Union Pacific E8s and E9s

Index For This Page

This page was last updated on April 12, 2021.

(Return to Union Pacific Diesel Index Page)


Following the delivery of the E7s in 1946, additional motive power for the road's now-daily City trains, and for the growing number of diesel-powered secondary passenger trains, came in form of six Alco PA/PB units, four FM Erie-builts, and 15 passenger-equipped EMD F3s, all in 1947. In 1948, six more FM Erie-builts arrived, along with 12 more passenger-equipped F3s. Eight more Alco PA/PB units were delivered in 1949.

In 1950, Union Pacific received its first E8 locomotives: five cab units numbered 926-930, and five booster units, numbered 926B-930B. These 10 units were the first of an eventual fleet of 115 locomotives (46 E8s and 69 E9s) that became a landmark design for Union Pacific's passenger service. The E8/E9-series locomotives are arguably UP's most famous passenger motive power, heading up most of its passenger trains until 1963, after which they were the road's standard passenger power, until the takeover of nationwide intercity rail passenger service by Amtrak in 1971.

EMD's E8 differed in many features from the earlier E7 (and the very similar E3 to E6 models). The two prime movers were situated differently, with the main generators of the E8 facing outward toward the unit's ends. The greatest feature difference was in the way the radiators were cooled. On the E7, radiator fans were belt-driven, and they were located at each end of the radiators, and below them, pushing the cooling air up through the radiators. The E7 used the same vertically-mounted 26-inch fans as the builder's SW1 and NW2 switcher locomotives. On the E8 (and later E9), the 36-inch radiator fans were electrically driven, and mounted horizontally on the unit's roof, above the radiators, pulling the cooling air through the radiators.

The air intake arrangement for the diesel engines was also different. On the E7s, the intake air entered the carbody immediately behind the cab, through a set of louvers. On the E8 and E9s, the intake air entered through a smaller opening behind the grille, and was pulled up through a duct into the rooftop winterization hatch by a 36-inch fan. This fan was mounted to pull air from the winterization hatch and push it into the engine roof through a filter box. The winterization hatch allowed the operating railroad to change (by use of a lever inside the locomotive engine room) the flow of intake air from direct outside air, to air that had been warmed by first passing through the radiators.

On Union Pacific, by early 1955, the E8s and E9s were experiencing cooling problems, and operating officials determined that the smaller opening on the side was restricting the amount of intake air available for the engine. The road's solution was to cut an opening in the top of the winterization hatch, immediately above the reverse-mounted intake fan. Tests of this new configuration revealed that the new top opening allowed rain and snow to be pulled into the engine room, causing electrical grounds, since the electrical cabinet was located right below the intake filter box.

UP's solution to this rain and snow problem was the road's trademark "snowshields," mounted above the extra opening in the winterization hatch. Snowshields were installed on the road's E8 and E9 fleet, beginning in 1955-1956, and continuing through the late 1950s. Based on observations by railroad maintenance personnel, these snowshields may also have served to disrupt the air flow along the top of the units, much in the same way smoke lifters did on steam locomotives. This feature is unique to Union Pacific's units, and only further research will reveal its original development and purpose. (See top view photo of a UP E unit before the modification in July 1956, in "The Streamliner", Volume 8, Number 1, page 15.)

After the initial 10 E8s in 1950, additional passenger power came in 1952 in the form of two FP7s and matching booster F7 units, plus a single E8, number 925. UP 925 was the result of EMD's rebuilding of a wrecked C&NW E7A, which UP settled with C&NW for and had rebuilt to EMD's then-current passenger locomotive design.

In 1953, more E8s arrived in the form of 12 cab units and 23 booster units. By the end of May 1953, UP had acquired the last of its fleet of 18 E8 cab units and 28 E8 booster units.

Four of the 1953-built E8Bs were delivered under EMD's rebuilding program that allowed the railroads to upgrade their older motive power on a direct unit-for-unit trade-in concept that gave tax advantages to the railroads for accepting "rebuilt" units instead of new units. As already noted, in reality, very little of the trade-in unit was incorporated into the new unit. Under this program, during 1953, UP traded the four remaining 1937-built E2 booster units to EMD on four of the E8 booster units. The arrival of these E8s, and the earlier delivery of many lightweight cars, allowed UP to retire its 1936-built City of Denver trains, which were replaced in City of Denver service by a general pool of both locomotives and cars. By the end of May 1953, UP had acquired the last of its fleet of 18 E8 cab units and 28 E8 booster units.

