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EMD "GP59" and "GP60" Locomotives

Last revised: January 11, 2024

By: Adam Burns

The GP60 is a four-axle road-switcher produced by Electro-Motive between 1985-1994. It is powered by a 16-cylinder, model 710G3A prime mover, capable of producing 3,800 horsepower.

The locomotive was the last in the heralded General Purpose series, dating back to the iconic GP7 and GP9 of the postwar era.  While the model signaled the end of EMD's four-axle line it featured the latest advancements, including microprocessor controls, which marked another significant step forward in locomotive technology.

In addition, its 3,800 horsepower made the GP60 the most powerful Geep ever produced.  The model sold slightly better than its predecessor - the GP50.

In addition, the 12-cylinder variant, GP59, saw 36 examples completed for Norfolk Southern in the latter 1980s, including the three demonstrators.

The GP60 is also noteworthy as being the last Geep model produced at EMD's storied La Grange, Illinois plant when demonstrators #5-7 were completed in 1985.

Photos

An Electro-Motive builder's photo of GP60 demonstrator #EMD-5 in 1985. This unit would enter the company's lease fleet.

Specifications

The GP60 is widely regarded as EMD's initial third-generation locomotive.  As Greg McDonnell notes in his book, "Locomotives: The Modern Diesel & Electric Reference," the '60 was equipped with an array of new technological features such as microprocessor controls and an advanced cooling system.

Never before had a locomotive contained such state-of-the-art computers and software in an effort to provide maximum engine output and efficiency.  The microprocessors eliminated a labyrinth of relays, switches, and interlocks, which were replaced by a single module card.

The locomotive was powered by EMD's latest prime mover, the 710G3.  The builder also offered a 12-cylinder version known as the GP59, which debuted in June, 1985 when demonstrators #8-10 were completed.

Santa Fe GP60 #4017 is seen here at San Bernardino, California on September 4, 1989. American-Rails.com collection.

These units were rated at 3,000 horsepower and featured interesting touches to the carbody - greater beveling along the edges with a pointed nose - in an experimental effort to reduce aerodynamic drag.  However, these cosmetic features were not incorporated into cataloged GP59s.

Ultimately, this more fuel efficient model found just a single buyer, Norfolk Southern.  It went on to purchase 33 production units as well as the demonstrators.

Perhaps the most famous was NS #4610,  commissioned to commemorate the Southern Railway and adorned in the predecessor’s beautiful Virginia Green and white livery with gold trim.

The more powerful GP60 contained a standard 16-cylinder, 7103G engine.  It offered the greatest output ever cataloged by EMD in its four-axle line, capable of producing a hefty 3,800 horsepower. 

The demonstrators also featured the same aerodynamic touches as their 12-cylinder counterparts.  In addition, EMD equipped them with every option it had available at the time including three different styles of fuel connections; nose and oscillating headlights, a rotating rooftop beacon, and cab air-conditioning.

Reception

Once more, EMD marketed the locomotive for fast-freight service but the industry had long since cooled to four-axle power for such assignments.  Nevertheless, the '60 did enjoy higher sales than its predecessor with more than 400 produced (including the GP59).

Data Sheet

Entered Production (GP59)6/1985 (Demonstrators #8-10)
Entered Production (GP60)10/1985 (Demonstrators #5-7)
Years Produced (GP59)6/1985 - 12/1989
Years Produced (GP60)10/1985 - 1/1994
Years Produced (GP60M)5/1990 - 9/1990
Years Produced (GP60B)7/1991 - 9/1991
Engine (GP60)710G3
Engine (GP59)710G3A
Engine BuilderGM
Horsepower (GP59)3000
Horsepower (GP60)3800
RPM800
Cylinders (GP60)16
Cylinders (GP59)12
Length (GP60)59' 2"
Length (GP59)59' 9"
Height (Top Of Rail To Top Of Cab)15' 7 ½"
Width10' 4 ½"
Weight270,000 Lbs
Fuel Capacity (GP59)3700 Gallons
Fuel Capacity (GP60)3200 Gallons
Air CompressorGardner-Denver
Air Compressor ModelWBO
Air Brake ManufacturerWestinghouse
Air Brake Schedule24L
TrucksB-B
Truck TypeBlomberg
Truck Wheelbase9'
Wheel Size40"
Traction MotorsD87 (4), GM
Primary GeneratorAR22, GM
Auxiliary GeneratorDelco (64-72)
AlternatorD14
MU (Multiple-Unit)Yes
Dynamic BrakesYes
Gear Ratio62:15
Tractive Effort (Starting)65,000 Lbs at 20%
Tractive Effort (Continuous)62,400 Lbs at 11.1 mph
Top Speed65 mph

