BNSF 2958 at Mormon Yard in Stockton, California.

(Nate Beal, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


The EMD GP39-2 is a 4-axle diesel locomotive built by General Motors Electro-Motive Division between 1974 and 1984. 239 examples of this locomotive were built for American railroads. Part of the EMD Dash 2 line, the GP39-2 was an upgraded GP39. The power for this locomotive was provided by a turbocharged 12-cylinder 12-645E3 diesel engine, which could produce 2,300 horsepower (1,720 kW).

Unlike the original GP39, which sold only 23 examples as railroads preferred the reliable un-turbocharged GP38, the GP39-2 was reasonably successful, ascribed to its better fuel economy relative to the GP38-2 which became of more interest in the 1970s energy crisis, and to its better performance at altitude.


Original owners

The GP39-2 sold to five railroads and two industrial operators:

Railroad Quantity Road numbers Notes
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway 106 3600–3705 Remainder to BNSF; 3600-3616 sold to Willamette & Pacific Railroad in 1993 as 2301-2317. Now later Portland & Western Railroad.
Burlington Northern Railroad 40 2700–2739 All to BNSF.
Kennecott Utah Copper Corporation 32 1-3, 705–711, 779–799, 905 705-711 and 779-799 were built with raised cab roofs and extra windows for improved visibility in the Bingham open pit copper mine. Kennecott No. 3 was built for the Ray Mines Division of Kennecott Copper Corporation.
Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad 20 360–379 371 to UP as 2370, then to NEGS, then to WAMX as 3927, operating with AA.
Phelps Dodge Corporation 1 33
Reading Company 20 3401–3420 To Delaware and Hudson Railway, and then to CSX
Delaware and Hudson Railway 20 7601-7620 To Boston and Maine, to UP and then to Webb Asset Management
Total 259


Several GP40-2 locomotives were rebuilt by Morrison–Knudsen with head-end power generators, which meant that 1,000 horsepower of the locomotive would go to the generator instead of being used for tractive effort. Because of this, they were renamed the GP38H-2 class of locomotives.

Union Pacific has rebuilt 7 of their GP39-2's into GP39N's at their Jenk's shop. These units received a microprocessor control system to increase adhesion, control options, and extend the life of the locomotive.


EMD GP39-2 locomotive of the Portland and Western Railroad in July of 2013.

(Bill Morrow, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)



Only one GP39-2 is preserved as of 2019:

CSX 4317, former Reading Company 3412, is preserved at the Reading Railroad Heritage Museum in Hamburg, Pennsylvania.[5][6] 4317 is the first GP39-2 in preservation.



Type and origin
Power type: Diesel–electric
Builder: General Motors Electro-Motive Division (EMD)
Model: GP39-2
Build date: 1974–1984
Total produced: 239
Configuration: AAR B-B
Gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length: 59 ft 2 in (18.03 m)
Prime mover: EMD 12-645E3
Engine type: V12 diesel
Cylinders: 12
Performance figures
Power output: 2,300 hp (1,720 kW)
Locale: United States