Wednesday, 13 January 2021

CN Stuart Street Yard - GMD GP40-2L(W)/GP40-2(W)


With its vast, far flung system, Canadian National has historically always been subject to large scale motive power acquisitions. During the steam era the national carrier would assemble the largest fleet of Northern Type (4-8-4) locomotives; some two hundred and three. The diesel era would be no different; so called first generation motive power, among much builder variety, would be dominated by hundreds of Richard M Dilworth’s fabulous ‘Geep’s’ (system GP9 total: 434). The second generation of motive power would initially be populated by over two hundred SD40’s, delivered in the late 1960’s, followed a few years later by an even larger number of GP40-2’s fitted with the infamous CN developed ‘Comfort Cab’ or ‘Safety Cab’. 

In a repeat of history (the Northern Pacific Railway acquired the first 4-8-4 and established the ‘Northern’ name), while Canadian National would amass the largest fleet of GMD GP40-2’s they did not receive the first. That honour would to GO Transit when it took delivery of No. 9808 in December of 1973, three months ahead of CN 9400. CN would go on to order a total of two hundred and sixty-eight wide cab GP40-2’s from GMD and, in 1991, add ten of the eleven built for GO Transit.

No. 9446 was a member of the first order (9400 – 9490); delivered from GMD in June of 1974. Unfortunately, in March of 1997, No. 9446 would encounter a 200 ft. washout at Conrad British Columbia (Ashcroft Division) and tumble into the Fraser River. Unrecoverable, the twenty-three year old locomotive was stricken from the roster. Trailing unit No. 9554 (GMD 03/1975, build lot 9531- 9632) would depart the roster in May of 2000. Following service south of the border with the Yadkin Valley Railroad and Wiregrass Central Railway the London graduate would return home to toil on the Southern Ontario Railway as RLHH/SOR 3049. Subsequently sold to Metro East Industries, the well travelled locomotive would find a new home on the Indiana Harbor Belt as their No. 4022.
CN 9404/9653/9402/9412 are shown at the head of a caboose hop at Stuart Street Yard in Hamilton, ON. Note that the three 9400 series are GMD model GP40-2L(W); unique to CN, these ‘safety cab’ units were equipped with a light weight frame. Spotting clues include the taller geometry jacking/lift fittings above the trucks and full size (3000 gallon) fuel tanks. The additional weight of the wide nose cab necessitated the alternate frame geometry to stay within CN’s prescribed weight/axle load limit. Disposition as follows; CN 9404 (QGRY 3016), CN 9653 (MEC 513), CN 9402 (still in service with CN), CN 9412 (MEC 501).
CN 9493 was delivered from GMD 9/1974. Aside from the addition of rear cab snow shields and a replacement center cooling fan the unit is virtually unchanged since delivery.  Retired in 2007 the locomotive would be acquired by Progress Rail as their PRLX 9493. 


No. 9525 (GMD 11/1974, build group 9491 – 9530) is among the survivors still on the Canadian National roster; according to the 2020 issue of the Canadian Trackside Guide, as of 2020, fifty-nine of the onetime two hundred and seventy-eight man garrison still remain. After some fourteen years of service the unit is mildly weather beaten, but otherwise unaltered aside from the replacement center cooling fan and snow shields. Note the full sized fuel tank. 

No. 9550 departed GMD London in March of 1975 as a member of the follow up hundred unit order (9531 – 9632) CN placed with the EMD subsidiary. Note that the horns have been relocated from the top of the cab front bell bracket to a location just forward of the rear fans. Thinking this would be most appreciated by the crew!

No. 9653 (3/1976) is from the last group (9633 – 9667) constructed by GMD. Note that this build lot was equipped with standard geometry frames and fitted with shorter/smaller capacity fuel tanks. CN worked closely with GMD on the light weight frame that was included in earlier production and specified wheel slip control based on technology developed in house by the railway on their GP40’s. Note the speed recorder device and cable on the rear axle of each truck (front axles so equipped on opposite side).

GP40-2(W)’s Nos. 9667 (5/1976) and 9658 (4/1976) are shown at the head of a MAERSK container train. No. 9667 would depart the roster in March of 2000 and be acquired by Helm Financial while No. 9658 would be sold to Progress Rail in March of 2002 and eventually become DMVW 9658 (Dakota Missouri Valley and Western Railroad).

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