SNCB Type 12

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12.004 circa 1940
Type and origin
Power typeSteam
DesignerRaoul Notesse
BuilderSociété Anonyme John Cockerill
Build date1938–1939
Total produced6
 • Whyte4-4-2
 • UIC2′B1′ h2
Gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Leading dia.900 mm (35.43 in)
Driver dia.2,100 mm (82.68 in)
Trailing dia.1,262 mm (49.69 in)
Loco weight89 tonnes (196,200 lb)
Total weight116 tonnes (255,700 lb)
Fuel typeCoal
Fuel capacity8 tonnes (17,600 lb)
Water cap24,000 litres (5,300 imp gal; 6,300 US gal)
Boiler pressure18 kg/cm2 (1.77 MPa; 256 psi)
CylindersTwo, inside
Cylinder size480 mm × 720 mm (18.90 in × 28.35 in)
Performance figures
Power output2,500 hp (1,864 kW)
Tractive effort118.52 kN (26,644 lbf)
ClassType 12
Numbers1201 - 1206 12.001 – 12.006
WithdrawnJuly–September 1962
Disposition1 preserved, 5 scrapped

The NMBS/SNCB Type 12 was a class of 4-4-2 steam locomotives built in 1938–1939 for the fast lightweight Ostend boat trains operated by the National Railway Company of Belgium.

Design and construction[edit]

The preserved Type 12 locomotive exhibited in Train World, Brussels, with a mock steam effect

The class was designed by engineer Raoul Notesse, based on the Canadian Pacific Railway's successful 4-4-4 "Jubilee" semi-streamlined locomotives of 1936/7, but also incorporated the ideas on streamlining of André Huet.[1]

The type 12 locomotives were produced for the Belgian Consortium of Locomotive Construction, by Société anonyme John Cockerill at Seraing, near Liège.[2]

The locomotive bodies were fully streamlined except for openings to provide access to the valve gear and the crankshaft. The design included inside cylinders but outside valve gear to reduce oscillation at speed.


The class was designed for the fast, relatively light-weight, boat trains on the 124 km (77 mi) journey between Brussels and Ostend to be capable of speeds of 120–140 km/h (75–87 mph). They were also used on Brussels–Liège expresses. During World War II they were used on Brussels–Ostend, Lontzen/Herbesthal, and Lille trains.[3] For most of their careers, the type 12s were assigned to Schaerbeek, near Brussels.

The class was rated at a maximum speed of 140 km/h (87 mph). However, on 12 June 1939 one type 12 locomotive completed the 105 km (65 mi) from Brussels to Ostend in 57 minutes at a maximum speed of 165 km/h (103 mph).[4]

The members of the class ended their careers on the Brussels–Mons and Brussels–Tournai services and were finally withdrawn 27 September 1962. No. 12.004 had been preserved by SNCB and was brought back to running order for the 150th anniversary of railways in Belgium in 1985 but was subsequently left exposed to the elements. Since September 2015 12.004 has been in the "Train World" railway museum at Schaerbeek, so this locomotive is back home.

In fiction[edit]

François Schuiten, the Belgian comic book author, made No. 12.004 the central theme of his Graphic novel La Douce, published in 2012.[5]

In Thomas & Friends: The Great Race, a Belgian character named Axel was based on this locomotive.[6]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Notesse, Raoul (15 May 1939), "La nouvelle locomotive <<Atlantic No. 1201>>" (PDF), Bulletin mensuel de la Societe Nationale de Chemins de Fer Belges (in French), 1 (3): 3–6
  2. ^ The maker’s plate on the locomotives states “Consortium belge de constructeurs de locomotives COCKERILL – 1939″.
  3. ^ "Les Locomotives Vapeur SNCB: Locomotives de type 12". Association Liègeoise des Amateurs de chemins de Fer. Archived from the original on 28 January 2013. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
  4. ^ "La Locomotive type 12 gagne le ruban bleu". Correspondance, trimestriel de l'ALAF (in French): 4–5. April 2004. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
  5. ^ Schuiten, François (2012). "12 La Douce". Casterman. Archived from the original on 11 January 2013. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
  6. ^ Thomas & Friends The Great Race unveils diverse train line-up, retrieved 6 Sep 2016.


  • Dambly, Phil (1994). Vapeur en Belgique [Steam in Belgium]. Tome 2: De 1914 aux dernières fumées [Volume 2: From 1914 to last smoke]. Brussels: G. Blanchart & Cie. ISBN 2872020136. (in French)
  • Delie, Max (1992). Le Journal du chemin de fer n°63 (in French). S.A. Editions H.K. pp. 20–27.
  • Le grand Atlas des trains et locomotives. Les trains de légende (in French). Issy-les-Moulineaux: Éditions Atlas livres [Glénat]. 2002. pp. 302–303. ISBN 2-7234-4076-1.
  • Locomotives du monde (in French) (Del Prado éditeurs ed.). Del Prado. 2004. ISBN 2-84349-175-4.

External links[edit]

This article incorporates material from the French Wikipedia article Type 12 (SNCB)