British Rail Class 60

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British Rail Class 60
60068 by Castleton East Junction.jpg
EWS 60068 passing through Castleton East Junction
Type and origin
Power type Diesel-electric
Builder Brush Traction
Build date 1989–1993
Total produced 100
 • Whyte Co-Co
 • AAR C-C
 • UIC Co'Co'
Gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Minimum curve 80 metres (4.0 chains)[1]
Wheelbase 15.3 m (50.2 ft)[2]
Length 21.34 m (70 ft 0 in)[2]
Width 2.64 m (8 ft 8 in)[2]
Height 3.95 m (13 ft 0 in)[2]
Loco weight 129 t (127 long tons; 142 short tons) or
131 t (129 long tons; 144 short tons)[2]
Fuel capacity 5,900 litres (1,300 imp gal; 1,560 US gal)
Prime mover Mirrlees MB275T[2]
MU working Within own class only
Train heating None
Train brakes Air
Performance figures
Maximum speed 60 mph (97 km/h)[2]
Power output Engine: 3,100 bhp (2,300 kW)
at rail: 2,415 bhp (1,801 kW)[2]
Tractive effort Maximum: 106,500 lbf (474 kN)[2]
Brakeforce 62 kN (13,900 lbf) or 74 kN (16,600 lbf)[2]
Numbers 60001-60015, 60017-60100, 60500
Axle load class RA 7

The British Rail Class 60 is a class of Co-Co heavy freight diesel-electric locomotives built by Brush Traction. They are nicknamed Tugs by rail enthusiasts.


In the 1980s, British Rail decided it had a requirement for a high powered Type 5 diesel locomotive for use on its Trainload Freight sector. On 10 August 1987, the British Railways Board issued a competitive tender for response by 7 November, for a fleet of 100 locomotives. Of the six companies invited to tender,[citation needed] only three bid responses were received:

  • Metro-Cammell - offered a MetroCammell body with an option of traction packages, many untried, and could not offer performance guarantees as stipulated by the tender
  • General Electric Company - a partnership with General Motors Electro Motive. They offered a state-of-the-art Class 59, built in the UK, probably at Crewe Works, which had an existing partnership for construction of the Class 91 electric locos
  • Brush Traction - offered a locomotive powered by either a Mirrlees or Ruston engine, and used separately excited (Sepex) traction control, as previously tested on the Class 58.

Of the three bidders, Brush was selected, and an order was placed for 100 locomotives in a deal worth around £120 million.[2]

Brush sub-contracted parts construction, with final construction at Brush's erecting shops at Loughborough. The bodyshells, shared with the Class 92 electric locomotives, were fabricated by Procor (UK) of Wakefield. The engine was a higher-powered development of the Mirrlees engine previously fitted experimentally to British Rail Class 37 nos. 37901-37904.[3]

The first locomotive was delivered in June 1989 and sent to Derby for testing, which revealed a number of teething problems.[2] Parts requiring modifications included the axle box suspension and the Mirlees engine cylinder head.[3]



Unlike the Classes 59 and 66 (solid girder underframe) the Class 60s have a monocoque stressed skin construction with diagonal trusses - with the external bodywork providing support for the internal components.[4]

Two different cab designs were considered and full size mock-ups were made in wood, plastic and metal by the Engineering Development Unit at the Railway Technical Centre in Derby. One of these had a French-style raked-forward cab end, similar to the SNCF Class CC 72000, but this was rejected in favour of a more conventional cab.[5]


The main alternator is a Brush BA1006A type, providing power for the traction motors via rectification circuits to DC, the auxiliary alternator is Brush BAA 702A Auxiliary Alternator, providing power for the radiator fans, lubrication and fuel oil pumps, traction motor cooling fans and air compressors amongst others. The main and auxiliary alternators are both driven by the main engine.[6]

Each of the six axles are driven via a reduction gear by one nose suspended axle hung traction motor (Brush designed and built TM2161A four pole motors). Each motor has a separate microprocessor-controlled power supply (SEPEX in Brush's designation - from "Separately Excited"), a system that was first tried on the Class 58. One feature of this system is that if one set of wheels/axle/motor starts to wheelslip their speed can be reduced without affecting the other motors.[6]

Prime mover[edit]

The engine is an 8-cylinder, 145 litre Mirrlees Blackstone 8MB275T diesel traction engine (275 mm cylinder diameter);[7] the Mirrlees engine was one of the most fuel efficient available at the time (189g of fuel per kWhr), but relatively heavy. The engine was also successfully installed in marine applications such as small ships and passenger ferries. The low cylinder count for the rated power was expected to result in lower maintenance costs.[8]

