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EMD "SW9" Locomotives

Last revised: August 27, 2023

By: Adam Burns

The SW9 was yet another highly successful switcher model for Electro-Motive and would go on to become one of its most successful.

Once again this locomotive was virtually identical to others in the series released up until that time, including the SW8's 567B prime mover and a horsepower rating that exceeded 1,000. 


In total, 800 units were produced in the United States and Canada during a production run that ran from 1950-1953.

In any event, as with virtually every other small switcher model EMD produced, the SW9's reliability and versatility has become legendary with many remaining in operation on short lines, industrial settings, and excursion trains. 


287659124092741264723562763890709.jpgSanta Fe SW9 #1429 is seen here between assignments at Cleburne, Texas on August 7, 1978. Mike Bledsoe photo. American-Rails.com collection.

The SW9 began production in late 1950s, in both the U.S. and Canada, and was built during the same time period as the SW8. The design carried the typical EMC/EMD carbody with a short hood, which was tapered towards the end-cab.

A design that was common before the SW8, EMD went back to its standard two conical, exhaust stacks and the SW9 remained very short at just over 44-feet.

EMD stepped up the weight on the SW9, back to 124 tons, which was the same as the SW7. The model used General Motors' model D37 traction motors and could produce a respectable 43,000 pounds of continuous tractive effort, and 62,000 pounds of starting effort, for a locomotive of its small size. 

Additionally, the SW9 featured the tried and proven 567B prime mover (also used in the SW8), which produce a healthy 1,200 horsepower. 

A former Erie Lackawanna SW9, #453 (ex-Lackawanna #558), at Croxton Yard in Secaucus, New Jersey during the early Conrail era, circa 1976. American-Rails.com collection.

Many roads tended to like the higher horsepower switcher models since they were more ideal for use in many different applications (such as the ability to pull heavier freight trains on light branch lines).

By the time the SW9 was cataloged EMD was fast becoming the dominant locomotive builder having just released the GP7 in 1949.

The Great Western Railway (of Colorado) SW9 #121 and caboose #1007 at the Great Western Sugar Company's plant in Loveland, Colorado, circa 1965. American-Rails.com collection.

The SW9 had a three year run with units rolling out of La Grange through December, 1953. By the end of its production the model had sold some 771 units along with an additional 22 examples of the cow-calf TR5 (10 sets and 2 additional calves).

As with previous SW models, the SW9 was well-liked for its versatility, reliability, ease of maintenance, and cheap price tag which allowed short lines and industries to purchase the model right along with the Class Is.

Data Sheet and Specifications

Entered Production (U.S.)11/1950 (Chattanooga Traction Company #5)
Entered Production (Canada)12/1950 (Great Northern #14-16)
Years Produced (U.S.)11/1950 - 12/1953
Years Produced (Canada)12/1950 - 3/1953
EMD ClassSW9
Engine567B (12 Cylinder)
Engine BuilderEMD/GM
Length44' 5"
Height (Top Of Rail To Top Of Cab)14' 6 1/2"
Width9' 11 1/2"
Weight248,000 Lbs
Fuel Capacity600 Gallons
Air CompressorWXO (Gardner-Denver)
Air Brake Schedule6BL (Westinghouse)
Truck TypeGRS Rigid Bolster, Drop-Side Equalizer (AAR Type-A)
Truck Wheelbase8' 0"
Wheel Size40"
Traction MotorsD27 (4), EMD/GM
Traction GeneratorD15C, EMD/GM
Auxiliary GeneratorEMD/GM
MU (Multiple-Unit)Optional
Dynamic BrakesNo
Gear Ratio62:15
Tractive Effort/Starting62,000 Lbs
Tractive Effort/Continuous43,000 Lbs at 11.0 mph
Top Speed65 mph

Production Rosters

Electro-Motive (EMD)

(Total Built = 780)