Additional units were still needed to fully dieselize all of the road's remaining passenger trains. In October 1953, the road ordered 15 more E8s, with an expected delivery date after January 1954. But in November 1953, EMD informed UP that it had improved its entire line of locomotives, which included a change in model designation. In the case of the passenger units, the E8 would become the E9. The major difference with the E9 came in the use of EMD's new 567C engine instead of the earlier 567B engine, and the replacement of the earlier D27 traction motor with the D37 design. The E9 model generated 2,400 horsepower, compared to the E8's 2,250 horsepower.

UP's first E9s were delivered in May and June 1954, numbered 943-947 and 950B-959B. In February 1955, 30 more units were ordered. UP 948-956 and UP 960B-966B were delivered in May and June 1955, with 957-962 and 967B-974B following in September and October of that year. The delivery of these newer units allowed UP to convert to freight service its older Fairbanks-Morse Erie-built units (built in 1945-1948) and Alco PA/PB units (built in 1947 and 1949), all of which had proven to be unsatisfactory in passenger service.

The need to replace the older diesel passenger power was the motivation for acquiring more E9 locomotives in 1956. EMD's "rebuild" program was still in place, and Union Pacific took advantage of it to replace its oldest passenger locomotives. The E3 cab and booster units, and the E6 cab and booster units, were all traded to EMD on a one -for-one basis for eight E9 cab units (numbered 900-908) and five E9 booster units (900B-904B), all delivered between January and June 1956.

During the early 1960s, the road again found itself to be in need of more reliable passenger motive power, and the remaining E7 units were traded in on new E9s. In 1961, two E9 cab units arrived, numbered 908 and 909. In December 1962, two more E9 cab units (910 and 911), along with two E9 booster units (910B and 911B) were delivered. A year later, in December 1963, the road's last E9s arrived, when UP 912-914 and UP 912B and 913B were delivered. These later units boosted the total E9 fleet to 35 cab units and 35 booster units.

One of the spotting features that make an E8 compared to an E9 is that the E8s has both a headlight in the door, and a signal light in the upper headlight location on the locomotive's nose. All of the 18 E8s (UP 925-942), and only the eight E9s in the UP 900-907 group delivered in 1956 had dual headlights. All E9s delivered in 1954 and 1955 had single headlights and no signal light, as did the seven E9s (UP 908-912) delivered in 1961-1963.

(Read more about the use of signal lights on Union Pacific's leading passenger locomotives.)

During the mid and late 1960s, the 900-series E-units were at the end of their service lives, and as UP reduced the number of passenger trains being operated, the railroad began using E-units on freight trains. The high speed gearing (55:22 gear ratio) meant the locomotives were capable of 98 MPH, but also limited their usefulness as freight locomotives, limiting their use in freight service to routes with easy grades. These routes included along the Columbia River between Portland and Hinkle, Oregon, and between Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah. The E-units continued in limited freight service after Amtrak service started on May 1, 1971. They were last used between Portland and Hinkle on September 7, 1971.

Throughout its history, Union Pacific has had occasion to operate both special passenger trains and secondary passenger trains that saw a seasonal or temporary increase in traffic. The motive power for these movements is generally called protection power. In the earlier years, the road simply used steam power for these special trains, which included mail and express trains, circus trains, troop trains, and other special moves, such as Shriners' specials and Boy Scout specials. Research looking at photographs also shows that this "protection power" was also used on occasion on Union Pacific's Streamliner and Domeliner trains when the normally assigned E-units were not available. With the retirement of large numbers of its remaining steam locomotives during the late 1950s, this need was filled by retrofitting steam generators to 15 of the 1957-built 300-class GP9 cabless boosters. By the early 1960s, the need for power for these special trains was filled by 13 GP30B units that were equipped with steam generators. Even with these 28 units still available on a standby basis, in August and September 1965, less than two years after the delivery of its newest E9s, the road acquired 10 SDP35s, the passenger version of EMD's six-axle, 2,500-horsepower SD35 locomotive. These 10 were Union Pacific's final new passenger-locomotive acquisitions.

EMD E8 Deliveries

46 units, including 18 cab units and 28 cabless booster units

EMD E8A -- 18 units
2,250 horsepower; A-A trucks

Year Qty. Model Road Number
1950 5 E8A UP 926-930
1952 1 E8A UP 925
1953 12 E8A UP 931-942

EMD E8B -- 28 units
2,250 horsepower; A-A trucks

Year Qty. Model Road Number
1950 5 E8B UP 926B-930B
1953 23 E8B UP 922B-925B, 931B-949B

EMD E9 Deliveries

69 units, including 35 cab units and 34 cabless booster units.

