All about the community of model railroading and rail enthusiasm


Product Review: Athearn HO GE Dash 9-40C

Athearn Trains’ HO Norfolk Southern General Electric Dash 9-40C is specific to the prototype, and is painted in the Thoroughbred scheme for operations from 2013 to 2018. The model comes in three road numbers (8777, 8820 and 8855). – Cowcatcher Magazine

Athearn Genesis Dash 9-40C is eye catching

Modelers who prefer modern-day operations have plenty to cheer with Athearn Trains’ release of the six-axle Genesis Norfolk Southern General Electric Dash 9-40C in HO scale.

The Dash 9-40C continues Athearn’s Dash series and incorporates previous releases of the Dash 9-44CW and more details.

Fully assembled DC-ready and DCC/sound models of Dash 9 Norfolk Southern (40C), BNSF (44CW) and BC Rail (44CWL) locomotives produced under Athearn’s new Genesis 2.0 branding arrived late in 2021. Genesis 2.0 has new tooling.

Among the new features are etched, see-through walkway steps, animated roller bearing caps and lots of LED lighting. Number boards, ground lights on front trucks, front and rear walkway lights and class lights (where applicable) are illuminated on DCC/sound models. Numbers boards and ditch lights are illuminated on non-sound or DCC-ready versions.

The Cowcatcher received DCC-ready Norfolk Southern No. 8855 for review.

Built by GE from 1993 until 2004, the Dash 9-44CW and its variants were the definitive North American mainline freight locomotives of their time, with an impressive 3,668 built. Constructed for U.S, railroads from coast to coast, the units also were ordered by Canadian roads, and significant export orders went to Australia and Brazil.

The last stand of the standard cabs for Norfolk Southern was the Dash 9-40C. With the completion of the order for 125 units from GE, the Federal Railroad Administration mandated that subsequent purchases be built with the wide safety cab.

Dash 9-40C units were the first to be used as cores for the AC44C6M rebuild program at NS’s Juniata facility and at GE in both Erie, PA, and Fort Worth, TX.

Model is loaded with detail and durable

The Dash 9-40C is specific to NS. Like all of Athearn’s Dash 9 series locomotives, No. 8855 is built from prototype resources that include drawings, field measurements and photographs down to the last detail.

In all, nearly 400 factory-applied pieces make up the locomotive.

The model is painted in the Thoroughbred scheme for operations from 2013 to 2018, and each of the three road numbers (8777, 8820 and 8855) is decorated differently based on repainted status. Other road-specific features include curved engine compartment hood profile, early “tabbed” dynamic brake intake panels and vertical-mounted struts on side frames with 40-inch wheels.

No. 8777 has early dynamic brake exhaust fascia, and Nos. 8820 and 8855 have late dynamic brake exhaust fascia.

Out of the box, our sample of No. 8855 is impressive and sturdy and easy to handle. The exquisite radiator grill at the back of the long hood catches the eye. Also, the interior cab is fully detailed, including the engineer’s console and conductor seat visible through see-through cab windows.

Other fine points include see-through side vents at the rear. Flexible rubber MU hoses for durability, a flexible rubber train line hose, wire grab irons, walkway tread and a detailed fuel tank add to the eye candy.

The trucks feature a finely detailed braking system complete with lines, and there’s a brake chain on the rear assembly on the conductor’s side.

The model − powered by Genesis’ five-pole skew-wound motor, machined flywheels and multi-link drive train – is equipped with Athearn’s Quick Plug plug-and-play board with a 21-pin NEM connector for conversion to DCC.

Aside from the detail, the heavy die-cast frame and all-wheel pickup for greater traction and more pulling power get a thumbs-up. At nearly 1.5 pounds, the locomotive proved its muscle by handling the equivalent of 20 NMRA-weighted boxcars with ease at about 30 percent of track power.

Cost of the Athearn Dash 9-40C is within industry pricing. Units without sound retail for $249.98, with Tsunami2 Sound $399.98.

The Dash 9-40C is a nicely detailed, great-running representation that will look good on any modern-era layout.

Read our other product reviews

Visit our product review page here.

Current Issue: September/October 2023


Bright, shiny freight cars are showing in greater numbers on the North American rail network. New orders and deliveries increased in 2022 following a decline beginning in 2019 that the pandemic worsened in 2020 and 2021. According to a report from the Railway Supply Institute's American Railway Car Institute Committee, new freight car orders last year were significantly greater than the combined total of 2020 and 2021. Deliveries increased nearly as much.

But car builders are not out of the woods yet, as the first half of 2023 saw some ups and downs.


Too much of a good thing can be hazardous to model railroad operations. Adding more cars to a layout can place more pressure on yards and industries when running the railroad like the real thing. Three veteran operators share their thoughts about how to avoid logjams in yards, sidings and at industries. 


Computer-based applications that complement DCC are driving the new frontier of model rail road operations.


The Sunset Limited ranks as Amtrak's worst train in on-time performance, prompting a Surface Transportation Board investigation. The Southern Pacific's Coast Daylight, with its brilliant colors, was among the most beautiful trains during the golden age of passenger rail. A BNSF test locomotive that set the stage for future developments in alternative energy motive power technology arrives at an Oklahoma railroad museum.