GE B40-8/B40-8W/B32-8WH Locomotives

The GE B40-8 is a 4-axle road switcher, produced in the late eighties and early nineties. During this time, railroads were turning towards six axle locomotives for increased tractive effort. This was the last 4-axle offering from GE. The locomotive only sold 131 units, mostly because railroads were turning towards six axle units. This locomotive was ordered by ATSF, Conrail, New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway, and Cotton Belt (St. Louis Southwestern).

Photo: Doug Lilly


Owners of the B40-8 locomotive:

       Railroad                                                                             Quantity

ATSF  40
Conrail  30
New York, Susquehanna and Western  24
Cotton Belt ( St. Louis Southwestern)  55


Some variants of the B40-8 included the B40-8W, which was a wide cab version of the unit. The designation meant B(B-B truck arrangement) 40( 4,000 hp) 8 (Dash 8 series), and W(wide cab). This locomotive was only ordered by Santa Fe. The locomotive has a wheel diameter of 40 inches, and a wheelbase of 9 feet. It is shorter than the C40-8W at 66 feet, 4 inches.  It is 15 feet 4.5 inches high and weighs 280,000lbs. This locomotive was favorable to use on fast freights, such as Trailer Van (TV) trains and intermodal trains, because of its high horsepower and powerful tractive effort of 68,000lbs. The locomotive has a B-B truck design that has 2 axles on each truck.

A quartet of Santa Fe B40-8W’s lead a TV train.
Photo: James R Doughty.

Owners of the B40-8W Locomotive:

        Owners                                                              Quantity

ATSF  83
Providence and Worcester  3 (from BNSF)
Nashville and Eastern  4(from BNSF)
Arkansas-Oklahoma Railroad  3(from BNSF)
GWR Saskatchewan  2(from BNSF)


Another variant was the Dash8-32BWH, which was the passenger version of the B40-8W, and was ordered by Amtrak. This locomotive was the first locomotive to replace the iconic F40-PH. The B32-8WH is a DC traction locomotive that has a B-B truck arrangement like the B40-8W. It is geared for passenger service and has a top speed of 100 miles per hour. The designation for this locomotive is B(B-B truck arrangement), 32(3,200 horsepower), 8( Dash 8 series), W( wide cab), and H( Head end power). This locomotive could be found hauling long distance trains throughout the Amtrak system, and was a popular sight in the phase three scheme, as railfans nicknamed it the “Pepsi Can”.

Photo: James Belmont

Today, these locomotives can be seen hauling trains such as the “Pennsylvanian” and sometimes on long haul routes, such as the “Coast Starlight” , however, many are handling work in yards and terminals throughout the system. Most of the locomotives are still owned and operated by Amtrak, except for two that were purchased by the California Department of Transportation for use on the San Joaquin and Capital Corridors. These locomotives purchased by the California Department of Transportation are currently in the Amtrak California paint scheme.

Photo: Alex Gillman


The B40-8/W can see be seen on railroads today, most notably on Amtrak and BNSF. Regional railroad Providence and Worcester recently purchased these units from BNSF. These can also be found operating on the Arkansas-Oklahoma Railway, Nashville and Eastern, and Great Western Railway of Saskatchewan.



Built: 1988-1989

Total Built: 151

Wheel Configuration: B-B

Prime Mover: GE 7FDL-16

Horsepower: 4,000


Built : 1990-1991

Total Built: 84

Wheel Configuration: B-B

Weight: 280,000lbs

Max Speed: 70 mph

Horsepower: 4,000

Tractive Effort: 68,000lbs


Total Built: 20

Build Date: 1991

Wheel Configuration: B-B

Weight: 264,110lbs

Fuel Capacity: 1,800 Gallons

Prime Mover: GE 7FDL-12

Horsepower: 3,200

Tractive Effort: 38,500lbs


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