BNSF GP38-2s 2273 and 2778 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

(Augy8400, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


EMD logo blue & white.


The EMD GP38-2 is an American four-axle diesel-electric locomotive built by General Motors, Electro-Motive Division. Part of the EMD Dash 2 line, the GP38-2 was an upgraded version of the earlier GP38. Power is provided by an EMD 645E 16-cylinder engine, which generates 2,000 horsepower (1.5 MW).


Canadian National 4769, a GMD GP38-2, with a CN-spec comfort cab in Saint-Félicien, Quebec.

(Peter Van den Bossche (Flickr user LHOON, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)



The GP38-2W is a Canadian variant of the GP38-2. It is easily distinguished by its wide-nose Canadian comfort cab. 51 of these locomotives were produced for the Canadian National Railway during 1973–1974.

Although a W is commonly suffixed to the name, it is actually an addition by enthusiasts to help specify the presence of a CN-spec comfort cab. No locomotives built using CN's design of comfort cab ever featured a W in their designation, as the presence of the cab did not mechanically alter the locomotive. This is reflected by the lack of the "W" in the model designation on the builders' plates of these units.

There are snow shields above the inertial-filter central air intakes behind the cab; the electrical boxes and equipment blower behind the cab also differ in detail from a standard GP38-2. They are otherwise identical.


Original buyers

1,799 examples of this locomotive model were built for American railroads and industrial concerns, 257 for Canadian railroads and industrials, 156 for Mexican railroads and industrials, and 1 export unit for the Saudi Railways Organization. A total of 31 GP38-2s were built with high-short-hoods containing steam generators for passenger service on Mexican railways. In addition, all 257 of Southern Railway's GP38-2s had Southern's "standard" high-short-hoods.


Railroad Quantity Road numbers Notes
Angelina and Neches River Railroad 1 2000
The American Rolling Mill Company 1 B-84
Atlanta and West Point Railroad 2 6007–6008 Family Lines paint. To Seaboard System Railroad.
Atlanta and St. Andrews Bay Railroad 3 508–510
Belt Railway of Chicago 6 490–495
Boston and Maine Railroad 12 201–212 212 was renumbered 200 as abicentennial unit.
Burlington Northern Railroad 37 2078–2109, 2150–2154 2150-2154 assigned to Fort Worth & Denver. Most passed on to BNSF Railway.
Butte, Anaconda and Pacific Railway 2 108–109
Chicago and North Western Transportation Company 35 4600–4634 Ordered by Rock Island. To Union Pacific Railroad.
Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad 10 2000–2009
Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company 9 100–108
Clinchfield Railroad 8 6000–6006, 6045 Family Lines paint. To Seaboard System.
Colorado and Wyoming Railway 2 2001–2002
Conrail 119 8163–8281 All units were renumbered when divided between CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway.
Curtis, Milburn and Eastern Railroad 4 810, 817-819
Detroit, Toledo and Ironton Railroad 8 221–228 228 was renumbered 1776 forthe bicentennial. Renumbered GTW 6221–6228 in 1984–85.
Durham and Southern Railway 4 2000–2003 To Seaboard Coast Line Railroad 556–559.
Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway 5 700–704 All to Birmingham and Southern Railroad. 703 re-purchased in the 90s and assigned to Waukegan.
Florida East Coast Railway 11 501–511
Georgia Railroad 4 6009–6010, 6051–6052 Family Lines paint. To Seaboard System
Grand Trunk Western Railroad 25 5812–5836
Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad 15 740–754 To Illinois Central Gulf Railroad.
Illinois Central Gulf Railroad 40 9600–9639
Illinois Terminal Railroad 4 2001–2004
Kansas City Southern Railway 12 4000–4011
Lehigh Valley Railroad 12 314–325 To the Delaware & Hudson Railway upon creation of Conrail as 7314–7325. Briefly renumbered to 220-231 during the Guilford ownership of the D&H, upon emergence from Guilford renumbered to 7303–7312.
Long Island Rail Road 28 250–277 261, 268, 270–271 to New York and Atlantic Railway.Delivered in Long Island bicentennial scheme.
Louisville and Nashville Railroad 129 4050–4144, 6011-6044 6011-6044 Family Lines paint. To Seaboard System.
Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad 16 350–365 To Soo Line Railroad.
Mississippi Export Railroad 2 65–66
Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad 18 304–321 319-321 has Dynamic brakes. To Union Pacific.
Missouri Pacific Railroad 274 858–959, 2111–2237, 2290–2334 To Union Pacific.
Penn Central Transportation Company 223 7940–8162 To Conrail, same numbers.
Phelps Dodge 8 1–4, 9, 55, 56, 58
Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad 6 2051–2056
Providence and Worcester Railroad 4 2006–2009
Public Service Company of Indiana 2 WG1-WG2 Lettered for AMAX Coal.
Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad 68 4300–4355, 4368-4379 Acquired by GTW, MP and P&LE upon dissolution of Rock Island.
San Manuel Arizona Railroad 2 16–17
Seaboard Coast Line Railroad 74 500–555, 6046–6050, 6053-6065 6046–6050,6053-6065 Family Lines paint. To Seaboard System.
Soo Line Railroad 53 790–799, 4410–4452 790–799 renumbered 4400–4409 soon after delivery.
South East Coal Company 3 3821–3823
Southern Railway 257 5000–5256 High-short-hoods. To Norfolk Southern. 23 rebuilt with an Admiral Cab. 50 to be sold at auction on August 18, 2016. 5076 sold to Northwestern Pacific in 2017.
Southern Pacific Transportation Company 45 4800–4844
St. Louis–San Francisco Railway 116 400–478, 663–699 To Burlington Northern Railroad.
Texas Mexican Railway 7 861–867 867 was the last La Grange-built GP38-2 inMay '85. All others built at GMDD London, Ont.
Toledo, Peoria and Western Railway 11 2001–2011 All went to Santa Fe then were divided up, with some going to BNSF after merger and others to KCS.
Union Pacific Railroad 60 2000–2059
Vermont Railway 2 201–202

