Former NAR Diesels

The Northern Alberta Railways (NAR) were jointly owned by CN and CP until January 1, 1981, when CN took them over. At that time, the 21 NAR diesel locomotives became CN locomotives and were renumbered over the next couple of months.

These are the three types of diesel electric locomotives owned by the Northern Alberta Railways when acquired by CN:

  • GP9: 201-207, 209-211
  • GMD1: 301-305, 311-312
  • SD38: 401-404

The book Northern Alberta Railways Diesels: 1952-1980 goes into the history of these locomotives during NAR service in great detail. Here I want to touch on what happened to them after 1981.

The GP9s

Ex NAR #203, now CN 252, Winnipeg, 2018 paired with CN 7251
Ex NAR #203, now CN 252, Winnipeg, 2018 paired with CN 7251

CN renumbered the GP9s into the CN 4600 series as soon as they were acquired, by painting over the existing digits as required. They were repainted into CN colours within a few months after acquisition.

A few years after they were renumbered into the CN 4600 series, six of the ten ex NAR GP9s were converted into slugs or “booster units”, designated as class GY-00 and usable for yard and transfer service.

NAR #CN GP9 #CN slug #
2014602253
2024603254
2034604252
2054606260
2064607261
2114609259
CN 260 (ex NAR 205) near Prince George, BC in 2014
CN 260 (ex NAR 205) near Prince George, BC in 2014

I’m not sure how many of these six slugs are still in operation, but I have seen CN 252 working around Winnipeg (2018) and Prince George (2014).

Ex NAR GP9 - now CN 252 - in Prince George, BC in 2014
Ex NAR GP9 – now CN 252 – in Prince George, BC in 2014

The other four GP9s were retained as GP9s, and remanufactured into GP9RM locomotives.

NAR #First CN #Second CN #Notes
20446054132
20746084131
20946107221
21046117225Sold to Indiana Boxcar in 2013

I’ve seen very few CN 41xx locomotives, but I did see ex NAR 204, CN 4132, in Saint John, New Brunswick in 2011. CN normally had GP9 locomotives in the CN 70xx or 72xx series in Saint John but for some reason, CN 4132 was in the neighbourhood briefly.

Ex NAR 204, now CN 4132, in Saint John, NB, 2011
Ex NAR 204, now CN 4132, in Saint John, NB, 2011

CN 7221, ex NAR 209, has been in Winnipeg. My last photo of it was in April 2012. Here it is in July 2011. Note the “T” spray painted under the numbers. I think that has something to do with the fuel tank clearance and being able to go over the hump but I could be wrong.

Ex NAR 209, CN 7221, in Winnipeg, 2011
Ex NAR 209, CN 7221, in Winnipeg, 2011

The GMD1s

The seven Northern Alberta Railways GMD1 locomotives were absorbed into CN. Two of them were ex CN locomotives sold to NAR, so when CN took over the NAR, it renumbered those back to their previous numbers.

NAR #First CN #Second CN #Third CN #Notes
301107811781078Retired 2006
30210791179To Alberta Railway Museum in 2012
30310801180To Cuban National Railway
30410811181To Cuban National Railway
305108211821082Retired 2006
31110721172To Taylor Group
31210771177Retired 2006, to Ready Mix Concrete

These locomotives were built with A1A-A1A trucks to be as light as possible for branch line operation. Between 1983 and 1990 they were retrucked with Flexicoil B-B trucks from GP9s and renumbered by adding 100 to their numbers. All are now retired from CN but several went on to second lives. See the CN Railway Historical Association and Rapido’s GMD-1 Master Class for more information.

I never photographed any of these units.

The SD38s

Ex NAR 401, now CN 1650, in Calgary, AB, October 2012
Ex NAR 401, now CN 1650, in Calgary, AB, October 2012

Unlike the GP9s and GMD1s purchased by the Northern Alberta Railways, the quartet of SD38-2 locomotives were unique to the NAR and not purchased by parent railways CN nor CP. Only 90 of this locomotive type were ever built. I’m told they are essentially an SD40 without a turbocharger.

CN operated these four locomotives initially as CN 5700-5703 before renumbering them to CN 1650-1653 in 1996 to make room for the then-new SD75I series.

NAR #First CN #Second CN #Notes
40157001650
40257011651Retired Aug 2007, now Cargill #604
40357021652
40457031653
Ex NAR 402 outside Nesbitt, MB, June 2018
Ex NAR 402 outside Nesbitt, MB, June 2018

NAR 402 has a new life as Cargill #604, currently stationed at their Nesbitt grain elevator.

References

I used Leslie Kozma’s book Northern Alberta Railways Diesels and the Canadian Trackside Guide for reference for this post.

I appreciate any corrections or additions you can provide.

Further Reading

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