Thursday, 5 July 2018

GMD Recollections - Quality Built Locomotives for the 21st Century.

GMD plant switcher 0069 sports a special paint scheme to celebrate the facility's 50th Anniversary on August 12, 2000.  Check out that spark arrestor!
By Peter Mumby

Consider this to be the first in a projected series of sporadic posts on the equipment produced by the General Motors Diesel plant in London, Ontario, Canada.  As a resident of London since the mid-1970s I have seen a fair number of these products, either on the GMD test track, in front of the plant, on test on local trackage, or on delivery at downtown CN or CP yards.  Although cameras were not allowed inside the plant, special occasion open houses permitted photography for displays inside the front gates.

General Motors Diesel, Ltd. was formed in 1949, with the plant in north east London opening in 1950.  The first completed locomotive, TH&B GP-7, was released on Aug. 25 of that year.  Under GM ownership the name changed a couple of times, first to Diesel Division of General Motors of Canada Ltd. (DDGM), and later to Electro-Motive Canada (EMC).  In 2005 it was sold to a Greenbriar/Berkshire partnership as Electro-Motive Diesel.  Subsequent owner Progress Rail shut the plant down in 2012.  For purposes of these posts I have chosen to simply refer to all of these iterations as "GMD."

The GMD plant was originally conceived as a producer of locomotives for the domestic Canadian market.  Export markets later developed in Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, and South America.  U.S. customers were added to the mix after 1991.  In addition to freight and passenger locomotives, the plant produced buses, military vehicles, and Terex heavy equipment at various times in its 62-year history.

One thing about establishing a new plant in 1950 is that only minimal computational skills are required to figure out the dates of major anniversaries.  I can remember attending open houses for the 40th, 50th, and 60th anniversaries in 1990, 2000, and 2010 respectively.  The 50th Anniversary slogan on the cab side of plant switcher 0069 in the attached photo dates this occasion to Aug. 12, 2000.  The slogan on the hood, "Quality Built Locomotives for the 21st Century" points to the fact that GM was still confident about the plant's future at this stage.  On the map were arrows pointing to Canada, USA, Europe, Africa, India, Australia, and South America, all destinations for the locomotives built at this location. 

Also present on this day were a number of other locomotives representing the history of the plant.  CP 1682 was ex-THB GP-7 #72, the oldest surviving product of GMD.  AMT 1302 was ex-CP 1428/4072, an FP7A.  SW1200RS 1357 was a late 1950s product, while VIA 6448, and GO 539 brought the examples more up to date.


  1. As a fellow resident of London I take pride in the fact that so many locomotives were built right here. I greatly look forward to up coming posts about the GMD Plant.

    1. Hi Mike:
      I am sure Peter will work some more GMD material into his Throwback Thursdays as the year progresses...George