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GE "C44-9W" Locomotives

Last revised: November 25, 2023

By: Adam Burns

The C44-9W solidified General Electric as the top locomotive builder.  When production had ended the model had sold some 2,387 examples domestically and in Australia.

In addition, Canadian National and British Columbia Railway acquired 27 examples of the C44-9WL, equipped with a slight variation of the North American Safety Cab sporting four windshields.

Much of this model's massive success hinged on one railroad, BNSF, which acquired well over 1,500 examples.  Dating back to the Santa Fe era, the railroad continuing purchasing C44-9W's from February, 1994 until August, 2005.

There were several factors for its blockbuster sales, ranging from the new HiAd trucks to the latest in microprocessor controls.  Generally, it was well-liked for its reliability, efficiency, and simplicity.

From the 1990s until the mid-2000s, nearly every other locomotive on a Class I roster was seemingly a Dash 9.  That changed with the Evolution Series' introduction in 2005. 

Since then, thousands of these locomotives have been manufactured and now operate on all Class I railroads, in addition to a handful of smaller lines.


581723472578923906298907612.jpgA former Chicago & North Western C44-9W, #8637, crosses the Boyer River near Dunlap, Iowa with a southbound/westbound Union Pacific freight on June 18, 2000. Wade Massie photo.


The C44-9W, which began production in 1993, was one of the last with General Electric's 7FDL prime mover.  This engine had started it all for the company. 

However, more stringent environmental regulations required a new prime mover to meet the Environmental Protection Agency's Tier 2 emissions regulations.  GE delivered with its new GEVO power plant, unveiled in 2005.

The C44-9W was also the most powerful offered in the Dash 9 series, boasting 4,400 horsepower (listed at only 4,390 horsepower).

The first units to roll out Erie included a group of 65 completed for the Chicago & North Western between November, 1993 and January, 1994. 

Interestingly, these units sat on the shop floor next to late era C40-8W's still in production for Conrail and the LMS lease fleet (painted in Conrail colors).  This batch was not completed until November, 1994.

In addition, 53 examples of the uprated C44-8W, built for CSX, were not completed until March, 1994.  Needless to say, it was a busy time at Erie as GE struggled to keep up with demand.


Brian Solomon notes in his book, "GE Locomotives," the Dash 9 line was more of a marketing tool rather a complete redesign.   It largely continued refinements that began with the Dash 8 series.  The notable improvements in the Dash 9s included:

  • Electronic Fuel Injection (Also known as EFI, this system both reduces fuel use and emissions.  Both were big selling points in the 1990s, in part due to stricter government regulations.)
  • Split Cooling (This describes a system that uses two water circuits to more quickly cool engine intercoolers, which decreases air-intake temperatures and helps further reduce emissions.  It also reduces fuel costs and extends engine life.)

  • HiAd Truck (The HiAd, or high adhesion, truck first appeared in the Dash 9 series. It is a bolsterless design which allows the wheels to freely pivot and reduces weight transfer.  In doing so there is less wear to the wheels and track, thus reducing maintenance costs.  It also allows for greater adhesion, as noted in the title.)

  • Reduction From 3 To 2 Blowers (GE redesigned the blowers to have a single large blower serve the traction motors instead of two, which reduced maintenance costs.)

Other upgrades included the latest microprocessors that monitored all aspects of locomotive operation for optimum performance.  The use of computers was a game-changer in operational efficiency as their ability to reduce costs was unmatched. 

The Dash 9 series continued the model designations from the earlier Dash 7 and Dash 8 lines. In regards to the C44-9W:

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

  • "44" designated the horsepower rating (in this case, 4,390).

  • "9" indicated that the "Dash 9" line was introduced in 1993.
Three new Burlington Northern Santa Fe C44-9W's (#4596-4598), still in their primer, at GE's Erie, Pennsylvania facility; December, 1999. American-Rails.com collection.

General Electric sold 2,366 units to every major Class I at the time except CSX Transportation and Kansas City Southern.

In additional, Norfolk Southern had purchased the C40-9 and C40-9W variant.  These were virtually identical to the their uprated counterparts but sported only 4,000 horsepower, a rating NS felt sufficient to handle its tonnage needs.

In all, NS acquired 1,215 examples of this model; one of the largest single orders by an individual railroad up until that time.

