GE "C30-7" Locomotives

Last Revised: December 3, 2022

By: Adam Burns

The C30-7 was the original "Dash 7" model, introduced in September, 1976 when Burlington Northern #5500 rolled out of GE's plant in Erie, Pennsylvania.

The model succeeded the earlier U30C, General Electric's most successful design up until that time selling 606 examples.  The C30-7 nearly doubled that total and put GE on the map as a serious competitor to Electro-Motive.

As Greg McDonnell notes in his book, "Locomotives: The Modern Diesel & Electric Reference, Second Edition," GE timed the C30-7's release perfectly with a national coal boom, particularly for the Burlington Northern which began moving large amounts out of Wyoming's Powder River Basin.

Today, you can still find examples of the C30-7 operating around the country in active revenue but only on regionals and short lines.

Additionally, while the design is still somewhat young there is one already preserved; Louisville & Nashville #7087 parades as New Hope & Ivyland #7087 in New Hope, Pennsylvania.


Union Pacific C30-7 #2447 and U30C #2947 have a string of hoppers at Council Bluffs; July, 1981. collection.


The C30-7 continued improvements to GE's high-horsepower, six-motored line.  It boasted an upgraded electrical system and tractive effort.  In addition, the company was able to improve fuel efficiency by 16% during production.

The C30-7's primary differences from its predecessor included:

  • Larger rare flared radiators.
  • A slightly wider hood from just ahead of the exhaust stack to the radiator cab, which housed the relocated oil cooler.  This "notch" is the easiest way to identify the "Dash 7" line over the earlier U-boat.
Santa Fe C30-7 #8035 leads an eastbound over the Canyon Diablo Bridge (Arizona), circa 1983. Mike Bledsoe photo. collection.

The C30-7 came equipped with GE's standard 4-cycle model FDL16 prime mover utilizing the company's very reliable 752 model traction motors.

The introduction of the "Dash 7" line brought with it new model designations and meanings behind the numbers and letters.  In regards to the C30-7:

  • "C" referred to a six-axle (C-C) locomotive.

  • "30" designated the horsepower rating (in this case 3,000 horsepower was available at the traction motors).

  • "7" indicated the "Dash 7" line was introduced in 1976.

Meant for use in heavy freight/drag service the design offered tractive efforts of 105,000 pounds of starting effort and 96,900 pounds of continuous effort at 8.8 mph.

Santa Fe C30-7 #8116 in service at San Bernardino, California on January 2, 1981. collection.

In regards to carbody styling, this actually changed very little from the Universal line and the C30-7 was actually the exact same length as the U30C (67 feet, 3 inches).

Again, the only noticeable difference from the two models was the flared radiator on the model, a feature that would become a trademark of virtually all future GE models that began with the late U-boat models.

Of note, General Electric also manufactured a variant of the locomotive, the C30-7A. As with the four axle B30-7A the only difference was the smaller prime mover, a 12-cylinder FDL that offered the same 3,000 horsepower but was more fuel efficient. 

Data Sheets


Entered Production9/1976 (Burlington Northern #5500)
Years Produced9/1976 - 5/1986
GE ClassC30-7
Engine7FDL16 (16 cylinder)
Engine BuilderGeneral Electric
Length67' 3"
Height (Top Of Rail To Top Of Cab)15' 4 1/2"
Width9' 1"
Weight359,000 - 420,000 Lbs
Fuel Capacity3,000 Gallons
Air Compressor3CDC (Westinghouse)
Air Brake Schedule26L (Westinghouse)
Truck TypeFloating Bolster FB3 (GE)
Truck Wheelbase13' 7"
Wheel Size40"
Traction Motors752 (6), GE
Traction AlternatorGTA11AC, GE
Auxiliary GeneratorGY27, GE
MU (Multiple-Unit)Yes
Dynamic BrakesYes
Gear Ratio83:20
Tractive Effort/Starting105,000 Lbs
Tractive Effort/Continuous96,900 Lbs at 8.8 mph
Top Speed70 mph


Entered Production5/1984 (Conrail #6550)
Years Produced5/1984 - 6/1984
GE ClassC30-7A
Engine7FDL12 (12 cylinder)
Engine BuilderGeneral Electric
Length67' 3"
Height (Top Of Rail To Top Of Cab)15' 4 1/2"
Width9' 1"
Weight390,000 Lbs
Fuel Capacity3,000 Gallons
Air Compressor3CDC (Westinghouse)
Air Brake Schedule26L (Westinghouse)
Truck TypeFloating Bolster FB3 (GE)
Truck Wheelbase13' 7"
Wheel Size40"
Traction Motors752 (6), GE
Traction AlternatorGTA11AC, GE
Auxiliary GeneratorGY27, GE
MU (Multiple-Unit)Yes
Dynamic BrakesYes
Gear Ratio83:20
Tractive Effort/Starting105,000 Lbs
Tractive Effort/Continuous96,900 Lbs at 8.8 mph
Top Speed70 mph

Production Rosters


(Total Built = 1,078)

