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Bio Edit

The EMD (Electro-Motive Division) SD45-2 is a type of six-axle, 20-cylinder, 3,500hp-3,600hp diesel locomotive built from 1972 to 1974 with 136 built.

Many have since been scrapped, rebuilt, and/or retired. Most rebuilt units carry an "SD40-2R" designation, for they were rebuilt to SD40-2 specifications (such as having a 16-cylinder 16-645E3 engine rather than retaining its original 20-cylinder variant).

The Clinchfield Railroad (CRR), Erie-Lackawanna (EL), Santa Fe (ATSF), and the Seaboard Coast Line (SCL) were the only customers who purchased the model, for the drastically popular and successful SD40-2 completely outsold the model in vast numbers.

Many still remain in service with various shortlines and leasing companies (like HLCX), albeit rebuilt to SD40-2 specs. Encountering a true, non-rebuilt unit is exceptionally rare.


After the initial failures regarding the original SD45 model, EMD went back to the drawing board and devised an enhanced "Dash 2" variant of the existing SD45 built between 1965-1971. Having an improved crankshaft and tighter main-bearings on top of improved wiring circuitry made the SD45-2's performance far greater than the preceding SD45. However, the large 20-cylinder engine
BNSF SD40-2R (ex-ATSF SD45-2)

A BNSF SD40-2R rebuilt from an ex-ATSF SD45-2.

still had an appetite for fuel, and its higher maintenance costs further took a toll on sales preventing more potential buyers at the time of production. Apart from having a slightly redesigned interior, the exterior was another story. Although most "Dash 2" era models received very little outward changes, the SD45-2 was, however, a notable exception. The absence of the distinct angular "flared radiators" was apparent, for the cooling system was completely redesigned and filled the whole length of the frame unlike the SD40-2 with its distinct rear "porch". Furthermore, the rest of the entire carbody fit the entire length of the frame rather than leaving large gaps like the SD40-2. Being over 5 inches longer than the SD45, the SD45-2 had a more refined long-hood radiator section that blended-in with most other road diesels built by EMD at the time.

In spite of having an improved performance over the original model, it didn't prove to be very popular amongst most railroads. Further fearing the inevitable possibility of the SD45-2 repeating the same issues as its predecessor, many railroads (including owners of the original model) opted out of the SD45-2, and looked towards the more commercially (and mechanically) successful SD40-2 instead. One carrier on the otherhand, requested a specialized variant of the model: the SD45T-2, which was built exclusively for Southern Pacific (SP) and its Cotton Belt (SSW) subsidiary. Surprisingly, the SD45T-2 sold in relatively larger numbers than the original stock model.

In an attempt to gain more popularity with a 3,500-3,600hp rating, EMD launched the SD50, which suffered a similar fate as the SD45 in terms of performance, and the SD45-2 in terms of popularity.

BNSF, Norfolk Southern (NS), and CSX Transportation (CSX), are among the few major operators who still posses units. BNSF currently retains the largest fleet of rebuilt SD45-2 units (SD40-2R), and are typically assigned to yard or local service. NS on the other-hand, retains a small fleet of six ex-Conrail (originally Erie-Lackawanna) SD45-2 units for same said purpose. One in particular (NS #1700), was recently repainted into an EL heritage livery, and is now part of NS' heritage fleet much like ex-SOU SD40 #3170. Both units were essentially reverted back into their original pre-merger liveries.

As for CSX, the company owns only three: one for mechanical training purposes (CSX #8889), and another as a load test unit (HLS1). The third unit (CSX #8886) was rebuilt to SD40-2 specs, yet still retains its distinct appearance. One (CSX #8954) however, served as a maintenance of way (MoW) unit from 2008-2010 before eventually settling as a mechanical training unit (prior to replacement with #8889) from 2011-2012, and further remained on the roster until its retirement in 2013. Said unit was also the last YN1-painted SD45-2 unit on the railroad's roster, as well as being one of the few diesels left in said scheme.


In the 1980's, the ATSF (Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe) remanufactured eight of its original SD45-2 units into SD45-2B "booster" units (ATSF #5510-5517) for use as more effective dynamic brake companions.


Model SD45-2 SD45T-2 SD45-2B
Production Dates 1972-1974 1974-1975 1987-1988
Total Built 136 249 8
Length 70' 8" 70' 8" 70' 8"
Wheel Arrangement C-C C-C C-C
Engine 20-645E3 20-645E3 20-645E3
Aspiration Turbocharged Turbocharged Turbocharged
Horsepower 3,500-3,600 3,500-3,600 3,500-3,600 (some rated at 3,800)
Alternator AR10 AR10 AR10
Traction Motors D77 D77 D77
Weight x 1,000lbs. 386-391,000 410,000 -

Trivia/Facts Edit

ATSF #5714 was among one of the first units built with the distinct inertial radiator fan air intake grilles present on most "Dash 2" models built from 1974 to 1986.

5 units (ATSF #5700-5704) were once painted in a special livery commemorating the bicentennial anniversary of the United States. One in particular, was rebuilt into an SD45-2B (ATSF #5517).


Sources Edit