Engine dimensions[9]
  • Eight cylinders in line
  • Bore, 275 mm (10.8 inch)
  • Stroke, 305 mm (12 inch)
  • Power output, 3,100 hp (2,311 kW) at 1,000 rpm

Operational history[edit]

British Rail[edit]

60024 (at Eastleigh)

By 1990, the class had started to be introduced onto the mainline, replacing previously double headed Class 33 Type 3s in the South East region, as well as Classes 20, 26, 27, 31 and 73.[3] The class 60s primarily worked on aggregate (specifically stone) traffic also replacing Class 56s and Class 58s, some of which were withdrawn, others transferred.[2] Their introduction replaced double-heading and also allowed longer and/or heavier trains to be worked.[3]

English, Welsh and Scottish Railway[edit]

60019 (Westerleigh, 2009)

Following the privatisation of British Rail all 100 units came under the management of the English Welsh & Scottish (EWS),[3] It was EWS's policy not to reduce the 100 strong fleet, with both fire and collision damaged locomotives receiving repairs.[10] In 2003/04 a number of the fleet were stored, surplus to requirements.[10][note 1] Between 2004 and 2007 typically between 50–75%[note 2] of the fleet would be out of action at a given time.[3] In 2007 the operational fleet was estimated to be 60 locomotives.[10]

DB Schenker[edit]

60079 (Westerleigh, 2012)

In June 2007 EWS was acquired by DB Schenker, a wholly owned subsidiary of the German railway company, Deutsche Bahn. Since working for EWS/DB Schenker, Class 60s have typically been employed on stone, aggregate, ballast and petroleum traffic and also on steel trains. By 2009 many Class 60s were in storage, with only fifteen in operation at any one time.[citation needed]

In September 2010 twenty of the class were offered for disposal by DB Schenker UK,[11][12] whilst in November 2010 DBS annonuced that 20 units would be overhauled.[13] In January 2011 DB Schenker announced that seven units would undergo an overhaul, with an option of an overhaul on a further fourteen units. In January 2013, the overhaul was described as an "upgrade" to create a new fleet of "Super 60's".[14] DB Schenker gave no technical details but, according to Tugtracker, there were mechanical upgrades trialled on 60099 and electrical upgrades trialled on 60011. Tugtracker also gives a list of eighteen locomotives upgraded between 1 September 2011 and 1 October 2013.[15]

In 2012 some Class 60s were offered for sale through Romic-Ace International Pte Ltd.[16] In late 2013 DB Schenker Rail UK offered 20 units for sale.[17] These were to be purchased on 31 October 2013 by Doncaster-based Wabtec Rail in a £10m deal - the deal was reported to have fallen through in 2014.[18]

In August 2017 DB Cargo UK 20 (60003, 004, 005, 006, 008, 013, 014, 018, 022, 023, 025, 027, 030, 031, 032, 037, 042, 050, 051,and 052) were sold to Wabtec Rail.[19]

Colas Rail[edit]

60076 (Bristol, 2015)

In June 2014 it was reported that 10 locos have been sold to Colas Rail. The numbers are 60 002/021/026/047/056/076/085/087/095/096.[20] The first one to appear in the Colas yellow and orange livery was 60087, which was photographed at Burton-on-Trent on 2 June 2014.[21]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

Naming and liveries[edit]

60054 named Charles Babbage

In 1989 Railfreight named the Class 60s in traditional fashion; those locomotives attached to the construction and metals sectors were named after British mountains as were some attached to the coal sector. The others (coal and petroleum sectors) received the names of famous British citizens, with an emphasis on those whose contribution had been to science and engineering. Locomotives numbered 60001 and 60098 were exceptions, being named "Steadfast" and "Charles Francis Brush" respectively.[23] The locomotives received the standard liveries of their respective sectors.

After coming into EWS's ownership, the Class 60 locomotives were repainted in the red and yellow EWS livery as and when repainting was necessary. Many others carried vinyl stickers on their sides over the former BR sector liveries, demonstrating EWS's ownership. A few locos received names including 60033: Corus "Tees Steel Express" and 60081: repainted in a mock Great Western Railway green livery and renamed Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 2000.

In 2007/08, two locomotives received special liveries: 60074 received a 'powder blue' livery and was named "Teenage Spirit" at the NRM in York as part of a charity event for the "Teenage Cancer Trust". 60040 was repainted in a red livery and named "The Territorial Army Centenary" as part of the celebration of that event. Both of these locos have since been repainted into standard DB Schenker livery.

