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A History of Union Pacific Dieselization, 1934-1982, Part 4

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This page was last updated on February 7, 2009.

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GE U28Cs and ALCO C-630s

Union Pacific's 10 U28Cs came in two orders, delivered as UP 2800-2809 in June and September 1966. That same year, UP also bought 10 Alco Century 630s (also known C-630s). The railroad acquired both of these models to compare their cost and performance against the preferred EMD SD40.

UP was apparently unimpressed with the U28C, since no follow-on order materialized. Assigned to the systemwide general pool, the units by the early 1970s were downgraded to secondary freight service, and worked out their last years on the humps at Pocatello, Idaho, and North Platte, Nebraska. All were retired in 1979-1981, with 2804 being stripped and prepared for use as a traveling training locomotive for the road's mechanical department. GE's later-model U30Cs, built for UP six years later, were more successful on UP.

After their delivery in 1966, UP was equally unimpressed with the Alco C-630. These 10 units arrived at a time that UP had only a few Alco switchers, and no remaining Alco road units, and these newer units became mechanical outcasts. They were used on secondary freights, and in 1972 five of the ten units were assigned to service at the road's Pocatello and North Platte hump yards, with the remaining five units still in road service between North Platte and Council Bluffs. They were retired in November 1973 and sold to Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range.


While other western roads bought the SD40 model's big brother, the SD45, right after it was first offered in 1966, the always-conservative Union Pacific held back, letting other roads test the new 20-cylinder, 3,600-horsepower engine. After two years, UP remained hopeful of the builder's capabilities, and as a test of EMD's new high-horsepower offering, bought 50 SD45s in two separate orders, plus two single-unit orders. The 50 units were delivered in March and April 1968 for service on the road's high-speed intermodal trains, as evidenced by their high-speed (90 mph) 59:18 gear ratio. Some units were soon regeared for coal and iron-ore traffic, using the more standard 65 mph, 62:15 gear ratio. The units' assignment to high-speed service cooled after the DDA40X Centennial units arrived in 1969-1971, and by mid-1976, all of the SD45s not assigned to unit coal trains were converted to 62:15 gearing, and used on normal manifest trains.

During mid-1968, UP equipped 12 of its SD45s (UP 3638-3649) with lower gear ratios for unit coal train service between Utah and California, operating on what were called the "K Trains," named after Kaiser Steel, for whom the trains were operated. These 12 units were operated in conjunction with six D&RGW SD45s, until the mine in Utah closed in 1983.

In all, 37 SD45s were equipped with radio control, operating in pairs—19 even-numbered units, 3600-3636, were master units, and 18 odd-numbered units, 3601-3635, were remote units. The program was planned from the beginning, with 3622 and 3623 being purchased already specially prepared for installation of radio control equipment. By late 1969, 10 units had been modified for radio-controlled operation. Between late 1969 and late 1972, after the delivery of new DDA40X Centennial locomotives for the road's fast intermodal trains, and the beginning of the arrival of large numbers of SD40-2s, UP equipped all of the SD45s in the 3600-3636 group for radio control. By early 1981, radio-control operations had been used on the Wasatch grade in Utah, in the Blue Mountains in northeast Oregon, and between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.

UP planned to place additional orders for 60 SD45s for 1971, and 60 more for 1972, but the uncertain reliability of their 20-cylinder engines soon made the road rethink these plans. The need for additional units for manifest service, along with units that could be part of run-through power pools with other roads, was filled by 40 more SD40s in 1971, and by the first of a large fleet of SD40-2s in 1972.

Originally, UP had numbered its SD45s in the 3600-3649 series, but with so many SD40-2s in delivery by 1978, it became apparent that the road numbers of the SD45s would soon be conflicting with the growing numbers of SD40-2s. Beginning in September 1978, and continuing to March 1979, UP renumbered its 50 SD45s to road numbers 1-50. To simplify the renumbering process, the last two digits were retained. As examples of this renumbering, locomotive 3614 became 14 and 3638 became 38. UP 3600 was renumbered to 50.

With a severe downturn in traffic that came with a recession in mid-1980, and due to the units' high-maintenance 20-cylinder engine, UP stored all of its SD45s by late 1982, with at least 40 of them being stored at Yermo, Calif.

(click here for a separate article about Union Pacific's SD45s.)


During early 1968, in its continuing search for improved locomotive designs, UP completed a rebuild project on a single locomotive meant as a precursor to a much larger program. With a total fleet of 79 SD24s (34 SD24s and 45 SD24Bs), UP was looking to bring the SD24 fleet up to current SD40 standards, without having to purchase the newer design. UP SD24 number 423 was rebuilt to SD24M number 3100 in August 1968 using as many upgraded features as was seen as necessary to make the SD24s comparable to the more modern EMD SD40, along with other features not available from builder.

