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EMD's "GP30" Locomotives

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Last revised: January 19, 2024

By: Adam Burns

The now-classic GP30 was unmistakable.  It featured an interesting semi-streamlined design for a road-switcher, sporting a bulbous appendage on the roof, which ran from just above the cab to the dynamic brake blister.

The unique carbody was never repeated by EMD although its flush nose and uniform cab, featuring a two-piece windshield, became a standard design for the next thirty years.

The locomotive was essentially an improved GP20, featuring an upgraded prime mover, greater horsepower, and new advances to keep the engine compartment cleaner.

The GP30 was Electro-Motive's answer to General Electric's recently introduced U25B, the company's entry into the road-switcher market in the spring of 1959.

EMD again found big success with its latest model, selling nearly 1,000 examples to dozens of railroads.  While the model was equipped with the low, short hood as a standard option some roads continued to purchase high hood variants and Union Pacific even acquired cabless examples.

Today, the GP30 is well preserved with numerous examples at museums or in operation on tourist lines. Additionally, others remain in service at short lines.

Photos

2o3827358236823643486934097093488.jpgAn Electro-Motive photo featuring new Chicago, Burlington & Quincy GP30 #941 in Chinese Red in April, 1962. Warren Calloway collection.

Overview

In his book, "EMD Locomotives," author Brian Solomon notes the GP30 was one of the builder's final four-axle road-switchers sporting the 567 prime mover.  The model featured the turbocharged 567D3 engine, which could produce 2,250 horsepower.

The GP30 was EMD's first to feature the now-common pointed, low, short hood.  This design became EMD's standard until the FRA mandated the wide "safety" cab on every new locomotive in the 1990s.

Interestingly, the GP30 abandoned EMD's brief attempt at attributing horsepower rating to the model name.  Apparently, there was no specific reasoning for the use of "30" other than perhaps, as Gerald Foster notes in "A Field Guide To Trains," "GP30" sounded better than "U25B."

250172651523514859101761907.jpgA sharp pair of new Santa Fe GP30's, #1262 and #1219, head west through Los Angeles on May 5, 1963. American-Rails.com collection.

Specifications

Much improved over early models like the GP7 and GP9, the GP30 boasted:

  • 2,250 horsepower (250 more horsepower than the GP20, which is said to have been achieved through the use of a different turbocharger, since the bore, stroke, compression ratios and RPMs of the two engines were identical).
  • Was equipped with dynamic brakes (while not new, the system temporarily employed traction motors as generators and used the resulting electromotive force to slow the train).
  • Featured an airtight hood that kept out dust, dirt and other particles from reaching internal components (to cool these critical components the GP30 featured a single air intake for electrical cooling, with a pressurized cooling system).
269389023752635872698309708.jpgKansas City Southern GP30 #108 at the road's shops in Pittsburg, Kansas, circa 1969. American-Rails.com collection.

Obviously, the model's most recognizable aspect was the carbody featuring a semi-streamlined "bulge" along the roofline between the cab and dynamic brake blister.

In his book, "Diesel Locomotives: Cyclopedia, Volume 2," author Bob Hayden points out the space ahead of the blister actually had a purpose.  It housed an electrical cabinet, turbocharger, and central air intake/filter system.

To improve the carbody's appearance, EMD continued this flaring around the blister giving the GP30 a somewhat streamlined appearance.  Interestingly, this cosmetic touch was applied to all GP30s, whether they were ordered with dynamics or not.

Baltimore & Ohio GP30 #6966 in Grafton, West Virginia; March, 1975. American-Rails.com collection.

Spotting Features

While the GP30's roofline bulge was its trademark feature, making it unmistakable from any other EMD design, it also featured some other, less noticeable improvements.

The carbody's walkway was elevated a few inches, which provided space for pipes and electric conduit on the left side and a traction motor cooling air duct on the right. 

In addition, Louis Marre notes in his book, "Diesel Locomotives: The First 50 Years," the GP30 was the first to feature all of its radiators at the rear of the long hood; previous variants had included these both ahead, and behind, the exhaust stacks.

367823598236336898902700990385.jpgRecently delivered Pennsylvania GP30's, with #2222 closest to the photographer, are seen here at Enola, Pennsylvania in April of 1963. Fred Byerly photo. American-Rails.com collection.

Variants

Once again, Canadian lines took no orders on the GP30; the largest orders came from Union Pacific (111), Southern (120), and the Santa Fe (85). 