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date Quantity
Union Pacific2960-297441558-4157218467/1977-9/197715
Santa Fe8010-801941663-41672185312/197710
Santa Fe8020-805741687-4172418663/1978-6/197838
Union Pacific2415-242941782-4179618616/1978-7/197815
Santa Fe8058-806342080-42085188510/19786
Burlington Northern5001-500742201-4220718016/19797
Burlington Northern5500-55094140018399/1976-12/197610
Burlington Northern5510-552941533-4155218434/1977-7/197720
Burlington Northern5530-554441594-41608184711/1977-12/197715
Burlington Northern5545-556641957-4197818639/1978-10/197822
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México670042208187112/19781
Norfolk & Western8003-803742018-42052186212/197835
Union Pacific2430-245942093-42122189412/1978-1/197930
Burlington Northern5567-558142168-4218218911/1979-2/197915
Burlington Northern5582-559942183-4220018016/197918
Louisville & Nashville (Family Lines System)7000-701542289-4230418842/1979-3/197916
Norfolk & Western8038-808242330-42374180210/197945
Santa Fe8064-809842375-4240918924/1979-5/197935
Seaboard Coast Line (Family Lines System)7016-702442437-4244518963/19799
Seaboard Coast Line (Family Lines System)7025-703142446-4245218038/19797
Louisville & Nashville (Family Lines System)7032-705142453-4247218229/197920
Santa Fe8099-812242500-4252318255/1980-6/198024
Burlington Northern5008-500942571-4257218119/19792
Burlington Northern500042573181110/19791
Burlington Northern5010-504642574-4261018119/1979-11/197937
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México6701-672942651-42679187811/197929
Union Pacific2460-249942700-4273918231/1980-2/198040
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México6730-675942740-42769187712/197930
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México6760-678442814-4283818791/198025
Burlington Northern5047-507542839-4286718243/1980-7/198029
Burlington Northern5076-511142868-4290318264/1980-6/198036
Burlington Northern5112-512642904-4291818317/198015
Seaboard Coast Line (Family Lines System)7052-705943011-4301818273/1980-6/19808
Seaboard Coast Line (Family Lines System)7060-706143019-430201888/18946/19802
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México6785-679943038-4305218327/198015
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México9600-960543053-4305818327/1980-8/19806
Louisville & Nashville (Family Lines System)7062-706943059-4306618348/19808
Union Pacific2500-253943067-4310618628/1980-10/198040
Burlington Northern5127-514143162-431761864/18743/1981-6/198115
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México9606-964643201-4324218638/1980-1/198141
Santa Fe8123-815243550-4357918725/1981-7/198130
Ferrocarril del Pacífico434-45543600-4362118737/1981-8/198122
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México11001-1100443622-4362518731/19824
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México9647-965243626-4363118754/1981-5/19816
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México11005-1102843650-4367318761/1982-2/198224
Seaboard Coast Line (Family Lines System)7070-709443680-437041888/189410/1981-11/198125
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México11029-1103943820-4383018782/1982-3/198211
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México11040-1106843894-4392218796/1982-10/198229
Santa Fe8153-816644067-44080189712/1982-1/198314
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México11069-1109044179-4420018236/1984-10/198422
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México11099-1112844201-44230182311/1984-1/198530
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México11091-1109844231-44238182611/1984-1/19858
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México11129-1114844509-4452818323/1983-7/198620
Ferrocarril del Pacífico456-45944960-4496318445/19864


 (Total Built = 50)

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date Quantity


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

  • Marre, Louis A. and Pinkepank, Jerry A. Contemporary Diesel Spotter's Guide, The: A Comprehensive Reference Manual To Locomotives Since 1972.  Milwaukee: Kalmbach Publishing Company, 1989.

  • McDonnell, Greg. Locomotives: The Modern Diesel & Electric Reference, 2nd Edition. Buffalo: Boston Mills Press/Firefly Books, 2015.

  • Solomon, Brian. American Diesel Locomotive, The. Osceola: MBI Publishing, 2000.

  • Solomon, Brian.  GE and EMD Locomotives:  The Illustrated History.  Minneapolis:  Voyageur Press, 2014.

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

Burlington Northern C30-7 #5039 and SD40-2 #7275, along with a pair of Katy SD40-2's, lead empties westbound along Highway 95 in Sparks, Texas, circa 1983. This joint coal service between the two roads operated from BN's North Yard in Denver to Katy's Ney Yard in Fort Worth. The coal was then sent to Lower Colorado River Authority's coal-fired power plant in Fayetteville, Texas. On the return trip to Denver, two BN units were used to save on horsepower hours. Mike Bledsoe photo. collection.


The locomotive was requested by Conrail, who received its sixty units between May and June 1984 (numbered 6550-6609).  Orders for the C30-7 began in September, 1976 when the Burlington Northern requested a small batch and sales took off from that point. 

Roads like the Union Pacific, BN, and Santa Fe all purchased 140 or more examples and Mexican system Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México bought a whopping 301 units.

By the time production was completed in mid-1984 on the C30-7, GE had sold some 1,128 units to UP, BN, AT&SF, Conrail (the road also purchased 10 standard examples of the design), Louisville & Nashville, Norfolk & Western, and Seaboard Coast Line. 

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