A major feature of the rebuilding effort was the installation of a constant-speed version of the EMD 16 cylinder 645E3 3,000-horsepower engine, upgraded to 3,300 horsepower. As originally installed, the new engine ran at a constant speed, with the locomotive power being varied by changing the level of excitation on the unit's generator. The traction motors were also connected permanently in parallel, with transition being performed by the locomotive's control circuitry. The unit also included variable dynamic braking. These three features were an attempt to copy on a diesel-electric locomotive similar features that had been so successful on the road's earlier 51-75 small gas turbine units 15 years before. The dynamic braking module was purchased from General Electric and was identical to the design used on the U50s built for UP in 1963. The rebuilt unit also used the central engine air intake Dynavanes from a GP35. These last two features forced the air reservoirs from the roof down to under the walkway on the fireman's side.

UP 3100 was the first unit on UP to have the capability of a self-load test, rather than being connected to an external load box. This self load feature was later delivered on UP's DDA40Xs, and on almost all production units from EMD after 1971. In an effort to reduce overall weight, the rebuilt unit also featured fiberglass hood doors, and magnetic door latches. The finished unit weighed in at 399,000 pounds, 13,000 pounds heavier than a standard SD24 at 386,000 pounds.

After less than two years, due to higher fuel consumption and crew complaints, the constant-speed engine was changed to a normal design (reduced to 3,000 horsepower), and the always-in-parallel traction motors were set up in the more normal fashion. The unit became functionally similar to a standard SD40. In 1974, the unit received a thorough rebuilding at the Salt Lake City shops, receiving a rebuilt engine, a rebuilt traction alternator, and was one of the first units to be modified with electric cab heating. At the same time, the magnetic door latches were replaced by regular EMD door latches.

The unit was completed as UP 3100 in 1968. With the planned purchase of additional SD40s, in 1970 it was renumbered to UP 3200, and to UP 3399 in 1972, keeping it from conflicting with the road's new SD40-2s. In 1976, as the SD40-2 fleet continued to grow, the SD24M was renumbered to 3999, and in 1978 it was renumbered to 99. After operating in secondary road service for several years, in 1975, it was assigned to heavy switching service in North Platte, Neb., and later in Kansas City.

EMD DDA40X Centennials

During the spring of 1968, after the delivery of the SD45s, UP found that it was again in need of high-horsepower locomotives for its systemwide freight service. By that time, EMD was working on an improvement to its 40-Line, introduced in 1966. So when UP approached EMD with its specifications for an improved DD35, the two companies were able to begin work right away on an upgraded locomotive design. Over the next 13 months, UP and EMD design engineers developed what was to become the largest and most powerful diesel locomotive ever built, the 6900-class "Centennial." The name came from the locomotive being placed in service during the same year (1969) that Union Pacific celebrated the 100th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869.

The Centennial design stemmed from UP's interest in developing an improved high-horsepower locomotive that would be as maintenance-free as possible, while still operating with the maximum horsepower attainable. Designated the DDA40X, the model was built with two new-design 3,300-horsepower 645E3A engines, each connected to a new-design AR12 alternator. These two major components replaced EMD's then-standard 3,000-horsepower 645E3 and AR10 combination. To enhance the maintenance-free concept, the electrical controls were replaced with solid-state electronic modules that would allow replacement in the field, allowing any locomotive with a failure to be returned to service without the downtime from having to troubleshoot the failure. With replaceable components, the troubleshooting could take place back at the shop, rather than out on the road. The traction motors were also of a new design, with all eight motors wired in parallel at all times, and transition taking place in the electronic control system. The Centennials were also equipped with a unique self-load testing feature that used the units' dynamic braking grids, allowing the unit to be load-tested away from a stationary load box. (Up to that time, many load boxes were located near large shops and were usually made from dynamic braking grids removed from retired locomotives. Others, such as those at the Salt Lake City shops, were purpose-built by vendors as load boxes.) The air brake components were also of a reduced-maintenance design, being mounted on a replaceable pallet situated under the locomotive cab. All of these features would turn up in January 1972 as major components of EMD's new Dash-2 line of locomotives.

The first 6900-series unit was completed as a special effort to ensure its completion in time for the centennial Golden Spike celebration at Promontory, Utah, on May 10, 1969. The locomotive was delivered to UP in late April 1969, and pulled the Golden Spike Centennial Limited special from Kansas City, Mo., to Ogden, Utah. The initial order was for 25 units, numbered 6900-6924. Before the first order was completed, UP ordered 22 more units, bringing the fleet size up to 47 units, the highest-numbered locomotive being UP 6946, which was delivered in September 1971.

