British Rail Class 83

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British Railways AL3
British Rail Class 83
83014 at Wolverhampton on 27th May 1978.jpg
83014 at Wolverhampton on 27th May 1978.
Type and origin
Power typeElectric
BuilderEnglish Electric at Vulcan Foundry
Order number
  • CCH 0916 (EE)
  • 6794 (VF, E3024-8)
  • 6795 (VF, E3029-33)
  • 6796 (VF, E3034-5, E3303-4, E3100)[1]
Build date1960–1962
Total produced15
 • UICBo'Bo'
 • CommonwealthBo-Bo
Gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Wheel diameter4 ft 0 in (1.219 m)[2]
Minimum curve4 chains (80 m)[3]
Wheelbase40 ft 0 in (12.19 m)[2]
Length52 ft 6 in (16.00 m)[2]
Width8 ft 8 58 in (2.657 m)[2]
 • Pantograph13 ft 0 58 in (3.978 m)[2]
 • Body height12 ft 4 14 in (3.766 m)[2]
Adhesive weight19 long tons (19.3 t; 21.3 short tons)
Loco weight76.40 long tons (77.6 t; 85.6 short tons)
Electric system/s25 kV AC Catenary
Current pickup(s)Pantograph
Traction motors
Train heatingElectric Train Heating index: 66[3]
Loco brake
Train brakesVacuum, Dual from 1972–1973
Performance figures
Maximum speed100 mph (160 km/h)
Power output2,950 hp (2,200 kW) (continuous)
Tractive effort38,000 lbf (169 kN) (max)
Brakeforce38 tons[3]
OperatorsBritish Rail
ClassAL3; later 83
Number in class15
NumbersE3024–E3035, E3098-E3100; later 83001–83015
Axle load classRoute availability 6
LocaleWest Coast Main Line
Retired1975 (1), 1978 (1), 1983 (10), 1989 (3)
Scrapped1975, 1978, 1984, and 1993
DispositionOne preserved, remainder scrapped

The British Rail Class 83 electric locomotives were built by English Electric at Vulcan Foundry, Newton-le-Willows as part of the West Coast Main Line electrification.



Fifteen locomotives of British Rail Class 83 were built between 1960 and 1962 by English Electric at Vulcan Foundry, as part of British Rail's policy to develop a standard electric locomotive. Five prototype classes (81-85) were built and evaluated, which eventually led to the development of the Class 86 locomotive.

Three of these engines were to have been built as Type B, geared for freight trains, but as it was only two were so built, becoming E3303 and E3304.[6] The third Type B, E3305, was never built as such. Instead it was used as a test bed with silicon rectifiers and transductors,[7] this being the first step towards thyristor control. It became a Type A, geared for passenger trains, and numbered E3100.

The other two Type B locomotives were eventually rebuilt as Type A, being renumbered E3098 (ex E3303) and E3099 (ex E3304). Power was provided by overhead catenary energized at 25,000 V AC.

Under the pre-TOPS British Rail classification, the first fourteen locomotives, E3025 - E3035 and E3303, E3304 (later E3098 and E3099) were Class AL3 (meaning the 3rd design of AC Locomotive). The fifteenth engine, E3100 became Class AL3/1. All fifteen were included in the TOPS numbering system, being renumbered 83001-015.

The Polish EU06 class was produced by English Electric at the same time as the Class 83s and externally they are quite similar.

In service[edit]

The class was used to haul trains on the then newly electrified West Coast Main Line, from Birmingham, to Crewe, Manchester Piccadilly, Liverpool and later Preston. By 1965, electrification had spread south to London Euston.

Storage and refurbishment[edit]

As with the Class 84, the Class 83 suffered with problems due to the mercury-arc rectifiers.[8] After spending several years in storage (1967 to 1971), they were rebuilt with silicon rectifiers, as were already fitted to E3100, and dual braking between July 1970 and October 1973.[1]

The decision to reinstate the fifteen engines of Class 83 was the result of the extension of the electrification from Weaver Junction to Glasgow, which required more electric locomotives.[6] With both Class 83 and Class 84 being returned to traffic only thirty-six Class 87 were required to be built.

Later use[edit]

Electrification finally reached Glasgow in the early 1970s, allowing this class to operate the full length of the West Coast Main Line.

The last three in service, 83009, 83012, and 83015 were retained for use on empty coaching stock workings from London Euston Station to Willesden.[9][10] 83009 had previously been used at Longsight in Manchester, to convert the 25 kV AC supply to 1500 V DC, to allow testing of the Class 506 units[10] following the closure of Reddish Depot.


83001 at the Vic Berry Scrapyard.

