1. Home

EMD E8 - A Locomotive Profile



Conrail kept a trio of E8s for use on its office car trains. These HO models are from Overland.

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

The E8 was the ninth offering in EMD's E-series and is perhaps the best known of the many models.

Prototype History

Builder: General Motors, Electro Motive Division (EMD)
AAR Type: A1A-A1A
Dates Built: 1949-1953
Number Built: 449 A, 46B
Horsepower: 2,250
Engine: (2x) 12-567B
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.

The E7 became the best-selling passenger diesel of all time, but the line didn't end there. EMD introduced the E8 in 1949. The locomotive's upgrade engines offered an additional 250 horsepower. Externally, the biggest spotting difference was the use of round porthole windows on the sides instead of rectangular windows.

In addition to new units, many railroads had older E units rebuilt into E8A and B locomotives. These included everything from the early EA models on the B&O to E5s on the Santa Fe.

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 E8 found a home on 28 railroads - even more after mergers. Some survived to serve three owners or more including Amtrak. In addition to passenger service, E8s 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.

Several locomotives have found extra-long lives in railroad business train service, museums and excursion railroads. You can still ride behind them today!

Operating Railroads

  • Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe - 8 A, 5 B
  • Atlantic Coast Line - 7 A
  • Baltimore and Ohio - 21 A, 6 B
  • Boston and Maine - 1 A
  • Canadian Pacific - 3 A
  • Central of Georgia - 2 A
  • Chessapeake and Ohio - 31 A
  • Chicago Burlington and Quincy - 38 A
  • Chicago and Northwestern - 22 A
  • Chicago Rock Island and Pacific - 13 A
  • Delaware Lackawanna & Western - 9
  • EMD (Demonstrator) - 4 (to SP, DL&W and Rock Island)
  • Erie - 14
  • Fort Worth and Denver - 2 A
  • Gulf Mobile and Ohio - 1 A
  • Illinois Central - 16 A 2 B
  • Kansas City Southern - 5 A
  • Louisville and Nashville - 4 A
  • Missouri, Kansas, Texas - 9
  • Missouri Pacific - 4 A
  • New York Central - 62 A
  • Pennsylvania - 74 A
  • Richmond Fredericksburg and Potomac - 15 A, 5 B
  • Seaboard Air Line - 11 A
  • St Louis & San Francisco - 17 A
  • Southern - 17 A
  • Texas and Pacific - 8 A
  • Union Pacific - 17 A, 28 B
  • Wabash - 14 A


The E8 has justifiably been reproduced in many scales. The E8 itself was a common locomotive on railroads all across North America, and the subsequent E9 was nearly identical, giving manufactures even more road name options. The lengthy careers of these locomotives also add to their appeal.

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: Ajin
N Scale: Walthers / Life-Like (Proto-2000), Broadway Limited Imports, Kato
HO Scale: Walthers / Life-Like (Proto-2000), Broadway Limited Imports, AHM / IHC / Riverossi (same tooling), Cary (Bowser) - cast metal A unit shell only, Overland
O Scale: MTH, Key Imports (brass - 2-rail), K-Line
G Gauge: Aristo Craft

  1. About.com
  2. Home
  3. Model Railroad Trains
  4. Real Railroads
  5. Locomotive Prototypes
  6. EMD E8 Diesel Locmotive Prototype and Model Overview

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.