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
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.