Brief Edit

The GE (General Electric) C32-8 (C32-8C, Dash 8-32C, or simply Dash 8) is a type of six-axle, 12-cylinder, 3,200hp diesel locomotive which was produced in 1984 with only 10 built.

Conrail C32-8 2

A typical Conrail C32-8 with one of its predecessors: the C30-7.

It is basically a 12-cylinder variant of the 3,900hp C39-8, only with minor external and internal differences.

All were sold to Conrail, but were acquired by Norfolk Southern (NS) and CSX in 1999 during the Conrail Split, but were eventually retired by 2001. 

As of today, only one unit exists in Brazil for Brasil Ferrovias (Brazil Railways) as a parts donor for older Dash 7 locomotives, for the unit suffered mechanical and electrical problems prior to its retirement from active service sometime between 2007-2008. 


During the 1980's, GE wanted to experiment or take their Dash 7 locomotive line to the next level by developing a line of powerful, DC-traction diesels capable of producing a high amount of horsepower, tractive effort, and including something that was never quite fully developed on any North American diesel locomotive: having the ability to support high-tech microprocessor computer systems,
Conrail C32-8

A Conrail C32-8 painted in their exclusive "Ballast Express" scheme (with a B40-8 trailing behind in the background.)

to improve and evolve over traditional freight diesel locomotives. After the success of the preceding Dash 7 line, GE wanted to expand their product's success and furthermore earn a higher reputation among demands from railroads, while simultaneously gaining higher ground from their rival, EMD. The answer to GE's requirements (or "check list") to evolve from their previous stages that developed their ever-popular "Dash 7" line that were experimented, were answered with six-axle models such as the C32-8, C36-8, and C39-8; which developed the experimental Super 7 Series six-axle and four-axle diesel locomotives (as it was originally considered during the early stages of development for the Dash 8 line).

Beginning 1984, Conrail took delivery of 10 testbeds dubbed "C32-8's", which were the last batch of pre-production testbeds built by GE at their Erie plant. The railroad took delivery of these units in September 1984 after they agreed to participate in what was originally a testbed project that was part of the experimental, unofficially-named,"Super 7 Series" (often known as part of GE's "Select-A-Power" agreement with Conrail) line from GE, which further led to the full development of the Dash 8 locomotive line which began full production in 1985 as the successor to the Dash 7 line. Although mechanically similar to the 50 12-cylinder C30-7A units delivered to Conrail a few months earlier that same year (in 1984), the C32-8 was outfitted with what were once state-of-the-art microprocessor computer-equipped control systems that were intended to be in direct competition with EMD and their 50 Series line, as well as subsequent 60 Series line which was undergoing development during the same time as the first C39-8 units were rolling out of Erie. The C32-8 was an initial success upon delivery to Conrail, but was replaced with the 16-cylinder C39-8: a much more reliable, successful, and popular model in GE's catalog, which further led to the final stages of strategic development regarding the revolutionary Dash 8 line (officially beginning with the C40-8) which was the locomotive line that dominated over long-time rival EMD in sales and popularity, while leading towards the further development of future models from lines such as the Dash 9 and AC produced by GE later-on.

Towards the end of their demise, they were assigned to "Ballast Express" service on Conrail's Boston Line and were painted in an exclusive grey and black scheme (reminiscent of one of CSX's earlier "Stealth" schemes) in 1997.
C36-8 Demo

GECX #607, the C36-8 demonstrator. Although originally the only C36-8 ever built, it eventually became a coal-powered C39-8 demonstrator, and eventually the only "C39-9" ever built.

All 10 units survived into the Conrail split in 1999, and were acquired by CSX Norfolk Southern. Several units were originally sold to CSX during that time. However, their service was brief, for they were sold to NS after less than a full year in active service on CSX's system. Unfortunately, their tenure on NS spelled the end of their service, and they were retired by 2001 and scrapped by 2008. 


There is often a confusion between the C32-8 and the C39-8, though spotting or visual differences are present on such.

  • The C39-8 resembles more of a C40-8, yet as a similar radiator compartment and fins (aside from having the same style cab) as a C32-8.
  • The fuel tanks are shorter on a C32-8 than on the C39-8.
  • The C32-8 is significantly shorter than a C39-8: having a measure of 67' 11" rather than 70' 8".
  • The six-door access panels or engine hood located on the center carbody or center hood help distinguish the presence of its 12-cylinder engine
  • The number series varied from Conrail's somewhat abundant C39-8 fleet and subsequent Dash 7 units, while the C32-8 units were numbered from #6610-6619.


Model C32-8 C36-8 C39-8
Production Dates 1984 1983 1984-1987
Total Built 10 1 161
Length 67' 11" 70' 8" 70' 8"
Wheel Arrangement C-C C-C C-C
Engine 7FDL-12 7FDL-16 7FDL-16
Horsepower 3,200 3,600 3,900
Alternator GMG187 GMG187 GMG187
Traction Motors 752 752 752
Weight x 1,000 lbs. 389.5 N/A 389-420


C32-8's were often dubbed as "Classics" by employees and enthusiasts due to literally being one of the last models to retain the traditional body style used by GE beginning with their U-boat models, while also serving as a distinction between production and testbed Dash 8 models (though, seldom used). 

One of the former Conrail units was originally sold to the BDLX (Big Dog Lines Leasing) quarry industrial company (as BDLX #8466) in Junction City, GA before it was exported to Brazil in 2006.

Test fleet units such as GE or GECX 505; a C36-7, were among some of the so-called early "Super 7" units which were equipped with Dash 8-style features such as the dynamic brake grid among other features used to demonstrate and evaluate the performance characteristics of the models from within both lines. The unit was unfortunately scrapped in 1995.

One unit (CR #6612) was wrecked and rebuilt with a slanted "Spartan Cab" prior to becoming CSX #7477 and eventual retirement as NS #8462 in 2001.