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Great Northern 400 in service at the Minnesota Transportation Museum
Type and origin
Power typeDiesel
BuilderGeneral Motors Electro-Motive Division (EMD)
Build dateDec. 1965 – Dec. 1971
Total produced1,260
Gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length65 feet 8 inches (20.02 m); 65 feet 9+12 inches (20.053 m) on some units starting early 1968.
Loco weight368,000 pounds (167,000 kg)
Prime moverEMD 645
Engine typeV20 diesel
Performance figures
Maximum speed71 miles per hour (114 km/h)
Power output3,600 hp (2,680 kW)
Tractive effortStarting: 92,000 lbf (410 kN)
Continuous: 82,100 lbf (365 kN) @ 11 mph (18 km/h)

The SD45 is a six-axle diesel-electric locomotive class built by General Motors Electro-Motive Division between 1965 and 1971. It has an EMD 645E3 twenty-cylinder engine generating 3,600 hp (2,680 kW) on the same frame as the SD38, SD39, SD40, and SDP40. As of 2023, most SD45s have been retired, scrapped or rebuilt to SD40-2 standards.


A total of 1,260 were built for American railroads before the SD45-2 replaced it in 1972, along with the related SD45T-2 'Tunnel Motor'.[citation needed]

SD45s had several teething problems. Reliability was not as high as anticipated; the twenty-cylinder prime mover was prone to crankshaft failure from engine block flex. Though it produced 600 horsepower (450 kW) more than the 16-645E3 in the SD40, some railroads felt the extra horsepower wasn't worth it, even after EMD strengthened the block to eliminate crankshaft failures. At low speeds, when tractive effort was adhesion-limited, the SD45 provided no advantage over the SD40.[citation needed]

Buyers included the Burlington Northern, Southern Pacific, Santa Fe, Pennsylvania Railroad, the Great Northern Railway, Union Pacific and the Northern Pacific Railway. Many SD45s still exist, some rebuilt with sixteen-cylinder 645s for lease companies. SD45s and SD45-2s owned by Montana Rail Link retain their 20-cylinder prime movers. Wisconsin Central used to roster a large fleet of SD45s, but its sale to CN has resulted in the retirement of the entire fleet, with mass scrappings. Montana Rail Link is also starting to sell some for scrap.[citation needed]

Accidents and incidents[edit]




The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway has rebuilt 115 units into what had become the EMD SD45u.[5] They were all renumbered as 5300-5483 between 1979 and 1989.[5][6]


The Southern Pacific Transportation Company had rebuilt a total of 167 EMD SD45 units into EMD SD45R diesel locomotives at their own Sacramento Shops under the Southern Pacific's M-99 rebuild program and renumbered their units as 7400 through 7566. Most of them in their SD45 form were classified by the Southern Pacific as EF636-1, EF636-2, EF636-3, EF636-4, EF636-5 and EF636-6, but when they were all rebuilt under the Southern Pacific's M-99 rebuild program, they were classified as EF636LR-1, EF636R-2 and EF636LR-3.[7]

Original owners[edit]

This is a list of the original owners that got EMD SD45 locomotives
Railroad Quantity Road Numbers
Electro-Motive Diesel (demonstrators) 4 4351-4354
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway 125 1800-1889, 5590-5624. 1884 rebuilt to SD45u renumbered to 5300-5483 between 1979 and 1989.
Atlantic Coast Line Railroad 10 1024-1033
Burlington Northern Railroad 96 6472-6567
Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad 15 516-530
Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad 10 4000-4009
Chicago and North Western Railway 61 901-920, 937-977
Colorado and Southern Railway 7 868-874
Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad 26 5315-5340
Erie Lackawanna Railway 34 3601-3634
Great Northern Railway 27 400-426
Norfolk and Western Railway 115 1700-1814
Northern Pacific Railway 30 3600-3629
Penn Central Transportation Company 5 6235-6239
Pennsylvania Railroad 130 6105-6234
Reading Company 5 7600-7604
Seaboard Coast Line Railroad 35 2010-2044
Southern Railway 70 3100-3169
Southern Pacific Transportation Company 317 8800-8963, 8982–9051, 9069-9151 most rebuilt to SD45R locomotives. 7551 and 7549 destroyed 1989 Cajon Pass Runaway and scrapped.
St. Louis-San Francisco Railway 49 900-948
St. Louis Southwestern Railway 39 8964-8981, 9052–9068, 9152-9155
Union Pacific Railroad 50 3600-3649


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Foster 1996, p. 58
  2. ^ Solomon 2014, p. 277
  3. ^ Archives, L. A. Times (1989-02-21). "The State : Train Derails; 150 Evacuated". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2023-09-30.
  4. ^ NTSB (1990), pp. vi–vii
  5. ^ a b "ATSF EMD SD45/SD45u Power Roster". old.atsfrr.org. Retrieved 2023-10-29.
  6. ^ Extra Twenty-two Hundred South - Issues 112-118. Dover Printing. 1997. p. 9.
  7. ^ "SP Rebuild Programs". utahrails.net. Retrieved 2023-09-30.
  8. ^ Glischinski, Steve (15 September 2015). "NP SD45 appears on a photo freight in Minnesota". Trains. Retrieved 16 September 2015. (subscription required)
  9. ^ "Museum volunteers return Northern Pacific SD45 to operation". 11 March 2021.
  10. ^ "Seaboard Coast Line SD45 being restored for museum". Trains. 9 September 2015. Retrieved 10 September 2015. (subscription required)
  11. ^ "Historic locomotives to pull 75th Santa Train".



External links[edit]