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date Quantity
Louisville & Nashville2267-22769782-979140103/1951-4/195110
New York Central8922-89289961-996741132/19517
New York Central8929-89309968-996941102/19512
Grand Trunk Western7010-701411165-1116940456/19525
Nashville, Chattanooga & St Louis34-3811233-1123740462/19515
Chesapeake & Ohio5080-508911713-1172240554/195210
Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy)1226-123511733-1174261122/1952-4/195210
Detroit & Toledo Shore Line1191245840733/19511
Missouri Pacific9170-918612551-1256740744/1951-6/195117
Southern Pacific (Texas & New Orleans)108-11212865-1286940754/19535
Atlantic Coast Line652-66113129-1313861822/195110
Chicago, Burlington & Quincy9269-927013212-1321340838/1951-9/19512
Great Northern17-2313297-1330340885/19517
Chattanooga Traction Company513515409111/19501
Erie Railroad4341382940993/19511
Union Railroad575-57613953-1395462292/19512
New York, Chicago & St. Louis (Nickel Plate Road)233-23713955-1395962362/19515
Atlantic Coast Line662-67113960-1396961822/1951-3/195110
Great Lakes Steel271397063298/19511
Texas & Pacific (Missouri Pacific)1024-102814022-1402640622/19515
Lehigh Valley280-28514043-1404841035/19516
Delaware, Lackawanna & Western551-55314068-1407041116/19513
Philadelphia, Bethlehem & New England35-3614095-1409662282/19512
Pittsburgh & Lake Erie (New York Central)8931-894014099-1410862423/195110
Pittsburgh, Chartiers & Youghiogheny Railway2-314109-1411062442/19512
Missouri Pacific9187-919114325-1432941144/19515
Illinois Central9430-946414353-1438740936/1951-7/195135
Belt Railway Of Chicago520-52114394-1439562496/19512
Louisville & Nashville2277-229114444-1445840104/1951-6/195115
Lehigh Valley286-29214499-1450541205/19517
Cambria & Indiana30-3114508-1450962237/19512
Texas & Pacific (Missouri Pacific)1029-103614510-1451762887/1951-8/19518
Republic Steel3441455662898/19511
Weyerhaeuser Timber Company302-30314562-1456341028/19512
Steelton & Highspire40-4114743-1474463027/19512
Central Railroad Of New Jersey1084-109214745-14753412212/19519
Maine Central3341475463008/19511
Spokane, Portland & Seattle43-4514756-1475863158/1951-10/19513
Atlantic Coast Line672-71514898-1494140989/1951-11/195144
Charleston & Western Carolina8021494241291/19521
Union Railroad57715064625410/19511
Union Railroad57815065637410/19511
Houston Belt & Terminal22-3115120-1512963338/195110
Oliver Iron Mining934-93615130-15132632510/1951-12/19513
Philadelphia, Bethlehem & New England37-3815133-1513441311/19522
Great Lakes Steel2815139633112/19511
Belt Railway Of Chicago522-52315207-15208627610/19512
New York Central8941-895115487-1549741082/195211
Chesapeake & Ohio5245-526115504-15520409710/1951-11/195117
Chesapeake & Ohio5262-526515521-15524415111/19514
Great Western Railway (Colorado)1211555363139/19511
Great Western Railway (Colorado)12215554635311/19511
Maryland & Pennsylvania8215558409511/19511
Peoria & Pekin Union411-41215560-15561410611/19512
Monessen Southwestern Railway2315562622112/19511
Monessen Southwestern Railway24-2515563-1556463071/19522
Milwaukee Road1643-164515565-15567632810/19513
St. Louis-San Francisco Railway (Frisco)305-30915594-1559841051/19525
Charleston & Western Carolina8031560241291/19521
Georgia Railroad906-90715604-15605634610/19512
Inspiration Consolidated Copper Company22-2315606-15607634312/19512
St. Louis Southwestern Railway (Cotton Belt)1058-106115608-15611632012/1951-1/19524
Arkansas & Louisiana Missouri121563663501/19521
Chicago & Illinois Western10415637634911/19511
Northern Pacific115-11715684-1568641532/19523
Delaware, Lackawanna & Western554-55715731-1573463417/19524
Boston & Maine1220-122615748-1575463381/19527
Bauxite Northern Railway101583863612/19521
St. Louis-San Francisco Railway (Frisco)310-31415861-1586541051/19525
Baltimore & Ohio Chicago Terminal (B&OCT)590-59715886-1589363662/1952-4/19528
Erie Railroad435-43815933-1593641694/19524
Union Railroad579-58815959-15968637411/1951, 3/195210
Erie Railroad439-44016173-1617463784/19522
Detroit & Toledo Shore Line120-12116208-16209415411/19522
New York Central8962-898916284-1631141431/195328
New York Central8990-900116312-1632341922/195312
Pittsburgh & Lake Erie (New York Central)8952-896116330-1633963689/1952-12/195210
New York, Chicago & St. Louis (Nickel Plate Road)238-24416360-1636641755/19527
Illinois Central9465-948416407-1642641235/1952-6/195220
Illinois Central9320-933416427-16441418410/1952-11/195215
Montour Railroad73-7616442-1644563805/19524
Wisconsin Central (Soo Line)2111-211516482-16486415511/1952-12/19525
Cambria & Indiana32-3716553-1655863853/19526
Western Pacific601-60416636-1663941685/1952-6/19524
Apalachicola Northern705-70616640-1664163903/19522
Western Pacific605-60616679-1668041686/1952-7/19522
Pennsylvania8513-8522, 8529-853616724-16741417012/1952, 3/195318
Pennsylvania8523-8528, 8537-854116742-16752419412/195211
Central of Georgia301-30416803-1680641417/19524
Chicago, West Pullman & Southern47-4816829-16830419311/19522
Terminal Railroad Association Of St. Louis1206-121816831-16843413510/195213
Chicago & North Western1101-110516910-1691464045/19525
Ashley Drew & Northern1741694064075/19521
Apalachicola Northern707-70916950-16952640512/19523
Central of Georgia305-30616960-1696141417/19522
Montour Railroad77-8017060-17063419912/19524
Central Railroad of New Jersey1093-109417111-17112643312/19522
Great Lakes Steel2917113643411/19521
Pittsburgh Chartiers & Youghiogheny417224643812/19521
Conemaugh & Black Lick118-11917225-17226418611/19522
Steelton & Highspire42-4317227-17228418710/19522
Louisville & Nashville2292-229417253-1725541361/19533
Chesapeake & Ohio5090-509117262-1726342061/19532
Florida East Coast221-22817359-17366418912/1952-1/19538
Atlantic Coast Line71617395645512/19521
Montour Railroad81-8417430-1743341991/19534
Northern Pacific1181747841661/19531
Central of Georgia307-31017649-1765241962/1953-3/19534
Grand Trunk Western7015-701617653-1765441781/19532
Union Pacific1825-184617805-1782641334/195322
Louisville & Nashville2295-229617841-1784242032/19532
Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range11-2517870-1788442093/195315
Delaware, Lackawanna & Western558-56017887-1788964886/19533
Mississippi Central201-21017988-1799765034/1953-5/195310
Santa Fe2420-243318086-1809942195/195314
Campbells Creek Railroad131817442224/19531
Boston & Maine1227-123118181-1818542265/19535
Chicago & North Western1122-112518219-1822242256/19534
Reserve Mining12111829765096/19531
Kirby Lumber Company10001829865114/19531
Wheeling Steel12521830041274/19531
Wisconsin Central (Soo Line)2117-211918437-1843941569/19533
Bellefonte Central Railroad53231858942307/19531
Oliver Iron Mining Company937-93918621-1862365218/19533
Monessen Southwestern Railway271862442299/19531
Pittsburgh Chartiers & Youghiogheny51871042369/19531
Rock Island775-77818731-18734423811/19534
Indiana Harbor Belt9002-900818790-1879642399/1953-10/19537
Union Pacific1847-186618835-18854421610/1953-11/195320
Pittsburg & Shawmut231-23418860-18863424410/19534
Apalachicola Northern710-71118869-18870424611/19532
Santa Fe2434-243818959-18963652411/1953-12/19535
Rock Island77918964423811/19531
Pittsburg & Shawmut235-23818965-18968424411/19534
Pittsburg & Shawmut23919043424411/19531
Maine Central33519044424812/19531
Aliquippa & Southern120019074424912/19531
Chesapeake & Ohio5092-509319298-19299425312/19532
Wheeling Steel125319305412512/19531
Kosmos Timber Company10019306425712/19531
Weyerhaeuser Timber Company30519307652812/19531
Baltimore & Ohio598-60319308-19313425812/19536


