By Daniel Garcia
Revised by James Bow
A Bargain Price
In 1982, GO Transit had expanded its network to include the Bradford and Stouffville lines, and service was increasing on the Lakeshore line. GO needed more equipment to pull more trains. However, times were tight. In 1982, a recession crippled the North American economy, and governments were cutting back due to the pinch of deficits. There wasn’t the budget for another purchase of new locomotives.
However, the recession did have a silver lining. The midwestern American railroad Rock Island, after years of financial ill health, had declared bankruptcy in 1975. Attempts to restructure the railroad failed and, on March 31, 1980, Rock Island was ordered liquidated.
Among the items that were put up for sale were seven GP40 locomotives, numbered 3000-3007, originally built by General Motors’ EMD division in 1967, and rebuilt in Rock Island’s Silvia Shops (later known as Chrome Crankshaft) to “Dash 2” specifications. The Silvia Shops were sold off to Chrome Crankshaft while the rebuilding was in progress. The company specialized in aftermarket railroad engine parts. With Rock Island no longer around to use these locomotives, the equipment languished at the shops until GO Transit came calling. At GO’s request, Chrome Crankshaft made modifications to the locomotives to better suit GO’s commuter rail needs. They were delivered to GO Transit in 1982, and numbered 720-726. By buying these used locomotives, GO saved thousands of dollars that would have been required to purchase new equipment.
The locomotives were originally designated GP40-M2s when they were built for Rock Island in 1967. These engines, with the exception of being older and not having a safety cab, were almost exactly the same as GO’s GP40-2Ls, including not having an HEP generator. Thus, when they arrived on GO property, GO had to obtain an equivalent number of Auxiliary Power/Control Units in order to power up a commuter train.
Locomotives 720-726 operated on GO Transit for twelve years before being retired from service in 1994. As they were effectively modified freight locomotives, it was not unusual to see the equipment leased to Canadian Pacific and pulling freight trains on weekends. The equipment was traded to General Motors Diesel Division to help pay for the last order of F59PHs that year.
GP40U Series Locomotives Image Archive
GO Transit EMD GP40M-2 #722 is seen parked at Willowbrook Yard on August 14, 1990. Photo by Gary Zuters, from the collection of Dan Garcia.