South African Class 35-400

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South African Class 35-400
SAR Class 35-400 35-406.JPG
No. 35-406 at Stikland, Cape Town, 13 March 2007
Type and origin
Power type Diesel-electric
Designer General Electric
Builder SA GE-DL Locomotive Group
Serial number 40520-40569, 41300-41349 [1]
Model GE U15C
Build date 1976, 1978-1980
Total produced 100
AAR wheel arr. C+C
UIC classification Co'Co' (Co+Co interlinked bogies)
Gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) Cape gauge
Bogies 3.188 m (10 ft 5.5 in) wheelbase
Wheel diameter 915 mm (36 in)
Wheelbase 10.782 m (35 ft 4.5 in)
Length 15.152 m (49 ft 8.5 in)
Width 2.753 m (9 ft 0.4 in)
Height 3.874 m (12 ft 8.5 in)
Axle load 13,720 kg (13.5 long tons)
Locomotive weight 82,000 kg (80.7 long tons) average
82,320 kg (81.0 long tons) maximum
Fuel type Fuel oil
Fuel capacity 2,700 litres (710 US gal)
Prime mover GE 7FDL-8 4 stroke V8
Engine RPM range 385 rpm low idle
450 rpm idle
1,050 rpm maximum
Engine type Diesel
Aspiration Elliott H-584 turbocharger
Generator DC 10 pole GE 5GT-581C15
Traction motors Six GE 5GE-764-C1 DC 4 pole
* 655A 1 hour
* 645A continuous at 17 km/h (11 mph)
Transmission 90/17 gear ratio
Multiple working 4 maximum
Performance figures
Maximum speed 100 km/h (62 mph)
Power output 1,230 kW (1,650 hp) starting
1,160 kW (1,560 hp) continuous
Tractive effort 201 kN (45,000 lbf) starting
161 kN (36,000 lbf) continuous at 21 km/h (13 mph)
Factor of
25% starting
20% continuous
Locomotive brake 28-LAV-1
Dynamic brake peak effort:
138 kN (31,000 lbf) at 28 km/h (17 mph)
60% ratio at 345 kPa (50.0 psi) brake cylinder pressure
Train brakes 740 litres (200 US gal) main reservoir
Compressor capacity at idle:
0.033 m3/s (1.2 cu ft/s)
Exhauster capacity at idle:
0.130 m3/s (4.6 cu ft/s)
Safety systems Vigilance control
Operator(s) South African Railways
Transnet Freight Rail
Tanzania Railways
Class Class 35-400
Number in class 100
Number(s) 35-401 to 35-500
Delivered 1976-1980
First run 1976 [2]

The South African Class 35-400 of 1976 is a South African diesel-electric locomotive from the South African Railways era.

Between March 1976 and May 1980 the South African Railways placed one hundred Class 35-400 General Electric type U15C diesel-electric locomotives in branchline service.[1][2]


The Class 35-400 type GE U15C diesel-electric locomotive was designed by General Electric (GE) and built for the South African Railways (SAR) by the South African General Electric-Dorman Long Locomotive Group (SA GE-DL, later Dorbyl). The first batch of fifty locomotives was delivered between March and December 1976, numbered in the range from 35-401 to 35-450. These were followed by a second batch of fifty between October 1978 and May 1980, numbered in the range from 35-451 to 35-500.[1][2][3]

Class 35 series[edit]

GE and GM-EMD designs[edit]

Inter-bogie linkage

The Class 35 locomotive group consists of four sub-classes, the GE Classes 35-000 and 35-400 and the General Motors Electro-Motive Division (GM-EMD) Classes 35-200 and 35-600. Both manufacturers also produced locomotives for the South African Classes 33, 34 and 36.[2]

The locomotive has interlinked bogies, hence the "Co+Co" wheel arrangement classification. The linkage is usually hidden from view by the saddle-shaped fuel tank.

