pennsylvania on April 1, 1997.
Despite sales for the model being slow, at least compared to other designs
GE had sold up to that time, it soldiered on in active revenue service
on Class Is for many years with the final units being retired from CSX
in the late fall, 2009. Earlier, Conrail's original fleet of B36-7s
were put out to pasture between 2000 and 2001. In any event, for GE it
understood by the 1980s that any remaining interest in four-axle designs, at least for main line service (this model,
for instance, had been intended for use in fast intermodal/container
service, which is why Conrail like them so well) had all but evaporated.
A Seaboard B36-7, now patched for CSX, leads an autorack train through Brunswick, Maryland on August 11, 1988.
It cataloged a B32-8/W, B36-8, B39-8, and B40-8/W in the
mid/late-1980s but in total these models sold a combined 400+ examples.
While GE was fighting with General Motors for industrial leader in the
1980s, not even the latter's EMD could tempt many to purchase four axle
models during that time (its GP50, GP59, and GP60 models sold slightly
better at a little over 700 examples).
Today one can still find some B36-7s in service on smaller systems
including the Transkentucky Transportation Railroad (which owns many),
British Columbia Railway, and Progress Rail Services. Lastly, for more information about the B36-7 and a complete production roster please refer to the chart above.