The Reading acquired 5 EMD GP40-2 locomotives in December, 1973, to replace the aging RS-3s in iron ore service between Bethlehem Steel's Grace Mine in Joanna, PA (on the Wilmington & Northern Branch) and the blast furnaces in Bethlehem. These units were the first power delivered in the 1970s "Reading Green" paint scheme, including a yellow frame stripe that was similar to that found on the GP30s when delivered. These locomotives also had their road numbers painted on their cab roofs as an identification aid when viewed from above; they were the only Reading road locomotives that had this feature. Also, because these locomotives were ordered specifically for ore service, they were delivered with hump control that would enable them to be operated at slow speeds when shifting the loadout at the Grace Mine.
The GP40-2s were based at Reading, and spent the majority of their time in turnaround service between Joanna and Bethlehem. Usually operating in a 3-unit consist, the "Joanna Turn" would haul empties down the Main Line from Reading to Birdsboro, where they would enter the W&N Branch to reach the mine. After loading at Joanna, the train would head back to Reading, make a pickup and head to Bethlehem along the East Penn Branch. After dropping the loaded ore at Bethlehem, the crew would pick up a string of empties before heading back to Reading. While 3 of the 5 units were hauling ore traffic, the remaining two units could be found in mainline service between Reading and Newberry Junction. The GP40-2s were not generally assigned to any other trains or service, and continued this operational pattern into the Conrail era until the Grace Mine closed in 1977, at which time they were put into general service.
MODELING NOTES: The photos on this page show the general details and features of the Reading's GP40-2 locomotives. Note the snowplow pilots, and paint and lettering features, such as the new-style builder plates and the placement of the barricade striping on the front and rear of the units. The most important factor to consider when evaluating the GP40-2 for inclusion in your locomotive fleet is the line and era being modeled. If you're not modeling the Main Line between Reading and Birdsboro, or the LIttle Schuylkill/Catawissa Branches to Newberry Junction, these units would not have been seen often in your modeled territory, if at all. Even their use on the Reading-Newberry through traffic was limited - this needs to be borne in mind when planning your layout - these locomotives were acquired by the Reading with a very specific purpose and locale in mind. Nonetheless, these are attractive units that would make a nice contrast with the other yellow-and-green power on your pike.