EMD E9A -- 35 units
2,400 horsepower; A-1-A trucks

Year Qty. Model Road Number
1954 5 E9A UP 943-947
1955 15 E9A UP 948-962
1956 8 E9A UP 900-907
1961 2 E9A UP 908, 909
1962 2 E9A UP 910, 911
1963 3 E9A UP 912-914

EMD E9B -- 34 units
2,400 horsepower; A-1-A trucks

Year Qty. Model Road Number
1954 10 E9B UP 950B-959B
1955 15 E9B UP 960B-974B
1956 5 E9B UP 900B-904B
1962 2 E9B UP 910B, 911B
1963 2 E9B UP 912B, 913B

EMD E8 and E9 Retirements

Year Qty. Qty. Model Road Number
1968 1 1 E9A UP 962 (wrecked)
1969 24 6 E8A UP 925, 930, 935, 936, 937, 941
    13 E8B UP 924B, 930B, 931B, 936B, 937B, 938B, 939B, 942B, 943B, 945B, 946B, 947B, 949B
    5 E9A UP 900, 901, 902, 903, 905
1970 7 3 E8B UP 928B, 929B, 933B
    4 E9B UP 900B, 901B, 903B, 904B
1971 30 3 E8A UP 932, 933, 938
    4 E8B UP 927B, 940B, 944B, 948B
    10 E9A UP 906, 910, 911, 914, 944, 945, 946, 950, 956, 959
    13 E9B UP 902B, 910B, 911B, 913B, 950B, 956B, 957B, 959B, 960B, 961B, 962B, 964B, 965B
1972 32 6 E8A UP 926, 927, 929, 934, 940, 942
    6 E8B UP 922B, 923B, 925B, 926B, 934B, 935B
    11 E9A UP 904, 908, 912, 913, 947, 948, 949, 952, 957, 958, 961
    9 E9B UP 912B, 951B, 953B, 954B, 955B, 958B, 966B, 967B, 970B
1973 13 2 E8A UP 931, 939
    2 E8B UP 932B, 941B
    5 E9A UP 907, 909, 943, 953, 955
    4 E9B UP 952B, 963B, 971B, 972B
1980 8 1 E8A UP 928
    3 E9A UP 951, 954, 960 (UP 951 reinstated in 1984)
    4 E9B UP 968B, 969B, 973B, 974B

UP 949, 951, 963B

UP 951

UP 951 was built in June 1955; assigned to UP's passenger trains systemwide until the start of Amtrak in May 1971.

At the start of Amtrak service, Union Pacific kept four E8/9 cab units (UP 928, 951, 954, 960), and four E8/9 booster units (UP 968B, 969B, 973B, 974B) as protection power for Amtrak's San Francisco Zephyr Pioneer trains, as well as for various special trains, such as the company's Old Timer's specials. The remaining E8s and E9s were leased to Amtrak in 1971, and sold in 1972 to either Amtrak or C&NW. The eight were finally retired in 1980, about four years after Amtrak's HEP units began arriving in 1976.

During 1974, UP 951 was repainted and used to pull the Preamble Express, a special train that was to be used in the final planning for the American Freedom Train, a special train that would tour the United States during the nation's bicentennial celebration during 1976. Both General Motors and Union Pacific were sponsors of the Preamble Express, and GM wanted a General Motors locomotive to pull the train, so UP arranged for one of its Amtrak protection units to be sent to EMD at La Grange in June 1974 to be repainted red, white and blue, to serve as lead unit on the Preamble Express. The special Preamble Express toured the country between August and November 1974.

UP 951, in its newly applied special red, white and blue paint scheme, took over duty pulling the Preamble Express at Omaha on August 11, 1974. The train arrived on Milwaukee Road tracks, and traveled to Denver on BN tracks. The train remained on BN tracks for its tour of Wyoming and Montana, to Butte, where it traveled on UP tracks to Salt Lake City (Stop No. 28 on August 19, 1974). The train remained on UP tracks from Salt Lake City to Boise (Stop No. 29 on August 21, 1974), then on to Hinkle and Spokane where it was handed off to BN. The tour continued through the Northwest, south through California on SP and AT&SF tracks, and east along SP and AT&SF tracks to Kansas City (Stop No. 47). The Preamble Express continued touring Southeast and Eastern cites, still with UP 951 as the lead locomotive, until the tour ended at Baltimore, Maryland in mid November 1974.

