South African Class 12E

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
South African Class 12E
SAR Class 12E 12-003.jpg
No. 12-003 at Koedoespoort, Pretoria, 2 October 2009
Type and origin
Power type Electric
Designer Union Carriage & Wagon
Builder Union Carriage & Wagon
Model UCW 12E
Build date 1982-1983
Total produced 5
UIC classification Bo-Bo
Gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) Cape gauge
Bogies 3.43 m (11 ft 3 in) wheelbase
Wheel diameter 1,220 mm (48 in)
Wheelbase 11.278 m (37 ft)
Length 15.522 m (50 ft 11.1 in)
Width 2.896 m (9 ft 6 in)
Height 4.127 m (13 ft 6.5 in) pantographs down
Axle load 20,900 kg (20.6 long tons)
Locomotive weight 83,600 kg (82.3 long tons)
Current collection
Traction motors Four AEI 283 AY
Transmission 23/66 gear ratio
Performance figures
Maximum speed 150 km/h (93 mph)
Power output Per motor:
623 kW (835 hp) 1 hour
563 kW (755 hp) continuous
2,492 kW (3,342 hp) 1 hour
2,252 kW (3,020 hp) continuous
Tractive effort 240 kN (54,000 lbf) starting
170 kN (38,000 lbf) 1 hour
149 kN (33,000 lbf) continuous
Locomotive brake Air & Regenerative
Train brakes Air
Operator(s) South African Railways
Transnet Freight Rail
Class Class 12E [1]
Power class 3 kV DC
Number in class 5
Number(s) 12-001 to 12-005
Delivered 1983
First run 1983

The South African Class 12E of 1983 is a South African electric locomotive from the South African Railways era.

On 11 January 1984 the South African Railways inaugurated the MetroBlitz high speed interurban train service between Pretoria and Johannesburg. Five Class 12E electric locomotives with a Bo-Bo wheel arrangement that entered service in 1983 were designed and built specifically for the MetroBlitz.[1][2]


The 3 kV DC Class 12E electric passenger locomotive was designed and built for the South African Railways (SAR) by Union Carriage & Wagon (UCW) in Nigel, Transvaal, with the electrical equipment supplied by General Electric Company (GEC). It is a modified single-cab version of the Class 6E1, Series 10 locomotive that was specially designed and built for use with the MetroBlitz, a high speed passenger commuter train that, with effect from 16 January 1984, ran daily between Pretoria and Johannesburg.[3]

Five locomotives were delivered by UCW in 1983, numbered in the range from 12-001 to 12-005. UCW did not allocate builder’s numbers to the locomotives it built for the SAR, but used the SAR unit numbers for their record keeping.[1]


Based on the dual cab Class 6E1 locomotive, the Class 12E is a single-cab locomotive with a conductor’s cabin at the rear end. The Class 12E has the same power output as a Class 6E1, but with a higher gear ratio of 23/66 as compared to the 18/67 of the Class 6E1, which enabled it to run at a safe maximum speed of 150 kilometres per hour (93 miles per hour).[1][4]

SAR Class 12E 12-003 ID.JPG

They were used with specially designed suburban passenger coaches that ran on air-sprung disk braked high speed bogies. The MetroBlitz operated with two locomotives per train, one locomotive at each end, which made dual cabs unnecessary.[4]

To ensure the maximum transfer of power to the rails without causing wheel slip, the Class 6E1 and Class 12E were both built with the same sophisticated traction links between the bogies and the frames and equipped with electronic wheel slip detection. Since it was designed for suburban service, sanding gear was deemed unnecessary and was not installed on the Class 12E. This turned out to be a disadvantage when they were eventually allocated to mainline service to haul the Blue Train.[1][4]


When the MetroBlitz was introduced, it was planned to implement similar high speed services at other major centres and also to expand the Pretoria-Johannesburg service to run through to other centres like Bloemfontein in the Free State, a trip that was calculated to be possible in as little as three and a half hours at high speed.[2]

The MetroBlitz service was discontinued after a few years, however, with its demise being blamed on poor cost recovery. Other major factors in the failure of the high speed service was the disruption that was caused to other train traffic that shared the same line and that had to have their schedules adapted to accommodate the MetroBlitz, as well as the inability to operate at its full potential speed as a result of having to share the line.[5]



