Replacing the |Universal Series} U36B in the GE catalog, the first prototypes were built at Erie, Pennsylvania, in 1980 for SP subsidiary Cotton Belt (St Louis Southwestern). By the last year of production in 1985 some 222 locomotives had been constructed for US railroads with a further eight for export. The design found customers in several of the larger Class 1s of the period: Santa Fe, Conrail, Seaboard System, Southern Railway and Southern Pacific. With the mergers of the mid-1980s and the Conrail split of 1999 the bulk of the fleet ended up with CSX and Norfolk Southern. Circa 2000 the CSX roster was overflowing with B36-7s, with around 140 former Conrail and Seaboard units operating all over the eastern half of the US.
In 2018 a few units still operate for secondary owners and several previously owned units were exported to South America.
The Rapido Trains HO Scale B36-7 features prototypically accurate, roadname-specific detailing on all five body variations. Details include appropriate body styles, roadname-specific etched-metal sound baffles, many underbody details, full cab interior, metal side handrails with plastic stanchions, working ditch lights as appropriate and appropriate headlight and marker light variations. This sound-equipped model features a full-featured ESU LokSound and DCC decoder with accurate sounds recorded from a prototype B36-7.