NS 6081 westbound on the #BackBelt.

NS 6081

6081 along the #BackBelt. Edward Branley photo.

NS 6081

Early monring #BackBelt action. NS 6081, an EMD SD40-2, pulling a local from the NS Gentilly yard eastbound. The destination is possibly the CN or KCS yards in Metairie. Since 6081 pulled this consist alone, its destination wouldn’t be Avondale. Crossing the Mississippi river via the Huey P. Long bridge requires 2-3 locomotives, even for a short consist.

This EMD unit was built in 1975 for the Norfolk and Western. It’s equipped with A/C and a handbrake. It became part of the NS fleet upon the merger of N&W and Southern. While 6081 regularly operates between the Metairie yards and Gentilly, railfans spotted the unit in numerous locations throughout its lifetime. Those locations include Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Alabama, as well as the Juniata Locomotive Shop at the Altoona Works, Altoona, PA.

EMD SD40-2

NS 6081

Westbound run. Edward Branley photo.

These engines are road switchers. Initial production of the SD40-2 line began in 1962. EMD produced these throughout the 1970s, and was one of the best-selling models the company produced. EMD built over 4000 of this model. It followed the SD40. EMD extended the lenght on the -2s. Like the SD38-2 units, these were three feet longer than the original SD40s. Unlike the SD38-2s, the company added a third radiator. That design change enables railfans to quickly spot the difference. By the 1980s, SD40-2 orders declined. EMD released the SD50 units in 1981. GE’s Dash-7 series gave the -2s and the SD50s competition.

The last SD40-2 was built in 1984. Almost all of the -2s remain in service.

Information on SD40-2 locomotives obtained from Guide to North American Diesel Locomotives by Jeff Wilson.