The Most Popular Diesel Locomotive, Ranked

Choose the diesel locomotive you think is the most popular!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Jun 20, 2024 06:49
Many enthusiasts and professionals within the railway industry find it valuable to understand which diesel locomotives are favored for their efficiency, power, and historical significance. A collective ranking can provide insights into trends and preferences that might not be apparent from sales data or individual testimonials alone. By casting a vote for your preferred diesel locomotives, you contribute to a dynamic accumulation of public opinion. This process helps to highlight the models that stand out due to their performance, design, and technological advancements, guiding potential buyers and enthusiasts in their decisions and discussions.

What Is the Most Popular Diesel Locomotive?

  1. 1

    EMD GP38-2

    A versatile four-axle diesel-electric locomotive widely used in North American freight and passenger service.
    • Produced: 1972-1986
    • Units Built: 2,222
  2. 2

    GE Dash 9-44CW

    A high-powered freight locomotive that became very popular among North American railroads.
    • Produced: 1993-2004
    • Units Built: 3,557
  3. 3

    GE ES44AC

    Part of GE's Evolution Series, this locomotive is known for its fuel efficiency and low emissions.
    • Produced: 2003-present
    • Units Built: Unknown
  4. 4

    EMD SD40-2

    One of the best-selling and most reliable locomotives in the history of North American railroading.
    • Produced: 1972-1989
    • Units Built: 3,982+
  5. 5

    GE AC4400CW

    A heavy-duty freight locomotive that has seen widespread use in North America.
    • Produced: 1993-2004
    • Units Built: 2,598
  6. 6

    EMD GP40-2

    A four-axle diesel-electric locomotive that was popular for its reliability and versatility.
    • Produced: 1972-1986
    • Units Built: 1,143
  7. 7

    EMD F40PH

    A four-axle passenger locomotive that has been widely used in North American intercity and commuter rail service.
    • Produced: 1975-1992
    • Units Built: 475
  8. 8

    Siemens Charger

    A family of diesel-electric passenger locomotives that are becoming increasingly popular in North America.
    • Produced: 2014-present
    • Units Built: Unknown
  9. 9

    British Rail Class 66

    A mainline freight locomotive that is one of the most successful locomotives in the UK.
    • Produced: 1998-present
    • Units Built: 446+
  10. 10

    ALCO RS-3

    A versatile locomotive that saw widespread use in North American freight and passenger service during the mid-20th century.
    • Produced: 1950-1956
    • Units Built: 1,370

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About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most popular diesel locomotive. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or Locomotive is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 167 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each Locomotive once every 24 hours. The rank of each Locomotive is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.


Additional Information

More about the Most Popular Diesel Locomotive

EMD GP38-2
Rank #1 for the most popular diesel locomotive: EMD GP38-2 (Source)
Diesel locomotives changed rail transport. They replaced steam engines, which needed constant maintenance and water refills. Diesel engines run on fuel, making them more efficient and reliable. They do not need as many stops, allowing longer trips without interruptions.

The rise of diesel engines began in the early 20th century. Engineers saw the potential for a more efficient engine. Diesel engines offered better fuel economy and less maintenance. This made them attractive to rail companies looking to cut costs and improve service.

Diesel engines work differently than steam engines. They use internal combustion to power the locomotive. This process involves burning diesel fuel to create energy. The energy then moves pistons, which turn the wheels. This method is more direct and wastes less energy.

Diesel locomotives come in different types. Some are designed for freight, while others are for passenger service. Freight engines are often larger and more powerful. They need to pull heavy loads over long distances. Passenger engines, on the other hand, focus on speed and comfort. They must run fast and smoothly to keep passengers happy.

The design of diesel locomotives also varies. Some have a cab at one end, while others have cabs at both ends. The placement of the cab affects visibility and control. Locomotives with cabs at both ends can change direction easily. This makes them useful in busy rail yards and on short routes.

Diesel locomotives also differ in how they transmit power to the wheels. Some use electric transmission. This means the diesel engine powers a generator, which creates electricity. The electricity then drives motors connected to the wheels. This method allows for smoother acceleration and better control. Other locomotives use mechanical transmission, where the engine directly drives the wheels. This method is simpler but can be less efficient.

Diesel engines have many advantages over steam engines. They are easier to start and stop. They also produce less smoke and soot, making them cleaner for the environment. Diesel engines are more fuel-efficient, helping rail companies save money. They also have fewer moving parts, which means less wear and tear.

The introduction of diesel locomotives also led to changes in rail infrastructure. Maintenance facilities had to adapt to the new technology. Workers needed training to handle diesel engines. Rail companies invested in new equipment and tools. These changes were necessary to support the new fleet of diesel locomotives.

Diesel locomotives have continued to evolve. Advances in technology have made them more powerful and efficient. Modern engines are quieter and produce fewer emissions. They are also more reliable, reducing downtime and maintenance costs.

The shift to diesel locomotives marked a significant change in rail transport. It improved efficiency and reduced costs. It also made rail travel more reliable and comfortable. Diesel engines continue to play a vital role in the rail industry. They have proven their worth and remain a cornerstone of modern rail transport.

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