Production Rosters

GP59

Total Built = 36

Owner Road Number Serial Numbers Completion Date Quantity
Demonstrator8-10*836062-1 thru 836062-36/19853
Norfolk Southern4609-4641**887007-1 thru 887007-3311/1989 - 12/198933

* Became Norfolk Southern #4606-4608.

** Built by the General Motors Diesel Division (London, Ontario) on order C492.

GP60

Total Built = 294

Owner Road Number(s) Serial Number(s) Order Number Completion Date
Electro-Motive (Demonstrators) 5-7 (became Locomotive Leasing Partners #6001-6003) 836061-1 thru 836061-3 - 10/1985
Southern Pacific 9600-9619 866185-1 thru 866185-20 C468 (built at GMDD) 12/1987-2/1988
Santa Fe 4000-4019 876031-1 thru 876031-20 C470 (built at GMDD) 5/1988-6/1988
St. Louis-Southwestern Railway (Cotton Belt) 9620-9634 876054-1 thru 876054-15 C473 (built at GMDD) 9/1988-10/1988
Santa Fe 4020-4039 886012-1 thru 886012-20 C488 (built at GMDD) 7/1989-8/1989
St. Louis-Southwestern Railway (Cotton Belt) 9635-9664 886024-1 thru 886024-30 C489 (built at GMDD) 8/1989-10/1989
St. Louis-Southwestern Railway (Cotton Belt) 9665-9714 896003-1 thru 896003-50 C496 (built at GMDD) 2/1990-5/1990
Denver & Rio Grande Western 3154-3156 896043-1 thru 896043-3 (built at GMDD) - 5/1990
Texas-Mexican 869 896051-1 (built at GMDD) - 5/1990
Norfolk Southern 7101-7143 907134-1 thru 907134-43 (built at GMDD) - 8/1991-10/1991
Southern Pacific 9715-9769 907137-1 thru 907137-55 (built at GMDD) - 4/1991-7/1991
Texas-Mexican 870 907148-1 (built at GMDD) - 10/1991
Norfolk Southern 7144-7150 907171-1 thru 907171-7 (built at GMDD) - 12/1991-1/1992
Savannah River Project 106 917216-1 (built at GMDD) - 10/1991
Southern Pacific 9770-9794 936428-1 thru 936428-25 - 11/1993-1/1994

GP60M

Total Built = 63

Owner Road Numbers Serial Numbers Order Number Completion Date
Santa Fe 100-162 886063-1 thru 886063-63 C498 (built at GMDD) 5/1990-9/1990

GP60B

Total Built = 23

Owner Road Numbers Serial Numbers Completion Date
Santa Fe 325-347 906143-1 thru 906143-23 7/1991-9/1991

2358267237527690279038909.jpgBNSF GP60Ms #106 and #145, a GP60, and two more GP60Ms, have the "Boron Local" working the U.S. Borax Mine at Boron, California. Loyd Lowry photo.

Southern Pacific wound up with the most standard GP60s, 195 in all (including 95 for subsidiary St. Louis Southwestern), although it was the Santa Fe which boasted the most interesting fleet.  Among its 126 examples, 63 featured the new "North American" wide cab - dubbed GP60Ms (#100-162) - and another 23 cabless GP60Bs (#325-347).

The latter was the first cabless locomotives purchased by a North American Class 1 railroad since Union Pacific picked up forty GP30Bs in 1963.  The GP60Bs - as well as their GP60M counterparts - were adorned in the classic "Warbonnet" livery, which had recently been revived by the AT&SF.

For railfans it was quite the treat and the locomotives were regularly captured on film during an era when locomotive variety - and classic paint schemes - were both rapidly disappearing from the American landscape.

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.  EMD Locomotives.  Minneapolis: MBI Publishing Company, 2006.
  • Solomon, Brian.  GE and EMD Locomotives:  The Illustrated History.  Minneapolis:  Voyageur Press, 2014.

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