Last revised: September 18, 2023
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.
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."
Much improved over early models like the GP7 and GP9, the GP30 boasted:
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Entered Production||7/1961 (Demonstrator #5629/#1962)|
|Years Produced||7/1961 - 11/1963 (7/1963 for GP30B)|
|Height (Top Of Rail To Top Of Cab)||15' 0"|
|Width||10' 2 ½"|
|Fuel Capacity||1700 Gallons|
|Air Compressor Model||WBO|
|Air Brake Manufacturer||Westinghouse|
|Air Brake Schedule||24L|
|Traction Motors||D57 (4), GM|
|Primary Generator||D22, GM|
|Auxiliary Generator||Delco (64-72)|
|Tractive Effort (Starting)||60,500 Lbs at 25%|
|Tractive Effort (Continuous)||50,000 Lbs at 9.3 mph|
|Top Speed||65 mph|
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|
|Denver & Rio Grande Western||3011-3013||27222-27224||7619||5/1962|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|St. Louis Southwestern Railway (Cotton Belt)||750-759||28172-28181||5650||2/1963|
|Chicago, Burlington & Quincy||970-977||28292-28299||7652||4/1963-9/1963|
|Chicago & North Western||810-823||28304-28317||7653||4/1963|
|Chicago & Eastern Illinois||239-241||28345-28347||7658||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|
|Owner||Road Number(s)||Serial Number(s)||Order Number||Completion Date|
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.