Penn Central’s (PC) relatively short tenure (1968–1976) and the railroad’s financial challenges limited new motive power purchases. In researching the road, you’ll discover that some of PC’s new diesel locomotives arrived as the result of orders placed by the merging partners before the road was a reality and delivered by diesel builders at or just after the February 1968 startup of the newly merged system.
This survey focuses on two of Penn Central’s six-axle diesel locomotive acquisitions that almost wore and served Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR). Pennsy had been buying six-axle models from Alco and General Electric (GE) during the 1960s. The road was the only participant in Penn Central that was a six-axle user.
ABOVE: PC 6338 (Alco 3499-09) sits among ex-Erie Lackawanna equipment in May 1976. To facilitate the front cab door’s ability to swing open, the brake wheel is sunk into the nose near the cab face. —Jim Boyd photo/Kevin EuDaly collection
Following its Alco C-628 (6300–6314) and C-630 (6315–6329) buys, PRR ordered 15 C-636s delivered to PC in early 1968. Pennsy’s GE six-axle U-boat roster included U25Cs (6500–6519), U28Cs (6520–6534), and U30Cs (6535–6539). Arriving the month (February 1968) PC became a reality were 20 PRR-ordered U33Cs. Four more U33Cs (6560–6563) joined the roster in June 1968…
ABOVE: PC 6553 (GE 36683) at Springfield, Mass., on October 18, 1978 is joined by a freshly repainted U33C (Conrail 6530). Conrail would renumber this group of U33Cs to 6845–6868. —Clayton F. Sherry/Kevin EuDaly collection
ABOVE: PC 6561 (GE 36865) is from a June 1968 delivery that added four more U33Cs (6560–6563) to the road’s roster. These were not known to be part of the order placed by PRR before the merger, but two are shared here to complete the look at these U33Cs on Penn Central. All examples of U33C owned by PC were Phase IIa, and possessed the wide overhang on roofline over the radiator section and included the angled connection, or wings, be-tween the radiator section and engine compartment area of the long hood. Note the ACI Cartrak label below the “T” in Penn Central on the long hood. The GE builder’s plate is located on the sill above the first two axles on the lead truck. Conrail is days away from becoming a reality, when this March 27, 1976 shot was captured at Kearny, N.J. —Richard Louderback photo/Kevin EuDaly collection