Preserved Nickel Plate No. 324 (originally Utah Railway No. 306) at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center in 2013.

(Mobilus In Mobili, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


ALCO logo rectangular, black & white.


The ALCO RSD-5 is a diesel-electric locomotive rated at 1,600 horsepower (1.2 MW), that rode on a pair of three-axle trucks, having a C-C wheel arrangement.

Basically an upgraded version of the earlier ALCO RSD-4, and used in much the same manner as its four-axle counterpart, the ALCO RS-3, the six-motor design allowed better tractive effort at lower speeds.


Chesapeake & Ohio Alco RSD5 5589 at Toledo, Ohio, in July, 1956. Photographer unknown.

The big chain hanging alongside the bogie was for moving a freight car in a switch move or a

derailment in a yard.  Along with polling poles, very dangerous and outlawed eventually.

(Craig Garver, Public domain,


Original owners

Railroad Quantity Road numbers Notes
American Locomotive Company (demonstrator) 1 1606 to ATSF 2157
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway 52 2110–2156, 2158–2162
Birmingham Southern Railroad 1 160
Chesapeake and Ohio Railway 26 5570–5595
Chicago and North Western Railway 10 1665–1667, 1684–1690
Central Railroad of New Jersey 1 1615
Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad (Milwaukee Road) 6 2150–2155 Renumbered 570–575
Pennsylvania Railroad 6 8446–8451
St. Louis Southwestern Railway 3 270–272
Southern Pacific Company 36 5294–5307, 5336–5339, 5445–5448, 5494–5507 21 of them traded back to Alco in 1960 and rebuilt into Alco RSD-12's
Southern Pacific (Texas and New Orleans Railroad) 24 155–176, 185–186
Utah Railway 1 306 to DLMX 324
Ferrocarril del Pacífico 35 801–835
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México 2 6900–6901
Total 204

Ferrocarril del Pacifico Alco RSD5 832 at Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, March 5, 1980. Photographer: Bob Wily.

(Craig Garver, Public domain,


Preserved units

As of 2024, there are only two RSD-5s that have not been rebuilt known to be in existence.

  • CNW No. 1689 is preserved and operational at the Illinois Railway Museum.
  • Utah Railway No. 306 is preserved at the Utah State Railroad Museum awaiting a planned restoration to its Utah Railway colors. It is currently painted as Nickel Plate Road No. 324, from its former owner, Doyle McCormack of the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation.

Two former RSD-5s (rebuilt as RSD-12's) built for the Southern Pacific survive at the Southern California Railway Museum (SP No. 2954 and SP No. 2958).


Milwaukee Road Alco RSD5 575 at St Paul, Minnesota, September 14, 1969. Photographer: Ed Kanak.

(Craig Garver, Public domain,


ALCO RSD-5 Overview

Type and origin
Power type: Diesel-electric
Builder: ALCO
Model: RSD-5
Build date: 1952–1956
Total produced: 204 (167 USA, 37 Mexico)
Configuration: AAR C-C
Gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Trucks: ALCO trimount
Wheel diameter: 40 in (1,016 mm)
Minimum curve: 21° (274.37 ft or 83.63 m
Wheelbase: 42 ft 3 in (12.88 m)
Length: 56 ft 6 in (17.22 m)
Width: 10 ft 1+5⁄8 in (3.089 m)
Height: 14 ft 8+1⁄4 in (4.477 m)
Locomotive weight: 287,000 lb (130,000 kg)
Fuel capacity: 1,300 US gal (4,900 L; 1,100 imp gal)
Prime mover: Alco 244
RPM range: 1000 (max)
Engine type V12 Four-stroke engine diesel
Aspiration: Turbocharger
Displacement: 8,016 cu in (131.36 L)
Generator: GE GT566
Traction motors: (x 6) GE 752
Cylinders: 12
Cylinder size: 9 in × 10.5 in (229 mm × 267 mm)
Performance figures
Power output: 1,600 hp (1.2 MW)
Tractive effort: 71,750 lb (32,550 kg)