Growing up in northwestern Minnesota, the two railroads I was most familiar with were Burlington Northern and Soo Line. Sure, I would see Conrail freight cars now and then. Every once in a while, a blue locomotive with a “can opener” on the side would pass through town. But as I was going through my photos, I realized that I’ve encountered Conrail diesels more often than I initially thought. Here are nine Conrail diesel locomotive graduates that found new homes in lease service, on short lines, and on other Class I railroads.
BNSF Railway GP38 2167
BNSF Railway 2167 was built in May 1970 as Penn Central 7839. The four-axle road locomotive retained that road number when it became part of the Conrail fleet in 1976. Conrail retired the GP38 on May 15, 1985.
Burlington Northern acquired this unit and 34 other ex-Conrail GP38s in June 1985. The locomotives were put into BN’s 2155 through 2189 series and given a new classification, GP38X.
The BN units kept their numbers after the railroad merged with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe in 1995. The 2167 was painted in BNSF’s Heritage I scheme on April 19, 1998. The unit is once again classified as a GP38.
Electro-Motive Division Leasing GP38-2 807
More than 80 GP38-2 diesel locomotives were part of the Electro-Motive Division Leasing fleet. Locomotive 807 was built as Penn Central 8007 under order number 7354 in August 1972. The unit served on Conrail until July 15, 1987. In “Conrail Motive Power Review: 1986-1991,” author Paul K. Withers notes that this unit and other GP38-2s were “withdrawn from Conrail by lessor (EMD) on date shown as ‘retirement’ date and leased to others.” EMDX 807 later became GATX Rail Locomotive Group (GMTX) 2233.
Electro-Motive Division Leasing SD40 6419
This EMD SD40 was built under order number 7862 in February 1966 as Pennsylvania RR 6042, carrying that number into the Penn Central era. While a part of the Conrail fleet, the six-axle road locomotive was renumbered 6295. The SD40 was retired in September 1994.
Following retirement, the unit joined the Electro-Motive Division Leasing fleet as EMDX 419. In the late 1990s, the SD40 was renumbered 6419. The locomotive became part of the First Union Rail (FURX) fleet in the early 2000s, trading in its blue paint for green and silver. Its road number was changed to 3028.
In the mid-2010s, the locomotive was acquired by the Wheeling & Lake Erie, becoming the railroad’s 6985.
Esquimalt & Nanaimo GP10 1001
This RailAmerica unit has a colorful paint scheme and history. The locomotive was built in March 1956 as New York Central GP9 5996. Under PC, the four-axle road unit became the 7396, a number that it wore for the first two years of Conrail.
In 1978, Illinois Central Gulf (ICG) rebuilt the GP9. During the rebuild, it was renumbered 7553 and reclassified a GP10. Conrail retired its GP10 fleet throughout the 1990s.
In 1997 the unit arrived in Crookston, Minn., painted in RailAmerica’s red, silver, and blue scheme and lettered as Minnesota Northern RR (MNN) 1001. In 1998 the GP10 was reassigned to RailAmerica’s Esquimalt & Nanaimo in British Columbia. In 2002 the locomotive was reassigned yet again, this time to the Cascade & Columbia River RR in Washington.
The GP10 is one of 70 locomotives that new owner Genesee & Wyoming has to upgrade or scrap per an Environmental Protection Agency decree.
Georgia Northeastern GP10 7562
Georgia Northeastern (GNRR) 7562 is another graduate of the GP10 rebuild program, coming out of the ICG shops in 1976. The locomotive was built by EMD in November 1956 as PRR GP9 7098. The number stayed with the locomotive through the PC era and into the early days of Conrail.
Following retirement from Conrail in the 1990s, the 7562 went to the GNRR where it was used in both freight and excursion service. The 7562 is now The Prairie Line 2003. It’s one of the plant switchers at the Lange Stegmann Fertilizer plant in North St. Louis, Mo.
GE Transportation Systems CW40-8 7371
When I caught up with GE Transportation Systems’ CW40-8 7371 in May 2018, the unit was looking a bit tired. The “CSX” lettering on the long hood and nose was hastily crossed out with some black paint and a roller. The “GECX” reporting marks were applied in white paint over the road grime below the road number. Then I noticed the recessed red marker lights above the number boards. This had to be an ex-Conrail unit.
My suspicions were confirmed. The locomotive was built in August 1993 by GE as Conrail 6224. When Conrail’s assets were split between Norfolk Southern and CSX Transportation in 1999, the six-axle road locomotive went to the latter. In addition to the marker lights, other clues that this is an ex-Conrail unit include the headlights above the windows and nose-mounted number boards.
Helm Financial Corp. GP38 3605
Helm Financial Corp. GP38 3605 was built by EMD in September 1969 as Penn Central 7779. The unit kept that road number through its Conrail career. The GP38 was retired by Conrail on September 26, 1984.
Since retirement, the four-axle locomotive has been on quite a journey. Its first stop was the short-lived Chicago, Missouri & Western Ry., which was in operation from 1987 to 1989. On the CM&W, the GP38 was numbered 2030. The locomotive retained that number on successor Gateway Western Ry. (GWWR).
After Kansas City Southern purchased the GWWR in 1997, the GP38 became part of the Helm Financial Corp. lease fleet. In the late 1990s the GP38 was repainted in Helm’s maroon-and-blue scheme. Today, the 3605 can be found today on the Georgia & Florida Railnet.
Larry’s Truck & Electric GP15-1 1427
Here’s another Conrail diesel locomotive graduate that joined the lease fleet ranks. Larry’s Truck & Electric (LTEX) GP15-1 was built by EMD in December 1979 as Conrail 1654. When Conrail’s assets were split between CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern, the 1654 joined the NS diesel fleet, becoming its 1427.
Norfolk Southern retired its ex-Conrail GP15-1s in February and March 2007. The 1427 was sold to LTEX. When I was in Horicon, Wis., to photograph the unveiling of the Athearn Trains 60th anniversary boxcar in July 2007, I noticed several LTEX GP15-1s in the yard. Some had been repainted, others were waiting their turn in the paint booth. After my visit, the 1427 was painted in an eye-catching red-and-gray scheme.
Minnesota Northern RR GP38 3810
I didn’t know it at the time, but Minnesota Northern (MNN) GP38 3810 and HLCX 3605 were just a few numbers off from each other. The 3810 was built in September 1969 as Penn Central 7776. The unit kept that number through its years on Conrail. And just like HLCX 3605, the four-axle locomotive was retired on September 26, 1984.
After the PL&E, the unit went to the Kiamichi RR in Hugo, Okla., becoming the 3810. The GP38 kept that number when it was shipped north to the MNN. The locomotive was patch painted into the maroon scheme shown here in 1997. In 1998 it was repainted into RailAmerica’s red, silver, and blue scheme.
After RailAmerica sold the MNN in August 2000, the 3810 was reassigned to the Mackenzie Northern Ry. in Canada. Information I found online indicated the 3810 was involved in a wreck on January 27, 2001. The four-axle road unit was scrapped in October 2001.