GE "U28C" Locomotives

The U28C was General Electric's second six-axle model and virtually identical to its predecessor (U25C) save for a slight increase in horsepower.

When the U28C was cataloged many roads were still not embracing high-horsepower, six-axle models.  As a result, this particular model witnessed few sales.

There was also a variant, the U28CG, a duel-service designed equipped with a steam generator for passenger service.  Only the Santa Fe purchased this model.

During the late era of privately-operated rail travel, several railroads turned to duel-service road-switchers that could be used in both freight and passenger applications.

In essence, the U28C was never intended to enjoy a long production run.  At the time, all three builders were working towards a 3,000 horsepower road-switcher and offered 2,800 horsepower models in the interim.

When GE released the later U30C, U33C, and U36C the  builder sold more than 1,000 examples of these models. 

Today, one U28C is preserved; Union Pacific #2804 is on display at the National Transportation Museum in St. Louis retaining its original number and colors.

A new Chicago, Burlington & Quincy U28C, #570, is seen here in the spring of 1966. This unit later became Burlington Northern #5658. Author's collection.

U28C History And Background

The U28C was not really a stand-alone model but merely a transition variant from the U25C.  As GE continued external improvements it was able to increase the horsepower rating of its standard 7FDL16 prime mover.

As a result, a few late-era U25C's, notably Atlantic Coast Line #3011-3013, were uprated to 2,800 horsepower which ushered in the U28C.

This was all thanks to major electrical upgrades.  As Brian Solomon notes in his book, "GE Locomotives," the builder switched to an AC-DC transmission system.  He goes on to note:

"The new system used an alternator rather than a generator and employed silicon diodes to rectify alternating current to the direct current needed by traction motors.

This reduced the number of components, decreased maintenance, and, most significantly, allowed for higher output to traction motors."

All the common attributes of early GE locomotives were present in the U28C such as a boxy carbody, low nose, and simple design.

In this all-GE lashup, a former Erie Lackawanna U33C, Conrail U28C #6532 (built as Pennsylvania #6532 in October, 1966), a former Penn Central U30B, and a pair of former Lehigh Valley U23B's run light heading north on the Niagara Branch at Wheatfield, New York on October 30, 1977. Doug Kroll photo.

Its tractive effort was slightly higher than the earlier U25C at 92,500 pounds of starting and 79,500 pounds continuous.

Interestingly, General Electric had offered its earlier U25 model with an optional steam generator for passenger service.  However, there were no buyers until the U28's release.

Santa Fe saw interest in the variant as a duel service locomotive and liked its increased horsepower.  Aside from its steam generator and faster gearing (enabling it to reach speeds over 90 mph), the U28CG was identical to it counterpart.

U28C Data Sheet

Entered Production2/1966 (Chicago, Burlington & Quincy #562)
Years Produced2/1966 - 11/1966
GE ClassU28C
Engine7FDL16 (16 cylinder)
Engine BuilderGeneral Electric
Length64' 6"
Height (Top Of Rail To Top Of Cab)14' 7"
Width9' 11"
Weight395,500 Lbs
Fuel Capacity3,000 Gallons (U28CG 2,200 Gallons)
Air Compressor3CDC (Westinghouse)
Air Brake Schedule26L (Westinghouse)
Steam Generator (U28CG)800 Gallons
Truck TypeTrimount/Adirondack
Truck Wheelbase13' 0"
Wheel Size40"
Traction Motors752 (6), GE
Traction GeneratorGT598, GE
Auxiliary GeneratorGY27, GE
MU (Multiple-Unit)Yes
Dynamic BrakesOptional
Gear Ratio (U28C)74:18
Tractive Effort/Starting (U28C)92,000 Lbs
Tractive Effort/Continuous (U28C)79,500 Lbs at 10.7 mph
Top Speed (U28C)70 mph
Gear Ratio (U28CG)77:26
Tractive Effort/Starting (U28CG)98,875 Lbs
Tractive Effort/Continuous (U28CG)75,000 Lbs at 10.7 mph
Top Speed (U28CG)93 mph

U28C/U28CG Production Roster

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date Quantity
Northern Pacific2800-2801*35630-3563118154/19662
Chicago, Burlington & Quincy562-571*35751-3576018162/1966-3/196610
Chicago, Burlington & Quincy572-577*35815-3582018164/19666
Northern Pacific2802-2811*35882-3589118154/1966-5/196610
Louisville & Nashville1525-153235892-3589919085/1966-6/19668
Santa Fe350-359 (U28CG)**35993-3600219907/1966-8/196610
Union Pacific2800-280436014-3601819156/19665
Union Pacific2805-280936063-3606719178/1966-9/19665
Southern Pacific7150-715936068-36077191610/1966-11/196610

*  Equipped with the U25C carbody.

** Equipped with steam generators for passenger service.


  • Foster, Gerald. A Field Guide To Trains. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1996.

  • Marre, Louis A. Diesel Locomotives: The First 50 Years, A Guide To Diesels Built Before 1972.  Milwaukee: Kalmbach Publishing Company, 1995.

  • McDonnell, Greg. U-boats.  Toronto: Stoddart Publishing, 1994.

  • Pinkepank, Jerry A. Diesel Spotter's Guide.  Milwaukee: Kalmbach Publishing Company, 1967.

  • Solomon, Brian. GE Locomotives: 110 Years Of General Electric Motive Power. St. Paul: MBI Publishing, 2003.

Another of Santa Fe's U28CG's, #7908, is seen here in Fort Madison, Iowa on May 31, 1971. Roger Puta photo.

From a historical perspective, GE is often lauded for its Universal line, which eventually allowed the builder to overtake Electro-Motive in locomotive production by the 1980's.

However, most crews who operated U-boats were not found of them, cursing their rough ride and generally referring to them as "junk."

In addition, Electro-Motive models released in the same period can still be found in revenue service throughout the country while nearly all U-boats now are either scrapped or reside in museums.

For the Santa Fe, issues with its U28CG force the railroad to reassign its ten to freight service where they remained until their retirement in 1980.

For the Class Is which purchased the standard U28C, most had retried theirs by the 1980s.  By then, GE was offering more powerful and reliable models such as the Dash 7 series and early Dash 8 designs. 

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Wes Barris's is simply the best web resource in the study of steam locomotives. 

The amount of information found there is quite staggering; historical backgrounds of wheel arrangements, types used by virtually every railroad, preserved and operational examples, and even those used in other countries (North America and beyond). 

It is difficult to truly articulate just how much material can be found at this website.  It is a must visit!

Researching Rights-Of-Way

A popular pastime for many is studying and/or exploring abandoned rights-of-way. 

Today, there are tens of thousands of miles scattered throughout the country.  Many were pulled up in the 1970's and 1980's although others were removed long before that. 

If you are researching active or abandoned corridors you might want to check out the United States Geological Survey's (USGS) Historical Topographic Map Explorer

It is an excellent resource with thousands of historic maps on file throughout the country.  Just type in a town or city and click on the timeline of maps at the bottom of the page!