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PC: PC numbering system

Alex wrote:

Can someone post the rest of the numbering system?  

I want to emphasis that this is from  EXTRA 2200 SOUTH April-May 1970 
(p. 31).  I made some format changes to make it easier to understand in e-mail format.  

By E.T. Harley

In 1966, two years before the actual merger took place, J.H. Heron (Asst. V.P. for Equipment, NYC) and W.E. Lehr (Chief mechanical Officer, PRR) formed a committee of four individuals (A.L. Grogan and E.H. Wright from the PRR and F.N. Shuffleberger and E.T. Harley from the NYC) to develop a uniform numbering system for the merged fleet.  The purpose was to allow the merger to proceed smoothly without the requirement that railroad initials always be carried with the locomotive for positive identification.  For example, there would be only one locomotive 6148, and there would be no worry whether it actually painted with PRR, NYC, or PTCT identification.

The number system that evolved was basically the NYC system which was more logical than the PRR system in which many numbers were scattered (reflecting the PRR practice of filling vacant number slots randomly upon the retirement of steam locomotives).  The PRR classification system, which was more descriptive than the NYC system, would serve as the basis of the classification system.  Major changes were, however, necessary to use the better parts of each system.  The following system was developed to assist with solving the renumbering problems.

A) No locomotive would be given one, two, or three digit numbers.  Since MU and RDC cars were occupying these number series, we felt it would be necessary or desirable to allow cars capable of self propulsion and trailers with control cabs to have the same number as a locomotive.  This would avoid the change of accidental train order mix-ups, for example, if MU car 501 and locomotive 501 were operating in the same territory, even thought MU cars and engines are identified as such on train orders.  The use of three digit numbers on the former Rio Grande F7's does not cause any problems as these locomotives are temporarily assigned for operation and do not operate in MU car  territory.  

B) The 1000-1999 series would be used for covered wagon A-units.  Since this power is being phased out as they require extensive repair, this number series is also being made available for MU cars.

C) The 2000-2999 series would be used for four motor freight units of 2000 h.p. and more.  Some attempt was made to indicate horsepower in hundreds with the first two digits, but with several manufacturers producing locomotives of the same horsepower, it was impossible to follow this code rigidly.

D) The 3000-3999 series was a continuation of the 2000-2999 series with the B-units (all four motor) occupying the higher number of the series.  This made the designation of "A" of "B" unnecessary as the number indicates B-unit.

E) The 4000-4999 series was used for passenger units and straight electrics.  Again, B-units are designated by using the 4100-4199 group for B-units only.  Therefore, no suffix letters were necessary.

F) The 5000-5999 series was designated for FL9's after the inclusion of the New Haven and for 1500-1600 h.p. four motor road switchers.

G) The 6000-6999 series was used for six motor diesels only.  This simplified the locomotive classification system as we did not have to use the Southern Pacific system where EF425 is a GP35 and an EF625 is an SD35.  On the Penn Central, if the number starts with a six, it is a six motor diesel.  All Penn Central six motor locomotives are in the 6000 series.

H) The 7000-7999 series was used for 1750-2000 h.p. four motor road switchers.  While the higher numbers of this series were originally used for Baldwin yard switchers, the increasing ownership of GP38's has required some renumbering, although many of the Baldwins were retired before any renumbering was necessary.

I) The 8000-8999 and 9000-9999 series were reserved for yard switchers and small road switchers, which were used in the same manner as yard switchers.


A) The prefix "0" ahead of the number indicates a unit out of service awaiting retirement which has a number conflict with a new or retired unit.

B) Locomotive within classes are grouped according to special equipment - as an example, EF25 locomotives 2250-2308 have cab signals only, 2309-2368 have cab signals and ATS and 2369-2399 have ATS only.  This makes for easier power manipulation where these devices are an operating requirement.

C) While some renumbering has been required in order to make room for new locomotives, reflect the elimination of steam generators, and take into account 1000 h.p. switchers upgraded to 1200 h.p., etc, the Penn Central numbering system has held intact even with the New Haven inclusion.  The system also allows for non-conflicting numbers with railroads closely associated with the Penn Central including the IHB, P&LE, CR&I, P&E, CUT, etc,


1) The first letter indicates the locomotive builder:
	A - Alco (American Locomotive Company)
	B - Baldwin (BLW, B-W, BLH)
	E - EMD (General Motors) 
	F - FM (Fairbanks Morse)
	G - GE (General Electric)
	L - Lima
Even if the locomotive has been re-engined as in the case of the LRS12as, the locomotive is still considered built by Lima.  The small letter "a" indicates a major modification such as re-engining.

2) The second letter (or group of letters) indicates locomotive type:
	F - Freight
	RS - Road Switcher
	P - Passenger
	S - Yard Switcher
	FP - Freight Passenger
Since the present day road freight units use a road switcher type carbody, we have used arbitrary horsepower limits to designate the type.  Thus, a four motor unit with a road switcher type carbody could be designated "S" if it has 1200 h.p. or less, "RS" if it has 1500-2000 h.p., and "F" if it has 2000 h.p. or more.  In the case of six motor units, the unit with 2500 h.p. or more is an "F" and the 1500-2400 h.p. carries and "RS" designation.  The GP9 B- units were designated "F" because the lack of an operating cab restricted its use as a road switcher, but since that time we have discovered that they make good hump engines.

3) The numbers indicate horsepower in hundreds to the lowest hundred - thus a 660 h.p. Alco or Baldwin is an AS6 or BS6, a BS7 is rated at 750 h.p., EF22 and EP22 units are rated at 2250 h.p. etc,*

4) The use of the small letters following the numbers indicates special features.
	s - Indicates a steam generator on a "RS" unit.  "P" and "FP" units are assumed to have steam generators. 
	a - Indicates major modification from previous model of same horsepower and manufacturer - usually the six motor configuration, but
	     not always as in the case of the AF24a which has the :Century" series carbody, the AS10a which has a 251 series engine and other examples.
	x - Indicates a "RS" unit which does not have MU capability as the majority do have this feature.
	m - Indicates a an "S" unit with MU capability as the majority do not have this feature.
	e - Indicates a diesel unit with 3rd rail capability.  The only model on with this feature on Penn Central was the FL9.

5) Electric locomotives follow a somewhat similar pattern with the letter "E" indicating electric locomotives and the number indicating horsepower in hundreds.  For reasons of historical importance, we have not tried to reclassify the older electric locomotives such as the GG1 -  after all, who would dare call the GG1 and E46?  Even if this was attempted, no one would use the new designation.  While some E44's have been upgraded from 4400 to 5000 h.p. the class was only changed to E44a.  If an when all locomotives are modified to 5000 h.p., the class would then be changed to E50.  The same is true of diesel units (Particularly GE) which have been upgraded to higher horsepower levels.  We will still designate the class be the original horsepower level until all of the class are modified.  This avoids confusion during the modification phase which may take a long time.

6. Although the SD40's 6240-6284 will be split from the original SD40's (6040-6104) Penn Central does not normally like to create split numbering series.  PC also wanted to avoid large scale renumbering of locomotives.  The split series associated with the ex-Rio Grande F7's and the SW1500's will be automatically eliminated as older units are retired.  

Robert Holzweiss
Bush Presidential Library

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