The EMD GP7 locomotive is a versatile 4-axle road switcher, capable of both freight and passenger service. Introduced in 1949, this locomotive was the first road locomotive that EMD produced that included a hood design instead of a cowl body, such as the F and E units. This hood design made for improved visibility when running long hood forward. This design was less expensive as well, and easier to maintain.Before the GP7, steam locomotives were favored among railroads and diesels had not fully taken over. The GP7 was one of the locomotives that helped shift the trend to versatile diesels. Railroads saw the benefits of the locomotive and the how easy it was to maintain these units and the flexibility that they offered.

Photo: David Rohdenburg

This locomotive came a year after the BL-2 was introduced that was supposed to be their entrance into the road switcher market. However, many design flaws of the BL-2 made it unattractive to railroads looking for a versatile diesel locomotive. EMD began to re-engineer their design to make it more practical. The BL-2, which proved unsuccessful, as it could not compete with competitors, ALCO, Fairbanks Morse, and Baldwin, thus, only 58 examples were produced. EMD did not anticipate the popularity of the GP7, as they just barely met the demand from their customers. The design team at EMD at the time of production made the GP7 lightweight and powerful, able to produce 1,500hp, and haul any train with ease. Railroads were looking for a simple, rugged locomotive that was not as expensive as locomotives had been before. Railroads during this time wanted a locomotive that could pull mainline passenger trains and freight trains, and could handle any task the railroad threw at it.

The locomotive was the first in EMD’s new series of locomotives, the GP(general purpose series), nicknamed “Geeps”. This series of locomotives proved successful, as many examples are still in service today in freight and passenger service. The versatility and design of this General Purpose series made it a viable choice for railroads looking to enter the diesel market. In a way, the GP7 locomotive was the final blow to the steam era.

In an effort to meet the specifications of their customers, EMD introduced different control stand configurations based on whether or not the customer wanted to run the locomotive long hood forward. If they wanted long hood forward operation, EMD would place the “F” at the rear of the locomotive to indicate “front”. The control stand would also face the opposite way in the cab. EMD offered a cabless version of the locomotive called the GP7B. Five GP7B locomotives were built for the ATSF.

GP7B. Photo:K.B. King. (Jim Spears collection)

Over time some railroads began to rebuild or upgrade their GP7s. This included increasing the horsepower of the locomotives by replacing the prime mover. Originally, GP7s were built with EMD 567B prime movers. However, when rebuilt, used either EMD 567BC or 567C prime movers. Later GP7s built from 1953-1954, used these upgraded prime movers.

Railroads from all over North America ordered the locomotive in fairly large orders. The GP7 was also popular as it was produced at the height of dieselization, and railroads were in the market for versatile diesel power.

This success of the GP7 led EMD to produce more locomotives in the GP series, which proved popular with both freight and passenger operators. Today, there are many GP7s preserved and in service. The success of the GP7 propelled EMD into being the leader in locomotive production for over 30 years.

Build Date: 1949-1954
Total Built: 2,729
Wheel Configuration: B-B
Weight: 246,000lbs
Fuel: 1,600 gals
Prime Mover: 567B
Horsepower: 1,500hp
Wheelbase: 40ft
Width:10ft. 3in.
Height: 15ft.
RPM Range:275-800
Generator: EMD D-12-B
Traction Motors: D-27-B


        Original Owners                             Quantity

Aberdeen and Rockfish1
Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe244

5 B units

Atlanta and St. Andrews Bay2
Atlanta and West Point Railroad5
Atlantic and East Carolina Railway1
Atlantic Coast Line154
Baltimore and Ohio33
Bangor and Aroostook16
Belt Railway of Chicago8
Boston and Maine23
Butte, Anaconda and Pacific3
Central of Georgia15
Central Railroad of New Jersey13
Charleston and West Carolina21
Chesapeake and Ohio180
Chicago and Eastern Illinois30
Chicago North Western110
Chicago Burlington and Quincy11
Chicago Great Western2
Rock Island113
Colorado and Wyoming2
Colorado Fuel and Iron2
Columbia, Newberry and Laurens Railway5
Delaware Lackawanna and Western20
Denver, Rio Grande, Western (DRGW)14
Detroit Toledo Shortline10
Detroit, Toledo, and Ironton (DT&I)24
Erie Railroad52
Florida East Coast15
Georgia and Florida6
Georgia Railway16
Great Northern48
Illinois Central48
Illinois Terminal6
Kansas City Southern8
Kansas, Oklahoma, and Gulf9
Maine Central19
Meridian and Bigbee1
Midland Valley4
Minneapolis and St. Paul7
Missouri Pacific208
Missouri, Kansas, Texas33
Nashville, Chattanooga,  and St. Louis37
New York Central218
Nickel Plate Road48
Northern Pacific20
Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR)


Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac4
Seaboard Air Line123
Southern Railway57
Cotton Belt1
St. Louis, San Francisco (SLSF)129
Texas, Alabama, Georgia (TAG)3
Texas and Pacific21
Texas, Mexican Railway3
Toledo Peoria and Western2
Union Pacific30
United States Army20
Western Maryland4
Western Pacific13
Western Railway of Alabama6


GMD (General Motors Canada)

Algoma Central and Hudson Bay21
Canadian National25
Canadian Pacific17
Chesapeake and Ohio19
Quebec North Shore and Labrador22
Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo7



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