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EMD "SD60" Locomotives

Last revised: July 19, 2023

By: Adam Burns

The original SD60 model, released in the mid-1980s, was meant to update the unreliable and unsuccessful SD50 design. The new locomotive looked very similar to the SD50 externally but internally offered an upgraded prime mover and other updated equipment.

While the SD60 itself only sold a few hundred examples, several variants of it did quite well with more than 1,000 in all being built by the time construction was completed on the design in the mid-1990s.

In many ways, the rebound of the SD60 helped the Electro-Motive Division not only remain competitive against General Electric but also may have prevented the company from losing nearly its remaining market share altogether. 

The model would be succeeded by the SD70 series, which again could not reclaim EMD as industry leader but was another successful design that sold more than 2,000 examples.


9238875323523986090182372476236.jpgSeen here is Electro-Motive demonstrator EMD-1 in the summer of 1984. This unit became Conrail 6840. Mike Bledsoe photo. American-Rails.com collection.


The original SD60 design began production in the spring of 1984. It was intended to replace the trouble-prone SD50 model which suffered from reliability and mechanical issues along with being a complicated design to maintain (notably with its electronics and microprocessors).

The SD60 featured General Motors' latest 16-cylinder model 710G prime mover (replacing the model used on the trouble prone SD50), which could produce 3,800 horsepower, and the company marketed the locomotive as a heavy-haul/drag service unit.

To back this up, it also offered substantial continuous tractive effort of 98,250 pounds starting and 100,000 pounds continuous using GM's new D87B traction motor.

This was a vast increase over the SD50, and even the SD38 and SD40 series, as those models generally offered between 80,000 to 90,000 pounds of tractive effort.

Soo Line SD60 #6050 was photographed here by Jim Shepard at St. Paul, Minnesota on March 19, 1992. American-Rails.com collection.

While a much more reliable and easier to maintain model than the SD50, the original SD60 design saw marginal sales success, especially in comparison to that of similar General Electric was building at the time.

Just 535 examples were built for eight Class Is (Burlington Northern, CSX, Conrail, Chicago & North Western, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, Soo Line, and Union Pacific) and a leasing firm (another four were built by EMD). Likewise, Canadian National purchased another 64 with the "cowl" carbody (listed as SD60Fs).

These lackluster sales numbers can almost certainly be attributed to the industry's weariness of Electro-Motive products after the issues that afflicted the SD50 since mechanically the SD60 was a sound locomotive that generally was rather easy to maintain. However, the model's variants sold much better.


The most successful variant was the SD60M (the "M" designated the model featuring the, then, new wide "safety" cab that would eventually become standard across the industry).

Four Class Is purchased the SD60M including the Burlington Northern (100, numbered 1991, 9200-9298 these units are now in operation on BNSF Railway), Conrail (75, numbered 5500-5574 they have since been split between CSX and NS), Soo (5, numbered 6058-6062 they remain in operation with Canadian Pacific), and Union Pacific.

Together they purchased 740 examples with UP purchasing the most, some 560 units (originally numbered 6085-6645) and most still remain in operation today.

SD60I and SD60MAC

EMD also built an SD60I for Conrail, which purchased 81 units. The "I" designation stood for "isolated cab", also known as a whisper cab as it was meant to greatly reduce engine noise and vibrations for the crew by literally isolating the cab from the frame of the locomotive.

It should also be noted that EMD built four SD60MAC units (the "AC" referred to the model having alternating-current traction motors) as demonstrators for a new variant of the model.

While tested on the Burlington Northern, none were built, and the first AC model EMD released and ultimately cataloged was the SD70MAC.

Data Sheet and Specifications

Entered Production5/1984 (Demonstrator #1)
Years Produced (SD60)5/1984 - 5/1991
Years Produced (SD60M)1/1989 - 6/1993
Years Produced (SD60I)4/1993 - 9/1995
Years Produced (SD60MAC)6/1991 - 9/1992
Engine BuilderGM
Length71' 2"
Height (Top Of Rail To Top Of Cab)15' 7 ½"
Width10' 3"
Weight368,000 Lbs
Fuel Capacity3500 Gallons
Air CompressorGardner-Denver
Air Compressor ModelWBO
Air Brake ManufacturerWestinghouse
Air Brake Schedule26L
Truck TypeHT-C
Truck Wheelbase13' 7"
Wheel Size40"
Traction MotorsD87B (6), GM
Primary GeneratorAR11, GM
Auxiliary GeneratorDelco (A8102)
MU (Multiple-Unit)Yes
Dynamic BrakesYes
Gear Ratio77:17
Tractive Effort (Starting)98,250 Lbs at 25%
Tractive Effort (Continuous)100,000 Lbs at 9.8 mph
Top Speed70 mph

