C30-7 departs Minnesota Commercial

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Minnesota Commercial No. 55 poses in St. Paul on Sept. 25, 2011.
Steve Glischinski, lighting by Chris Guss
ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Commercial Railway has traded its only six-axle General Electric C30-7 to National Railway Equipment for a four-axle B39-8. No. 55 was formerly Burlington Northern No. 5509, built in December 1976. BN used its fleet of 242 C30-7s mainly in unit coal train service. No. 55 was one of a handful of operable C30-7s remaining on U.S. railroads. The unit had been stored serviceable in recent months.

The railroad used No. 55 to handle heavier trains such as interchange runs to BNSF’s Northtown Yard and unit sand trains interchanged with BNSF at its Dayton’s Bluff Yard in St. Paul. Those trains are no longer operated, but with plenty of other traffic and Minnesota Commercial’s motive power fleet made up primarily of four-axle Alcos and GEs, the railroad made the trade.

General Electric built 1,137 of the 3,000 hp C30-7s between 1976 and 1986. A few remain in service on Lake Superior & Ishpeming and the West Tennessee Railroad, along with a single unit on New Hope & Ivyland. Several C30-7s were sold and shipped overseas to countries such as Brazil after their retirement by US railroads. At least one C30-7 has been preserved: in 2017 CSX Transportation donated C30-7 No. 1837 to the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society in Huntington, W. Va. Formerly Louisville & Nashville No. 7067, it is painted in the colors of Marshall University.
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