British Rail GT3

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Gas Turbine 3
Type and origin
Power type Gas Turbine mechanical
Builder English Electric at Vulcan Foundry
Serial number Vulcan Foundry: D228
Build date 1958–1961
 • Whyte 4-6-0
 • UIC 2'C
Driver dia. 5 ft 9 in (1.753 m)
Length 68 ft 0 12 in (20.74 m)
Loco weight 79.80 long tons (81.08 t; 89.38 short tons)
Tender weight 44 long tons (45 t; 49 short tons)
Prime mover EM27L
Engine type gas turbine
Transmission Mechanical: flexible drive from gearbox onto middle driving axle
Train heating Steam generator
Performance figures
Maximum speed 90 mph (140 km/h)
Power output 2,750 hp (2,050 kW)
Tractive effort 38,000 lbf (169.03 kN)
Operators British Rail
Numbers GT3
Disposition Returned to VF 1962; turbine removed; scrapped Thos W Ward, Salford, March 1966

GT3, meaning Gas Turbine number 3 (following 18000 and 18100 as gas turbines 1 and 2), was a prototype mainline gas turbine locomotive built in 1961 by English Electric at their Vulcan Foundry in Newton-le-Willows to demonstrate its wares to British Railways. It was designed by Vulcan engineer J. O. P. Hughes in a project that started in the early 1950s. Externally it resembled a steam tender locomotive, although, in the case of GT3, the tender carried kerosene fuel.


It was of 4-6-0 wheel arrangement resembling a BR standard class 5 steam locomotive chassis and was fitted with an EM27L gas turbine of 2,700 hp (2,000 kW), but the chassis itself was a strengthened structure to cope with the torque of the turbine. It had a maximum speed of 90 mph (140 km/h), weighed 123.5 long tons (125.5 t; 138.3 short tons), and was painted in a red oxide livery.

BR tested it at its Rugby test centre and then on the former Great Central Main Line around Leicester and the West Coast Main Line around the Shap incline.

At the same time, Vulcan was fully engaged in manufacturing diesel-electric locomotives of many types (including the 3,300-horsepower (2,500 kW) Deltic). These were rapidly becoming the future of rail traction. Diesel-electrics do not need turntables, an advantage that the GT3 with its steam loco style layout could not offer.

BR decided to stay with diesel and electric traction, and GT3 was returned to Vulcan Foundry at the end of 1962, where it was gradually dismantled. It was finally scrapped at Thos W Ward, Salford in February 1966 having been towed there by a BR standard steam locomotive.

Further reading[edit]

  • Hughes, J.O.P. (14 December 1961). "The Design and Development of a Gas Turbine Locomotive". J. Inst. Locomotive Engineers. 52:2 (286): 180–220. Paper Nº633. 
  • Hollingsworth, Brian; Cook, Arthur (2000). "GT3 2-C". Modern Locomotives. pp. 136–137. ISBN 0-86288-351-2. 
  • Robertson, K. (1989). "Appendix L: GT3". The Great Western Railway Gas Turbines. Alan Sutton. pp. 205–208. ISBN 0-86299-541-8. 

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