North header 648 (1)

CN FP9 leading the Super Continental.

The GMD FP9 (often referred to as FP9A) is a 1,750hp locomotive built mainly for Canadian railroads, for passenger service. It is essentially an EMD F9 extended four feet horizontally to make room for a steam generator. 90 were built, with 43 going to Canadian National, 11 going to Canadian Pacific, four going to CNW, and the remaining 32 exported to Mexico and Saudi Arabia.

FP9s can easily be identified by a centred fuel tank, unlike the FP7's front-mounted fuel tank, as well as being obviously longer than a standard "freight" F-unit.

CN's class identifications for these locomotives were as follows: General Motors Passenger A-unit, 1750 horsepower, a/b/d/c/e (order number). CP's sole order was classed DPA-17a, which stood for Diesel Passenger A-unit, 1750hp, a (order number).


In the early 1950s, both CN and CP were looking for new locomotives, in order to expand services and re-equip trains. CN purchased 5 orders of FP9 as part of a massive railcar and motive power acquisition program. The first order came in 1954, as class GPA-17a. The second order was for a single locomotive; 6513. It was classed GPA-17b. The third and fourth orders were delivered in 1957, as GPA-17c and GPA-17d respectively. The final order for CN was delivered in 1958, as GPA-17e. All of CN's units were assigned as "western" locomotives; they were used on the Super Continental between Toronto and Vancouver, as well as Corridor services, such as the Rapido.

CP purchased 11 FP9s, amongst several FP7 units, to be used on their new train, The Canadian. The CP units were classed (by CP) DPA-17a.

EMD built 4 FP9s for the Chicago/Northwestern railroad, for commuter service, as well as 32 units for export.

All of CP's and CN's units eventually ended up with VIA Rail Canada by 1980, when the crown corporation took over all of CN and CP's passenger services. Most were retired by the early 1990s, and were mostly replaced with the GMD F40PH-2.

Due to a shortage of units, in the 1990s, though, 15 units were extensively rebuilt as VIA Rail FP9ARM units. They were renumbered 6300-6314. Initially they retained their steam generators, but 7 of these units were fitted with an HEP generator by 1997. These units were finally retired by 2001, and were replaced by GE P42DC units.

Several are preserved in museums today, while others worked on shortline railroads. 6300 (ex-CN 6524) is still owned by VIA Rail, and is used as a switcher in the Vancouver Maintenance Center.

Spotting FeaturesEdit

The details of each of CN's orders of FP9 differed from each other significantly. CP's order of FP9s also differed from CN's 5 orders.


  • These locomotives were equipped with four 36" radiator fans, standard on most CN units. This series was also easily recognised with its large, wide winterization hatch, covering 2 of the four fans.


  • These locomotives, like the GPA-17a, had 36" fans, but they had a smaller, narrower winterzation hatch that covered the fourth radiator fan.


  • These locomotives, unlike the previous orders, had two 48" fans instead of the original four 36" fans. They also had a winterization hatch similar in length to the ones found on the GPA-17a, but were not as narrow. It covered up the second radiator fan.

CPR DPA-17a:

  • These locomotives were equipped with four 36" radiator fans, and were similar to the CN GPA-17c/d. Differences include a taller winterization hatch, as well as icicle breakers on the roof of the units. In addition, the CP units had an extra water tank installed in front of the fuel tank. It also has a dynamic brake fan.




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