Data Sheet

Entered Production11/1993 (Chicago & North Western #8601)
Years Produced11/1993 - 11/2005
GE ClassC44-9W
Engine7FDL16 (16 cylinder)
Engine BuilderGeneral Electric
Length73' 2"
Height (Top Of Rail To Top Of Cab)15' 4 1/2"
Width9' 11"
Weight (C44-9W)390,000 - 434,000 Lbs
Weight (C44-9WL)385,000
Fuel Capacity5,300 Gallons
Air Compressor3CDC (Westinghouse)
Air Brake Schedule26L (Westinghouse)
Truck TypeHi-Ad Bolsterless
Truck Wheelbase13' 4"
Wheel Size40" or 42"
Traction Motors752AH (6), GE
Traction AlternatorGMG197, GE
Auxiliary GeneratorGYA30A, GE
MU (Multiple-Unit)Yes
Dynamic BrakesYes
Gear Ratio83:20
Tractive Effort/Starting140,000 Lbs*
Tractive Effort/Continuous108,600 Lbs at 18.3 mph*
Top Speed70 mph

* These tractive effort ratings denote a C44-9W with standard options.  BNSF's fleet, for instance, weighed 415,000 pounds and featured 42-inch wheels enabling the locomotives to produce 105,640 pounds of continuous effort at 12.9 mph.

Production Rosters


(Total Built = 2,366)

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date Quantity
Chicago & North Western8601-860947495-47503181611/1993-12/19939
Chicago & North Western8633-863547504-4750618161/19943
Chicago & North Western8610-863247507-47529181612/199323
Chicago & North Western8636-866547644-4767318161/199430
Santa Fe600-64947674-4772318182/1994-3/199450
Chicago & North Western8666-868547724-4774318254/199420
Hamersley Iron (Australia)7065-709347744-47772182410/1994-11/199429
Chicago & North Western8686-871547780-4780918254/1994-5/199430
Union Pacific9700-973947846-4788518267/1994-8/199440
Southern Pacific8100-820047930-4803018235/1994-12/1994101
Santa Fe651-699 (Odds)48058-4808218298/1994-9/199425
Chicago & North Western8716-873048083-4809718255/199415
Santa Fe650-698 (Evens)48144-4816818299/199425
Burlington Northern Santa Fe960-112349350-4951318728/1996-1/1997164
Burlington Northern Santa Fe700-79949983-5008218796/1997-9/1997100
Burlington Northern Santa Fe4700-470550083-50088187910/19976
Burlington Northern Santa Fe4706-477050201-50265187910/1997-5/199865
Canadian National2523-260250302-5038118772/1997-2/199880
Burlington Northern Santa Fe47715051918795/19981
Burlington Northern Santa Fe4772-497150626-5082518936/1998-12/1998200
Quebec North Shore & Labrador Railway404-41451014-5102418856/1998-8/199811
Burlington Northern Santa Fe4972-498851607-51623189312/199817
Burlington Northern Santa Fe4989-499951624-51634191012/1998-1/199911
Burlington Northern Santa Fe4300-459851635-5193319101/1999-12/1999299
Burlington Northern Santa Fe4599-460651988-51995191012/19997
Burlington Northern Santa Fe4607-469952131-52223191712/1999-4/200093
Burlington Northern Santa Fe5420-549952303-52224 (Reversed)19179/2000-4/200080
British Columbia Railway4645-465452602-5261119278/2000-9/200010
Canadian National2603-264252612-5265118941/200140
Burlington Northern Santa Fe5370-541952702-52653 (Reversed)191712/2000-8/200050
Burlington Northern Santa Fe5270-536953336-53237 (Reversed)19388/2001-4/2001100
Hamersley Iron (Australia)7094-709652841-5284319258/20003
Pilbara Rail (Australia)9401-9403*53455-53457197010/20013
Burlington Northern Santa Fe5223-526953793-53747 (Reversed)19485/2002-3/200247
Burlington Northern Santa Fe4147-419953846-53794 (Reversed)19489/2002-6/200253
Canadian National2643-267253847-5387619508/2002-9/200230
Burlington Northern Santa Fe4097-414653929-53880 (Reversed)195311/2002-10/200250
Pilbara Rail (Australia)9404-940954154-5415919704/20036
Pilbara Rail (Australia)7097-709854160-5416119584/20032
Pilbara Rail (Australia)9428-943054187-5418919588/20033
Pilbara Rail (Australia)9431-943254241-5424219587/20032
Pilbara Rail (Australia)7063-706454243-5424419438/20032
Burlington Northern Santa Fe5170-522254399-54347 (Reversed)196011/2003-9/200353
Burlington Northern Santa Fe4000-409654346-54250 (Reversed)19609/2003-6/200397
Canadian National2673-269654682-5470519671/2004-2/200424
Canadian National2200-220254706-5470819671/20043
Canadian National2203-220554709-5471119672/20043
Pilbara Rail (Australia)9433-943454766-5476719745/20042
Pilbara Iron (Australia)7061-706254768-5476919745/2004-6/20042
Burlington Northern Santa Fe5000-516954939-54770 (Reversed)19738/2004-3/2004170
Burlington Northern Santa Fe5500-552954969-54940 (Reversed)19738/200430
Burlington Northern Santa Fe5530-553255114-5511619733/20043
Canadian National2697-272655117-5514619786/2004-9/200430
Pilbara Iron (Australia)7055-706055880-5588519744/20056
Pilbara Iron (Australia)7053-705456154-56155199911/20052
General Electric (Demo)9055624121035/20051
Pilbara Iron (Australia)7043-705057094-57101108/20068

