South African Class 34-200

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South African Class 34-200
SAR Class 34-200 34-227.JPG
No. 34-227 at Wildrand siding, near Piet Retief, Mpumalanga, 17 August 2007
Power type Diesel Electric
Designer General Motors Electro-Motive Division
Builder General Motors Electro-Motive Division
Serial number 37563-37612 [1]
Build date 1971-1972
Total produced 50
AAR wheel arr. C+C
UIC classification Co'Co' (Co+Co interlinked bogies)
Gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)
Bogies 3.632 m (11 ft 11 in) wheelbase
Wheel diameter 1,016 mm (40 in)
Wheelbase 14.732 m (48 ft 4 in)
Length 19.202 m (63 ft)
Width 2.819 m (9 ft 3 in)
Height 3.924 m (12 ft 10.5 in)
Axle load 18,850 kg (18.6 long tons)
Locomotive weight 111,000 kg (109.2 long tons) average
113,100 kg (111.3 long tons) maximum
Fuel type Fuel oil
Fuel capacity 6,100 litres (1,600 US gal)
Prime mover GM-EMD 16-645E3 2 stroke V16
Engine RPM range 250 rpm low idle
315 rpm idle
900 rpm maximum
475 rpm Compressor/Exhauster speed-up
Engine type Diesel
Aspiration GM-EMD E16 turbocharger
Displacement 10.570 litres (645.0 cu in)
Alternator AC 10 pole 3 phase GM-EMD AR10F-D14
Traction motors Six GM-EMD D29B DC 4 pole
* 485A 1 hour
* 450A continuous at 21 km/h (13 mph)
Transmission 63/14 gear ratio
Multiple working 6 maximum
Top speed 100 km/h (62 mph)
Power output 2,145 kW (2,876 hp) starting
1,940 kW (2,600 hp) continuous
Tractive effort 272 kN (61,000 lbf) starting
218 kN (49,000 lbf) continuous at 26 km/h (16 mph)
Factor of
25% starting
20% continuous
Locomotive brake 28-LAV-1 with vigilance control
Dynamic brake peak effort:
188 kN (42,000 lbf) at 28 km/h (17 mph)
65% ratio at 345 kPa (50.0 psi) brake cylinder pressure
Train brakes 850 litres (220 US gal) main reservoir
Compressor capacity at idle:
0.021 m3/s (0.74 cu ft/s)
Exhauster capacity at idle:
0.084 m3/s (3.0 cu ft/s)
Railroad(s) South African Railways
Transnet Freight Rail
Class Class 34-200
Number in class 50
Number 34-201 to 34-250
Delivered 1971-1972
First run 1971 [2]

The South African Class 34-200 of 1971 is a South African diesel-electric locomotive from the South African Railways era.

Between October 1971 and March 1972 the South African Railways placed fifty Class 34-200 General Motors Electro-Motive Division type GT26MC diesel-electric locomotives in service.[2]


The Class 34-200 type GT26MC diesel-electric locomotive was designed and built for the South African Railways (SAR) by General Motors Electro-Motive Division (GM-EMD) and imported. Fifty locomotives were delivered between October 1971 and March 1972, numbered in the range from 34-201 to 34-250.[1][2][3]

Class 34 series[edit]

GE and GM-EMD designs[edit]

The Class 34 locomotive group consists of seven series, the General Electric (GE) Class 34-000, 34-400, 34-500 (also known as "34-400 ex Iscor") and 34-900, and the GM-EMD Class 34-200, 34-600 and 34-800. Both these manufacturers also produced locomotives for the South African Classes 33, 35 and 36.[2]

Distinguishing features[edit]

On the GM-EMD Class 34 series locomotives, Class 34-200 and 34-600 locomotives are visually indistinguishable from one another, but they can be distinguished from the Class 34-800 by the thicker fishbelly shaped sills on their left sides, compared to the straight sill on the left side of the Class 34-800.[4][5]


Transnet Freight Rail[edit]

In Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) service the Class 34-200s work on most mainlines and some unelectrified branchlines in the central, eastern, northern and northeastern parts of South Africa.[3]

NLPI Ltd.[edit]

NLPI Limited (abbreviated from New Limpopo Projects Investments), a Mauritius registered company, specialises in private sector investments using the build-operate-transfer (BOT) concept. It has three connected railway operations in Zimbabwe and Zambia that form a rail link between South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo.[1]

In Zambia the RSZ locomotive fleet includes former ZR locomotives, but the rest of the locomotive fleet of all three operations consist of South African GM-EMD Class 34-200, 34-600 and 34-800 and GE Class 35-000 and 35-400 locomotives. These locomotives are sometimes marked or branded as either BBR or LOG or both, but their status, whether leased or loaned, is unclear since they are still on the TFR roster and still often work in South Africa as well.[1]


One of the Class 34-200 locomotives, no. 34-221, was sold to Sheltam where it became their number 4, since renumbered to 2601. Sheltam is a locomotive hire and repair company that undertakes complete operating contracts and maintenance contracts, based at the Douglas Colliery near Witbank in Mpumalanga. By the turn of the millennium Sheltam locomotives were operating at Randfontein Estates Gold Mine in Gauteng, and in Mpumalanga at Douglas and Vandyksdrift Collieries and at SAPPI, Ngodwana. They also operated on Spoornet’s Newcastle-Utrecht branch in KwaZulu-Natal and on Kei Rail in the Eastern Cape. Outside South Africa they operate on the BBR, NLL and RSZ lines through Zimbabwe and Zambia and in the Congo.[1][6]

Works numbers[edit]

The Class 34-200 builder’s works numbers and deployment are set out in the table.[1]

Liveries illustrated[edit]

The main picture shows the right side of no. 34-227 in the Spoornet orange livery. The left side and the NLPI LOG livery as applied to Class 34-200 locomotives are illustrated below.

See also[edit]


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  1. ^ a b c d e f 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. 38, 41, 45. 
  2. ^ a b c d 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
  3. ^ a b Paxton, Leith; Bourne, David (1985). Locomotives of the South African Railways (1st ed.). Cape Town: Struik. p. 141. ISBN 0869772112. 
  4. ^ Class 34-200 sill
  5. ^ Class 34-800 sill
  6. ^ SA Rail, Volume 46, Number 2, April 2008, p3-7, ISSN 1026-3195