South African Class 5E, Series 3

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
South African Class 5E, Series 3
SAR Class 5E Series 3 E576 (Dries 4).jpg
Driefontein gold mine’s no. 4, ex SAR Class 5E, Series 3 no. E576, Carletonville, 21 January 2009
Power type Electric
Designer English Electric
Builder Vulcan Foundry
Serial number EE 2544-2598, VF E209-E263 [1]
Model EE 5E
Build date 1958
Total produced 55
UIC classification Bo-Bo
Gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) Cape gauge
Bogies 3.430 m (11 ft 3 in) wheelbase
Wheel diameter 1,219 mm (48 in)
Wheelbase 11.279 m (37 ft 0.1 in)
Length 15.494 m (50 ft 10 in)
Width 2.896 m (9 ft 6 in)
Height 4.089 m (13 ft 5 in) pantographs down
Axle load 21,591 kg (21.3 long tons)
Locomotive weight 86,364 kg (85 long tons)
Current collection
Traction motors Four EE 529
Transmission 18/67 gear ratio
Top speed 97 km/h (60 mph)
Power output Per motor:
377 kW (506 hp) 1 hour
325 kW (436 hp) continuous
1,508 kW (2,022 hp) 1 hour
1,300 kW (1,700 hp) continuous
Tractive effort 200 kN (45,000 lbf) starting
128 kN (29,000 lbf) 1 hour
104 kN (23,000 lbf) continuous
Locomotive brake Regenerative
Train brakes Air & Vacuum
Railroad(s) South African Railways
Class Class 5E
Power class 3 kV DC
Number in class 55
Number E536-E590 [2]
Nicknames Balstamper
Delivered 1958-1959
First run 1958

The South African Class 5E, Series 3 of 1958 is a South African electric locomotive from the South African Railways era.

In 1958 and 1959 the South African Railways placed fifty-five Class 5E, Series 3 electric locomotives with a Bo-Bo wheel arrangement in mainline service.[2]


Like the Series 2, the complete batch of Class 5E, Series 3 locomotives was built for the South African Railways (SAR) by Vulcan Foundry (VF), subcontracted by English Electric (EE) who had desiged the locomotive and supplied the electric components. They were built in 1958 and entered service in 1958 and 1959, numbered in the range from E536 to E590.[2]

The number range of the Series 3 locomotives do not follow directly on that of the Series 2, since the Class 5E1, Series 1 and the Class ES locomotives were allocated most of the numbers in between. Twelve numbers, E499, E513, E514 and the range from E527 to E535 were never allocated.[2][3]


These dual cab locomotives have a roof access ladder on one side only, just to the right of the cab access door. The roof access ladder end is marked as the number 2 end. A passage along the centre of the locomotive connects the cabs.[2]

Class 5E series[edit]

The Class 5E was produced in three series, the EE and VF built Series 1 and the VF built Series 2 and 3. The VF built locomotives all have a works number for EE as well as for VF since the SAR placed the order with EE, who subcontracted the construction of the locomotives to VF. Between 1955 and 1959 altogether one hundred and sixty Class 5E locomotives were delivered to the SAR, sixty Series 1, forty-five Series 2 and fifty-five Series 3.[2][3]

Crews found the Class 5E to give a rough ride, which soon earned it the nickname Balstamper. The successor Class 5E1 with its new design bogies gave a smoother ride.


The Class 5E was the prototype of what eventually became the most prolific locomotive body type to ever run on South African rails, serving on all the 3 kV DC lines country-wide. The type was continued with the Class 5E1 in 1959, the Class 6E and the Class 6E1 from 1969 to 1985, and still later with the rebuilding of Class 6E1 locomotives to Class 18E, a project that started in 2000.[2][3]

Post SAR service[edit]

When they were retired from SAR service, only one Series 3 locomotive, number E576, was sold into industrial service. It went to the Driefontein gold mine near Carletonville where for an unknown reason it was given the number plates from Series 2 number E343, which had also been acquired by Driefontein.[1]

Numbers E563 and E590 were transferred to Metrorail for use as shunting locomotives at the Metrorail Depot in Salt River, Cape Town.[1]

The Blue Train[edit]

The locomotives were delivered in a bottle green and yellow whiskers livery. Beginning circa 1960, a Gulf Red and yellow whiskers livery gradually replaced the green and yellow.[3]

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, some selected electric and diesel-electric locomotives were painted blue for use with the Blue Train, but without altering the layout of the various paint schemes. During the late 1970s eight Class 5E, Series 3 locomotives, numbers E562 to E569, were painted blue with whiskers for use with the Blue Train between Cape Town and Beaufort West in the Cape Western region.[1]

After their retirement from mainline service, at least one locomotive, MetroRail’s shunting locomotive no. E590, was painted in MetroRail’s grey and yellow livery.[1]

Works numbers[edit]

The EE and VF works numbers of the Class 5E, Series 3 and their disposal are shown in the table.[1]

Liveries illustrated[edit]

The main picture shows Driefontein gold mine’s no. 4, ex SAR no. E576, in the mine’s livery that was copied from the SAR Blue Train livery.

See also[edit]


  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. 50, 52, 63. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g 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 c d Paxton, Leith; Bourne, David (1985). Locomotives of the South African Railways (1st ed.). Cape Town: Struik. pp. 127–128. ISBN 0869772112.