Between 1970 and 1980, the Centennials ruled Union Pacific's main lines between Nebraska and the West Coast. Because of the high-mileage service of the 6900 fleet (many units already had accumulated 1 million miles), UP initiated a "Fail-Free" program in March 1976, to be carried out by shop forces at Omaha. As each locomotive went through the program, it got reconditioned electrical components, main generators, engines, and traction motors. The program was completed in April 1977, but with these units seeing an average monthly usage of 22,000 miles, UP started another "Fail-Free" program in late 1978.

After a decade of high mileage on the road's most important trains, and due to the high maintenance costs of their special mechanical and electrical components, the fleet became among the earliest classes of units to be stored during the severe business downturn of 1980. Twenty-five units were stored at Council Bluffs, Iowa, in May 1980, with another 12 units stored at North Platte, Neb., and the remainder of the class being stored at Salt Lake City (6903 and 6921 had been wrecked earlier). The 37 units at Council Bluffs and North Platte were gathered at Las Vegas, Nev., in early October 1980. The entire class (37 units at Las Vegas and eight units at Salt Lake City) was moved to Yermo, Calif., during January and February 1982, where they remained for well over 1,000 days.

(click here for a separate article about Union Pacific's DDA40X Centennials.)

GE U50Cs

Union Pacific's 40 U50Cs were delivered from November 1969 to November 1971. Numbered 5000-5039, they were built using trade-in trucks from UP's 30 8,500-horsepower gas-turbine-electric locomotives. The design of the U50C was fashioned in response to UP's requirement for a high-horsepower locomotive for the road's high-speed systemwide freight trains. It was the same specification that had brought about the development of the 6900-class Centennial units during the same period.

General Electric took the earlier design of its U50 locomotive, delivered to UP between October 1963 and August 1965, and made several changes. The original U50s essentially were composed of two of the builder's U25B locomotives on a common frame, using two of GE's 2,500-horsepower FDL diesel engines. Instead of the four-axle truck used by EMD for its comparable DD35, GE made use of the twin two-axle trucks connected by span bolsters from retired 4500 GTE gas turbines. For this new design, GE found that the need was for speed rather than pulling power, so six-axle trucks from retired 8500 GTE gas turbines were used. Also, the previous model's 16-cylinder engines were replaced by shorter 12-cylinder engines that produced the same combined 5,000 horsepower. The two engines were reversed in their placement from the configuration of the earlier model, putting their radiator sections at the center of the locomotive. The shorter overall unit length forced adoption of an overhanging design of radiator that GE had used on its U33-series locomotives. The earlier U50 had been built without a nose door, which did not allow crew access to or from a front-coupled unit. GE followed the same design for the first 12 U50Cs, but crew complaints brought a nose door to the later units, and the first 12 units were retrofitted by the road's Omaha shops with nose doors.

In a test that was meant to provide some final engineering data prior to actual delivery of the U50Cs, UP U25B 632 in April 1969 was modified with the new 12-cylinder engine, replacing its original 16-cylinder engine. The unit was operated in stationary tests, and in limited road service, gathering the needed data for some final adjustments to the new engine's design. The test engine was removed by the end of 1969.

UP 5000 and 5001 were first operated in gray primer paint for several weeks prior to delivery to their owner; 5000 operated on GE's Erie, Pa., test track, and 5001 operated in road service on the Erie Lackawanna. Both units were rushed to completion, leaving the GE factory in October and November 1969, just prior to a lengthy strike at GE, which lasted until March 1970. Unit 5000 was delivered on November 21, 1969, and 5001 was delivered on October 31, 1969. The remainder of the first order, 5002-5019, was finished starting in March 1970, with 5002 being delivered on April 6, and the others following on a regular schedule thereafter, with 5019 arriving in February 1971. The second order, for units 5020-5039, was delivered between May and November 1971.

According to Union Pacific records, the U50Cs suffered from chronic low oil pressure problems, along with water leaks and excessive dynamic braking grid failures. Other sources have stated that the U50Cs suffered from overheating of the high-voltage (600-volt d.c.) cabling, which was made of aluminum to save on overall weight. Early in 1975, UP 5012 was the victim of a major high-voltage electrical fire that was the worst of several that plagued the U50Cs. To alleviate the problem, UP considered having a contractor, such as Morrison-Knudsen in Boise, Idaho, completely rewire the units, using more dependable copper cabling, which UP itself had already done to one unit at Salt Lake City. Rewiring was found to be too costly, considering all of the other mechanical problems from which the design suffered, including cracked truck frames.

With a business downturn in 1976, the operating career of the U50Cs ended and they were the first to be placed into storage, with 22 units being stored at North Platte, Neb. Others soon followed, and, by the end of 1976, all of the 5000s were in storage, with the 18 units at North Platte kept in stored-serviceable status. The remaining 22 units were stored unserviceable at Council Bluffs, Iowa.