Locomotives built by GMD, London, Ontario

Railroad Quantity Road numbers Notes
Algoma Central Railway 6 200-205
Canadian National Railway 60 5500–5559 23 renumbered to the 200 series when converted to hump mothers in 1978, these plus one additional renumbered to 7500-7526 (not all #'s used) in 1985. Three more, 7528, 7530, 7532 renumbered in 1990. The balance of these units became 4700–4732 in 1988. Units 4702 and 4728 rebuilt to GP40-3 and repainted to heritage schemes.
51 5560–5610 GP38-2W's. Renumbered 4760–4810 in 1988. 5586 destroyed in the Hinton train collision of 1986.
Canadian Pacific Railway 115 3021–3135 The 3086-3135 were the last GP38-2's built by GMD, between March and July 1986.
Devco Railway 13 216–228
Ontario Northland Railway 10 1800–1809
Texas Gulf Sulphur 2 054–055

Export locomotives built by EMD for other railroads

Railroad Quantity Road numbers Notes
Altos Hornos de México 6 141, 145, 157–158, 167-168
Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacífico 12 900-911 910 & 911 have high-short-hoods containing steam generators.
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México 124 9200–9299, 9400–9414, 9901-9909 9200-9219 & 9901-9909 have high-short-hoods containing steam generators.
Ferrocarriles Unidos del Sureste 14 514–521, 528-533
Saudi Railways Organization 1 2000
Totals 2213

Two Providence and Worcester Railroad GP38-2s at Pawtucket/Central Falls station in 2023.

(Trainsandotherthings, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)



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

CSX and Norfolk Southern have both started replacing cabs on the aging locomotives. NS still calls them GP38-2 while CSX calls them GP38-3.


Southern Pacific EMD GP38-2 4817 at Redding, California, June 23, 1990. Photographer: Jim Holder.

Craig Garver, Public domain,



A relatively small amount of GP38-2s are in preservation, with all being ex-Southern, and all operating on tourist lines.

  • Colebrookdale Railroad No. 5128, built as a Southern subsidiary GSF locomotive, is in a patched NS scheme and is operating excursions on the line.
  • Southern Railway No. 5000, the first GP38-2 ever built, is preserved in operating condition, and sometimes operates excursion trains at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. It was traded from Progress Rail with Norfolk Southern No. 5033 in 2017.
  • Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum No. 5044, built as a Southern subsidiary C of G locomotive, is in black with ‘TVRM’ logos and the front and rear end. It is expected to operate excursion trains on the Hiwassee River Railroad in the near future.
  • Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum No. 5109, painted in the museum's black and red scheme with yellow striping, is preserved and is operating excursions on the Hiwassee River Railroad.


Chihuahua al Pacifico EMD GP38-2 910 at Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico, January 22, 1983. Photographer: Dick Campbell.

Prior to the NdeM take over of the Mexican rail system, there was an attempt to create a unified system paint scheme based on NdeM's

but using the logo and branding of each individual road. There was a rebirth, especially on the Ferrocarril del Pacifico, and the old schemes

appeared once again on new power for a couple more years. This is a passenger equipped GP38-2 with a steam generator in the short hood, a frequent

practice in Mexico.  This is one of just two GP38-2's on CHP equipped with high hoods and steam generators. They were built in April, 1980.

(Craig Garver, Public domain,



Type and origin
Power type: Diesel-electric
Builder: United States - Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD); Canada - General Motors Diesel (GMD)
Model: GP38-2
Build date: January 1972–July 1986
Total produced: 2,213
​• AAR B-B
• UIC Bo'Bo'
Gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length: 59 ft 2 in (18.03 m)
Width: 10 ft 4.5 in (3.16 m)
Height: 15 ft 4 in (4.67 m)
Locomotive weight: 250,000 lb (113,400 kg)
Prime mover: EMD 645E
Engine type: V16 Two-stroke diesel
Aspiration: Roots-type blower
Alternator: AC alternator,
Traction motors: DC traction motors
Cylinders: 16
Transmission: diesel electric
Locomotive brake: Straight air, Dynamic
Performance figures
Maximum speed: 65 mph (105 km/h)
Power output: 2,000 hp (1.49 MW)
Starting Tractive effort: 61,000 lbf (271 kN) at 20%
Continuous Tractive effort: 54,700 lbf (243 kN) and 11.1 mph (17.9 km/h)
Locale: North America, Saudi Arabia, México
Disposition: Most still in service as of 2019


Soo Line 4413 at Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.

(Cr4410, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)