The Class 12E was delivered in a special livery for the Metroblitz, gray all over with a red pilot and lower sides, in line with the red lower sides on the passenger coaches. It had yellow and red whiskers wrapped around to the sides and tapering off towards the rear, and two tapered yellow lines on the sides in line with the yellow lines above and beneath the windows on the coaches.[2]

The Blue Train[edit]

In the SAR and Spoornet eras, when the official liveries were Gulf Red and yellow whiskers for the SAR, and initially orange and later maroon for Spoornet, many selected electric locomotives and some diesel-electrics were painted blue for use with the Blue Train, but without altering the layout of the various paint schemes. Blue Train locomotives were therefore blue with yellow whiskers in the SAR era, blue with the Spoornet logo and the name "SPOORNET" in Spoornet’s orange era, and blue with the Spoornet logo but without the name "SPOORNET" in Spoornet’s maroon era. Later, in Spoornet’s blue era, there was no need for a separate Blue Train livery, while in the Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) era one Class 14E and the surviving Class 14E1 electric locomotives were eventually repainted in blue during 2012 for use with the Blue Train.[5][6][7]

After the MetroBlitz service came to an end circa 1985, the five Class 12E locomotives were repainted blue with yellow whiskers and replaced Class 6E1 numbers E1341 to E1345 as Blue Train locomotives between Pretoria and Kimberley. Probably at the same time, their original solid pilots were replaced with pilots with a pattern of holes, similar to those used on the Class 5E and Class 6E families, but slanted back towards the front bogies.[1][5]

They continued to work the Blue Train between Johannesburg and Kimberley until about 2005, when that function was taken over by the dual voltage Classes 14E and 14E1 that subsequently worked the Blue Train over the full distance between Johannesburg and Cape Town, as well as on other electrified routes. All five Class 12E locomotives were then staged at the Koedoespoort shops in Pretoria.[5]


During June 2012 all five locomotives were put up for auction in a single lot at a starting price of R424,000. They were apparently not sold, however, since they were observed to be still at Koedoespoort during 2014.[8]

The Gautrain[edit]

The MetroBlitz linked Pretoria and Johannesburg with a travelling time of 42 minutes, reaching speeds of 160 kilometres per hour (99 miles per hour) while having to contend with other mixed traffic on 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) Cape gauge track. This was a remarkable feat, considering that twenty-seven years later the Gautrain, the dedicated high speed commuter train that was introduced two years later than planned in 2011, linked Pretoria and Johannesburg with a travelling time of 40 minutes, reaching speeds of 160 kilometres per hour (99 miles per hour) on dedicated 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) broad gauge track.[9]

Liveries illustrated[edit]

The main picture and those following serve to illustrate the Class 12E locomotive from all sides, as well as some of the liveries that were applied to it.

See also[edit]


Search Wikimedia Commons
  Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
  1. ^ a b c d e f South African Railways Index and Diagrams Electric and Diesel Locomotives, 610mm and 1065mm Gauges, Ref LXD 14/1/100/20, 28 January 1975, as amended
  2. ^ a b c Die Vaderland, Donderdag 12 Januarie 1984, p. 3
  3. ^ "UCW - Electric locomotives". The UCW Partnership. Archived from the original on 12 October 2007. Retrieved 30 September 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c Paxton, Leith; Bourne, David (1985). Locomotives of the South African Railways (1st ed.). Cape Town: Struik. pp. 128–129, 133–134. ISBN 0869772112. 
  5. ^ a b c d Middleton, John N. (2002). Railways of Southern Africa Locomotive Guide - 2002 (as amended by Combined Amendment List 4, January 2009) (2nd, Dec 2002 ed.). Herts, England: Beyer-Garratt Publications. pp. 49–51, 60. 
  6. ^ E1973 in blue based on orange livery
  7. ^ E1951 in blue based on maroon livery
  8. ^ GoIndustry DoveBid Online Auction, Transnet Freight Rail, Lots closing from 5 Jul 2012
  9. ^ Railways Africa, 18 Jun 2010: Latest Transnet Freight Rail Auction