While no 5000-class units ever operated in road service again, UP in early 1978 put five of them (5017, 5019, 5026, 5027, and 5039) back into operating condition and, due to a coal miners strike, leased them as stationary 3,700-kilowatt electrical power plants. The first four went to Ford Motor Co. for use at its Hazelwood, Mo., and Lorain, Ohio, assembly plants, and the last one, UP 5039, was used by FMC at its Chain Link Division plant in Indianapolis. Others were readied for similar service, but the coal strike ended before they could be leased out. The five units that had been leased were soon returned to the storage line at Council Bluffs.

All 40 units were officially removed from service in mid-1976, after just five to seven years of operational road freight service, the shortest-lived of any of Union Pacific's mainline road units. Some units operated even less, having been permanently sidelined in late 1974, only three years after being built. UP 5000-5016 were retired in March 1977; UP 5017-5039 were retired in February 1978. All were sold to a Kansas City scrapper, Erman Corp., in May and August 1977, and in June 1978.

EMD SD40-2s

By early 1971, UP's two most recent designs for high-horsepower, double-diesel locomotives, the 6900-series Centennials and the 5000-series U50Cs, were filling the road's need for high-speed freight motive power. But UP needed motive power for another regular assignment. During the late 1960s, UP and its connecting roads began cooperating to move run-through trains, with blocks of cars that had been assembled for their final destination prearranged in groupings that did not need to be broken apart and reclassified every time they moved from one railroad to the next. These run-through trains also included agreements for UP and the others to pool their motive power to prevent having to change locomotives as the trains were interchanged between the participating railroads.

The other roads did not have the capability or desire to operate UP's large double-diesel locomotives, and UP usually furnished its 1966-built SD40s, along with other models that were standard on the other roads. By early 1971, run-through traffic had grown, and UP was also beginning to operate more unit coal trains. The road needed more SD40s, a model with 3,000 horsepower and six axles that was becoming a standard nationwide for most larger railroads. Forty new SD40s were delivered from August to October 1971, numbered UP 3083-3122. UP ordered more SD40s for delivery in 1972, but EMD notified the road that it would be changing its line of five domestic locomotive models, beginning on January 1, 1972, using more than 50 design improvements, and as a result, the manufacturer would deliver the units in the form of the successor model, the SD40-2.

For improved maintenance, all of EMD's new models would feature an improved electrical control system of solid-state electronic modules, a concept first used on UP's Centennial units three years before. Although it did not generate higher horsepower than its predecessor, the diesel engine contained features that greatly improved its reliability. On the SD40-2, and all other six-axle units, the design of the trucks was changed to improve traction, and to better control wheel slip. UP's first SD40-2s (50 units numbered 3123-3172) were some of the first of the new model built (10 units for Kansas City Southern were the first), and were delivered in January and February 1972.

In September 1971, D. S. Neuhart retired after serving as the head of UP's Motive Power & Machinery Department since 1949. He was responsible for many of UP's trademark locomotives, notably the gas-turbines and all of the double-diesels of both 1963-1965 and 1969-1971. Studies of the road's motive power requirements commissioned by Neuhart had shown that per-unit costs remained the same, no matter how much horsepower a unit produced. Armed with that finding, Neuhart crafted a solution to UP's power needs that revolved around large, high-horsepower, single-unit locomotives.

Neuhart's successor was F. D. Accord, who believed that UP should completely modernize its diesel fleet with a few standard models. The timing of the change at the top matched well with EMD's changeover in production from the SD40 to the SD40-2 (along with continued availability of GE's counterpart model, the U30C). UP began purchasing SD40-2s and, over the next eight years, EMD delivered a total of 686 units of that model, including 65 units with modifications for high-speed service. The standard SD40-2s were delivered between January 1972 and November 1980, numbered from 3123 to 3808, and the high-speed units were delivered between July 1976 and August 1979. During the same eight-year span, UP also received 150 U30Cs (April 1972-October 1976) and 140 C30-7s (the replacement for the U30C, July 1977-October 1980).

Soon the SD40-2s were put to work systemwide on all of the road's mainline trains. The term ubiquitous is truly appropriate, because these locomotives quickly filtered everywhere throughout the system. Their arrival allowed UP to retire almost all of its odd-ball and one-of-a -kind locomotives, along with most of the older designs that had served the company so well since the 1950s. The largest group of units to be replaced were the GP9s, both as cab units and as booster units. By this time, most of the SD24 cab units had gravitated to useful second careers as switching service, but their matching booster units, known as SD24Bs, were suited strictly for mainline service, and UP retired them. The U50C units had proven to be a costly mistake, and the availability of new SD40-2s, U30Cs, and C30-7s allowed these troublesome units to be retired. UP had purchased its earlier trademark double-diesels in 1963-1965. These, too, were retired in order to minimize the variety of locomotives that needed to be maintained.

