EMD GP38 of the Gateway Western Railway.

(terry cantrell, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)


The EMD GP38 is a four-axle diesel-electric locomotive built by General Motors Electro-Motive Division between January 1966 and December 1971. The locomotive's prime mover was an EMD 645 16-cylinder engine that generated 2,000 horsepower (1.49 MW). The company built 706 GP38s for North American railroads.

In 1972, EMD began making an updated model, the GP38-2, as part of its Dash-2 line.

AT&SF EMD GP38 3501 at Pueblo, Colorado, February 14, 1973. Photographer: W E Harmon.

(Craig Garver, Public domain, https://www.flickr.com/photos/digitalrailartist/50308504418/)

Original orders

Railroad Quantity Numbers Notes
Aberdeen and Rockfish Railroad 1 400
Altos Hornos de México 4 130-131, 135-136
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway 61 3500-3560 Rebuilt to GP38us and renumbered to 2300-2360, To BNSF
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad 70 3800-3849, 4800-4819 To CSX 2000–2049, 2100-2119
Bangor and Aroostook Railroad 8 81-88
Burlington Northern Railroad 6 2072-2077 Ordered as SP&S 200-205, To BNSF
Chesapeake and Ohio Railway 60 3850-3899, 4820-4829 To CSX 2050–2099, 2120-2129
Clinchfield Railroad 10 2000-2009 To Seaboard System then CSX 2180-2189
Detroit, Toledo and Ironton Railroad 7 200-206 To GTW 6200-6206
Erie Mining Company 2 700-701
Ferrocarriles Unidos del Sureste 2 512-513
Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad 20 701-720 To Illinois Central Gulf then Illinois Central Railroad 9520-9539
Louisville and Nashville Railroad 20 4000-4019 To Seaboard System 6221–6240, then renumbered to 2130–2149, then to CSX
Maine Central Railroad 13 251-263 252 & 254 To B&M after Guilford merger. 252 & 255 now at Conway Scenic.
Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad 4 300-304 To Union Pacific
Missouri Pacific Railroad 6 572-577
Monongahela Railway 5 2000-2004 To Conrail
Southern Railway 7 2001-2007 To Norfolk Southern Railway renumbered 2871-2878
Penn Central Transportation Company 265 7675-7939 Biggest order of GP38s, to Conrail same numbers, and then to Norfolk Southern 2880 and 2885-2957 and CSX Transportation 1950–1998, Rest to various short lines.
Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines 15 2000-2014 Built with dual control stands and an extended cab face. To Conrail 7660–7674, and then Norfolk Southern 2943-2957
Phelps Dodge Corporation 8 47-54
Southern Railway 107 2716-2822 Built with high hoods. To NS with original numbers
Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia Railway 1 80 To Southern then NS 2879
Texas Mexican Railway 4 857-860

Phelps Dodge Morenci Mine GP38 No. 48 at Morenci, Arizona, ca. 1983. Photographer: Craig Garver. 

This was the mainline between the smelter and the pit, and none of this is here any more.


A number of GP38s have been rebuilt into the equivalent of a GP38-2.

Conversely, a number of higher horsepower 40 Series locomotives have been rebuilt into the equivalent of a GP38-2 (GP38AC), by the removal of the turbocharger and the substitution of twin Roots blowers.

In 2007, Norfolk Southern rebuilt No. 2911 which is an ex Penn Central GP38 into an experimental zero-emissions Battery-Electric locomotive known as the Altoona Works BP4. The new locomotive was renumbered as NS No. 999.

BN GP38 2077 at ex-CB&Q yard at Galesburg, IL on May 31, 1971.

(Roger Puta, railfan 44, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)



  • Conway Scenic Railroad 252, built as Maine Central 252, is in Maine Central ‘harvest gold’ paint with Conway Scenic reporting marks, and currently operates on excursions on the former MEC Notch Route. This locomotive suffered a broken crankshaft in August 2020 and has since been repaired.
  • Conway Scenic Railroad 255, built as Maine Central 255, is in Vermont Railway Red paint with Conway Scenic reporting marks.
  • TAG Railway 80, is preserved in operational condition at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. West Chester Railroad 7706, built as Penn Central 7706, is preserved and operates on tourist trains on the former PRR line.
  • Chessie System 3802, built as Baltimore & Ohio 3802, is preserved and operates at the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.
  •  Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines 2000, is preserved on the Cape May Seashore Lines in Tuckahoe, New Jersey.


A Chessie System Baltimore & Ohio B&O 3803 (GP38).

(Gary Todd from Xinzheng, China, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons, cropped)



Type and origin
Power type: Diesel-electric
Builder: General Motors Electro-Motive Division (GM-EMD); General Motors Diesel Division (GMDD)
Model: GP38
Build date: January 1966 – December 1971
Total produced: 706
​• AAR: B-B
• UIC: Bo'Bo'
Gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Fuel capacity: 2,600 US gal (9,800 L; 2,200 imp gal)
Prime mover: EMD 16-645
Aspiration: Roots type supercharger
Cylinders: 16
Performance figures
Power output: 2,000 hp (1.49 MW)
Locale: North America

Atlanta and St. Andrews Bay Railroad GP38 No. 511 in Panama City, FL, 1987.

(Gary Todd from Xinzheng, China, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)


See Also: