GE C40-8 And C40-8W Locomotives

The C40-8 model and its variants (C40-8W, C40-8M, and C44-8W/C41-8W) began General Electric's dominance in locomotive manufacturing.  This reign lasted from the 1990s until GE sold its transportation division to Wabtec Freight in February, 2019.

The C40-8 series was the pinnacle of the "Dash 8" line that had been launched in 1984 when a group of prototypes began testing on four different railroads.

These early locomotives were offered in a variety of horsepower ratings and axle settings, largely ranging from 3,200 to 3,900 horsepower.

With the C40-8 series, GE uprated all of its road-switchers to an even 4,000 horsepower.  As the company continued pushing the envelope on its 7FDL prime mover, late era C40-8's were uprated to over 4,100 horsepower, and finally 4,400 horsepower.

The latter became a highly popular rating that witnessed more than 2,300 examples sold in the C44-9W model, a locomotive that remained in GE's catalog from 1993 through 2005.

The success of the C40-8 series, which itself saw some 1,677 examples produced between 1989-1994, was a forebearer of GE's massive success during the 1990s.

Today, you can still find examples operating on CSX Transportation, Canadian National, and Union Pacific.  However, now at 30+ years of age their numbers are dwindling quickly.

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 December, 1987 as an uprated version of the earlier C39-8.  The original variant sported GE's classic Standard Cab. However, that would change with the North American Safety Cab.

This wide cab had first appeared in December, 1989 when a group of 50 units built for Union Pacific (#9356-9405) rolled out of Erie.   The  new design changed the model's rating to C40-8W with "W" simply referring to "Wide." 

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

As Greg McDonnell notes in his book, "Locomotives, The Modern Diesel & Electric Reference: 2nd Edition," the model featured the latest in software upgrades and carbody improvements (redesigns to the cooling system, dynamic brakes, and radiators for a more streamlined appearance), a process that began with late C39-8 variants.

Orders for the C40-8 took off quickly in late 1987 with five Class Is ordering the Standard Cab design including:

  • Chicago & North Western (77)

  • Union Pacific (256)

  • CSX Transportation (147)

  • Conrail (25)

  • Norfolk Southern (50)

Additionally, Estrada de Ferro Carajás of Brazil acquired three units. Interestingly, as Brian Solomon notes in his book, "GE Locomotives," Norfolk Southern did not wish to spend the additional cost of the new wide cab design.

As a result, the company not only purchased 50 examples of the C40-8 but also another 125 examples of the later C40-9, receiving its final Standard Cab units in 1995.   Through September, 1991, when the last C&NW units were delivered, GE had sold some 585 examples of the C40-8.  

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.

The wide cab, at least from an outward appearance, has changed little on new GE products since the C40-8W.  It features a sloped and beveled front nose, thin rectangular windshields, and a front access door leading to the pilot and front steps.

When production had ended in November, 1994 the C40-8W had sold nearly twice as many examples as its predecessor (847).

In addition to the original variants, GE built three others:

  • C40-8M (Identical to the original save for its full width cowl cab and carbody.  It was purchased only in Canada by British Columbia Railway, Canadian National, and Quebec North Shore & Labrador.)

  • C41-8W (Equipped with an additional 100 horsepower; acquired by Santa Fe and Union Pacific.)

  • C44-8W (Boasting with an additional 400 horsepower, CSX purchased 53 examples.)

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 TypeFB3
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 (Total Built = 584)

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 Western8543-8574**46771-4680218987/1991-9/199132
Chicago & North Western8575-8577***46803-4680518989/19913
Norfolk Southern8714-876347076-47125180512/199050

*   Built to 5'-3" broad gauge.

**  Uprated to 4,150 horsepower in the spring of 1992.

*** Out-shopped from Erie with 4,135 horsepower.

C40-8W Production Roster (Total Built = 796)

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 (Total Built = 108)

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date Quantity
Union Pacific9481-953047445-4749418148/1993-10/199350
Santa Fe927-95147531-4755518119/1993-10/199325
Union Pacific9531-955547556-47580180210/199329
Union Pacific9556-955947640-47643181412/19934

C40-8M Production Roster (Total Built = 84)

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date Quantity
Canadian National Railway2400-242946162-4619118783/199030
British Columbia Railway4601-462246296-4631718834/199022
Canadian National Railway2430-245447127-47151180611/1992-12/199225
British Columbia Railway4623-462647180-4718318072/19934
Quebec North Shore & Labrador Railway401-40347637-4763918493/19943

C44-8W Production Roster (Total Built = 53)

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date Quantity
CSX Transportation9000-900247332-4733418207/19933
CSX Transportation9003-905247584-4763318172/1994-3/199450


  • 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.

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

 Interestingly, the first "Dash 9s" were rolling out of Erie as GE completed the final C40-8W orders, which included the LMS lease fleet painted in Conrail colors.

It is interesting to note that while present-day General Electric locomotives are known for reliability, they have not held up as long as some Electro-Motive models.

For instance, SD40 series locomotives have been, and continue to be, extensively rebuilt by Class Is such as at  Norfolk Southern.  Here, examples (now more than 40 years old) remain on the active rosters having been extensively rebuilt with the latest electronics and microprocessors.

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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!