News & Reviews Product Reviews Lionel Legacy GP30

Lionel Legacy GP30

By Rene Schweitzer | May 6, 2024

| Last updated on May 17, 2024

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Just before the spring TCA York Show in April, Lionel started delivering some of the diesels from the 2023 Volume II catalog. One of those diesels was the GP30, the gritty workhorse from EMD. This Legacy-equipped model is packed with features and pumps out some serious sound, all in a frame that can safely navigate O-31 curves.

Southern Railway EMD GP30 type diesel electric locomotive No. 2601 pulls a passenger train at the North Carolina Transportation Museum. Jim Wrinn photo

948 GP30s were produced by GM’s Electro-Motive Division between July of 1961 and November of 1963. The four-axle diesel was powered by a turbocharged V16 prime mover, which produced about 2,250 horsepower. This was EMD’s answer to GE’s U25B, which pumped out 2,500 horsepower. To produce a locomotive that could compete with the U25B, EMD had to alter the body style from earlier Geeps, raising the height and adding space behind the cab. In an effort to “outstyle” the competition, EMD reached out to GM’s automotive arm to assist with styling. One of the key details is the sloped roof line from the first fan to the last three, as well as the wide radiator in the center of the locomotive.

yellow and green model locomotive
The Reading version of the GP30 has faded paint and patchouts. Chris Montagna photo

The GP30 was purchased by 29 railroads, which gives Lionel a multitude of options for road names to catalog. This rendition is the first return since the 2021 Big Book.

Lionel packaged this locomotive in a vertical foam insert. The model sits upright, on its trucks, in the foam. This isn’t the first time Lionel has packaged a model this way, but it’s one of my more preferred methods. The vertical packaging is more secure, and it’s easy to remove or replace into the foam insert. Inside the box you get spare traction tires, a pipette for adding smoke fluid, and scale coupler mounting pads.

This model measures 14.25 inches long. In 1:48 scale, it’s slightly longer compared to the prototype’s length, which scales out to 13.04 inches. Under the hood you get two powered trucks, a fan-driven smoke unit, LED lighting, and a speaker that provides ample sound. Lionel offered road specific detailing, including a train-phone antenna on the PRR units and a cab roof light on the Alaska offerings. Horn and bell placements are also in specific locations depending on the model.

black model locomotive
The Penn Central version has faded black paint and patchouts over chipped Penn Central logos. Chris Montagna photo


side of model locomotive
Chris Montagna photo

The details really pop on these latest road names. The two that stood out to me are the Conrail patch units, one a former Reading unit (2433121) and one ex-Penn Central (2433122). Lionel produced Conrail patch GP35s in the 2019 Big Book. These latest versions offer more weathered paint. The Penn Central variation has Conrail or CR patches poorly placed over chipping Penn Central logos. The black paint on the locomotive is sun faded. The Reading version has faded paint to simulate an older locomotive.

With Legacy onboard, you can access all the features this model has to offer. This can be run with a Cab1L or Cab2 remote. Once the Base3 [expected later in 2024 — Ed.] is released, the newest Lionel app can be used to run all features on these locomotives. You can also operate these with a TMCC remote, Bluetooth via the Lionel app, or conventionally. Some of the great features include front and rear ElectroCouplers, directional lighting, cab lights, five bell tones, and five horn options. The locomotives also have an infrared sensor for programming or customization using Lionel Sensor Track.

model engine with control panel showing
The access panel for the controls is located under the rear fans. Chris Montagna photo

Horn and bell options can be toggled thorough using the Aux1 button on the remote. Smoke fluid can be added by removing the exhaust cover. Be mindful of where you set this piece down; it’s small and can easily be lost! The controls for programming can be found in their usual location under the rear fans. This hatch is held in place by magnets.

 two model engines nose to nose
Lashing up two (or more) of these engines is a breeze. Chris Montagna photo

These diesels are ready for work. Weighing in at 4 pounds .08 ounces, they can pull 1.4 pounds of freight. But how often did railroads only run a single GP unit? Lashing these models up is a breeze with your Legacy remote, which allows you to add more units to your railroad. With previous runs and dummy units out there, it isn’t tough to create the set up you need. I ran two units in a lashup pulling 12 diecast H21A hoppers without any lag or issues.

Lionel offered the following road names, each with two numbers: Alaska Railroad (2433111,22433112), Conrail (2433121, 2433122), PRR (2433141, 2433142), Santa Fe (2433151, 2433151), New York Central (2433131, 2433132) and Wisconsin Central (2433161, 2433162). Custom runs for this model included one for Mr. Muffins, C&EI (2433940), and two for Grzyboski’s, both Reading & Northern (2433950, 2433960). These models MSRP for $599.99.

Get more O gauge action on the Chris’s Trains & Things channel on YouTube.

Lionel Legacy GP30

MSRP: $599.99

Features: TMCC, Legacy, or conventional control; Bluetooth control; Lionel Voice Control; fan-driven smoke unit; Legacy quilling horn; lighted cab interior; illuminated number boards; adjustable smoke output; five horn sound options; 5 levels of bell pitching; front and rear ElectroCouplers; O-31 operation

Road names: See text above


Watch a video of the 2021 version.

Read a review of the 2021 version.

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