Bio Edit

The EMD (Electro-Motive Division) GP40-2 is a type of four-axle, 16-cylinder, 3,000hp (though, sometimes rated at 3,200hp) diesel locomotive built by the Electro Motive Division of General Motors (GM) from 1972 to 1986. Over 1,100 units were built: 903 of the original domestic model, 233 of the wide-cab (Canadian-built) GP40-2L, among many rebuilds; such as the MK Rail GP40-2WH.

Rio Grande (DRGW) GP40-2

Brand-new DRGW GP40-2 idling at Denver, CO in 1983.

Many are still in service today on various different railroads throughout the US and North America, though many have since been retired, scrapped, rebuilt, de-rated, or downgraded. Some have since been rebuilt into what are dubbed as "GP38-3's", which are retrofitted with roots-blown 16-645E prime-movers as opposed to their turbocharged 16-645E3 motors. The vast majority of active units currently serve in yard or local service on virtually every Class 1 railroad or railway. The remainder serve in primary, general revenue use on regionals and shortlines.

Despite being a successor to the GP40-2, the GP50 was discontinued a shy year before the last GP40-2 units were delivered to the Florida East Coast (FEC) in December 1986, and were built to GP50 specifications like the rest of the later production GP40-2 units (having larger fans, "free-flow" blower ducts, etc.) prior to the full debut of models like the GP60 and SD60.

Although all eight Class 1 systems in North America operate GP40-2 units and subsequent variants, they have since diminished over the years, for companies like CP (Canadian Pacific) have since retired and sold their units to various leasers, shortlines, industries, regionals, and/or rebuilding contractors like NRE (National Rail Equipment). Others like KCSM (Kansas City Southern de Mexico), have since received ex-CN GP40-2L/GP40-2W units, or have received them as part of a trade-in. 

Like its pre-Dash 2 predecessor, the GP40-2 has numerous passenger or specialty variants. Most units however, are rebuilt from the original stock model (or the original GP40), and are merely built to different specifications. Many GP40 units have since been upgraded to "Dash 2" specs as well. 

History Edit

In late 1971, the launch of the increasingly successful and iconic "Dash 2" line from EMD was imminent. Although orders for preceding models were placed months before during the previous year from various customers, they were filled-in or replaced with succeeding models of the latter (thus, the GP40 orders ultimately became GP40-2 orders). After the successful launch of the SD40-2 in January 1972, railroads were beginning  to settle on EMD's otherwise reliable products. Beginning in April of that same year, EMD constructed an updated version of the already successful (yet tedious to maintain) GP40 by adding a number of internal features. Externally, the GP40-2 was virtually unchanged during the transition to the "Dash 2" line, except for the small, oblong-shaped water-level sight glass window located on the right-side of the long-hood. towards the front of the radiator intake. Overall, the difference between a late-GP40 unit and an early GP40-2 unit are barely perceptible. On the inside, however, is an entirely different story. First and foremost, the most prominent change was with the wiring (akin to the rest of the series). Transistors, printed electrical circuit boards, and a control system featuring solid-state modular components were the hallmark of the radically redesigned "Dash 2" electrical system. The elaborate maze of hardwired circuitry, ponderous relays, interlocks, and bulky switches that defined the electrical systems of earlier locomotives were gone for good. 

GP40-2L and GP40-2WEdit

During the 1970s, CN (Canadian National) specified a unique"wide-cab" variant of the original model known as the "GP40-2L" (sometimes classed as GP40-2LW). Said units were built specially for crew comfort and improved visibility, while also including some of the earliest forms of Positive Train Control (PTC)-which featured a wheel-slip control system developed in-house by the railway's technical personnel-and were constructed on a specially designed lightweight frame. The overall cab design harkened back to the CN's order of MLW M420's and GP38-2's built in mid-1973, which were also designed by the railroad in cooperation with running-trade representatives from both builders. Featuring crew ammenities such as refrigerators, hot plates, and coffee pots, the cabs became a signature concept of the railway which was then adopted by EMD and UP (Union Pacific) during the late-1980s upon the debut of the SD60M (while also loosely drawing some inspiration from specialty models equipped with wide noses or so-called "wide-cabs" like the DDA40X). Within a few years, the CN-designed cab became standard on almost all production diesel locomotive models and has since become known as the "North American Safety Cab", which has since been mandated as a mandatory requirement from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for all new production (non-rebuilt or remanufactured) locomotives built by major manufacturers (notably EMD and GE). Apart from the otherwise revolutionary cab, the locomotive model featured a unique, lightweight frame (thus, "L" for "lightweight"). Specially designed and engineered by the railroad, the frame was devised to to allow increased fuel and sand capacities without exceeding CN's gross-weight and axle-loading standards at the time. To achieve this, the GP40-2L featured steel I-beams with a taller but thinner web than normal. As a result, these locomotives sit slightly higher than a standard model GP40-2. Said trait is the only way of distinguishing the latter of the two models apart from one another. 

Not all units, however, were built with said specifications, for they are classified simply as a "GP40-2" by EMD standards, but rather a "GP40-2W"; thus, essentially being a wide-cab GP40-2. Furthermore, they ride noticeably lower than their GP40-2L (GP40-2LW) brethren. CN received 35 of these units (CN #9633-9667), while GO Transit received 11 (GO #9808-9814). Although these units were built and delivered for a commuter rail system, they weren't equipped with an auxiliary power/control unit (APCU) or a head-end power (HEP) generator for providing heating and air conditioning for passenger coaches. CN later acquired all but one of the units from GO in 1991, for one unit (GO #703/9811) was sold to Tri-Rail for commuter rail service between Miami and Tampa, FL during the same year. 

Some GP40-2L/GP40-2W units have since been rebuilt and modified to passenger specs for several excursion and/or tourist train services. One notable example, would be the Rocky Mountaineer (RMRX) railway's fleet of 5 ex-CN units (RMRX #8011-8015). Said units have been retrofitted with dynamic brakes and auxiliary generators for heating and airconditioning purposes. 


Like most EMD locomotive models, the GP40-2 went through several notable phases during its production span. Most of these changes, however, were minimal compared to later models like the SD70M

  • Phase 1: 1972-1976: "chicken-wire" radiator intake grilles, 81-inch short-hood, different step configuration, bolted front battery boxes, bolted cab side panel.
  • Phase 2a: 1977 to early 1979: corrugated radiator intakes, FRA clean-cab modifications, which necessitated an 88" long nose, notched stepwells, and improved battery box hinges. 
  • Phase 2b: Early to late 1979: welded cab side panel. 
  • Phase 2c: Late 1979-1981: EMD "Q" fans and exhaust silencer. 
  • Phase 3: 1984-1986: Larger, "free flow" style blower duct, hinged battery boxes, straight frame profile.