The EMD GP30, Second Generation Power

The Electro-Motive Division's GP30 was one of the first second-generation models unveiled by the builder (behind the GP20). The locomotive improved on some of the features of the GP20, notably an upgraded prime mover but also retained new advances first found on the earlier model like equipment to help keep the engine compartment even cleaner. In many ways the GP30 offered an updated carbody to the earlier model such as the bulge over the cab and a more flush nose design ahead of the crew compartment. Aside from the model's design and carbody features it was an answer to General Electric's new U25B that surprised the industry when it was released in April, 1959. For being somewhat of a reactionary design, EMD again found big success with its latest model, selling nearly 1,000 examples to dozens of Class I systems. Today, the GP30 is very well preserved with numerous examples at museums in operation on tourist lines. Additionally, others remain in service on short lines.

Just months into the Burlington Northern era, GP30s #2202 and #2220 along with U25B #5409 pass through Downers Grove, Illinois at Fairview Avenue station with their manifest freight on August 30, 1970.

The GP30, which debuted in 1961 and was built through 1963, was one of the EMD’s first models of what is commonly referred today as second-generation power, or those diesel locomotives that are clearly defined from early models with less horsepower and fewer other technological features. While the common low, short hoods on EMD's diesel locomotives began to appear as early as the GP9s, the GP30 was one of the first models to include it as a standard design feature along with the earlier GP20 (until the FRA mandated that the wide "safety" cab design be employed on every new locomotive in the 1990s for added safety, the low, short hood design became common with all EMD models after the GP30). The GP30's prime mover was EMD’s new, 16 cylinder, 567D3 engine (a slight upgrade from the GP20's 567D2), which significantly increased horsepower from early Geep models.

The Reading purchased more products from EMD than any other builder although it did have a sizable fleet of Alco, and even Baldwin, models. In this scene, GP30 #3613 appears to be backing up with an RS3 at Hummelstown, Pennsylvania on June 9, 1972.

Much improved over early models like the GP7 and GP9 the GP30 boasted 2,250 horsepower (250 more horsepower than the GP20, which is said to have been achieved through the use of a different turbocharger, since the bore, stroke, compression ratios and RPMs of the two engines were identical), was equipped with the recently developed dynamic brake (a system for temporarily employing traction motors as generators and using the resulting electromotive force to slow the train), and featured an airtight hood that kept out dust, dirt and other particles from reaching internal components (to cool these critical components the GP30 featured a single air intake for electrical cooling, with a pressurized cooling system).

Soo Line GP30 #708 and F7A #2500-A ease their westbound freight over the grade crossing in Marshfield, Wisconsin during June of 1976 as a photographer (to the right of the photo) captures the scene from his bicycle.

While the GP30 was not as successful as its later counterparts like the GP40, GP40-2, and SD40/SD40-2, it nonetheless sold quite well at just fewer than 1,000 units (906 to be exact). When the model debuted it could be found from coast to coast on roads like the Baltimore & Ohio, Union Pacific, and Southern Railway and was beloved by railfans for its unmistakable bulge behind and above the cab along the roof-line where the dynamic braking was housed over the engine (the bulge itself was only a cosmetic-only feature to give a clean look of the roofline from the engine compartment to the cab, and was not used on any other model).

It should also be noted that nearly all future EMD models after the GP30 offered turbocharging thanks to the experimental test Union Pacific did with a few of its GP9s. In truth, turbocharging was not a new novelty in diesel locomotive development. The American Locomotive Company (Alco) pioneered its use in its early road switcher models which dated back to the early 1940s. Interestingly, there was a cabless GP30B design built but only for UP, which purchased 40, numbered 700B–739B with four equipped with steam generators for use in passenger service.

The Chesapeake & Ohio was very fond of Electro-Motive equipment, purchasing hundreds of early model Geeps for use primarily in coal service. Here, GP30 #3017 and Chessie/B&O GP9 #6543 move freight DT-41 westbound at Niagara Falls, New York towards the Canadian border on October 22, 1979.

Once again, Canadian lines took no orders on the GP30 as all buyers of the locomotive were located in the U.S. The largest orders for the model came from Union Pacific (111), Southern (120), and the Santa Fe (85).  Time and wear have naturally taken their toll on the GP30s' ranks but one can still find several roaming around on short lines, regionals, tourist railroads and even some Class Is (mostly, though, as either rebuilds or slug units on Class Is). Like almost all EMD locomotives the GP30 was built to last and it has certainly lived up to this reputation!

EMD GP30 Production Roster

Owner Road Number(s) Quantity Date Built
Alaska Railroad200011963
Atlantic Coast Line900-90891963
Baltimore & Ohio6900-6976771962-1963
Burlington940-977381962-1963
Chesapeake & Ohio3000-3047481962-1963
Chicago & Eastern Illinois239-24131963
Chicago & North Western810-823141963
Chicago Great Western201-20881963
Denver & Rio Grande Western3001-3028281962-1963
Electro-Motive (Demo)5629, 563911961-1962
Great Northern3000-3016171963
Gulf, Mobile & Ohio500-530311962-1963
Kansas City Southern100-119201962-1963
Louisville & Nashville1000-1057581961-1963
Milwaukee Road340-353141963
New York Central6115-6124101962
Nickel Plate Road900-909101962
Norfolk & Western522-565441962
Pennsylvania2200-2251521963
Phelps Dodge Corporation24-3291962-1963
Reading5501-5520201962
Santa Fe1200-1284851962-1963
Seaboard Air Line500-534351962-1963
Soo Line700-721221963
Southern Pacific7400-740781963
Southern Railway2525-256441201962-1963
St. Louis Southwestern Railway (Cotton Belt/SP)750-759101963
Toledo, Peoria & Western70011963
Union Pacific800-875, 700-7351121961-1963
Union Pacific700B-739B (GP30B)401963


As always, Norfolk & Western ordered its GP30s with hi-hoods. In this scene #540, a C30-7, SD45, and another GP30 move a Delaware & Hudson freight through Silver Springs, New York on July 14, 1984 during the early years of Norfolk Southern.

Places you can still find the GP30 in operation includes the Indiana Northeastern, Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, Hartwell Railroad, New Hope & Ivyland, Lebanon, Mason & Monroe Railroad, Branson Scenic Railway, Twin Cities & Western, Roanoke Chapter NRHS, Southern Appalachia Railway Museum, Lake Superior Railroad Museum, Boise Valley Railroad, Carolina Coastal Railway, Conrad Yelvington, Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, North Carolina Transportation Museum, and the Cimarron Valley Railroad.  There are also a handful of former GP30s still in use by Class Is; BNSF has a few former rebuilt Santa Fe units still roaming the system and CSX has converted some of theirs into slugs.

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