GE/Caterpillar UM10B diesel locomotive of OSE at Rouf Station, Athens, Greece.

(Copyright ©2007 K. Krallis, SV1XV, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)



The GE Universal Series is a series of diesel locomotives intended for the export market introduced by General Electric in early 1956. General Electric had previously partnered with Alco, producing locomotives for export using Alco’s 244 engine, and provided electrical parts for Alco’s domestic production. However, with the advent of the Universal Series, GE ended its partnership with Alco and entered the export locomotive market on its own.

The export-oriented Universal Series should not be confused with the “U-Boats” for the North American market, which began with the U25B. The Universal Series are built to a much smaller loading gauge (Bern loading gauge) and are significantly lower in weight when compared to US locomotives sharing the same engine and horsepower rating. Universal Series locomotives can also be identified by the lack of battery boxes usually found under North American locomotives' cabins

Naming convention
The designations of the Universal series describe the locomotive model in compact form: U for Universal, followed by the engine's nominal horsepower rating in hundreds, and finally the number of axles; B = B-B (4 axles); C = C-C (6 axles). An 'M' indicated a modified version of the base model. Along with their development, the same numbers were often reused by different locomotive models. Even the same designation could be shared with domestic locomotives. For example, both the U18C and U20C model numbers refer to different locomotives offered at different dates with different engines (8- and 12-cylinder); and the export U30C model shared the same model number with the US U30C, but had a 12-cylinder, rather than a 16-cylinder engine.


The initial models of the Universal Series used Caterpillar 375 (8-cylinder), Caterpillar 397 (12-cylinder), Cooper-Bessemer FWB-6L (6-cylinder), Cooper-Bessemer FVBL-8 and FVBL-12 (8- and 12-cylinder, respectively). Later models substituted higher-power Caterpillar engines for the smaller locomotives or GE’s own 7FDL8 and 7FDL12 engines for the larger ones. Unlike EMD, GE never had a 16-cylinder engined export locomotive model in the Universal series.

Engine and Number of locomotives built using engine: 
Engine: Cooper-Bessemer FWB-6L Number of locomotives built using engine: 40
Engine: Cooper-Bessemer FBVL-8 Number of locomotives built using engine: 333
Engine: Cooper-Bessemer FBVL-12 Number of locomotives built using engine: 191
Engine: Caterpillar D379 Number of locomotives built using engine: 342
Engine: Cat D398 Number of locomotives built using engine: 736
Engine: General Electric 7FDL8 Number of locomotives built using engine: 885
Engine: GE 7FDL12 Number of locomotives built using engine: 1510
Engine: Others Number of locomotives built using engine: 54