Reading & Northern to chop high-hood noses on ex-Southern GP38s

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PORT CLINTON, Pa. — Reading & Northern continues to add to its locomotive roster to keep up with growing business on the 320-mile northeastern Pennsylvania short line. The railroad’s latest acquisitions are three EMD GP38-2s, purchased at a Norfolk Southern equipment action in Roanoke, Va. Ranging from 38- to 43-years old, NS Nos. 5139, 5184, and 5256 will become RBMN (Reading & Northern’s reporting marks) Nos. 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Built for the Southern Railway, all three feature high, short hoods and have crew work stations set up for the locomotives to run long hood-forward. Until its merger with Norfolk & Western in 1982, Southern specified high, short hoods on its road units from both EMD and General Electric. R&N CEO and owner Andrew M. Muller Jr. says that the three will not receive the railroad’s green and yellow colors until they are given chopped noses and are reconfigured for short hood-forward operation. Until that time, they will carry NS black, with the former owner’s markings painted out. Reading & Northern practice is to have low-nose locomotives lead mainline freights, so the GP38-2s will cover yard and branchline local assignments until they are modified, Muller says.

This is the second time that R&N has picked up NS units. In 2016, the Pennsylvania line purchased four NS former Southern EMD MP15 locomotives. During the past three years, R&N also acquired six GP30s of Santa Fe heritage. R&N classifies them as GP39RN units. Although a few long out-of-service units are being scrapped, the new additions continued to add to the railroad’s active roster, which now numbers 38 diesels, one 4-6-2 steam locomotive, and three Budd Rail Diesel Cars. The all-EMD diesel fleet ranges from 800 hp SW8 switchers to 3500 hp SD50 freight units.
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