GE "B30-7" Locomotives

The B30-7 was one of two high-horsepower, four-axle models General Electric offered in its "Dash 7" line and a direct successor to GE's earlier U30B.

The B30-7 was intended for high-speed freight service but didn't enjoy sales as strong as the earlier B23-7.  Nevertheless, the model did sell some 399 units when production had ended in the fall of 1983.

GE gave little fanfare to its newest models and the B30-7 was no different.  The Frisco was the first to receive the variant in December, 1977 when units #863-870 rolled out of Erie.

As GE became an increasingly successful builder, railroads were evermore willing to test and purchase its models.  This was largely thanks to the company standing behind its products and willing to make improvements whenever necessary.

The B30-7 was somewhat unique in that GE ultimately produced three spinoffs; the B30-7A, B30-7A1 and cabless B30-7A(B).  The common theme among all three was the use of a 12-cylinder, 7FDL12 prime mover in place of the standard 16-cylinder, 7FDL16 engine.

The updated power plant's major advantage was the ability to still offer 3,000 horsepower while providing fewer moving parts (lower maintenance) and utilizing less fuel. 

Today, Southern Pacific #7863 is preserved in its original colors and number by the Denver & Rio Grande Historical Foundation.

CSX B30-7 #5507 leads freight Q297 past the historic Baltimore & Ohio CPLs and through the interlocking at Derwood, Maryland on the evening of June 22, 1994. Wade Massie photo.


B30-7 History And Background

The B30-7 appeared quite similar to late era U-boat models, like the U30B and U33B.  Aside from its increased length of two feet, perhaps the easiest way to distinguish it is the slightly wider hood from just ahead of the exhaust stack to the rear radiator, which housed the relocated oil cooler.  

This "notch" is easily identifiable and most prevalent when viewing the locomotive from front-to-back rather than at the side.

The introduction of the "Dash 7" line brought with it new model designations.  In regards to the B30-7:

  • "B" referred to a four-axle (B-B) locomotive.

  • "30" designated the horsepower rating of 3,000.

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

As always, the B30-7 came equipped with the company's 4-cycle model 7FDL16 prime mover utilizing the company's latest traction motor, the model 752AF.

Burlington Northern B30-7A(B) #4000 was photographed here during the early BNSF era on August 28, 2001. Bryan Copple photo. Author's collection.

The locomotive and its more powerful cousin, the B36-7, were designed for high speed freight service in low-grade corridors where high tractive efforts were unnecessary.

As Brian Solomon notes in his book, "GE And EMD Locomotives," Southern Pacific and subsidiary St. Louis Southwestern (Cotton Belt) used their B30-7s to pull priority intermodal freights known as the "Blue Streak" and "Memphis Blue Streak."

A battered and worn former Chessie System/C&O B30-7 leads CSX manifest Q383 westbound on the ex-Baltimore & Ohio at Glencoe, Pennsylvania on February 2, 1994. In reality, GE's factory paint did not hold up well in the Chessie livery. Wade Massie photo.

Upon request from Missouri Pacific, General Electric also manufactured a variant, the B30-7A. This locomotive was externally identical to the B23-7 but featured an uprated 12-cylinder, 7FDL prime mover that could also produce 3,000 horsepower.

This improvement enabled greater fuel savings and lower maintenance costs. The MP had three of their final B23-7s uprated to 3,000 horsepower (#4667-4669) and was so happy with the results the company purchased 54 examples of the B30-7A. 

Southern Pacific B30-7 #7798 is on the "Golden State Route" between Carrizozo and Tucumcari, New Mexico in April, 1983. Roger Puta photo.

The success of this experiment saw other roads purchase versions of the B30-7A; the B30-7A1 and the B30-7A(B).  The former was acquired by the Southern Railway and included 22 units while the latter was a cabless variant purchased by Burlington Northern that totaled 120 examples.

The B30-7A1 is also notable for featuring a high, short hood (standard practice for the Southern at the time) and having the equipment blower moved from the rear of the locomotive (near the radiator) to just behind the cab as Louis Marre and Jerry Pinkepank note in their book "The Contemporary Diesel Spotter's Guide, The: A Comprehensive Reference Manual To Locomotives Since 1972."


