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Colorado and Southern GE U30C No. 890.

GE U30C Diesel-Electric Locomotive
The GE U30C was one of the earliest successes from General Electric in the road switcher market. With 600 units sold, the U30C proved to be a viable alternative for customers who were unable to purchase SD40s or SD40-2s from Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) due to production backlog. Throughout its ten-year production span, the U30C was known for reliability issues concerning its electrical system. However, most railroads were assured of the reliability of the GE Model 752 DC traction motor, and began to place orders for U30Cs starting in 1966. When production ended, the last U30Cs carried pre-Dash 7 specifications, which would be carried in its replacement, the GE C30-7.

The U30C served customers of all kinds, from mining, to general freights, coal trains, and even as a power source unit for the Department of Transportation's subway-car test tracks in Pueblo, Colorado before a connection from the commercial  electric power grid could be established.

Not to be outdone in the freight sector, GE produced a passenger version of the locomotive, the GE U30CG. The U30CG only sold six units for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad.

When most U30Cs were being retired due to old age and mechanical or electrical problems, General Electric initiated a rebuild program where older Universal Series locomotives would be upgraded with the latest technology and fuel-saving systems. GE would then strip the locomotive down to its frame and engine, and completely rebuild the locomotive with new components. When completed, the unit would receive a new designation: GE C30-S7R (R for Rebuilt frame of traded-in locomotive). In the later years, the rebuild frame was discontinued, and a brand new frame would be used, re-designating the locomotive as GE C30-S7N (N for New frame). The only external difference was a large vent on the fireman's side ahead of the engine compartment. The final variation came with the discontinued frame of the Universal series and instead, using  GE C40-8 kits. This new model also featured a microprocessor, officially designating this locomotive as GE C30-S7NMP.

A variant of the U20C export locomotive was known as the U30C. This version is unrelated to the U30C built for North America.

Original owners

Owner: Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway

Quantity: 6
Road Numbers: 400-405
Notes: model U30CG.

Owner: Atlantic Coast Line Railroad

Quantity: 4
Road Numbers: 3021-3024
Notes: No. 3021 was the first U30C built.

Owner: Burlington Northern Railroad

Quantity: 180
Road Numbers: 5300-5394, 5800-5839, 5900-5944
Notes: 5800-5805, 5900-5911 new as 5300-5305 (1st) and 5353-5364 (1st).

Owner: Colorado & Southern (Chicago, Burlington & Quincy)

Quantity: 4
Road Numbers: 890-893
Notes: All sent to Burlington Northern. Same numbers.

Owner: Chesapeake and Ohio Railway

Quantity: 13
Road Numbers: 3300-3312

Owner: Chicago and North Western Railway

Quantity: 7
Road Numbers: 930-936

Owner: Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad (Milwaukee Road)

Quantity: 8
Road Numbers: 5651-5658

Owner: Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad (Rock Island)

Quantity: 18
Road Numbers: 4582-4599
Notes: XR Series.

Owner: Delaware and Hudson Railroad

Quantity: 12
Road Numbers: 701-712

Owner: Detroit Edison

Quantity: 11
Road Numbers: 007-012, 018-022

Owner: Ferrocarril del Pacifico (Mexico)

Quantity: 8
Road Numbers: 401-408

Owner: Kaiser Steel (Eagle Mountain Mine Division)

Quantity: 5
Road Numbers: 1030–1034
Notes: Ballasting Sand added to the frame to increase weight (considered the heaviest U30Cs ever built).

Owner: Louisville and Nashville Railroad

Quantity: 79
Road Numbers: 1470–1499, 1534–1582
Notes: No. 1499 was presented in an XR Series paint scheme.

Owner: Missouri Pacific Railroad

Quantity: 35
Road Numbers: 25-29, 960-983, 3329-3334

Owner: Norfolk and Western Railroad

Quantity: 3
Road Numbers: 8000-8002

Owner: Pennsylvania Railroad

Quantity: 5
Road Numbers: 6535-6539

Owner: Reading Railroad

Quantity: 5
Road Numbers: 6300-6304

Soo Line Railroad

Quantity: 10
Road Numbers: 800-809

Owner: Southern Railway

Quantity: 5
Road Numbers: 3800-3804
Notes: High short hood.

Owner: Southern Pacific Railroad

Quantity: 37
Road Numbers: 7900-7936
Notes: Ballasting Sand added to the frame to increase weight.

Owner: Union Pacific Railroad

Quantity: 150
Road Numbers: 2810–2959
Notes: No. 2851 was delivered with a fiberglass nose.

Owner: United States Department of Transportation

Quantity: 1
Road Number: 1

GE U30C Overview
Type and origin
Power type: Diesel-electric
Builder: GE Transportation Systems
Model: U30C
Build date: November 1966 – October 1976
Total produced: 600 (plus 6 U30CG)
​ • AAR: C-C
Gauge: 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length: 67 feet 3 inches (20.50 m)
Prime mover: GE 7FDL-16
Performance figures
Power output: 3,000 hp (2,200 kW)
Locale: North America
Disposition: most scrapped, some preserved, others rebuilt into the GE Super 7 Program

See also:

GE Diesel-Electric Locomotives

GE Transportation

Union Pacific Railroad GE U30C diesel locomotive No. 2827 at the UP Argo Yard, Seattle, Washington, 1972. Photograph by S.L. Dixon.

CC BY-SA 3.0,

Union Pacific Railroad GE U30C diesel locomotive No. 2827 at the UP Argo Yard, Seattle, Washington, 1972. Photograph by S.L. Dixon.

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