The run-through trains were using more and more of UP's new SD40-2s, which were turning up at the engine servicing terminals of all of the nation's other railroads. In 1977, the operation of UP SD40-2s began on the previously all-Alco Utah Railway, with three SD40-2s forming UP's contribution to the successful start-up of a new unit coal train. There was also pooling of motive power across the border with Canada. Twenty UP SD40-2s were modified for service in Canada, as UP and Canadian Pacific initiated a new pool train in early 1979. Modifications for Canadian service included the installation of ditch lights on locomotives 3396-3314.

Throughout the production period of UP's SD40-2 fleet, EMD continued to make small improvements. Some of these changes were apparent in the exterior appearance of new SD40-2s. UP also made changes in some of the components supplied as part of new deliveries. After 165 units, the design of the handbrake was changed from a lever ratchet to a wheel. After 182 units, the style of the screen over the radiator shutters was changed from an open grid design to a corrugated screen.

Possibly the most notable change was in the low nose ahead of the units' cab. The first 120 units were delivered with EMD's standard 81-inch nose. With the prospect of increasing remote-control operations, and to quell possible complaints for enhanced crew collision protection, UP specified that the next 246 units be delivered with a longer (116-inch) low nose. The last 320 units, from 3489 to 3808, were delivered with EMD's updated standard nose that was 88 inches long.

Another group of external changes were prompted by efforts to reduce noise. The Noise Control Act of 1972 gave the federal Environmental Protection Agency authority to control noise emissions on the nation's railroads. During 1974, EPA began investigating the sources of railroad noise pollution, working with the carriers to develop reasonable standards to reduce noise. In January 1980, EPA published noise-control standards. In anticipation of this, the railroads and the locomotive builders had begun development work to reduce the sources of locomotive noise. On the SD40-2 locomotives ordered by UP for 1980 delivery, noise reduction features included redesigned radiator fans (called Q-fans) and silencers on the units' exhaust stacks. UP 3659-3768, a 110-unit order delivered from January to March 1980, were the first units on UP (along with C30-7s 2460-2499, delivered in January and February 1980), to be equipped with noise reduction features.

SD40-2S Units

UP 3805-3808 were built as test units and were equipped with a improved engines and turbochargers, longer radiators, two-speed radiator fans, as a test for EMD to increase cooling capacity for its SD40-2 model. At the conclusion of the one-year test, all four units were equipped with standard engines and standard turbochargers.

The carbodies were longer than a standard SD40-2 by approximately 28 inches to accommodate longer radiators; each long-hood is fitted with eight doors under radiator section, rather than the seven doors seen onm a standard SD40-2, as well as a shorter rear platform.

These units have previously been reported as being equipped with improved wheel-slip control (a feature of the later Super Series units). Research in the railroad's mechanical department records completed during 2000 found that these units were not equipped with the Super Series improved wheel slip control features.

(click here for a separate article about these four unique locomotives)

Canceled 1975 order for SD40-2 B-units

Under Work Order 11442, UP ordered 23 SD40-2 B-units from EMD. Fifteen units were to be delivered in May 1975 and eight units in June 1975, at a cost of $387,000 per unit, compared to $412,000 for a normal cab-equipped SD40-2. The units were to be equipped with all of the standard features for a UP SD40-2 and were to be numbered 3288B-3310B. The proposed 23-member fleet was to be assigned to high-speed systemwide service, spliced between pairs of the road's 6900-class Centennial units, making a 16,200-horsepower motive power set that could operate over UP's western mainline. We'll never know what a factory-built SD40-2 B-unit would have looked like; UP canceled the order in February 1975 after deciding to modify SD40-2s for high-speed service. Without documentation, we can only guess that possibly the lack of flexibility of a cabless booster in operational situations may have weighed against the idea.

8000-class SD40-2Hs and SD40-2Ms

Beginning in February 1976 UP started to modify SD40-2s 3240-3274 for 80 mph operation, using the same 59:18 gearing as the road's 6900-class Centennial units, along with changes in the electrical controls to allow the units to be used in high-speed service. The modifications were completed and all 35 units were in high-speed service by July 1976. Three later orders for UP SD40-2s were delivered with the high-speed modifications: UP 3305-3334 were delivered as UP 8035-8064 in July 1976; UP 3400-3409 were delivered as UP 8065-8074 in May 1977; and UP 3584-3608 were delivered as UP 8075-8099 in July and August 1979. These 100 8000-class high-speed SD40-2s were most often seen as one or two units spliced between two 6900-class DDA40Xs on the railroad's hottest trains, which operated between North Platte, Neb., and the West Coast.