Production Rosters


Total Built = 537

Owner Road Number(s) Serial Number(s) Order Number Completion Date
Electro-Motive (Demonstrators) 1-4 (1, 2, 4 became Conrail #6840-6842) 836054-1 thru 836054-4 836054 5/1984-7/1984
Norfolk Southern 6550-6553 836069-1 thru 836069-4 836069 12/1984
Norfolk Southern 6564-6603 847023-1 thru 847023-40 847023 7/1985-10/1985
Union Pacific 6000-6059 847028-1 thru 847028-60 847028 4/1986-6/1986
Norfolk Southern 6554-6563 847051-1 thru 847051-10 847051 6/1985-7/1985
Burlington Northern 8300-8302 847070-1 thru 847070-3 847070 11/1985
Norfolk Southern 6604-6628 857107-1 thru 857107-25 857107 2/1986-3/1986
Norfolk Southern 6629-6640 857124-1 thru 857124-12 857124 6/1986-8/1986
Norfolk Southern 6641-6650 857125-1 thru 857125-10 857125 8/1986
Chicago & North Western 8001-8055 867147-1 thru 867147-55 867147 8/1986-10/1986
Oakway Inc. 9000-9099 867150-1 thru 867150-100 867150 10/1986-12/1986
Soo Line 6000-6020 867164-1 thru 867164-21 867164 8/1987-11/1987
Norfolk Southern 6651-6665 877025-1 thru 877025-15 C472 (built at GMDD) 11/1988-12/1988
Norfolk Southern 6666-6675 877026-1 thru 877026-10 C472 (built at GMDD) 12/1988
Union Pacific 6060-6084 876030-1 thru 876030-25 876030 2/1988-6/1988
Conrail 6843-6867 886006-1 thru 886006-25 886006 8/1989-9/1989
Kansas City Southern 714-723 886014-1 thru 886014-10 886014 11/1989-12/1989
Soo Line 6042-6057 886019-1 thru 886019-16 C485 (built at GMDD) 10/1989-11/1989
CSX Transportation 8700-8709 886031-1 thru 886031-10 886031 10/1989-11/1989
Soo Line 6021-6041 897003-1 thru 897003-21 C479 (built at GMDD) 3/1989-4/1989
Kansas City Southern 724-735 896028-1 thru 896028-12 896028 (built at GMDD) 11/1990-12/1990
Norfolk Southern 6676-6695 897056-1 thru 897056-20 897056 (built at GMDD) 11/1990-12/1990
Norfolk Southern 6696 897057-1 897057 (built at GMDD) 12/1990
Kansas City Southern 736-759 906114-1 thru 906114-24 906114 (built at GMDD) 3/1991-4/1991
Norfolk Southern 6697-6700 907147-1 thru 907147-4 907147 (built at GMDD) 5/1991

SD60M (Built at GMDD)

Total Built = 460

Owner Road Number(s) Serial Number(s) Order Number Completion Date
Union Pacific 6085-6109 886010-1 thru 886010-25 C474 1/1989-2/1989
Union Pacific 6110-6159 886015-1 thru 886015-50 C482 4/1989-5/1989
Union Pacific 6160-6209 886023-1 thru 886023-50 C482 6/1989-7/1989
Burlington Northern 9200-9249 887033-1 thru 887033-50 C491 12/1989-3/1990
Union Pacific 6210-6215 886036-1 thru 886036-6 C482 6/1989
Soo Line 6058-6062 886055-1 thru 886055-5 C494 11/1989
Union Pacific 6216-6267 886061-1 thru 886061-52 C497 9/1990-11/1990
Burlington Northern 9250-9298, 1991 897049-1 thru 897049-50 C493 1/1991-3/1991
Union Pacific 6268 896050-1 896050 12/1990
Union Pacific 6269-6315 906100-1 thru 906100-47 906100 11/1991-4/1992
Conrail 5500-5529 916246-1 thru 916246-30 916246 12/1992-2/1993
Union Pacific 6316-6365 926302-1 thru 926302-50 926302 8/1992-10/1992
Conrail 5530-5543 926330-1 thru 926330-14 926330 3/1993
Conrail 5545-5574 936400-1 thru 936400-30 936400 4/1993-6/1993

SD60I (Built at GMDD)

Total Built = 81

Owner Road Number(s) Serial Number(s) Completion Date
Conrail 5544 926331-1 4/1993
Conrail 5575-5614 946506-1 thru 946506-40 12/1994-4/1995
Conrail 5615-5654 946530-1 thru 946530-40 3/1995-9/1995


Total Built = 4

Owner Road Numbers Serial Numbers Completion Date
Burlington Northern 9500-9501 896011-1 thru 896011-2 6/1991
Burlington Northern 9502-9503 (built by GMDD) 906127-1 thru 906127-2 6/1992, 9/1992

General Motors Diesel Division (GMDD)

Total Built = 64

Owner Road Numbers Serial Numbers Completion Date
Canadian National 9900-9903 A4468-A4471 C448 8/1985-10/1985
Canadian National 5504-5523 A4709-A4728 C480 2/1989-3/1989
Canadian National 5524-5563 A4761-A4800 C480 8/1989-11/1989

Union Pacific SD60M #6088 is seen here in February, 1990. Location not listed. American-Rails.com collection.

It should be noted that there was another variant known as the SD60MAC. This model was essentially an SD60M that used alternating current (AC) traction motors and EMD constructed four that tested on Burlington Northern.

While the tests proved successful all orders for the model were taken as the later SD70MAC.  Currently, the four demonstrator units remain at the FRA Test Track in Pueblo, Colorado.

Today, as mentioned above, SD60s and its variants remain in operation on nearly every Class I system with leased units being found on some regionals and short lines like the New England Central. 


  • 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.
  • Marre, Louis A. Contemporary Diesel Spotter's Guide, The: A Comprehensive Reference Manual To Locomotives Since 1972, Including Rebuilding, Upgrading, And Leasing Programs (2nd Edition).  Milwaukee: Kalmbach Publishing Company, 1995.
  • 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.  EMD Locomotives.  Minneapolis: MBI Publishing Company, 2006.
  • Solomon, Brian.  GE and EMD Locomotives:  The Illustrated History.  Minneapolis:  Voyageur Press, 2014.

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