GE "U30C" Locomotives

Last revised: October 20, 2022

By: Adam Burns

The U30C was General Electric's first high-horsepower, six-motored road-switcher.   Thanks to new advancements in AC-DC transmission systems, GE was finally able to catalog a 3,000 horsepower variant.

Its success proved GE could compete against industry leader Electro-Motive.  It also led to American Locomotive exiting the market by the end of the 1960's.

When the U30C entered production railroads were beginning to understand the advantages of six-motored, high horsepower locomotives.

While EMD continued to sell numerous four-motored examples like the GP30, GP35, and GP40 its new SD40 of 1966 was also a big seller.

General Electric enjoyed similar success with the U30C, which became its best selling model up until that time.  When production ended in 1976, some 600 units had rolled out of Erie.

There was also two variants; the U30CG ("G" stood for steam generator), purchased by the Santa Fe, and the P30CH for Amtrak.  Both wore different types of cowl carbodies. 

Photos

Santa Fe U30CG's and U28CG's layover at Argentine Yard (Kansas), circa 1969. American-Rails.com collection.

Background

The U30C all but drove American Locomotive out of business.  Alco was already on the brink by the 1960's and its newest six-motored road-switchers saw only modest sales.

By comparison, GE was a manufacturer on the rise.  The company was already revered for its traction motors and generators. 

It also backed its early road-switchers extensively through warranties and field work while constantly seeking improvements and enhancements to its products.

The U30C began production in November, 1966 when Atlantic Coast Line #3021 rolled out of the Erie, Pennsylvania plant.

The new model varied little from the earlier U28C, utilizing the company's 4-cycle model 7FDL16 prime mover and a similar carbody.

Union Pacific U30C #2937 and GP9 #165 carry out switching work in Fremont, Nebraska during July of 1981. American-Rails.com collection.

As Greg McDonnell notes in his book, "U-boats," part of the U30C's success was market conditions.  During the early 1970's demand for coal was booming, particularly clean burning Powder River Basin sub-bituminous coal then-served only by Burlington Northern.

Railroads with a vested interest in handling this commodity found the U30C as a rugged and reliable power plant, as well as a cheaper alternative to the more expensive SD40.

The BN wound up with the most (181) and they were used extensively in the PRB region.  In addition, Union Pacific acquired another 150 while the Louisville & Nashville, Missouri Pacific, and Delaware & Hudson all used theirs in heavy drag service.

Rock Island U30C #4589 lays over in Silvis, Illinois, circa 1974. Note the locomotive is part of GE's "XR Series," which featured a multitude of improvements. American-Rails.com collection.

In all, some 17 Class Is would purchase the U30C by the time production had ended in 1976.  In addition, Kaiser Steel acquired 5, Detroit Edison 11 (also for coal service), Mexican carrier Ferrocarril del Pacífico 8, and the U.S. Department of Transportation picked up one for its test track in Pueblo, Colorado.

In total, GE would sell some 606 U30Cs, which included the six U30CG passenger variants built for the Santa Fe.  These units were not particularly well-liked by either the railroad or railfans.


Amtrak's P30CH Variant

While not listed as part of the Universal series, the P30CH was, indeed, a variant of U30C.  It closely mimicked Santa FE's U30CG although did not feature a fluted cowl carbody.

In addition, it was equipped with HEP (head-end power) by way of two Detroit Diesel 12V715 engines that could produce 750 kilowatts of power for all electrical equipment with Amtrak's new Amfleet cars.

The P30CH had immediate tracking issues with its FB3 "Adirondack" trucks, a GE design that was also used on the E60C electrics.  After some tweaks the locomotives entered service between Chicago-New Orleans over the Illinois Central.

They were later used in "Auto Train" service between Lorton, Virginia and Sanford, Florida and finally assigned to the "Sunset Limited" between New Orleans and Los Angeles.


Missouri Pacific U30C #2970 at Centennial Yard in Fort Worth, Texas in 1985. Mike Bledsoe photo. American-Rails.com collection.

There was also one other variant known as the P30CH, built exclusively for Amtrak. The passenger carrier wound up with 25 examples manufactured between August, 1975 and January, 1976.

