Baldwin AS-616 No 3374 of the Central Railroad of Brazil, 1950s.

(Assistant Engineer Fer. EFSJ - Cortesia: Flávio R. Cavalcanti, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


BLH logo


The BLH AS-616 was a 1,600 horsepower (1,200 kW) C-C diesel-electric locomotive built by Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton between 1950 and 1954. Nineteen railroads bought 214 locomotives, and two railroads bought seven cabless B units. The AS-616 was valued for its extremely high tractive effort, far more than any comparable ALCo or EMD product. It was used in much the same manner as its four-axle counterpart, the AS-16, and its six-axle sister, the AS-416, though the six-traction motor design allowed better tractive effort at lower speeds.


Baldwin AS-616 No. 5242 diesel-electric locomotive at work in the Southern Pacific Roseville Hump yard, January 1968.

(Drew Jacksich from San Jose, CA, California Republic, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Original owners

Railroad Quantity Road Numbers Notes
Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton (demonstrators) 1 1600 To Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic Railway 211, to Soo Line 395
Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton (demonstrators) 1 1601 To Oregon and Northwestern Railroad 1
Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad 2 408, 409
Chicago and North Western Railway 3 1560, 1561, 1604
Chesapeake and Ohio Railway 39 5528–5529, 5533–5569
Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic Railway 7 204-210 To Soo Line Railroad 388–394.
Houston Belt and Terminal Railway 1 32
Kaiser Steel 2 1012A, 1012B 1012A to Kaiser Bauxite Jamaica,1012B to Rayonier
Milwaukee Road 6 2100–2101, 2104–2107
Milwaukee Road 2 2100B, 2101B B units - rebuilt with cabs and renumbered 2102, 2103 c.1953
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México 20 6800–6819
Orinoco Mining Company, Venezuela (U.S. Steel) 9 1001–1009
Pennsylvania Railroad 12 8966–8974, 8111, 8112, 8114 (ex-PWV) renumbered 6966–6977
Pittsburgh & West Virginia Railway 1 40 to PRR in 1960
Southern Pacific Company (Texas and New Orleans Railroad) 8 177-184
Southern Pacific Company 51 5228–5278 Included dynamic braking
Southern Pacific Company 5 5501–5505 B units - renumbered 4901–4905; included dynamic braking
Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company 5 1502–1506
Trona Railway 1 52
Union Pacific Railroad 6 1260–1265
Union Railroad 3 625–627
Estrada de Ferro Central do Brasil 12 3371–3382 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in) gauge; included dynamic braking
Estrada de Ferro Central do Brasil 20 4371–4390 1,000 mm (3 ft 3+3⁄8 in) meter gauge
Rede de Viação Paraná-Santa Catarina (Brazil) 5 60-64 1,000 mm (3 ft 3+3⁄8 in) meter gauge
Total A Units 214
Total B Units 7


The AS-616 was very similar to the previous model, the Baldwin DRS-6-6-1500, riding on the same basic frame and sharing the same body. The design was very simple, lacking the 1950s styling of the competing EMD F3 and ALCO FA. The utilitarian design was valued for switching jobs, a position the AS-616 filled easily.

The AS-616 would be the company's best selling road switcher of all time, and the builder's third greatest selling diesel electric model of all time.



In 1954, BLH (believing the utilitarian design of their road switchers was the cause of their overall failure on the market) redesigned their entire roster of locomotives, with all gaining new abilities. The most notable effect of the redesign was the raising of the roof on all their road switchers, causing the roof to take the shape of a triangular prism. Only a few units were sold with this design, as failing sales had dropped to their lowest at the time. BLH began offering dynamic braking on all road switchers, though the AS-616 was already offered with optional dynamic brakes.



Despite being marketed as a road switcher (like the EMD SD9 and ALCO RSD-4 of the same time period), the AS-616 saw most use as a heavy switcher. The impressive tractive effort and GSC rigid bolster trimount trucks appealed to roads with heavy hump yards (such as Southern Pacific). Ultimately, while many saw road service, the AS-616 was a switcher that was far ahead of its time.

BLH offered more options on the AS-616 in comparison to the DRS-6-6-1500, with some units gaining boilers, and others gaining dynamic braking. BLH also offered Multiple-unit train control on the AS-616, though many roads bought the unit purely for switching, opting out of MU. Some units that lacked MU were given MU by the parent company (or by an associate) depending on the road's preference.

By the 1970s almost all AS-616s had been scrapped or sold. A select few railroads -Trona Railway being a major operator- kept their diesels running far past their builder's lifetime.



Nine AS-616 diesels are preserved:

  • Oregon and Northwestern Railroad No. 1, former Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton demonstrator No. 1601, at Pacific Southwest Railway Museum
  • Trona Railway No. 52, at SMS Rail Lines as part of a former Trona Railway collection
  • Southern Pacific No. 5250, in Jamaica
  • Southern Pacific No. 5253, at Western Pacific Railroad Museum as Oregon & Northwestern No. 4
  • Southern Pacific No. 5274, at Western Pacific Railroad Museum as Oregon & Northwestern No. 3
  • Southern Pacific No. 5249, at SMS Rail Lines as part of a former Trona Railway collection
  • Kaiser Steel No. 1012A, reportedly still with Kaiser Bauxite of Jamaica
  • Kaiser Steel No. 1012B, at SMS Rail Lines, operational
  • Estrada de Ferro Central do Brasil No. 3380

A tenth example was formerly preserved, Southern Pacific No. 5239, which was sent to the Oregon and Northwestern Railroad in October of 1964 where it was used on O&NW as No. 2. It was then cannibalized for spare parts through the final years of operation, It was then stored in 1984 before being sold to Pacific Northwest Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society in October of 1990. No. 5239 was then later given to National Transportation Museum, St. Louis, Missouri, until it was stored in Tigard, Oregon and was subsequently scrapped in November of 2009.



Type and origin
Power type: Diesel-electric
Builder: Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Corporation
Model: AS-616
Build date: September 1950–May 1954
Total produced: 214 A units; 7 B units
​• AAR C-C
• UIC Co′Co′
Gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Wheel diameter: 42 in (1,067 mm)
Minimum curve: 30° (250.79 ft or 76.44 m radius)
Wheelbase: 32 ft 3 in (9.83 m) between bolsters
Length: 58’
Width: 10’
Height: 14’
Locomotive weight: 327,800 lb (148,700 kilograms)
Fuel capacity: 900 US gallons (3,400 L; 750 imp gal)
Prime mover: 608A
RPM range: 625 (max)
Engine type: Four-stroke engine
Aspiration: Turbocharger Elliott Company H704 (125 hp)
Generator: Westinghouse YG42B
Traction motors: Westinghouse 370DL (6)
Cylinders: 8
Performance figures
Power output: 1,625 hp (1,212 kW) (marketed as 1,600 hp)
Tractive effort Starting: 97,500 lbf (434 kN)
Tractive effort Continuous: 78,750 lbf (350.3 kN) @ 6 mph (9.7 km/h)
Operators: Various
Locale: North America, Mexico, Brazil, Jamaica