GE C40-9/W

The GE C40-9 and C40-9W was essentially a de-rated C44-9W built specifically for Norfolk Southern from the mid-1990s through the mid-2000s. Also per NS's desire at the time the railroad's first order of 4,000 horsepower "Dash 9s" all came equipped with standard cabs instead of the more traditional wide, safety cabs. Eventually the company was required by the FRA to purchase the wide cab design and was only able to roster about 125 units with the common standard cab. The "Dash 9" series followed the previous "Dash 8s" in the mid-1990s with upgraded electronics and other components, and NS would come to own more than 1,200 of the C40-9s. Still relatively new locomotives at less than 20 years of age, almost all of the locomotives NS has purchased remain on the active roster hauling freight (they are commonly found operating in heavy drag service given the tremendous tractive effort which they can produce).

The C40-9 and C40-9W built for Norfolk Southern were actually constructed a year after the C44-9W debuted in 1994. Essentially the two are nothing more than less powerful C44-9Ws. The model was a step up from the "Dash 8s" in that it featured upgraded components and electronics such as new traction motors and a redesigned generator. The GE model B13B traction motor, which replaced the model 752 (a design that had been used by the company dating back to the Universal series), although the new design was just as reliable if not more so than the former. The C40-9/W was one of the first GE locomotives to be equipped with the relatively new high-adhesion (or HT-C) truck, which helped to improve wheel-to-rail contact. The "Dash 9s", however, still carried GE's model 16FDL prime mover.

One of the design's notable selling points was the incredible tractive effort it offered (140,000 pounds starting and 109,000 pound continuous), which also included the more powerful C44-9W model. Production of the locomotive began in early 1995 and all 125 purchased by NS were completed that year. Very happy with this first batch and desperately needing power to keep up with the traffic demands of the economic boom occurring in the U.S. at the time; a year later, in early 1996 NS returned for more, in this case the C40-9W model, which featured the wide, safety cab.

While NS did go on to purchase GE models like the C44-9W for nearly ten years it continued to order C40-9Ws as needed, through late 2004 until GE ended production on the model. When the manufacturer released the more energy efficient Evolution Series (ES) models in 2005 NS continue to purchase the design in the new series. Today, the road continues to buy Evolutions with 4,000 horsepower known as ES40DCs. In any event, by the time GE had closed out the C40-9W order for NS it owned nearly 1,100 units, and more than 1,200 in all. Up to that time it was one of the largest ever single orders for a particular model by a railroad.  While it is tough to tell given the similarities between GE's present day models nearly all of Norfolk Southern's original fleet of C40-9/Ws continue to remain in regular freight service across its system.

GE C40-9/W Production Roster

Owner Road Number(s) Quantity Date Built
Norfolk Southern8764-8888 (C40-9)1251995
Norfolk Southern8889-9978 (C40-9W)10901996-2004

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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Header Photo: Drew Jacksich

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 Survery'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!

Studying Diesels

You will be hard pressed at finding a better online resource regarding diesel locomotives than Craig Rutherford's  The website contains everything from historic (fallen flags) to contemporary (Class I's, regionals, short lines, and even some museums/tourist lines) rosters, locomotive production information, technical data, all notable models cataloged by the five major builders (American Locomotive, Electro-Motive, General Electric, Fairbanks-Morse, and Baldwin), and much more.  A highly recommended database!

Electro-Motive Database

In 1998 a gentleman by the name of Andre Kristopans put together a web page highlighting virtually every unit every out-shopped by General Motors' Electro-Motive Division.  Alas, in 2013 the site closed by thankfully Don Strack rescued the data and transferred it over to his site (another fine resource).  If you are researching anything EMD related please visit this page first.  The information includes original numbers, serials, and order numbers.