In 2010 class 60 number 60099 was repainted into a Tata Steel silver livery and logo at Toton TMD and unveiled at Tata's Scunthorpe plant on 27 September.[24][25]

In January 2011, 60011 became the first member of the class to receive the standard DB Schenker livery, after a repaint at Toton TMD.[26]

In late May 2014, 60087 emerged from Toton TMD in Colas livery. It has now been joined by 60002, 021, 026, 047, 056, 076, 085, 095 and 096.


The Class 60 Preservation Group aims to secure a Class 60 for preservation, when one becomes available.[27]


The locomotives have been reproduced in scale model form by Heljan in O scale, Lima and Hornby in OO scale and Graham Farish in British N scale.


  1. ^ At the same time the Class 47, 56 and 58 fleets were withdrawn and the Class 37 fleet reduced ("Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 February 2012. Retrieved 2014-12-31.  see 2000 to present day)
  2. ^ During this period the Class 60s saw more work during the winter, and higher numbers available for work - owing to the seasonal demand for fuel oil.


  1. ^ Gleed, Edward. British Rail Class 60 Locomotives. Ramsbury, Marlborough: The Croewood Press Ltd. ISBN 978 1 78500 150 5. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Glasspool, David. "Class 60". Kent Rail. Retrieved 31 December 2013. [unreliable source?]
  3. ^ a b c d e f "rolling stock : class 60". 25 June 2011. Archived from the original on 5 February 2012. Retrieved 31 December 2013. [unreliable source?]
  4. ^ "Body". November 2008. Retrieved 31 December 2013. [unreliable source?]
  5. ^ Modern Locomotives Illustrated (206): 5–6. April–May 2014. ISSN 1756-8188.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ a b "Electrical Systems". 10 October 2010. Retrieved 31 December 2013. [unreliable source?]
  7. ^ "Engine and Engine Systems". December 2008. Retrieved 31 December 2013. [unreliable source?]
  8. ^ Sources:
  9. ^ Modern Locomotives Illustrated (206): 16. April–May 2014. ISSN 1756-8188.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ a b c "Background". July 2013. Retrieved 31 December 2013. [unreliable source?]
  11. ^ "Items for disposal - New Items for September 2010". Archived from the original on 12 December 2010. 
  12. ^ "First 60s to be sold by DB Schenker" (PDF). Railway Herald (238): 5. 23 September 2010. 
  13. ^ Rail Express (175). News, p.4. December 2010.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. ^ "DB Schenker Rail invests in 'Super 60' high power locomotives" (Press release). DB Schenker Rail UK. 18 January 2013. Retrieved 2014-04-21. 
  15. ^ "Class 60 Locomotive - Overhauled Loco Fleet List". Retrieved 2014-04-21. 
  16. ^ "Heavy Haul Freight Locomotives for Sale or Lease". Archived from the original on 8 September 2012. 
  17. ^ Milner, Chris (12 September 2013). "DB Schenker puts 20 Class 60s up for sale". The Railway Magazine. 
  18. ^ Modern Locomotives Illustrated (206): 3. April–May 2014. ISSN 1756-8188.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. ^ Class 60s sold to Wabtec Railways Illustrated 8 August 2017
  20. ^ Railways Illustrated (136): 15. June 2014. ISSN 1479-2230.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. ^ Rail Express (218): 3. July 2014. ISSN 1362-234X.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  22. ^ "Derailment of a freight train near Langworth, Lincolnshire 30 June 2015" (PDF). Rail Accident Investigation Branch. Retrieved 29 June 2016. 
  23. ^ "Original Names". 13 July 2008. Retrieved 31 December 2013. [unreliable source?]
  24. ^ "Tata Steel's arrival into the UK celebrated by DB Schenker". 27 September 2010. 
  25. ^ KBRAILVIDEOS (26 September 2009). Ex-Works 60099 NEW LIVERY - TATA STEEL - DB Schenker - Toton TMD. YouTube. 
  26. ^ Mark Thomas (12 January 2011). "60011 in DB Schenker livery at Margam Knuckle Yard". Outshopped at Toton just days earlier 60011 was released and ran overnight via Newport ADJ to Margam to work the Robeston oil trains. This is the first of the class to receive DB Schenker livery. 
  27. ^ "Home - The Class 60 Preservation Group". 11 June 2009. Archived from the original on 5 February 2016. Retrieved 2014-06-30. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]