The program came to an end in June 1980 because of operational problems associated with keeping a particular class of locomotives assigned to a single type of service, along with the extra costs of special spare parts and maintenance; the reasoning was similar to that which caused cabless booster units to fall from favor 20 years earlier. In early June 1980, the railroad began modifying the units back to standard SD40-2s, and renumbering them either to their previous numbers, or into slots in the 3000 series that were left blank as other SD40-2s were being delivered. The program was briefly put on hold in late August 1980 with an increase in high-speed traffic that wouldn't allow the units to be shopped for the modifications (all of the Centennials had been stored, and more SD40-2s were needed to take their place). The program of returning the 8000s back to normal SD40-2s resumed in April 1981, and was completed in early March 1982.

GE U30Cs

Although the 10 U28Cs were not successful on UP, six years later, the road ordered 20 of the builder's newest equivalent model, the U30C, which had replaced the U28C model. Between April 1972 and October 1976, UP took delivery of a total of 150 U30Cs, showing that the builder had indeed made improvements.

The first 20 U30Cs arrived at the same time as UP's first SD40-2s, from April to June 1972, numbered 2810-2829, following the 10 U28Cs. Like the SD40-2s, the U30Cs impressed UP right away, and the road began buying them on a continuing basis. Thirty more came between February and June 1973, numbered 2830-2869; 35 were delivered from March to July 1974, numbered 2870-2904; and 15 came from April to July 1975, numbered 2905-2919. The final group of 40 units was delivered between July and October 1976, numbered 2920-2959.

Like the SD40-2s, the U30Cs were first assigned to general pool service. But by late 1978, the units began to excel in heavy-haul unit train service, and UP equipped them with Pacesetter speed control to assure consistent slow speeds during coal train loading and unloading. Also like the SD40-2s, throughout the 1970s and 1980s, UP began to rely on GE's 3,000-horsepower, six-axle unit as a jack-of-all-trades locomotive to serve in a make-up role on all types of service systemwide, but they were mainly used on coal trains in southern Wyoming.

GE C30-7s

Just as the SD40-2 was a great improvement over the SD40, General Electric's C30-7 proved to be a much more reliable version of the earlier U30C. As a result, UP placed orders for new units from both builders on a continuous, year-to-year basis. The newest U30Cs were delivered to UP in October 1976. The follow-on order for new GE units came as C30-7s, less than a year later, in July 1977. By the time the newest units were delivered, in October 1980, Union Pacific was operating 140 C30-7s. The C30-7 fleet was delivered over a three-year period between July 1977 and October 1980. Like the U30Cs before them, all were equipped with Pacesetter lead controls for use in low-speed unit train loading at various south-central and western Wyoming coal mines.

The C30-7 model included several internal and external improvements over the U30C, with some improvements being apparent by changes in the carbody. Most noticeable was an added "step" in the carbody to accommodate a relocated oil filter and oil cooler. The first order of 15 C30-7s, 2960-2974, was delivered from July to September 1977, and they were numbered in sequence behind UP's newest U30Cs. The last five units in this group were equipped with a much different diesel engine. In a test, the five units, although equipped with 16-cylinder engines, were rated at 3,000 horsepower on just 14 cylinders. The two remaining cylinders were configured to operate as air compressors. The test lasted only a year, and the units were converted back to their standard configuration.

The first order of C30-7s proved to be satisfactory performers in both the general motive power pool and in dedicated unit-train coal service, so UP soon placed a second order. This order was to be for 15 units, and a third order for 30 units followed close behind. This projected additional 45 units would obviously fill up the remaining road number slots in the 2900-series numbers, and conflict with the numbers for the 1966-built SD40s in the 3000-series. To remedy this potential conflict, UP renumbered the first 15 units to a new 2400-series number group, as 2400-2414, between April and July 1978. The second order was delivered in June and July 1978 as 2415-2429, and the third order was delivered in December 1978 and January 1979 as 2430-2459.

The next group of C30-7s for UP, 2460-2499, 40 units delivered in January and February 1980, comprised the first units on the railroad (along with SD40-2s 3659-3768, 110 units delivered between January and March 1980) to be equipped with noise reduction features. These modifications brought the railroad into compliance with standards published by EPA in January 1980. On these GE units, the most obvious feature was a much larger exhaust stack.

A fifth and final order of C30-7s for UP arrived between August and October 1980, numbered 2500-2539. A design feature of these units was the lack of fixed cab side windows adjacent to the sliding windows. A new federal regulation that took effect on January 1, 1980, required the use of projectile-resistant laminated glazing in all locomotive and caboose windows. This grade of glass is much more expensive than standard glass, and to save both initial installation costs, and replacement costs later on, UP (and other railroads) eliminated these extra windows. These last 40 units are also unique as being some of the last units to enter service in the lettering scheme that used 20-inch numbers on the hood-side of the units. Less than one month after the last C30-7, 2539, was placed into service, UP began using a new lettering scheme that moved the 20-inch unit numbers from the hood sides to the sides of the unit cabs, right below the windows.