Most buyers stuck with EMD's then-standard low nose.  However, some continued to operate high hood road-switchers and ordered theirs with this feature, notably Southern Railway and Norfolk & Western.

Rio Grande GP30's #3017 and #3006 bring a load of limestone down the stiff grades of the Monarch Branch near Monarch, Colorado on August 24, 1979. Robert Harmen photo. American-Rails.com collection.

In addition, others like the Milwaukee Road, Soo Line, and Gulf, Mobile & Ohio traded-in older Alcos on new GP30s to reduce costs and utilize GE's rugged 752 traction motors.  These variants looked interesting sporting AAR Type B trucks in place of the standard Blombergs.

Union Pacific was the only buyer to acquire cabless variants, forty in all numbered 700B-739B.  Interestingly, eight of these (#727B-734B) were ordered with steam generators for passenger service, the only GP30s so equipped.

Data Sheet

Entered Production7/1961 (Demonstrator #5629/#1962)
Years Produced7/1961 - 11/1963 (7/1963 for GP30B)
Engine567D3
Engine BuilderGM
Horsepower2250
RPM900
Cylinders16
Length56' 2"
Height (Top Of Rail To Top Of Cab)15' 0"
Width10' 2 ½"
Weight260,000 Lbs
Fuel Capacity1700 Gallons
Air CompressorGardner-Denver
Air Compressor ModelWBO
Air Brake ManufacturerWestinghouse
Air Brake Schedule24L
TrucksB-B
Truck TypeBlomberg
Truck Wheelbase9'
Wheel Size40"
Traction MotorsD57 (4), GM
Primary GeneratorD22, GM
Auxiliary GeneratorDelco (64-72)
AlternatorD14
MU (Multiple-Unit)Yes
Dynamic BrakesYes
Gear Ratio62:15
Tractive Effort (Starting)60,500 Lbs at 25%
Tractive Effort (Continuous)50,000 Lbs at 9.3 mph
Top Speed65 mph

Production Roster

Total Built = 948

Owner Road Number(s) Serial Number(s) Order Number Completion Date
Electro-Motive (Demonstrator) 5629 (became Union Pacific #875) 26613 5629 7/1961
Reading 5513-5514, 5520, 5503, 5507, 5505, 5508, 5506, 5501-5502, 5509-5510, 5519, 5504, 5515-5516, 5511-5512, 5517-5518 27114-27133 7617 3/1962-7/1962
Denver & Rio Grande Western 3001-3010 27135-27144 7619 4/1962-5/1962
Chicago, Burlington & Quincy 940-969 27151-27180 7621 4/1962-6/1962
Santa Fe 1200-1234 27187-27221 7622 4/1962-6/1962
Denver & Rio Grande Western 3011-3013 27222-27224 7619 5/1962
Southern 2525-2556 27313-27344 5636 8/1962-9/1962
Norfolk & Western 522-558 27355-27391 5637 6/1962-8/1962
Norfolk & Western 560-565 27393-27398 5637 8/1962-9/1962
Louisville & Nashville 1000-1028 27399-27427 7626 7/1962-12/1962
Southern 2557-2584 27428-27455 5636 9/1961-11/1962
Electro-Motive (Demonstrator) 5639 (became Seaboard Air Line #534) 27462 5639 3/1962
Phelps Dodge Corporation 24 (New Cornelia Branch Mine) 27466 5641 9/1962
Union Pacific 800-874 27509-27583 5643 7/1962-10/1962
Chesapeake & Ohio 3002-3015 27584-27597 7627 12/1962-1/1963
Baltimore & Ohio 6900-6927 27617-27644 7628 10/1962-11/1962
Baltimore & Ohio 6928-6976 27645-27693 7631 11/1962-1/1963
Phelps Dodge Corp 25-32 (New Cornelia Branch Mine) 27728-27735 5654 6/1963
Milwaukee Road 340-355 27736-27751 7656 5/1963, 7/1963
Louisville & Nashville 1029-1048 27752-27771 7657 5/1963-9/1963
Kansas City Southern 100-109 27788-27797 5635 5/1962
Chesapeake & Ohio 3000-3001 27798-27799 7632 8/1962, 10/1962
New York, Chicago & St Louis (Nickel Plate Road) 900-909 27894-27903 5647 11/1962
Gulf, Mobile & Ohio 500-516 27904-27920 7635 12/1962-4/1963
Gulf, Mobile & Ohio 517-519 27925-27927 7635 5/1963
Seaboard Air Line 500-509 27928-27937 5648 11/1962
Seaboard Air Line 510-533 27938-27961 7636 12/1962-1/1963
Norfolk & Western 559 27978 5637 8/1962
New York Central 6115-6124 27979-27988 7624 8/1962
Atlantic Coast Line 900-907 27989-27996 7637 1/1963
Atlantic Coast Line 908 27997 7647 1/1963
Denver & Rio Grande Western 3014-3028 28043-28057 7640 1/1963-2/1963
Santa Fe 1235-1284 28058-28107 7642 1/1963-6/1963
Pennsylvania 2200-2251 28108-28159 7643 2/1963-5/1963
Union Pacific 700-709 28160-28169 7648 2/1963
Alaska Railroad 2000 28171 7645 3/1963
St. Louis Southwestern Railway (Cotton Belt) 750-759 28172-28181 5650 2/1963
Southern Pacific 7400-7407 28182-28189 7646 3/1963
Union Pacific 710-734 28190-28214 7648 2/1963-3/1963
Great Northern 3000-3016 28261-28277 7650 4/1963-5/1963
Chicago, Burlington & Quincy 970-977 28292-28299 7652 4/1963-9/1963
Chicago & North Western 810-823 28304-28317 7653 4/1963
Soo Line 701-721 28321-28341 7654 3/1963-6/1963
Soo Line 700 28342 7655 3/1963
Chicago & Eastern Illinois 239-241 28345-28347 7658 6/1963
Union Pacific 735 28351 7648 6/1963
Kansas City Southern 110-119 28388-28397 7661 7/1963
Chesapeake & Ohio 3016-3017 28410-28411 7663 8/1963
Gulf, Mobile & Ohio 520-530 28422-28432 7666 8/1963-9/1963
Chesapeake & Ohio 3018-3043 28494-28519 7663 8/1963-10/1963
Chesapeake & Ohio 3044-3045 28520-28521 7682 10/1963
Chesapeake & Ohio 3046-3047 28522-28523 7683 10/1963
Chicago Great Western 201-208 28526-28533 7679 8/1963-9/1963
Toledo, Peoria & Western 700 28534 7680 9/1963
Southern 2585-2614, 2635-2639, 2630-2634, 2640-2644, 2615-2629 28555-28614 7669 9/1963-11/1963
Louisville & Nashville 1049-1057 28645-28653 7687 10/1963-11/1963

