South African Class 34-600

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South African Class 34-600
SAR Class 34-600 84-652.JPG
No. 34-652 at Capital Park, Pretoria, 2 October 2006, incorrectly numbered as a Class 84-000 on the cabside
Power type Diesel-electric
Designer General Motors Electro-Motive Division
Builder General Motors South Africa
Serial number 101-1 to 101-100 [1]
Build date 1974-1976
Total produced 100
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
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 As built
Six GM-EMD D29B DC 4 pole
* 485A 1 hour
* 450A continuous at 21 km/h (13 mph)
Six GM-EMD D31 DC 4 pole
* 545A 1 hour
* 520A 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 As built
2,145 kW (2,876 hp) starting
1,940 kW (2,600 hp) continuous
2,342 kW (3,141 hp) starting
2,171 kW (2,911 hp) continuous
Tractive effort As built
272 kN (61,000 lbf) starting
218 kN (49,000 lbf) continuous at 26 km/h (16 mph)
306 kN (69,000 lbf) starting
245 kN (55,000 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:
0.098 m3/s (3.5 cu ft/s)
Railroad(s) South African Railways
Transnet Freight Rail
Caminho de Ferro de Congo-Ocean
Ferrovia Centro Atlântico
Ferrovia Sul Atlântico
Class Class 34-600
Number in class 100
Number 34-601 to 34-700
Delivered 1974-1976
First run 1974 [2]

The South African Class 34-600 of 1974 is a South African diesel-electric locomotive from the South African Railways era.

Between December 1974 and July 1976 the South African Railways placed one hundred Class 34-600 General Motors Electro-Motive Division type GT26MC diesel-electric locomotives in service.[2]


The Class 34-600 type GT26MC diesel-electric locomotive was designed by General Motors Electro-Motive Division and built for the South African Railways (SAR) by General Motors South Africa (GMSA) in Port Elizabeth. One hundred locomotives were delivered between December 1974 and July 1976, numbered in the range from 34-601 to 34-700.[1][2][3]

Class 34 series[edit]

Class 34 (600) Number Plate (34-672).jpg

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

On the GM-EMD Class 34 series locomotives, the Class 34-200 and Class 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]

Rebuilding and modification[edit]

Class 39-000[edit]

South African Class 39-000 type GT26CU-3 diesel-electric locomotives were to be rebuilt from Class 34-600, 34-800 and 37-000 locomotives. The project commenced in 2005, using suitable frames from wrecked locomotives. Rebuilding was done at the Transwerk shops in Bloemfontein between 2006 and 2008.[1][6]

It was intended to produce one hundred Class 39-000 locomotives, but in spite of the technical success of the project, rebuilding was halted after completing the first five locomotives due to higher than anticipated cost. Three of these were rebuilt from Class 34-600. It was decided, instead of rebuilding old locomotives, to continue the program by building fifty new Class 39-200 locomotives from imported and locally produced components.[7]

Traction motor upgrade[edit]

In 2010 an upgrading project commenced at the Koedoespoort Transnet Rail Engineering shops to upgrade Class 34-600 locomotives by, amongst other modifications, replacing the GM-EMD D29B with GM-EMD D31 traction motors, thereby improving their performance to the standard of the Class 37-000.[6]


South African Railways[edit]

In SAR, Spoornet and Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) service the Class 34-600s worked on most mainlines and some unelectrified branchlines in the central, eastern, northern and northeastern parts of South Africa.[3]


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 the 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 GM-EMD Classes 34-200, 34-600 and 34-800 and GE Classes 35-000 and 35-400 locomotives from TFR. 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 34-600 locomotives, no. 34-640, was sold to Sheltam, 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][8]

Caminho de Ferro de Congo-Ocean[edit]

Twelve Class 34-600 locomotives were leased to the Congolese railway, the Caminho de Ferro de Congo-Ocean (CFCO), where they were renumbered CC801 to CC812.[1]

Ferrovia Centro Atlântico[edit]

Five Class 34-600 locomotives went to Ferrovia Centro Atlântico (FCA) at Divinipolis in Brazil, where they run on 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) metre gauge. While they were initially part of Spoornet Traction’s leasing scheme, they were later renumbered onto the FCA roster as 8226 to 8230.[1]

Ferrovia Sul Atlântico[edit]

Ten Class 34-600 locomotives went to Ferrovia Sul Atlântico (FSA) at Curitiba in Brazil, where they also run on Metre gauge. While they were also initially part of Spoornet Traction’s leasing scheme, they were later renumbered onto the FSA roster as 8231 to 8240.[1]

Works numbers[edit]

The builder’s works numbers of Class 34-600 locomotives as well as their known disposal and deployment are displayed in the table.[1]

Liveries illustrated[edit]

In the SAR and Spoornet eras, when the official liveries were Gulf Red and 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 "SPOORNET" in Spoornet’s orange era, and blue with the Spoornet logo but without "SPOORNET" in Spoornet’s maroon era. 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.[1]

Two known Class 34-600 locomotives, numbers 34-651 and 34-652, were painted in Spoornet’s orange era Blue Train livery. The main picture shows number 34-652 in Spoornet’s Blue Train livery, here incorrectly numbered as a Class 84-000 on the cab side. Other liveries that were applied to Class 34-600 locomotives are illustrated below.[9]

See also[edit]


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  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k 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, 46–47. 
  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 34-600 sill
  5. ^ Class 34-800 sill
  6. ^ a b Information supplied by staff at Transnet Rail Engineering, Bloemfontein and Koedoespoort
  7. ^ The Class 39 Diesels
  8. ^ SA Rail, Volume 46, Number 2, April 2008, p3-7, ISSN 1026-3195
  9. ^ Class 34-651 livery