An EMD GP49 is a 4-axle road switcher diesel locomotive built by General Motors Electro-Motive Division. Power was provided by an EMD 645F3B 12-cylinder engine which generated 2,800 horsepower (2.09 MW). The GP49 was marketed as one of four models in the 50 series introduced in 1979. The 50 series includes GP/SD49 and GP/SD50. Both the GP and SD50 was relatively popular with a total of 278 GP50s and 427 SD50s built. The SD49 was advertised but never built and a total of 9 GP49s were built.

Alaska Railroad GP49s in Seattle.
Type and origin
Power typeDiesel-electric
BuilderGeneral Motors Electro-Motive Division
Total produced9
Gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in), Chile
Prime moverEMD 645F3B
Performance figures
Power output2,800 hp (2.09 MW)

Alaska Railroad is the only company that ordered it in two orders; the first was ARR 2801-2804 under order number 837049-1-4, built in September 1983 and the second was ARR 2805-2809 under order number 847035-1-5, built in May 1985. Six GP39Xs were built in November 1980 for the Southern Railway under order Number 786284-1-6 and upgraded to GP49s shortly thereafter.


While possessing a fairly high power rating (total of 2,950 hp or 2.20 MW), the traction horsepower was rated at 2,800 hp (2.09 MW) while 150 hp (110 kW) was used to run the onboard appliances. The GP49 is known for its slow acceleration, this was due to the radar unit that is mounted under the front pilot to monitor the actual ground speed when the engine is moving to prevent wheel slip. This system is known as EMD's Super Series wheel slip control that was introduced on the GP40X. It tells the engine's computer to slow the speed of the motors to prevent wheel slip. The GP49 is equipped with a 12-645F3B engine with an AR15 alternator rated at 4680 amperes and has four D87 traction motors. Externally the GP49 looks like a GP50 but has two 48" fans above the radiator instead of three as on the GP50, and the engine-room has eight access doors on each side under the Dynamic Brake blister for engine and turbocharger maintenance, while the GP50 has ten.


In December 2006, the Alaska Railroad auctioned five units (numbers 2801, 2803, 2804, 2806, and 2807) plus parts;[1] Helm Leasing was the winning bidder with a bid of $1.3 million.[2] The Alaska Railroad's four remaining units (2802, 2805, 2808, and 2809) are still in service as of March, 2007.[3][4] As of July 2014, units 2803, 2806, and 2807 had been acquired by Frontier Rail and assigned to the new Cincinnati East Terminal Railway in Southwestern Ohio.

The units 2805 and 2808 are now part of the fleet of one of the biggest Chilean freight operators, Ferronor S.A (Empresa de Transporte Ferroviario S.A)[5] and were modified into 6-axle units. They are based out of the Llanos de Soto Workshops of Ferronor S.A, where they operate in Ferronor Vallenar iron ore trains from Los Colorados Mine to the Guacolda Port in Huasco, Chile. Both work with slugs rebuilt from General Electric U9C engines. 2801 and 2802 are now part of the locomotive fleet of TRANSAP, a Chilean railway. They were refitted with A1A bogies, to reduce weight.

Tri-Rail in Florida has since bought Norfolk Southern's six GP49 variants (ex-GP39X units) for use on commuter trains in Florida. The locomotives have since been rebuilt with HEP, and have been de-rated to 2,400 hp (1,800 kW) from 2,800 hp (2,100 kW).[6] They were also given the designation GP49H-3.


  • Combs, John. GP-49 Specifications, locomotives 2801-2804 and locomotives 2805-2809, John's Alaska Railroad Web Page. September 24, 1998, retrieved September 8, 2006.
  • Foster, Gerald. (1996). A Field Guide to Trains. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, NY. ISBN 0-395-70112-0
  • Pinkepank, Jerry A. (1973). The Second Diesel Spotter's Guide. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Kalmbach Publishing. ISBN 978-0-89024-026-7.
  1. Alaska Railroad Corporation invitation to bid
  2. Alaska Railroad Corporation bid results for ITB 06-001, GP49 locomotive engines
  3. Combs, John. Alaska Railroad at a Glance, John's Alaska Railroad Web Page. March 8, 2007, retrieved March 20, 2007.
  4. Combs, John. Alaska Railroad Locomotive Roster, John's Alaska Railroad Web Page. December 15, 2006, accessed March 20, 2006.
  5. FERRONOR, Chilean Freight Operation Concession on the meter gauge lines in the north
  6. Destination: Freedom. Alaska Railroad buys eight locomotives. July 21, 2003, retrieved September 8, 2006.
  • Sanders, Dale (1998) "EMD GP49; Diesel Data Series-Number 8" Hundman Publishing Company, Mukilteo, WA
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