GE C40-8/C40-8W Locomotives

The GE C40-8 model and its variants, the C40-8W, C40-8M, and C44-8W/C41-8W began the company's present-day reign as the premier diesel locomotive builder.

By the time General Electric had finished building the C40-8 nearly 1,500 units had been sold through the mid-1990s. This success continued through the rest of the 1990s with its upgraded "Dash 9" models, which sold even better at more than 3,500 units.

Today, you can still find the C40-8, and its several variants listed above, operating on CSX, Union Pacific, Canadian National, and BNSF (the only two Class Is not to purchase the model included the KCS and Canadian Pacific).

However, having now operated for three decades, and with many new models released since that time, most "Dash 8's) have been displaced, sold, or rebuilt; CSX, Norfolk Southern, Canadian National, and others have purged a great number from their rosters.  They can still be found, however, on short lines and in lease fleets.

A pair of Santa Fe C40-8W's, about a year old, have a long freight south of Bragdon, Colorado on September 14, 1993. Author's collection.

C40-8/W History And Background

The C40-8 began production in November, 1987 as the more powerful successor to the earlier C39-8. This new model would also firmly plant GE as leading manufacturer from the late 1980's until the company spun off its locomotive division in 2019.

The GE C40-8 featured the builder's four-cycle model 16FDL prime mover, which could produce 4,000 horsepower with a continuous tractive effort of 92,750 pounds at 25% adhesion (using GE's ever-reliable 752 traction motor). This was the same rating as the C39-8 although the C40-8 offered better starting effort, 106,790 pounds.

The model was also one of the first to be equipped with the new high-adhesion (or HT-C) truck, which helped to improve wheel-to-rail contact. 

Orders for the new GE C40-8 took off quickly in late 1987 with five Class Is ordering the standard design including the Chicago & North Western, UP, CSX, Conrail, and NS (additionally, foreign line E.F. Carajas of Brazil bought four). 

Interesting, NS was adamant at the time about purchasing locomotives with the standard cab design and did not purchase wide, safety cabs until they were mandated to do so by the FRA.

Through 1992 GE sold some 585 C40-8s.  However, in 1990 General Electric unveiled a variant of the C40-8, the C40-8W, which featured the wide, safety cab.

The carbody and exterior of this model has remained relatively the same with newer "Dash 9s" and through the Evolution Series featuring a sloped and beveled front nose, rectangular and thin windshields, the slight bulge behind the cab which housed the dynamic brakes, and finally the rear flared radiator "wing."

When production had ended on the GE C40-8W in late 1994 it had sold nearly twice as well as its predecessor with some 900 units built.

Recently delivered Union Pacific C40-8 #9135 is seen here at Cheyenne, Wyoming on December 2, 1989. Vincent Porreca photo. Author's collection.

It should also be noted that there were several variants of the model built aside from the popular C40-8W. The first was the C40-8M, which was identical to the original mechanically save for its full width cowl cab and carbody.

Only used in Canada it was sold to BC Rail (which purchased 26), CN (who bought 55), and the Quebec North Shore & Labrador Railway (who ordered 4). Additionally, there was the C41-8W design.

Again, identical to the original model save for its extra 100+ horsepower, the locomotive was bought only by the Santa Fe (25) and UP (83). Finally, there was the C44-8W.

A pair of sharp new Conrail C40-8W's, #6112 and #6115, have a westbound/northbound freight at Renovo, Pennsylvania on March 29, 1991. Author's collection.

This design would become extremely popular in the "Dash 9" series but here it was ordered only by CSX, which purchased 53 (again, the locomotive was identical, mechanically, except for the added horsepower). 

While General Electric's locomotives are known for their reliability they have not tended to hold over the long run as EMD's designs such as the SD40-2.

Still, given the relative young age of the C40-8 series most remain in service with the railroads (or their predecessors) that originally purchased them.

