After conquering the American locomotive market, General Motors took aim at the rest of the world. Looking to Europe for new opportunities, GM inked a deal on April 1, 1950 with NOHAB (Nydqvist & Holm AB), a steam locomotive builder in Trollhättan, Sweden. (If the city sounds familiar, it's because Trollhättan is also home to SAAB, which spun off from NOHAB in the 1930s.) NOHAB-GM locomotives featured a 16-cylinder engine and electrical parts from GM's Electro-Motive Division, and mechanical parts and bodies made by NOHAB. In a trip reminiscent of the pioneering EMD FT diesel's 1939 sales trip over 20 U.S. railroads, NOHAB sent its NOHAB-GM demo unit barnstorming across central Europe in 1955, from Scandinavia to Ankara, Turkey. Because European tonnage needs were smaller than in the United States, and rails were often lighter, the NOHAB diesel was designed as a single, double-ended 1700 hp unit riding on six-axle trucks to spread out the weight. Depending on customer preference, it was available with all six axles powered or with the center axle of each truck as an unpowered idler. Engine power was later upgraded to 1950 hp.
The largest orders received were from Denmark, Norway, and Hungary. On the Danish State Railways (DSB), the NOHAB diesels were designated Class MY and bumped steam from express passenger and heavy freight service. On the Norwegian State Railways, they were Class Di 3, the dominant engine on non-electrified lines. In Hungary they were called Class M61. A less powerful, lighter-weight version, DSB Class MX, was also built for branch line operation. In all cases the NOHAB-GM diesels exceeded customer expectations, proving extremely reliable and long-lived. Manufactured well into the 1960s, they lasted four decades with their original owners, sometimes coming back to work after their planned replacements were not up to the job. Today many of these engines have found a second life after retirement, in areas as diverse as Kosovo and Italy, and with private operators in Denmark, Norway, Germany, and Sweden. One of the more well-known units is on a Swedish railway painted in the Great Northern's 1950s-era green and orange livery. NOHAB diesels also have an avid following among European railfans, and several have been preserved by private owners or state railway museums.
Learn more about it: On the M.T.H. Web site, search on the item number for any of these diesels for links to more information on NOHAB locomotives.
Did You Know?
A near-identical GM-powered "round-nose" diesel was manufactured by AFB (Anglo-Franco-Belge) in Belgium and worked on the Luxembourg Railways (CFL) and the Belgian Railways (NMBS/SNCB).