British Rail Class 16

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NBL Type 1
British Rail Class 16
North British Type 1 D8403 (8314604715).jpg
No. D8403 in green livery with all-yellow front end at Stratford MPD in 1966
Type and origin
Power type Diesel-electric
Builder North British Locomotive Company
Serial number 27671–27680
Build date 1958
Total produced 10
Configuration Bo-Bo
UIC class Bo-Bo
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Wheel diameter 3 ft 7 in (1.092 m)
Minimum curve 3.5 chains (70.41 m)
Wheelbase 28 ft 6 in (8.69 m)
Length 42 ft 6 in (12.95 m)
Width 8 ft 8 12 in (2.654 m)
Height 12 ft 8 in (3.861 m)
Loco weight 68 long tons (69 t; 76 short tons)
Fuel capacity 400 imp gal (1,800 L; 480 US gal)
Prime mover Paxman 16YHXL
Displacement 78.4 L (4,780 cu in)
Generator GEC WT 881 (plus GEC auxiliary generator
Traction motors 4 x GEC WT 441, nose suspended, with single reduction gear drive
Cylinders 16
Cylinder size 7 in (178 mm) bore
7 34 in (197 mm) stroke
Transmission Diesel electric
MU working Red Circle
Train heating None; through steam pipe
Train brakes Vacuum
Performance figures
Maximum speed 60 mph (97 km/h)
Power output Engine: 800 hp (597 kW)
At rail: 627 hp (468 kW)
Tractive effort Maximum: 42,000 lbf (186.8 kN)
Loco brakeforce 31 long tons-force (310 kN)
Operators British Railways
Numbers D8400–D8409
Axle load class Route availability 4
Retired 1968
Disposition All scrapped

The North British Type 1 (later known as Class 16) was a type of diesel locomotive ordered under British Railways' 1955 Modernisation Plan. Like other Type 1 designs, they were relatively small locomotives intended primarily for local freight traffic.


The design evolved from an earlier prototype locomotive built by North British, No. 10800. Under British Railways' 'pilot scheme', ten locomotives were ordered for evaluation against rival designs from British Thompson-Houston (Class 15) and English Electric (Class 20). The design shared some similarities with Class 15, both being of the road-switcher layout which was uncommon in the U.K., and both being powered by an 800 hp (600 kW) Paxman 16YHXL prime mover.


The ten locomotives (numbered D8400–D8409) were completed at the North British Locomotive Company's Queen's Park Works in Glasgow, between May and September 1958. They were delivered to Devons Road depot, Bow, North-east London on the London Midland Region of British Railways for evaluation against the rival designs, but soon moved to nearby Stratford depot on the Eastern Region, where they stayed for the rest of their lives.


The design was not a success, and no further examples were built. While the Class 15s also suffered problems with the Paxman engines, these were worse on Class 16 because inadequate ventilation resulted in frequent engine seizures. Another problem was coolant contamination of the oil, due to cylinder head failure[clarification needed]. They were fitted with a non-standard type of electro-magnetic control equipment (coded "red circle" by BR) which was prone to failure, and they could not operate in multiple with locomotives fitted with the more common electro-pneumatic ("blue star") controls.


Being non-standard and unreliable, the locomotives were an obvious candidate for early withdrawal. They were withdrawn between February and September 1968, and all ten had been cut up for scrap by the end of 1969.


  • Stevens-Stratten, S.W.; Carter, R.S. (1978). British Rail Main-Line Diesels. Shepperton: Ian Allen Ltd. ISBN 0-7110-0617-2. 
  • Sugden, S.A. Diesel & Electric Loco Register (3rd edn). Sheffield: Platform 5. ISBN 1-872524-55-9. 
  • Grindlay, Jim. British Railways Locomotive Allocations 1948-1968 (Part 6 - Diesel & Electric Locomotives). Troon: Modelmaster Publications. ISBN 978-0-9544264-6-0. 

Further reading[edit]

  • McManus, Michael. Ultimate Allocations, British Railways Locomotives 1948 - 1968. Wirral. Michael McManus.