Last Rebuilt CF7 Still Earning Its Keep

After working the paper mill at Spring Grove, the freight passes the 12th hole of the Little Creek Golf Course in Nashville, Pa. Photo by M.T. Burkhart. 

Last Rebuilt CF7 Still Earning Its Keep

By M.T.Burkhart

YORK, Pa. – After retirement by the Santa Fe in the 1980s, the ungainly CF7 found homes on numerous shortline railroads. More than 30 years later, the numbers are dwindling in everyday service, but several can still be found – including the last one rebuilt.

In the 1970s, Santa Fe was looking for an alternative to purchasing new power for local and branch line service. It turned to its fleet of EMD F7 cab units, and remanufactured more than 230 of them at its Cleburne, Tex., shops by reusing the power plant, frame, trucks and other major components and replacing the carbody with a cab and hood.

York Rail CF7 1500 crosses Smith Station Road near the east end of the CSX interchange. Photo by M.T.Burkhart

By the mid-1980s, Santa Fe was selling off the rebuilds. They ended up at short lines and regionals across the country. Some also went to Amtrak for work train service. A handful are still in use, including on the Maryland & Delaware, Florida Midland, and York Rail. Several are also preserved in museums and tourist service.

York Rail CF7 1500 was the last one rebuilt, in 1978. It’s former Santa Fe 2417, which started life as F7 number 275L. In January 2021, it could often be found on the railroad’s weekday West York, Pa. to Hanover run. Despite being under the Genesee & Wyoming banner for nearly 20 years, the locomotive still wears its Emons Transportation anniversary paint (Emons controlled the Maryland & Pennsylvania before York Rail was formed). York Rail has two other CF7s, 1502 and 1504, which are both out of service.

Following the run from the yard in West York, Pa., York Rail prepares to pick up its CSX interchange traffic at Smiths Station, just east of Hanover, Pa. York Rail CF7 1500 will lead back to the yard. It’s working with two other rebuilt locomotives – GP16 1606 and GP10 1755. Photo by M.T. Burkhart. 

This article was posted on: January 21, 2021