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EMD E7 - A Locomotive Profile



Conductor and crew discuss the run as the Red Arrow rests in the station. Despite being EMD's best-selling E unit, only one E7 remains - Pennsylvania 5901.

©2012 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

The E7 was the eigth offering in EMD's E-series and became the best-selling passenger diesel of all time.

Prototype History

Builder: General Motors, Electro Motive Division (EMD)
AAR Type: A1A-A1A
Dates Built: 1945-1949
Number Built: 528 A, 82B
Horsepower: 2,000
Engine: (2x) 12-567A
Length: 70 ft

At the conclusion of World War II, America's railroads were ready for new locomotives. EMD's last six-axle passenger locomotive before the war, the E6, had caught on with many roads before production was curtailed. Enough railroads were impressed by the E6, and by F-units they had been able to acquire during the war years, to turn to EMD for its next model, the E7.

Internally, the E7 was not much different from its predecessors. A pair of 12 cylinder 567 diesel engines remained the powerplant, although refined to generate a full 2000 horsepower. A boiler supplied steam for passenger car heating. The biggest difference could be found at the front of the locomotive. The slant nose of the earlier E units had been replaced by the more blunt "Bulldog" nose common to the F-units. This feature would remain on all future E and F unit production. For modelers, the most common spotting feature to differentiate between the E7 and E8 and E9 was the rectangular windows of the E7 compared to portholes on the later models. Some railroads, most notably the Missouri Pacific, installed the round windows on E7s too however.

Like other E and F units of the era, both an A unit and a B, or cabless, locomotive were offered. Internally the two were identical.

The E7 found a home on railroads - even more after mergers. Some survived to serve three owners. In addition to passenger service, E7s could also be found on fast freight, mail, TOFC (piggy-back) and perishable trains where their speed was an asset. This was even more true in later years when smaller passenger schedules left the locomotives looking for work.

Despite being produced in record numbers, only one E7 has survived. One of the first two delivered to the Pennsylvania Railroad is on display at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. The E7 from GM's Train of Tomorrow was rebuilt into an E9 and is preserved today at the Danbury Railway Museum.

Operating Railroads

  • Alton - 7 A
  • Atlantic Coast Line - 2 A, 10 B
  • Bangor and Aroostock - 2 A
  • Baltimore and Ohio - 18 A
  • Boston and Maine - 21 A
  • Burlington Northern - 1 A (ex SP&S)
  • Central of Georgia - 10 A
  • Chesapeake and Ohio - 4 A
  • Chicago Burlington and Quincy - 44 A
  • Chicago and Eastern Illinois - 3 A
  • Chicago and Northwestern - 26 A
  • Chicago Rock Island and Pacific - 11 A, 9 B
  • EMD (Demonstrator) - 1 (to UP)
  • Florida East Coast - 17 A, 3 B
  • Gulf Mobile and Ohio - 7 A (ex. Alton)
  • Great Northern - 13 A
  • Illinois Central - 14 A 4 B
  • Louisville and Nashville - 12 A
  • Maine Central - 7 A
  • Milwaukee Road - 10 A
  • Missouri, Kansas, Texas - 2
  • Missouri Pacific (inc subsidiaries) - 14 A, 8 B
  • New York Central - 36 A, 14 B
  • Pere Marquette - 8 A
  • Pennsylvania - 46 A, 14 B
  • Penn Central - 82 A 28 B
  • Seaboard Air Line - 32 A, 3 B
  • St Louis & San Francisco - 6 A
  • Southern - 18 A
  • Southern Pacific - 5 A, 10 B (+1 rebuilt E7m)
  • Spokane Portland and Seatle - 1 A
  • Texas and Pacific - 10 A
  • Union Pacific - 4 A, 3 B
  • UP-CNW joint owned - 1 A, 2 B (used on the City of Los Angeles)
  • UP-SP-CNW joint owned - 1 A, 2 B (used on the City of San Francisco)
  • Wabash - 4 A


The E7 has justifiably been reproduced in many scales. The most prolific passenger diesel ever, it is a good fit on many railroads.

Like all E-units, the locomotives' long frame may pose some problems on tighter radius curves, especially when coupled to equally long scale-length passenger cars. Despite those limitations, the sleek styling and colorful paint schemes make these the perfect power for streamlined passenger trains. Typical lashups included two to three locomotives (often in A and B combinations) but single units were also common on smaller trains.

The list of available models below includes all production that I can locate at this time. It is possible that additional models, especially brass imports, have been available in the past. The locomotives listed here have also been generally produced in limited production batches, so availability will vary.

Z Scale: American Z Line
N Scale: Walthers / Life-Like (Proto-2000), Broadway Limited Imports, Precision Craft
HO Scale: Walthers / Life-Like (Proto-2000), Broadway Limited Imports, Model Power, Cary (Bowser) - cast metal A unit shell only
O Scale: MTH, Key Imports (brass - 2-rail), 3rd Rail (Sunset), Williams

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