Units in storage

During downturns in traffic, UP, like many other railroads, has always stored surplus locomotives. Possibly the most famous was the storage of large numbers of steam road locomotives during the late 1950s, and their seasonal reactivation to help the now-dominant diesels handle the fall rush of business. This continued for a significant four-year period, ending only in 1959 with the delivery of 30 SD24 cab units and 45 SD24 booster units.

There have, of course, been times when a portion of the diesel fleet also has been stored. One of the first times came in the recession of 1962-1964, when large numbers of Alco freight and passenger units operating in Kansas and Nebraska were stored. Some were leased out to other railroads to help them with their own seasonal rushes, which usually fell at different times than those of UP's own rushes.

During September and October 1972, UP stored 19 GP9 boosters at Ogden, Utah, along with another 14 boosters at Portland's Albina yard. The traffic slump continued, and with new SD40-2s readily available, by August and September 1974, there were as many as 110 GP9 and SD24 booster units stored at Albina, at Cheyenne, Wyo., and at Denver. By July 1975, the quantity of all stored units had risen to 170 units, and now included yard switchers and many DD35 booster units. The slump was common throughout the West, with Santa Fe having 114 units in storage, and SP having 312 units laid up.

Union Pacific continued to modernize its fleet, but traffic levels were still down. From April through July 1975, 20 new GP38-2s, 17 new SD40-2s, and 15 new U30Cs were given acceptance runs between Omaha and North Platte, then placed into storage to avoid having to pay on their equipment trusts, which wouldn't be activated until the units actually entered service. Fifty-eight units were stored at Council Bluffs, Iowa, alone. Business soon improved, and the new units were all in service by March 1976. By the same time, most of the U50C fleet was stored, part of the remaining 71 units in storage, but they were never to return to service. There was an increase to 104 units by July, with 14 of them sitting in Salt Lake City.

By February 1977, 84 units were stored. The storage lines now included all of the DD35 booster units, with these unusual units sitting unused at Omaha, Council Bluffs, North Platte, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. In July, 105 units were in storage, including all of the DD35s, most of the SD24Bs, U50Cs, and DD35 cab units, and varying numbers of each of the older Geeps and switchers.

The 1977 fall season brought a much-needed increase in traffic, and the DD35 cab and booster units all returned to service. Notably, the U50Cs did not return to service, and they were all retired by February 1978. There was still an excess of switcher units, and these remained in storage. By August, business continued to improve, with just 42 units now stored, all being older, first-generation models. The 1978 season was slower than the 1977 season, so the DD35s were returned to storage, where they remained until their retirement in 1979-1981.

Throughout the 1978 and 1979 seasons, business slowed, with 30 to 40 units remaining in dead lines. Then the largest business slump in UP history hit. A sudden rise in interest rates drove the nation's economy into a downward spiral that was to depress UP's traffic levels for another three years. Carloadings began to decline in late April 1980, and UP reacted by storing its most costly locomotives, including many of the 6900-series Centennial units. By late June, 176 units were stored, including the Centennials and several of the newer units, all at Council Bluffs, North Platte, and Cheyenne.

During this same time, UP repossessed the 76 units it had leased to the now-bankrupt Rock Island, and many of these joined the storage lines. By this time, it became apparent that the downturn would stretch for an extended period of time, so many of the stored units were prepared for long-term storage, and moved to the drier climate of Las Vegas, Nev. Along with the large number of locomotives in storage, UP also had 3,400 cars in storage.

The lines of unserviceable units continued to grow, and by January 1981, UP had stored 338 units, awaiting a return to service. The number increased to 436 units in July, and included all of the Centennials, all of the SDP35s, all of the GP30Bs, 30 of the 50 SD45s, 30 SD40s, 139 SD40-2s, and 102 U30Cs. In late September 1981, to increase storage capacity, UP began to use the yard at Yermo, Calif. (located in the very dry Mojave desert of southern California), with 37 units being located there by October. By late November, there were 113 units at Yermo, 44 at Las Vegas, 42 at Los Angeles, 51 at Salt Lake City, and 51 at Council Bluffs, with additional units still at Omaha, North Platte, and Cheyenne. By far, the greatest number of stored units were in serviceable condition.

By mid-December 1981, UP had 538 units stored, along with 4,500 cars (2,500 covered hoppers alone) and 100 cabooses. Employees suffered also: 2,500 had been laid off. The average number of days each unit had been stored stood at 212 days, with the ex-Rock Island units and the Centennials being in storage more than 500 days. Two months later, in February 1982, the number of cars stored climbed to 6,250. By May 1982, Union Pacific had 682 units stored. There were 8,495 cars in storage, including 4,036 covered hoppers, 2,083 boxcars, 1,612 open-top hoppers, and 764 mechanical reefers. The railroad's business was off by 38 percent. It was even worse for a competitor, Santa Fe, which registered a 57 percent drop in business volume. During the following month, UP had 718 locomotives stored, in all conditions: serviceable, unserviceable, awaiting retirement, or awaiting repairs. That quantity represented just over 43 percent of UP's total fleet of 1,627 locomotives.

