British Rail 18100

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British Rail 18100
Type and origin
Power type Gas turbine-electric
Builder Metropolitan-Vickers, Trafford Park
Order number GWR Lot 388
Build date 1951
 • UIC Co'Co'
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Wheel diameter 3 ft 8 in (1.118 m)
Wheelbase 53 ft 0 in (16.15 m)
Length 66 ft 9 14 in (20.35 m)
Width 9 ft 0 in (2.74 m)
Height 12 ft 10 in (3.91 m)
Loco weight 129.50 long tons (131.58 t; 145.04 short tons)
Prime mover Gas turbine
Generator Metropolitan-Vickers, 3 off
Traction motors Metropolitan-Vickers, 6 off
Transmission DC generators
DC traction motors
Train heating Spanner steam generator
Train brakes Vacuum
Performance figures
Maximum speed 90 mph (145 km/h)
Power output 3,000 hp (2,240 kW)
At rail: 2,450 hp (1,830 kW)
Tractive effort 60,000 lbf (266.89 kN)
Operators British Railways
Power class BR Type 5
First run 1952
Last run 1954
Retired December 1957
Disposition Rebuilt to 25 kV electric locomotive E1000 (E2001 from 1959)

British Rail 18100 was a prototype main line gas turbine-electric locomotive built for British Railways in 1951 by Metropolitan-Vickers, Manchester. It had, however, been ordered by the Great Western Railway in the 1940s, but construction was delayed due to World War II. It spent its working life on the Western Region of British Railways, operating express passenger services from Paddington station, London.


It was of Co-Co wheel arrangement and its gas turbine was rated at 3,000 horsepower (2,200 kW). It had a maximum speed of 90 mph (140 km/h) and weighed 129.5 long tons (131.6 t; 145.0 short tons). It was painted in BR black livery, with a silver stripe around the middle of the body and silver numbers.

Technical details[edit]

The gas turbine was of a type which would now be called a turboshaft engine but it differed from modern free-turbine turboshaft engines in having only one turbine to drive both the compressor and the output shaft. It was based on aircraft practice and had six horizontal combustion chambers (spaced radially around the turbine shaft) and no heat exchanger.

The emphasis was on power, rather than economy, and the fuel consumption was high. It was designed to use aviation kerosene and was much more expensive to run than No. 18000, which used heavy fuel oil. The turbine drove, through reduction gearing:

Each main generator powered two traction motors. Unlike No. 18000, there was no auxiliary diesel engine and the turbine was started by battery power, using the main generators as starter motors.

Comparison of 18000 and 18100[edit]

The following table gives a comparison between 18000 and 18100. There are some anomalies and these are described in the notes.

Value 18000 18100 Notes
Weight (tons) 115 129 -
Turbine horsepower 10,300 9,000 (1)
Power absorbed by compressor 7,800 6,000 (1)
Output horsepower 2,500 3,000 (1)
Number of traction motors 4 6 -
Total traction motor horsepower 2,500 2,450 (2)
Starting tractive effort (lbf) 31,500 60,000


  1. In 18000, output horsepower is 24% of total horsepower and in 18100, output horsepower is 33% of total horsepower. This suggests that 18100 had the higher thermal efficiency but, in practice, 18000 had the higher thermal efficiency. The horsepower figures should, therefore, be regarded with some scepticism.
  2. Where electric transmission is used, the horsepower of the traction motors is usually 81% (i.e. 90% x 90%) that of the prime mover. The figure for 18100 is therefore about right but the figure for 18000 looks anomalous.


When this photo was taken in 1969 the class 80 was stored on the disused Great Central near Akeman Street railway station.

In early 1958 it was withdrawn from operation and was stored at Swindon Works for a short period before it was returned to Metropolitan Vickers for conversion as a prototype 25 kV AC electric locomotive. As an electric locomotive, it was numbered E1000 (E2001 from 1959) and was given the TOPS classification of class 80.[1]

See also[edit]


18100 is being made as a kit and ready-to-run in OO gauge by Silver Fox Models.[2]



  • Marsden, Colin J.; Fenn, Graham B. (2001). British Rail Main Line Electric Locomotives (2nd ed.). Oxford Publishing Co. ISBN 9780860935599. OCLC 48532553. 
  • Sampson, H. (editor), The Dumpy Book of Railways of the World, published by Sampson Low, London, date circa 1960
  • Robertson, K. (1989). The Great Western Railway Gas Turbines, published by Alan Sutton, ISBN 0-86299-541-8
  • Strickland, David C. (1983). D&EG Locomotive Directory, every single one there has ever been. Camberley, Surrey: The Diesel & Electric Group. ISBN 0-906375-10-X. 

Further reading[edit]

  • "No.18100, the first British built gas turbine locomotive". RAIL. No. 102. EMAP National Publications. 10–23 August 1989. pp. 34–39. ISSN 0953-4563. OCLC 49953699. 

External links[edit]