Distinguishing features[edit]

With the GE type U15C Class 35 locomotives, the Class 35-000 and 35-400 are usually visually indistinguishable from each other. A visible modification that is done during major overhauls is the addition of a saddle hood astride the hump on the long hood behind the cab on Class 35-000 locomotives. By 2013 this modification had been done on a large number of Class 35-000 locomotives, but not yet on any of the Class 35-400s.[4]


South African Railways[edit]

Class 35-400 35-473 ID.png

The Class 35 series are South Africa’s standard branchline diesel-electric locomotives. The GE Class 35-400s were designed for light rail conditions and they work on most branchlines in the central, western, southern and southeastern parts of the country.[3] In the Western Cape they work out of Bellville Depot in Cape Town on the branchlines to Bitterfontein, Saldanha and Caledon, and out of Worcester to George.

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 had three connected railway operations in Zimbabwe and Zambia that formed a rail link between South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo.[1]

In Zambia the RSZ locomotive fleet included former Zambia Railways locomotives, but the rest of the locomotive fleet of all three operations consisted of South African GM-EMD Classes 34-200, 34-600 and 34-800 and GE Classes 35-000 and 35-400 locomotives supplied by Transnet Freight Rail (TFR). These locomotives were sometimes marked as either BBR or LOG or both, but their status, whether leased or loaned, was unclear since they were still on the TFR roster and still often worked in South Africa as well. The locomotives did not appear to be restricted to work in any one of the three operations sections and have been observed being transferred to and fro across the bridge at Victoria Falls between Zimbabwe and Zambia as required. Class 35-400 locomotives that serve with NLPI include the locomotives annotated "NLPI" in the "leased or loaned" column in the table below.[1][5]

Zambia Railways, the state-owned holding company, resumed control of the Zambian national rail network on 11 September 2012. This followed the government’s decision to revoke the operating concession awarded to RSZ after Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda claimed that RSZ had "blatantly disregarded the provisions of the agreement" and had been "acting in a manner prejudicial to the interests of Zambians”.[6]

Tanzania Railways[edit]

Ten Class 35-400 locomotives were leased to Tanzania Railways, where they were regauged to Metre gauge. Locomotives that serve there include the ones annotated "Tanzania" in the "leased or loaned" column in the table below.[1]


Class 35-400 locomotives were also leased to Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Zaïrois (SNCZ) in Zaire and were occasionally used by Zambia Railways on their journey north through Zambia. This was done with the agreement of SNCZ, who stipulated that they could only haul transit traffic for Zaire. Class 35-400 locomotives that were noted in such service through Zambia were, amongst others, two unidentified locomotives at Kabwe in August 1981, no. 35-464 at Choma in May 1985, no. 35-451 at Lusaka in February 1986 and another unidentified locomotive at Lusaka in May 1990, all under power on northbound goods.[7]

Works numbers[edit]

The Class 35-400 builder’s works numbers and international deployment are shown in the table.[1]

Liveries illustrated[edit]

The main picture shows number 35-406 in Spoornet orange livery on a not excessively long train between Stikland and Bellville on 13 March 2007. Other liveries that were applied to Class 35-400 locomotives are illustrated below. The last picture displays the roof of a Class 35-400 U15C locomotive. It was involved in a major derailment near Moorreesburg on 7 June 2007 when the track roadbed was washed away during heavy rain and flooding.[8]

See also[edit]


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  1. ^ a b c d e f g 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, 42. 
  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. pp. 141–142. ISBN 0869772112. 
  4. ^ 35-001 with saddle filter
  5. ^ Railways Africa, 7 Dec 2006: 35 Class Diesels
  6. ^ ZRL in charge as RSZ concession revoked. Railway Gazette International, 13 September 2012
  7. ^ Spoornet Diesels Leased to ZR 1978-1993. P.F. Bagshawe.
  8. ^ Derailment at Moorreesburg on 7 June 2007