As the level of business seemed to settle at its lowest, during the last six months of 1982, the number of units in storage began to change almost on a daily basis. Serviceable units were removed from storage daily to pull trains as needed. From month to month, the total numbers began to change, with variations in the total of as many as 30 to 50 units. The number and types of stored cars also began to fluctuate as traffic levels stabilized.

As of the end of October 1982, UP had 660 units stored. There were 138 serviceable at Yermo; 175 at North Platte; 138 at Council Bluffs; 61 at Salt Lake City; 37 at Los Angeles; and 17 Kansas City, plus other units stored at Albina, Cheyenne, Hinkle, Pocatello, and Omaha. The average number of days in storage stood at 278 days; the Centennials had been in storage an average of 827 days, and the SDP35s had been stored an average of 863 days. The repossessed Rock Island units had been stored an average of 789 days. UP ended the year with 614 units still in storage.

Yard Slugs

A slug is an unpowered locomotive with only traction motors, that depends on a semi-permanently coupled powered locomotive for its electrical power. The combination is used to increase the pulling tractive effort of the matched set, usually in a yard switching situation. Union Pacific built eight yard slug units, including six from retired GP9Bs and two from retired SD24Bs.

UP's eight yard slugs were used at its three hump yards: North Platte, Neb., East Los Angeles, Calif., and Pocatello, Idaho, although the first slugs were used at the yard complex at North Platte. These first slugs, three four-axle units, numbered as S1, S2 and S3, and rebuilt from retired GP9Bs, were completed in late 1973 and early 1974, and entered service mated with SD7s. UP found that these sets needed more power than what was available from the 1,500-horsepower SD7s, so the three later four-axle slugs, also rebuilt from retired GP9Bs and completed in 1975 and 1976 as S4, S5, and S6, were mated with 2,400-horsepower SD24s. Experience showed that additional axles were needed, so two additional slugs, completed in 1978 as S7 and S8, were rebuilt from retired SD24Bs.

By 1981, operational experience again showed that still more horsepower was needed. During 1981 and 1982, all but S4 and S6 were mated with 3,000-horsepower SD40s. S4 and S6 were mated with SD40s in 1985. By the end of 1982, only S3 was no longer in operation, having been wrecked. It was retired in September 1982.

Electric E-100 and E-101

UP electric locomotive E-100 was built new as Glendale & Montrose Railway 22. The Glendale & Montrose Railway was a nine-mile railroad that operated between Glendale and Montrose, Calif., serving as the UP connection to the city of Glendale. G&M purchased the electric locomotive in 1923 especially to protect the UP traffic.

G&M went into bankruptcy and its last day of operation was on December 30, 1930. The railroad, and its electric locomotive, were purchased by UP in May 1931, and UP kept the electric locomotive assigned to its original home tracks until the operation was dieselized with a new UP NW2 in July 1942. The E-100 was sent to UP's other electric subsidiary, Yakima Valley Transportation in Yakima, Wash. UP E-100 was equipped with 36-inch wheels and four Westinghouse Model 562-D5, 100-horsepower traction motors. It was UP class B-1.

UP E-101 was the assigned road number for the former G&M 21, but the locomotive was not renumbered. G&M 21 was a 35-ton, 300-horsepower electric locomotive acquired by Union Pacific in May 1931 along with the G&M. The Glendale & Montrose Railway had purchased its number 21 secondhand from Pacific Electric Railway (ex-PE 1537). Pacific Electric Railway built the locomotive in 1903 in its Los Angeles Shops from retired PE flat car 3072.

As originally built, PE 1537 was a flatbed work motor with a center cab. When the Glendale & Montrose Railway purchased the locomotive, it added a much larger body, which covered almost the entire frame, making it a combination box motor and locomotive. After UP purchased G&M, Union Pacific used the 21 only as stand-by for G&M 22, and so far as is known the locomotive never was renumbered to UP E-101. It was stored at the former G&M yard in Glendale and by 1934 was boarded up and out of service.

The former G&M 21 was sold for scrap in 1936 and by September 1936 was in the scrap yard of the Pennsylvania Iron & Steel Co. in Los Angeles. Some sources indicate that the former G&M 21 was finally burned by Pacific Electric at its Torrance Shops. G&M 21 was equipped with 33-inch wheels and four Westinghouse Model 76 75-horsepower traction motors.


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