(Total Built = 1)

SW9's completed from trade-in units, reusing the same serials as their predecessors.

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date Heritage Quantity
Kansas City Southern13041342275234/1953Ex-Kansas City Southern SW7 #1304.1

General Motors Diesel (GMD)

 (Total Built = 29)

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date Quantity
Great Northern Railway14-16A114-A116C10212/19503
Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo55-58A121-A124C10312/1950-1/19514
Chesapeake & Ohio5240-5244A149-A153C1081/1951-2/19515
Steel Company Of Canada70A202C1132/19511
Canadian National7000-7009A334-A343C1381/1951-3/195110
Canadian Pacific7400-7405A489-A494C1581/1953-3/19536


  • Foster, Gerald. A Field Guide To Trains. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1996.
  • Hayden, Bob. Diesel Locomotives: Cyclopedia, Volume 2 (Model Railroader). Milwaukee: Kalmbach Publishing Company, 1980.
  • Marre, Louis A. Diesel Locomotives: The First 50 Years, A Guide To Diesels Built Before 1972.  Milwaukee: Kalmbach Publishing Company, 1995.
  • Pinkepank, Jerry A. Diesel Spotter's Guide.  Milwaukee: Kalmbach Publishing Company, 1967.
  • Solomon, Brian.  EMD Locomotives.  Minneapolis: MBI Publishing Company, 2006.

Spokane, Portland & Seattle SW9 #45 appears to be tied down in Portland, Oregon on October 2, 1968. Fred Byerly photo. American-Rails.com collection.

Because of this reliability and versatility SW9s continue to perform admirably in all types of settings from short lines to excursion trains, more than a half-century since the last unit rolled out of LaGrange, Illinois and London, Ontario.

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