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EMD: SW-900

Written by Conductor

Reading SW900s 1501 and 1507 in Philadelphia, PA.  These locomotives were rebuilt from Baldwin VO-660s.  Photo courtesy Kim Piersol.

The Reading rostered a total of 21 EMD SW900 locomotives numbered #1501-1521.  These units were a familiar sight all over the Reading system from the early 1960s well up into the Conrail era, and had the typical appearance of an EMD end-cab switcher.  Since they were all numbered in the 1500 series, and had the same general appearance, it would be easy to assume that they were all identical.  However, these locomotives arrived on the Reading in three distinct groups at three separate times.  We will look at each group separately, as this information is important to consider when seeking to develop an accurate motive power roster.

Reading SW900 #1502 coupled to a yellow-and-green caboose at Pottsville.  Photo courtesy Kim Piersol.

The first group of SW900s was numbered #1501-1510, and entered into service in 1961.  This group of locomotives was actually "rebuilt" from Baldwin VO-660 locomotives #61-70, though they were essentially new units, as the trucks were the only parts re-used from the Baldwins.  All units were delivered in the first-generation Pullman Green scheme, and were built with full-length handrails along the walkway.  SW900s #1501-1606 were classed SWE-4 (SWitcher, EMD, Radio).  Locomotives #1507-1510 were classed SWE-14 (SWitcher, EMD, MU equipped, Radio).  This group of SW900s saw service all over the Reading system, from Philadelphia to the coal regions and the branches in between.  All ten locomotives in the first group of SW900s survived into the  Conrail era, though none appear to have been repainted into later Reading paint schemes.  The old and "new" locomotives are shown in the following table:

Reading SW900 #1502 at work on the Reading Belt Line near Lebanon Valley Junction.























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Did You Know?

October, 1962
Loss of mail and Railway Express Agency contracts prompts severe cuts in passenger service, including annulment of all service to Shamokin, and the Allentown-Harrisburg trains, and a reduction on remaining routes. RDCs replace most locomotive-hauled trains, freeing former passenger locomotives for freight service.


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