* Renumbered 9470-9472.


(Total Built = 27)

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date Quantity
Canadian National Railway2500-252248349-48371182712/199423
British Columbia Railway4641-464448469-4847218323/19954


(Total Built = 148)

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date Quantity
Estrada de Ferro Carajás (Brazil)801-80249939-4994018769/19972
Estrada de Ferro Carajás (Brazil)803-80550198-50200187610/19973
Ferronorte (Brazil)9001-905051934-51983190412/1998-11/199950
Estrada de Ferro Carajás (Brazil)806-80951984-5198719362/19994
Estrada de Ferro Carajás (Brazil)810-81353092-5309519361/2001-2/20014
Estrada de Ferro Carajás (Brazil)8145348319361/20021
Estrada de Ferro Carajás (Brazil)803 (2nd)5348419361/20021
Estrada de Ferro Carajás (Brazil)815-81955459-5546319841/2005-2/20055
Estrada de Ferro Carajás (Brazil)820-82555886-5589119848/2005-9/20056
Estrada de Ferro Carajás (Brazil)826-83355948-55955198410/2005-11/20058
Estrada de Ferro Carajás (Brazil)834-85658906-5892819361/2008-2/200823
Estrada de Ferro Carajás (Brazil)857-86759123-5913319325/2008-6/200811


(Total Built = 251)

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date Quantity
Vitória-Minas Railway (Brazil)1113-112249941-4995018751/199710
Vitória-Minas Railway (Brazil)1123-113752587-5260119264/200015
Vitória-Minas Railway (Brazil)1138-114553077-5308419301/2001-2/20018
Vitória-Minas Railway (Brazil)1146-115753485-5349619476/200212
Vitória-Minas Railway (Brazil)1158-117954559-5458019691/2004-2/200422
Vitória-Minas Railway (Brazil)1180-118154712-5471319692/20042
Vitória-Minas Railway (Brazil)1182-118455111-5511319697/20043
Vitória-Minas Railway (Brazil)1185-119555464-5547419831/200511
Vitória-Minas Railway (Brazil)1196-125155892-5594719832/2005-1/200656
Vitória-Minas Railway (Brazil)1252-125356362-5636319832/20062
Vitória-Minas Railway (Brazil)1254-127659395-59417194110/2008-11/200823
Vitória-Minas Railway (Brazil)1277-130960276-6030822561/2011-6/201133
Vale Logistica Integrada (Brazil)6020-603460785-6079922662/2012-3/201215
America Latina Logistica (Brazil)8300-830660989-609955921*1/2012-2/20127
Vale Logistica Integrada (Brazil)6035-605461380-6139922768/2012-11/201220
Corredor Logístico Integrado do Norte (Brazil)1850-186162974-6298522891/199712

* GE kits assembled in Brazil.


(Total Built = 18)

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date Quantity
MRS Logística (Brazil)3956-397358886-5890319343/2008-5/200818


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

Interestingly, the Dash 9 series was not GE's only big seller during the 1990s and early 2000s.  Some Class Is were also quite fond of its alternating current variant, the AC4400CW (and more powerful AC6000CW) cataloged at the same time.

This locomotive was purchase by far several railroads and sold even better than the C44-9W. Its success lay in its AC traction motors that were much more efficient offering superior tractive effort, making them ideal for drag service.

Today, most C44-9W's remain in revenue service in their original configuration or have been overhauled, such as the upgrades being carried out at Norfolk Southern with its AC44C6M program.

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