GP30B

Owner Road Number(s) Serial Number(s) Order Number Completion Date
Union Pacific 700B-726B 28215-28241 7651 4/1963-6/1963
Union Pacific 727B-739B 28242-28254 7649 6/1963-7/1963

2835923572635623578283768923893748998.jpgBurlington Northern GP30 #2245, circa 1983. This unit was built as Chicago, Burlington & Quincy #968 in July, 1962. She was later retired in June, 1986. Mike Bledsoe photo. American-Rails.com collection.

In all, a total of 948 were built during a three-year production run that lasted from 1961-1963.   In July, 1963 EMD released the more powerful GP35, a 2,500 horsepower road-switcher which offered the same output as GE's U25B.

This locomotive, which dropped the roofline bulge, was the last four-axle design to sport the 567 prime mover and carried the now-classic second-generation appearance of EMD road-switchers for the next 30 years, including the Spartan Cab. 

It was even more successful than its predecessor, selling more than 1,300 examples and easily outpacing similar cataloged models offered from GE and Alco. 

Sources

  • Pinkepank, Jerry A. Diesel Spotter's Guide.  Milwaukee: Kalmbach Publishing Company, 1967.
  • Foster, Gerald. A Field Guide To Trains. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1996.
  • Marre, Louis A. Diesel Locomotives: The First 50 Years, A Guide To Diesels Built Before 1972.  Milwaukee: Kalmbach Publishing Company, 1995.
  • Schafer, Mike. Vintage Diesel Locomotives. Osceola: MBI Publishing, 1998.
  • Solomon, Brian.  EMD Locomotives.  Minneapolis: MBI Publishing Company, 2006.
  • Solomon, Brian.  GE and EMD Locomotives:  The Illustrated History.  Minneapolis:  Voyageur Press, 2014.

SteamLocomotive.com

Wes Barris's SteamLocomotive.com is simply the best web resource on the study of steam locomotives. 

It is difficult to truly articulate just how much material can be found at this website. 

It is quite staggering and a must visit!