B30-7 Data Sheet

Entered Production12/1977 (St. Louis-San Francisco #863)
Years Produced12/1977 - 5/1981
GE ClassB30-7
Engine7FDL16 (16 cylinder)
Engine BuilderGeneral Electric
Horsepower3000
RPM1050
Length62' 2"
Height (Top Of Rail To Top Of Cab)15' 4 1/2"
Width9' 11"
Weight253,000 - 280,000 Lbs
Fuel Capacity2,150 Gallons
Air Compressor3CDC (Westinghouse)
Air Brake Schedule26NL (Westinghouse)
TrucksB-B
Truck TypeFloating Bolster FB2 (GE)
Truck Wheelbase9' 0"
Wheel Size40"
Traction Motors752AF (4), GE
Traction AlternatorGTA24AC, GE
Auxiliary GeneratorGY27, GE
MU (Multiple-Unit)Yes
Dynamic BrakesYes
Gear Ratio83:20
Tractive Effort/Starting70,000 Lbs
Tractive Effort/Continuous63,250 Lbs at 10.7 mph
Top Speed70 mph

B30-7A, B30-7A1, B30-7A(B) Data Sheet

Entered Production6/1980 (Missouri Pacific #4667-4669)
Years Produced6/1980 - 10/1983
GE ClassB30-7A, B30-7A1, B30-7A(B)
Engine7FDL12 (12 cylinder)
Engine BuilderGeneral Electric
Horsepower3000
RPM1050
Length62' 2"
Height (Top Of Rail To Top Of Cab)15' 4 1/2"
Width9' 11"
Weight253,000 - 280,000 Lbs
Fuel Capacity2,150 Gallons
Air Compressor3CDC (Westinghouse)
Air Brake Schedule26NL (Westinghouse)
TrucksB-B
Truck TypeFloating Bolster FB2 (GE)
Truck Wheelbase9' 0"
Wheel Size40"
Traction Motors752AF (4), GE
Traction AlternatorGTA24AC, GE
Auxiliary GeneratorGY27, GE
MU (Multiple-Unit)Yes
Dynamic BrakesYes
Gear Ratio83:20
Tractive Effort/Starting70,000 Lbs
Tractive Effort/Continuous63,250 Lbs at 10.7 mph
Top Speed70 mph


B30-7 Production Roster

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date Quantity
Southern Pacific7800-780341636-4163914191/19784
St. Louis-San Francisco Railway (Frisco)863-87041649-41656142812/19778
Southern Pacific7804-782341862-4188114243/1978-4/197820
Chesapeake & Ohio/Chessie System8235-824441897-4190614215/197810
Chesapeake & Ohio/Chessie System8245-825442138-4214714841/1979-2/197910
Southern Pacific7824-785342209-4223814853/1979-5/197930
Southern Pacific7854-788342239-4226814872/1979-5/197930
Chesapeake & Ohio/Chessie System8255-826442279-4228814826/197910
Chesapeake & Ohio/Chessie System8265-827842770-4278314421/198014
St. Louis Southwestern Railway (SP)7774-779942788-4281314413/1980-4/198026
Seaboard Coast Line (Family Lines System)5500-550942919-4292814123/198010
Seaboard Coast Line (Family Lines System)5510-551643031-4303714175/19807
Chesapeake & Ohio/Chessie System8279-829843256-4327514813/1981-5/198120

B30-7A Production Roster

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date Quantity
Missouri Pacific4835-484843586-4359914341/1982-2/198214
Missouri Pacific4849-485443674-4367914342/19825
Missouri Pacific4800-483443735-43769143111/1981-1/198235

B30-7A1 Production Roster

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date Quantity
Southern Railway3500-352143872-4389314354/198222

B30-7A(B) Production Roster

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date Quantity
Burlington Northern4000-402143975-4399614716/198222
Burlington Northern4022-402843997-4400314717/19827
Burlington Northern4029-404244004-4401714718/198214
Burlington Northern4043-405244018-4402714719/198210
Burlington Northern4053-406744411-4442514818/198315
Burlington Northern4068-409044426-4444814819/198323
Burlington Northern4091-411944449-44477148110/198329

Sources:

  • 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.


Chesapeake & Ohio B30-7 #8292 and a long string of other power lead empties westbound at Moss Run, Virginia in November, 1981. Roger Puta photo.

When General Electric ended production on the B30-7 in October, 1983 the company had sold 398 examples in the following configurations:

  • B30-7 = 199 Units

  • B30-7A = 57 Units

  • B30-7A1 = 22 Units

  • B30-7A(B) = 120 Units

The railroads to purchase the B30-7 series included the C&O/Chessie System, Frisco, Louisville & Nashville, Cotton Belt/SP, Seaboard Coast Line, Southern Railway, and Southern Pacific. 

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SteamLocomotive.com

Wes Barris's SteamLocomotive.com 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). 

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Researching Rights-Of-Way

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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. 

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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!