It was similar to the U30CG but lacked the fluted carbody and featured a somewhat different cab.  It was more akin to EMD's F40PH design.

However, they were not very successful either with numerous reliability issues. They were later replaced by the F40PH and retired by 1991.

Data Sheet and Specifications

Entered Production11/1966 (Atlantic Coast Line #3021)
Years Produced11/1966 - 9/1976
GE ClassU30C
Engine7FDL16 (16 cylinder)
Engine BuilderGeneral Electric
Horsepower3000
RPM1050
Length67' 3"
Height (Top Of Rail To Top Of Cab)15' 4"
Width9' 11"
Weight (U30C)363,000 Lbs
Weight (U30CG)400,000 Lbs
Fuel Capacity3,000 Gallons (U30CG 2,200 Gallons)
Air Compressor3CDC (Westinghouse)
Air Brake Schedule26L (Westinghouse)
Steam Generator (U30CG)800 Gallons
TrucksC-C
Truck TypeTrimount/Adirondack
Truck Wheelbase13' 0"
Wheel Size40"
Traction Motors752 (6), GE
Traction AlternatorGTA11AC, GE
Auxiliary GeneratorGY27, GE
MU (Multiple-Unit)Yes
Dynamic BrakesOptional
Gear Ratio (U30C)74:18
Tractive Effort/Starting (U30C)91,650 Lbs
Tractive Effort/Continuous (U30C)90,600 Lbs at 9.6 mph
Top Speed (U30C)70 mph
Gear Ratio (U30CG)77:26
Tractive Effort/Starting (U30CG)98,875 Lbs
Tractive Effort/Continuous (U30CG)75,000 Lbs at 10.7 mph
Top Speed (U30CG)95 mph

P30CH

Entered Production8/1975
Years Produced8/1975 - 12/1975
GE ClassU30CH
Engine7FDL16 (16 cylinder)
Engine BuilderGeneral Electric
Horsepower3000
RPM1050
Length72' 4"
Height (Top Of Rail To Top Of Cab)15' 4"
Width9' 11"
Weight386,000 Lbs
Fuel Capacity1,400 Gallons
Air Compressor3CDC (Westinghouse)
Air Brake Schedule26L (Westinghouse)
HEPDetroit Diesel 12V715 Engines (2) at 750 KW
TrucksC-C
Truck TypeFB3 (Adirondack)
Truck Wheelbase13' 7"
Wheel Size40"
Traction Motors752 (6), GE
Traction AlternatorGTA11AC, GE
Auxiliary GeneratorGY27, GE
MU (Multiple-Unit)Yes
Gear Ratio81:22
Tractive Effort/Starting96,500 Lbs
Tractive Effort/Continuous46,822 Lbs at 9.3 mph
Top Speed103 mph

Production Roster

(Total Built = 606)

