Last two NS F-units sold to North Carolina short line

Trains Industry Newsletter
Get a weekly roundup of the industry news you need.
By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine. View our privacy policy.
Norfolk Southern 4271 leads the three other F-units at Knoxville, Tenn., in November 2011 as Southern Railway 2-8-0 stands by.
Trains: Jim Wrinn
ALTOONA, Pa. — The last two of Norfolk Southern’s four executive F-units now have a home. F9A No. 271 and F7B No. 276 have been purchased by North Carolina’s Aberdeen Carolina & Western, a 150-mile short line that runs on original Norfolk Southern Railway trackage between Charlotte and Aberdeen, N.C. It was featured in TRAINS’ June 2017 edition as a model for the future with welded rail, unit trains, and modern power.

"We are so excited about the F-Units," AC&W President Jennifer White said Friday morning. "We are going to get them ready to pull our Economic Development/Corporate Train as soon as possible. We have a deadline of July 2020 that we are shooting to have them complete. The scheme will be different from our locomotives and I have a feeling we will see more magenta and gold on them!"

The other two units in the four-unit set, F9A No. 270, and F7B No. 275, each left for their new home at Pennsylvania’s Reading & Northern, traveling separately from the NS shop in Altoona. R&N plans to use them on excursion trains.

All four Fs had been acquired by NS in 2006 and rebuilt to GP38-2 standards by the railroad’s Juniata Locomotive Shop in Altoona.
Since then, they were based in Altoona, along with the company’s 20-plus office cars. The locomotives wear a version of the former Southern Railway black-and-gray F unit paint scheme, with an image of the railroad's thoroughbred horse on the nose of each A unit. The cars wear the Norfolk & Western’s classic Tuscan Red paint with gold lettering.

Southern, which merged with N&W in 1982 to create NS, was an early convert to diesel power, acquiring the demonstrator set of FT units that ran an 8,700-mile tour around the United States in 1939-1940. That performance widely proved the practicality of diesel-electric power in heavy freight service. Up to that time, it had been confined to lighter-duty passenger and switching service.

Built by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors Corp. in 1952, the two A units, Nos. 270 and 271, began life as Baltimore & Ohio F7 locomotives. Rated at 1,800 hp, the A units were previously used by MARC, the Maryland Area Rail Commuter service. The B units, numbered 275 and 276 and rated at 2,000 hp, were built by EMD in 1950 for the Chicago Great Western.

The four were acquired during the administration of CEO Wick Moorman, along with three other Fs of Chicago & North Western, Canadian National, and Canadian Pacific heritage, which were stored for use as parts sources.

When NS acquired the units, it numbered the A units 4270-4271, as the highest-numbered Southern F7 unit was the 4269. The B units were numbered 4275-4276. Within the past year, the digit 4 was dropped from all four when NS’s program to rebuild standard-cab General Electric C40-9 DC-powered units into 4000-series wide-nose AC44C6M AC-powered units grew to reach into the 4200 number series.

The A units featured a camera mounted in the windshield, to provide a closed-circuit signal to TV monitors back in the train. They are also equipped with positive train control.

Leave a Comment
Want to leave a comment?
Only registered members of are allowed to leave comments. Registration is FREE and only takes a couple minutes.

Login or Register now.
Please keep your feedback on-topic and respectful. Trains staffers reserve the right to edit or delete any comments.


Complex railroad locations.

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy
Subscribe Up To 54% off the newsstand price!
Subscribe To Trains Mag Today