C40-8, C40-8W, C40-8M, C44-8W Data Sheet

Entered Production12/1987 (Union Pacific #9100)
Years Produced12/1987 - 3/1994
GE ClassC40-8, C40-8W, C40-8M, C44-8W
Engine7FDL16 (16 cylinder)
Engine BuilderGeneral Electric
Length (C40-8, C40-8W, C44-8W)70' 8"
Length (C40-8M)71' 8"
Height (Top Of Rail To Top Of Cab)15' 4 1/2"
Width8' 10"
Weight (C40-8)391,000-420,000 Lbs
Weight (C40-8M)388,000-395,000 Lbs
Weight (C40-8W)394,000-400,000 Lbs
Weight (C44-8W)412,000 Lbs
Fuel Capacity4,600 Gallons
Air Compressor3CDC (Westinghouse)
Air Brake Schedule26L (Westinghouse)
Truck TypeHT-C
Truck Wheelbase13' 7"
Wheel Size40"
Traction Motors (C40-8)752AG (6) or 752AH (6), GE
Traction Motors (C40-8W, C40-8M, C44-8W)752AH (6), GE
Traction Alternator (C40-8, C40-8W, C40-8M)GMG194, GE
Traction Alternator (C44-8W)GMG197, GE
Auxiliary GeneratorGY27, GE
MU (Multiple-Unit)Yes
Dynamic BrakesYes
Gear Ratio83:20
Tractive Effort/Starting106,790 Lbs
Tractive Effort/Continuous92,750 Lbs at 10.9 mph
Top Speed70 mph

C40-8 Production Roster

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date Quantity
Union Pacific9100-917445549-45623187211/1987-2/198875
Union Pacific9175-918445724-4573318747/1988-12/198810
Union Pacific9186-928445735-4583318747/1988-12/198999
Union Pacific9350-935545834-45839187512/19886
Union Pacific9285-934945840-45904187512/1988-2/198965
Union Pacific9185 (2nd)45905187511/19881
CSX Transportation7500-753945991-4603018785/1989-6/198940
CSX Transportation7540-758946031-4608018788/1989-9/198950
CSX Transportation7590-759346081-46084187812/19894
Chicago & North Western8501-853046085-4611418806/1989-8/198930
CSX Transportation7594-764646318-4637018926/1990-8/199053
Estrada de Ferro Carajás (Brazil)501-504*46242-4624518869/19894
Norfolk Southern8710-871346631-4663418973/19914
Chicago & North Western8531-854246371-4638218878/199012
Norfolk Southern8689-870946383-46403189712/199021
Chicago & North Western8543-857746771-4680518987/1991-9/199135
Norfolk Southern8714-876347076-47125180512/199050

* Built to 5'-3" broad gauge.

C40-8W Production Roster

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date Quantity
Union Pacific9356-940546192-46241188112/1989-3/199050
Union Pacific9406-945546531-46580189511/1990-1/199150
CSX Transportation7650-773546685-4677018994/1991-8/199186
Union Pacific9456-948046811-46835180210/199125
CSX Transportation7736-775846856-46878189911/199123
Santa Fe800-86646929-4699518034/1992-5/199267
CSX Transportation7759-781746996-4705418046/1992-8/199259
CSX Transportation7818-784547152-47179180411/1992-12/199228
CSX Transportation7846-787647214-4724418091/1993-2/199331
CSX Transportation7877-789947245-4726718094/199323
CSX Transportation7900-791747314-4733118094/1993-5/199318
Santa Fe867-92647335-4739418113/1993-7/199360
LMS (Conrail)700-73948104-4814318288/1994-10/199440
LMS (Conrail)740-75948204-48223183110/1994-11/199420

C41-8W Production Roster

Owner Road Number(s) Quantity Date Built
Santa Fe927-951251993
Union Pacific9481-9559791993

C40-8M Production Roster

Owner Road Number(s) Quantity Date Built
British Columbia Railway4601-4626261990-1993
Canadian National2400-2454551990-1992
Quebec, North Shore & Labrador401-40331994

C44-8W Production Roster

Owner Road Number(s) Quantity Date Built

CSX C40-8W #7779 was photographed here at Richmond, Virginia on February 21, 1998. Doug Boyd photo. Author's collection.

For more reading about General Electric diesel locomotives there are a few books written by noted historian Brian Solomon worth mentioning which highlight the history and background of the company.  

First, is GE Locomotives, a title that provides a thorough history of its locomotive line from the earliest days of building electrics and experimental diesels to the latest models built through the early 2000s.  

Second, is GE And EMD Locomotives: The Illustrated History, which generally highlights the history of both company's designs.  As with virtually all of Mr. Solomon's you can expect well-written titles with large, crisp, and sharp photographs featured throughout.

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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!