Written by: Gary Dolzall
Electro-Motive’s landmark GP35, in striking Western Pacific liveries, is now available and ready to haul tonnage!
Between 1963 and 1966, 40 North American railroads purchased more than 1,300 of Electro-Motive’s GP35 road-switcher, making the type one of the most successful locomotives of dieseldom’s “second generation.” And now the landmark EMD GP35 – in two classic Western Pacific Railroad liveries – is available for Train Simulator freight duty!
Created by partner programme member DTM (Digital Train Model), the Train Simulator GP35 faithfully replicates Electro-Motive’s highly successful 2,500-horsepower locomotive which, when introduced in 1963, represented the latest in Electro-Motive’s extraordinary and long-lived line of four-axle (B-B) “GP” (“general purpose”) diesel road-switchers.
The GP35 was a creation of the 1960s horsepower race among U. S. diesel builders and an answer for the American railroads’ insatiable appetite for new motive power to begin replacing the first-generation diesels that had earlier displayed steam power. The GP35, in fact, had design links to both the past and the future: It proved to be the last of EMD’s Geep models to employ the builder’s venerable 567-series 16-cylinder, two-stroke engine (the GP40 of 1966 would introduce EMD’s 645-series power plant), yet the GP35 was the first road-switcher to employ the “Spartan cab” styling that would become a standard EMD design for decades.
Among the railroads that purchased the versatile GP35 was the 1,400-mile Western Pacific, whose mainline stretched from Salt Lake City, Utah to the Bay Area of California. The “Feather River Route” had begun its first-generation diesel replacement program in 1959 and 1960 with orders for ten 2,000-horsepower hi-nose EMD GP20s (a type also available as Train Simulator DLC). In early 1963, WP continued its replacement of aging EMD F-units and intended to purchase ten EMD GP30s. But Electro-Motive informed the railroad that by the time WP’s deliveries could be made, EMD would switch-over to GP35 production, and the order for GP30s was recast as an order for GP35s. Deliveries of the first ten GP35s to WP began in November 1963. In 1964, two additional GP35s were ordered by WP, built to replace a wrecked GP9 and GP20, and then in 1965, the Western Pacific acquired a final group of 10 GP35s, bringing its total purchases of the 2,500-horsepower road-switcher to 22 units.
Western Pacific’s GP35s carried road numbers 3001-3022 and all were originally dressed in WP’s eye-catching “Zephyr” silver and orange livery with black end stripes. Pyle-National headlights and 2,600-gallon fuel tanks were among the specified features of the WP Geeps. As the newest, most powerful diesels on the WP roster at the time, the GP35s were assigned main line duty over the length of the railroad, where the road-switchers proved themselves equal to the task, whether the assignment was rushing priority traffic across the vast and remote Nevada desert or battling heavy tonnage and the unrelenting grades of the Sierra Nevada Mountains via the scenic but always daunting Feather River Canyon.
With the discontinuance of the California Zephyr in 1970, the Western Pacific soon adopted a new green color scheme (which evolved into several livery versions, variously called “Perlman” and “MacLeod” green) and as GP35s were shopped the units received the new green and orange livery. In 1980, 18 of the 22 veteran WP GP35s were rebuilt by Morrison Knudsen (the other four had been accident victims). Of the WP GP35s rebuilt, 17 units then joined the Union Pacific roster when WP was merged into UP in 1982-83. Following the merger, the ex-WP GP35s served across much of the UP system, but many, by then wearing Union Pacific colors, returned to work home rails in the mid-1980s. The ex-WP GP35s continued to serve Union Pacific into 1993 when most were sold, including a number to short lines, where the diesels often enjoyed lengthy second careers.
Like DTM’s superb Union Pacific GP35 (available as part of the UP GP35-DD35-DD35A add-on pack), the new Western Pacific GP35 is an authentic re-creation of this landmark EMD locomotive. The pack includes the WP GP35 in its original stylish silver and orange livery, and in the WP’s 1970/80s green livery, making the GP35 suited to service across several decades (mid-1960s-to-early 1980s) on the WP Feather River Canyon route as well as on Union Pacific routes such as Sherman Hill in the era immediately following the WP-UP merger. Along with the Western Pacific GP35, this add-on DLC includes WP 50-foot boxcars and three-bay covered hoppers in two liveries and four career scenarios for the WP Feather River Canyon route.