KCS Battleship Grey

KCS 704 at Drexel, Missouri on 1 June 1997. (John Rus photo)

Michael Haverty's appointment as KCS president in 1995 set a new direction for the smallest of Class One railroads. When it came to marketing and brands, his approach was far-left of conservative. He was an unbashed champion of change and innovation. For example, during his brief tenure as Santa Fe railroad president, he resurrected the railroad's legendary war-bonnet paint scheme. Thus, it came as no surprise when he abandoned KCS' battleship grey corporate attire in favor of something more colorful and better connected to the past -- the Southern Belle scheme comes to mind.

The battleship grey scheme which first appeared in 1988 was a step-up from the ghostly white livery previously worn by KCS locomotives and equipment; but it was still too conservative for a management bent on winning new business and improving annual revenues. Haverty pursued an aggressive policy of acquisitions and expansion; he turned KCS into a successful north-south player in an east-west world.

Note: Background information and photo selection by Michael Richmond

* * * Four-Axle Power * * *

GP40-2: KCS #3151 (ex-Gateway Western #3019, nee Western Pacific #3536) departs Venice, IL with a Kansas City freight. The consist is heavily ladened with autoracks on 8 August 2005. (Neil Mize photo)

GP38-2: KCS #4006, which has been cleaned and fueled, stands ready for the next road assignment on the morning of 24 November 1988 at the Shreveport, LA engine facilities. (Robert Pierce photo)

F7B: At the start of the 1960s, KCS's F-unit fleet numbered nearly 80 F3 & F7 units (both cabs & boosters). Most had been retired and scrapped by 1986; the few escapees had already been converted to road slugs. #4076 and 4077 were the only to receive the grey attire, as seen at Shreveport, LA on 13 May 1989. (Dave Petz photo / courtesy Don Ross)

SW1500: Twenty-three-years old KCS #4359 was still going strong in 1995, all 1500 horses. Delivered direct from EMD, the four-axle switcher wore the railroad's standard at-the-time white "ghost" attire and carried 1539 in the number-boards. Photographer Marty Bernard caught the unit with its new "battleship" decor at Kansas City, KS on 20 January 1995.

GP40-2LW: In 1996, Helm purchased 22 GP40-2LWs on behalf of KCS; they were placed in the 4700 series such as the #4714 at Shreveport, LA on 24 November 1988. The ex-CN #9536 would be later re-numbered KCS #2912. (Robert Pierce photo)

Yard Slug: KCS and Baldwin Locomotive are seldom used in the same sentence. Yard slug #402 was the only KCS loco to once carry a BLW builder plate. The unit was originally Great Western DS44-1000 #39. (Rick Morgan photo)

* * * Six-Axle Power * * *


SD40-3: KCS #615 has lost its original 20-cylinder EMD 645 prime mover in a move to improve fuel perfomance. The replacement was a highly-touted 16-cylinder 645 power plant. The 3000-hp freight hauler, which retained its SD45 long hood, was spotted at Irondale, AL in 1988. (William Davis Jr. photo)

SD40-2: EMD's SD40-2 freight hauler was one of the most commonly used models in North American railroading during the 1970s and 1980s. KCS #637, which was photographed at New Orleans, LA on 9 May 1992, had the the distinction of being the very first SD40-2 produced. (Robert Carter photo)

SD40-2 "Snoot": This photograph of KCS #690 effectively conveys the elongated length of an EMD "snoot." Beyond the standard 88" nose, the builder offered a 118" or 123" reinforced nose to house Locotrol equipment. (Phil LaRosa photo at New Orleans, LA)

SD40X: For this discussion only, "SDX40" is used to avoid conflict with the SD40Xs built in the mid 1960s. KCS #700-703 employed SD50 machinery on an SD40 frame, where as SD40Xs used SD40 machinery on a shorter SD35 frame. (Michael Richmond photo at Shreveport, LA on 24 June 2006)

SD60: Prior to the arrival of new GE-built road power in 199x, KCS had been a loyal EMD customer. With the exception of double-engined and SDP models, the railroad sampled all of the builder's 645 and 710-driven locomotives. (Paul DeLuca photo of KCS #739 at Pittsburg, KS on 13 May 1997)

SD50: KCS #2000 touts the railroad's roll as an international cross-border integrated transportation company. The rail network consisted of Kansas City Southern, Gateway Western, Panama Canal, Tex-Mex and TFM railways. The KCS #2000 (ex-KCS 712) was captured on film at Drexel, MO on 14 November 1999. (Robert Pierce photo)

AC4400CW: After "NAFTA" SD50 #2000 (1st) was retired, the railroad selected an AC4400CW as a suitable NAFTA replacement. This shot was taken at Kansas City, MO and provides a good look at the GE's steerable truck. (Robert Pierce photo on 29 January 2001)

SD45T-2: Rebuilt and wearing a fresh coat of battleship grey, KCS #4502 is a long way from home rails. Photographer Deane Motis spotted the ex-Union Pacific tunnel motor (nee Southern Pacific #9178) in Seattle, WA on 3 June 1996.

* * * Notes & Credits * * *


  • Canadian Trackside Guide 2005 & 2007 (by Bytown Railway Society
  • Extra 2200 South Locomotive Newsletter (issues 91, 94, 101, 103 & 106)
  • KCS Historical Society roster
  • Flickr.com
  • RR Picturesarchives.com
  • Train Orders web forum

Correction: from Mike Spyult

Original upload: 1 March 2022

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