(Read the full timeline for the Preamble Express, July to November 1974)

UP 951 was returned to UP in December 1974, and was used on UP's special trains during 1975 and 1976, still in red/white/blue paint scheme. UP 951 was repainted to full UP yellow and gray paint in August 1977.

UP 951 was first retired July 31, 1980; reinstated on February 22, 1984 to stand-in on UP's special trains for steam 4-8-4 844 while that locomotive was on display at the New Orleans World's Fair; both generators on UP 951 were damaged during an Operation Lifesaver special, and were replaced using generators from retired SW7/SW9 units; UP 951 was returned to service in September 1984.

UP 949

UP 949 was originally retired by UP in September 1972 and sold to C&NW, which renumbered it to C&NW 511; sold to METRA, after that agency's takeover of the C&NW Chicago commuter operations; UP acquired the unit (along with an ex UP sleeper) from Kasten Rail Car Services in trade for an ex MP business car "Houston" to have a second E-unit to operate with UP 951 on special passenger trains; arrived at Cheyenne on September 11, 1990.

UP 963B

UP 963B was built as UP 970B; originally retired in June 1972, and leased to Amtrak as 468; sold to Amtrak in November 1973; rebuilt to Amtrak steam generator car 1919, including removal of both diesel engines and all electrical equipment; renumbered later to Amtrak 669; sold to Alaska Railroad; sold to Feather River Rail Society, Portola, California; donated back to UP; arrived at Cheyenne in December 1990.

UP 963B was renumbered from UP 970B on April 20, 1993 while being repainted at VMV upon completion of remanufacture. Although the unit is the former UP 970B, the frame number was misread by a railfan (frame number 2070-B4 vs. 2072-B4) and the unit was widely reported as being originally UP 963B. The frame number was later verified as being 2072-B4, making the unit UP 970B. Without any conflicting numbers on UP at the time, the new number was retained to both simplify records, and to avoid additional costs of unnecessary changing of company records.

Units Rebuilt

UP 949, 951 and 963B (as UP 970B) were sent to VMV Enterprises, Paducah, Kentucky, in June 1992 to be completely remanufactured. The remanufacture effort included a new 16 cylinder 2000-horsepower EMD 645 engine (replacing the original twin 12-cylinder 1,200-horsepower 567 engines), with an AR10 alternator and a GP38-2 design electrical system, completed in late April 1993. (Photos of the rebuilt units included as part of an article in The Streamliner, Volume 8, Number 4, October 1993)

To accommodate a single Model 645 2000 HP engine replacing two Model 567 1200 HP engines, with structural changes that allowed the creation of a sump for the new engine and AR10 to sit in (and allowed the use of a high-capacity oil pan), which keeps all fluids that might get spilled or leak contained, where they are routed to the retention tank which was built into one end of the fuel tank. On each locomotive, the frame "was modified to accept the single 16-cylinder engine (with large oil pan), AR10 main alternator and air compressor. One GP38-2 electrical cabinet was installed in each unit. Extended range dynamic brakes were installed, as were modern control stands, etc. New radiators and rebuilt cooling fans were installed, along with new grid blowers."

First trip in regular service was the "Drew Lewis Special" in June 1993.

Retained by UP as part of heritage fleet at Cheyenne, Wyoming, for special service.

Current Service

Lettered with "Union Pacific" on the nose until about 2000.

SmartStart and cab air conditioning was installed during January 2001.

The nose doors on UP 949 and 951 were welded shut in 2003 to improve grade crossing safety following 6936's grade crossing accident (in late 2000), labels applied saying "No Entrance"; doors and door handles removed in late 2003.

All three units (UP 949, 951, 963B) received a full repaint by Mid America Car in Kansas City in July 2005.

Roster Information

UP 900-914 (E9A; 15 units; in service 1956-1973)

UP 900B-904B (E9B; 5 units; in service 1956-1972)

UP 910B-913B (E9B; 4 units; in service 1962-1972)

UP 925-942 (E8A; 18 units; in service 1950-1980)

UP 922B-949B (E8B; 28 units; in service 1950-1973)

UP 943-962 (E9A; 20 units; in service 1954-1980) (UP 951 still in service)

UP 950B-974B (E9B; 25 units; in service 1954-1980)