ALCO built the RS-3 to compete with EMD, Fairbanks-Morse, and Baldwin Locomotive Works. In 1949, EMD introduced the EMD GP7. In 1950, Fairbanks-Morse introduced the 1,600 hp (1.2 MW) H-16-44. Also in 1950, Baldwin introduced the 1,600 hp (1.2 MW) Baldwin AS-16. In the case of ALCO, Fairbanks-Morse, and Baldwin, each company increased the power of an existing locomotive line from 1,500 to 1,600 hp (1.1 to 1.2 MW), and added more improvements to create new locomotive lines. All of this was to be more competitive with EMD. ALCO's 1,500 hp (1.1 MW) line was the RS-2, although 31 were built in 1950 with 1,600 hp (1.2 MW). Fairbanks-Morse's 1,500 hp (1.1 MW) line was the H-15-44. Baldwin's 1,500 hp (1.1 MW) line was the Baldwin DRS-4-4-1500. EMD, however, kept its competing GP7 at 1,500 hp (1.1 MW). But in 1954, EMD introduced the GP9. It was rated at 1,750 hp (1.30 MW).
EMD won the road switcher production race, though. EMD produced 2,729 GP7s. ALCO produced 383 RS-2s, and 1,418 RS-3s. Fairbanks-Morse produced 30 H-15-44s, and 296 H-16-44s. Baldwin produced 32 DRS-4-4-15s, and 127 AS-16s.