Railroads & Locomotives Locomotives GE’s B30-7 locomotives: Where are they now?

GE’s B30-7 locomotives: Where are they now?

By Chris Guss | April 15, 2024

A stepping stone model in the horsepower race

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GE’s B30-7

yellow, blue, and red engine on tracks
Chesapeake & Ohio B30-7 No. 8272 sits at General Electric’s Erie, Pa., plant prior to delivery to Lake Shore Railway Museum located a few miles east of the plant. Chris Guss

In the late 1970s, General Electric introduced the B30-7, a 16-cylinder, 3,000-hp, four-axle locomotive designed for road service. Virtually identical externally to the B23-7 model offered at the same time, the B30-7 ended up with less orders, though it did sell more variations than its 12-cylinder, 2,250-hp cousin.

The launch customer for the B30-7 was Frisco Railway in late 1977, one of seven railroads to order the model. Missouri Pacific would receive three of its B23-7s from GE with an upgraded 12-cylinder prime mover rated at 3,000 hp. This would become the B30-7A model offered by GE, with Missouri Pacific ordering 55 more of this design. Other customers who ordered the 12-cylinder B30-7A was Southern Railway , which specified high short hoods on its order, and Burlington Northern, which took delivery of 120, all built without cabs.

Mergers created large rosters of B30-7s. Southern Pacific and subsidiary St. Louis Southwestern’s B30-7 fleets combined with Missouri Pacific’s B30-7A fleet creating the largest group as part of Union Pacific’s roster. Burlington Northern’s would be second largest, with the Frisco B30-7s and Burlington Northern’s B30-7As under one owner, and CSX would operate both Chesapeake & Ohio and Seaboard Coast Line’s B30-7 orders.

Of the 399 variations of B30-7s built, few survive today.

Minnesota Commercial, West Tennessee Railroad and Natchez Railway are among the railroads that still roster the model. Minnesota Commercial has the most, with four of its five B30-7s in service, while Natchez Railway just placed its remaining B30-7As up for sale. Several are still operational in Mexico, including a former Burlington Northern cabless B30-7A that has had a cab installed.

Union Pacific still has a few former B30-7 and B30-7A locomotives that were converted to remote control master units. The locomotives were highly modified with no traction motors or fuel tank and a cab with the windows painted out. They could be m.u.’ed to any other locomotive for use on remote-controlled yard or local jobs. UP used the model CCRCL and once had 55 former B30-7 and B30-7As modified, but only two of these remain in 2024.

One beautifully preserved example exists at Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East, Pa. Former Chesapeake & Ohio B30-7 No. 8272 was donated by CSX to the museum in 2017 after its repainting to Chessie System colors by CSX shop personnel in Huntington, W.Va. It made a brief visit to its birthplace at General Electric’s shop in Erie, Pa., before being delivered to the museum.

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