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date Quantity
Pennsylvania6535-653936096-3610019131/19675
Atlantic Coast Line3021-3024*36140-36143190411/1966-12/19664
Delaware & Hudson701-70636232-3623719212/1967-3/19676
Chesapeake & Ohio3300-330336300-3630319226/19674
Reading6300-630439318-3632218576/1967-7/19675
Santa Fe400-405 (U30CG)36346-36351192511/1967-12/19676
Southern Railway3100-310436483-36487193712/19675
Delaware & Hudson707-71236493-36498193912/19676
Southern Pacific7900-792936620-3664919382/1968-7/196830
Chicago & North Western930-93636650-3665619541/1968-2/19687
Missouri Pacific960-96536700-3670518213/1968-4/19686
Soo Line800-80936715-3672419534/1968-6/196810
Kaiser Steel1030-103436762-3676619553/19685
Chesapeake & Ohio3304-331236767-3677519565/1968-7/19689
Colorado & Southern (Burlington)890-89336791-3679419566/1968-7/19684
Louisville & Nashville1534-154737008-3702119853/1969-4/196914
Missouri Pacific966-96937022-3702518035/19694
Southern Pacific7930-793637172-37178181210/19697
Louisville & Nashville1548-156237258-37272181310/1969-3/197015
Ferrocarril del Pacífico401-40437369-37372181611/1969-12/19694
Missouri Pacific970-97337559-3756218426/1970-7/19704
Ferrocarril del Pacífico 405-40837695-3769818433/19714
Louisville & Nashville1563-158237952-3797118525/1971-8/197120
Missouri Pacific974-97838011-3801518428/1971-9/19715
Department Of Transportation (Pueblo, Colorado Test Track)001380901855DOT6/19711
Detroit Edison007-00838237, 3823918512/19722
Detroit Edison009-01038238, 3824018512/19722
Detroit Edison011-01238235, 3823618513/19722
Burlington Northern5300-5305 (1st)**38241-3824618551/19726
Burlington Northern5306-531938247-3826018551/197214
Missouri Pacific979-98338261-3826518622/19725
Union Pacific2810-281938300-3831918854/1972-6/197220
Burlington Northern5320-533438350-3836418833/1972-5/197215
Louisville & Nashville1470-149938415-3844418876/1972-8/197230
Burlington Northern5335-535238556-38573180411/1972-12/197218
Burlington Northern5353-5364 (1st)***38574-38585180412/197212
Union Pacific2830-285938795-3882418152/1973-5/197330
Union Pacific2860-286939200-3920918256/197310
Missouri Pacific25-2939210-3921418336/19735
Burlington Northern5912-591839282-3928818217/19737
Burlington Northern5806-581339289-3929618217/19738
Burlington Northern5814-582339419-39428182111/1973-12/197310
Burlington Northern5919-592839429-39438183511/1973-12/197310
Rock Island4582-459939479-39496184110/1973-12/197318
Missouri Pacific3329-333439500-3950418531/1974-2/19746
Union Pacific2870-289939591-3962018633/1974-7/197430
Burlington Northern5824-583339713-39731 (Odds Only)18214/1974-5/197410
Burlington Northern5929-593839714-39732 (Evens Only)18554/1974-5/197410
Norfolk & Western8000-800239841-3984318573/19743
Union Pacific2900-290439847-3985118757/19745
Milwaukee Road5651-565839916-3992318718/19748
Burlington Northern5365-539439924-3995318848/1974-11/197430
Union Pacific2905-291940044-4005818124/1975-2/197615
Burlington Northern5353-5364 (2nd)40378-4038918115/197512
Burlington Northern5300-5305 (2nd)40390-4039518115/19756
Burlington Northern5834-583540396, 4039818114/1974-5/19742
Burlington Northern5939-594440397-40607 (Odds Only)18556/19756
Burlington Northern5836-583940600-40606 (Evens Only)18116/19754
Detroit Edison018-02140737-4074018037/19754
Detroit Edison0224074118036/19751
Union Pacific2920-295940925-4096418427/1976-10/197630

* Interestingly, as the first U30C's built, their builder plates read "U28C." 

** Renumbered 5800-5805 in 1973.

*** Renumbered 5900-5911 in 1973.

P30CH

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date Quantity
Amtrak700-724*40694-4071818168/1975-12/197525

* #713 was wrecked in December, 1977 and scrapped.  #715 was completely destroyed following a head-on collision with Illinois Central Gulf trailer train #51 at Harvey, Illinois on October 29, 1979 while leading the northbound "Shawnee."

Sources

  • 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.

Delaware & Hudson U30C #703, U33C #762, and a C628 head west through Allentown, Pennsylvania on April 20, 1973. American-Rails.com collection.

One additional interesting note is the Reading's five U30Cs, 6300-6304. The railroad received theirs so early, between June/July, 1967, that GE placed the units in U28C carbodies.

During the course of production, GE unveiled its "XR Series," advertised in a special black, white and gold livery on Louisville & Nashville #1499.

The series featured more than 50 upgrades to the U-boat line such as improved wiring, insulation, wheel slip controls, and more.  

Today, not only are a handful of U30Cs preserved at museums around the country but some remain in active revenue service, mostly now having been rebuilt with upgraded equipment and components essentially making them a C30-7.

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