Two engines were withdrawn early as a result of accidents. The first was 83003, withdrawn in May 1975, which was severely damaged in an accident on 23 January 1975 at Watford[1] with a Class 86.

The second engine was 83004 which, on 24 December 1977, was severely damaged in a collision with a Class 47 at Willesden.[1] In 1983, ten of the remaining thirteen engines were withdrawn, all being sent to the Vic Berry Scrapyard in Leicester. The final three were withdrawn in 1989, with two of the three being scrapped at MC Metals of Glasgow in 1993.[11]

Power supply[edit]

The locomotives always worked on power provided by overhead catenary energized at 25,000 V AC. However, the main transformer, normally operated with the four windings in series, could be operated at 6250 V AC with the transformer windings in parallel. This voltage was initially to be used where limited clearances gave concern over use of the higher voltage.


E3035, on display at Doncaster Works open day on 27 July 2003. This locomotive is preserved by the AC Locomotive Group at Barrow Hill Engine Shed.

One locomotive has been preserved by the AC Locomotive Group.

The locomotive was originally preserved by Pete Waterman in 1992, and then purchased by the AC Locomotive Group in 1997.[11]

Fleet details[edit]

Key: Preserved Scrapped
Numbers[1] Works Number[1] Date Introduced[1] Withdrawn[12] Disposal
Type B Type A TOPS English Electric Vulcan Foundry Location[11] Date
- E3024 83001 2928 E264 July 1960 December 1984 Scrapped at Vic Berry, Leicester December 1984
- E3025 83002 2929 E265 July 1960 July 1983 Scrapped at Vic Berry, Leicester November 1984
- E3026 83003 2930 E266 August 1960 May 1975 Scrapped at Crewe Works July 1975
- E3027 83004 2931 E267 September 1960 January 1978 Scrapped at Coopers Metals, Sheffield February 1978
- E3028 83005 2932 E268 October 1960 July 1983 Scrapped at Vic Berry, Leicester November 1984
- E3029 83006 2933 E269 October 1960 July 1983 Scrapped at Vic Berry, Leicester October 1984
- E3030 83007 2934 E270 November 1960 July 1983 Scrapped at Vic Berry, Leicester December 1984
- E3031 83008 2935 E271 December 1960 July 1983 Scrapped at Vic Berry, Leicester November 1984
- E3032 83009 2936 E272 December 1960 March 1989 Scrapped at MC Metals, Glasgow August 1993
- E3033 83010 2937 E273 16 December 1960[13] July 1983 Scrapped at Vic Berry, Leicester December 1984
- E3034 83011 2938 E274 February 1961 July 1983 Scrapped at Vic Berry, Leicester November 1984
- E3035 83012 2941 E277 July 1961 March 1989 Preserved at Barrow Hill Engine Shed
E3303 E3098 83013 2939 E275 March 1961 July 1983 Scrapped at Vic Berry, Leicester October 1984
E3304 E3099 83014 2940 E276 May 1961 July 1983 Scrapped at Vic Berry, Leicester October 1984
(E3305) E3100 83015 2942 E278 July 1962 February 1989 Scrapped at MC Metals, Glasgow April 1993


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Webb & Duncan 1979, p. 49
  2. ^ a b c d e f Webb & Duncan 1979, p. 46
  3. ^ a b c "Technical Details". The AC Locomotive Group. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  4. ^ Webb & Duncan 1979, p. 41
  5. ^ Webb & Duncan 1979, p. 40
  6. ^ a b c Marsden & Fenn 2001, p. 77
  7. ^ Longhurst 1979, Class AL3–83
  8. ^ Morrison 2013, p. 13
  9. ^ Marsden & Fenn 2001, p. 78
  10. ^ a b "Well Done Willesden". Rail Enthusiast. No. 55. EMAP. April 1986. p. 32. ISSN 0262-561X.
  11. ^ a b c "Class 81-85 Renumbering Chart : 83 sorted by E-number". The AC Locomotive Group. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  12. ^ "The Class 83 Fleet". Rail Blue. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  13. ^ "Class 83 Number 83010". RailUK. Retrieved 10 February 2016.


Further reading[edit]

  • Derrick, Kevin (2014). Looking back at AC Electric Locomotives. Strathwood. ISBN 9781905276516. OCLC 931820979.
  • McManus, Michael. Ultimate Allocations, British Railways Locomotives 1948 - 1968. Wirral. Michael McManus.
  • "Classes 82/83 put into store". Rail Enthusiast. EMAP National Publications. February 1983. p. 47. ISSN 0262-561X. OCLC 49957965.

External links[edit]