RENFE Class 333

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RENFE Class 333
RENFE Class 333
Type and origin
Power type Diesel-electric
Designer Macosa, General Motors, Nohab
Refurbishment : Alstom
Build date Original series : 1974–1976
333.1 1994–1995
333.2 1997–1998
333.3 2002–2003
333.4 2003–2004[1]
Total produced 333 (original) 93
333.1 8
333.2 4
333.3, 333.4 92
UIC class Co′Co′
Gauge 1,668 mm (5 ft 5 2132 in) Iberian gauge
Bogies General motors 'flexicoil' type
Length Original 20.7 m (67 ft 11.0 in)
333.3/333.4 22.33 m (73 ft 3.1 in)
Width Original 3.06 m (10 ft 0.47 in)
333.3/333.4 3.16 m (10 ft 4.41 in)
Height Original 4.28 m (14 ft 0.50 in)
333.3/333.4 4.307 m (14 ft 1.57 in)
Axle load 20 t (19.7 long tons; 22.0 short tons)
Loco weight 120 t (118 long tons; 132 short tons)
Fuel type Diesel
Fuel capacity Original : 4,500 L (990 imp gal; 1,200 US gal)[2]
333.3 : 7,200 L (1,600 imp gal; 1,900 US gal) (6,000 L or 1,300 imp gal or 1,600 US gal?[3])
Prime mover General Motors GM 16-645-E-3 3,300 hp (2,500 kW)
Engine type two-stroke diesel
Alternator General Motors AR-10 / D-14
Traction motors Original 6 of GM D-77
RENFE 333.3 and 333.4 6 of D-78
Cylinders V16
Transmission Electric
Loco brake Pneumatic and rheostatic[2]
Performance figures
Maximum speed 333 (original) 146 km/h (91 mph)
333.1 160 km/h (99 mph)
333.2 140 km/h (87 mph)
333.3 120 km/h (75 mph)
333.4 160 km/h (99 mph)[1]
Power output Original 1,875 kW (2,514 hp) (nominal at rail)[4]
Tractive effort

starting : 330 kN (74,000 lbf) at μ=0.28
continuous : 276 kN (62,000 lbf) at 23.5 km/h (14.6 mph)
topspeed : 47 kN (11,000 lbf) at 150 km/h (93 mph)[4]
Rebuilt (333.3 and 333.4)
starting : 341 kN (77,000 lbf)

continuous : 320 kN (72,000 lbf) at 20 km/h (12 mph)[3]
Operators RENFE
Nicknames Rambo[5] (original build)
Locale Spain

The RENFE Series 333 are high power six-axle diesel-electric locomotives built in the 1970s; at the time of their introduction they were the most powerful non-electric locomotives in Spain.

After three decades of service the class were rebuilt incorporating Alstom's newer technology, and thus extending their life - these rebuilt machines were given the sub-class names 333.3 and 333.4


In the early 1970s, RENFE was looking for a new, diesel-engined locomotive capable of both hauling express trains and high-tonnage heavy freight trains nationwide at a steady speed of 120 km/h (75 mph).[6]

At the time, RENFE's dieselization program, with the 316 and 318 series CC locomotives, later followed by the more numerous 319 and 321, had displaced steam powered traction and were responsible for much of the work requiring higher-powered locomotives.[6]

The Class 319, produced in collaboration between Macosa and General Motors, had shown good performance, which influenced the decision to choose a locomotive of the General Motors type GT 26, (3,300 hp (2,500 kW)).[6]

In this series of locomotives, instead of taking the typical single cabin General Motors design it was decided to use a two cabined design; the Scandinavian manufacturer Nohab had also been producing GM engined locomotives (having acquired a license to produce GM engined locomotives of its own designs[7]), and a model was chosen based on the JT-26 with the Nohab bi-cabin box (See DSB class MZ) which was used by the Danske Statsbaner (DSB).[6]

RENFE chose the variant model MZ1 which had a power output of almost 4,000 hp (3,000 kW), they were also able to supply electrical train heating - a first in Spain.[2][6]


Rebuilt version 333.363 showing radiator cooling fans

The locomotives were equipped with General Motors engines, generators, traction motors and electrical equipment.[2] The diesel engines are 45 degree offset 16 cylinder V engined, two-stroke designs (EMD 645),[2] with a compression ratio of 14.5:1, and an engine displacement of 10.57 L (2.33 imp gal; 2.79 US gal).[8]

The available power for traction is 1,875 kW (2,514 hp) - produced at 600 V AC, and is rectified to DC through two groups of 30 silicon diodes,[8] and eventually supplies six nose suspended traction motors which drive the wheels via a pinion gear at a ratio of 59:18.[4]

The maximum speed was rated at 146 km/h (91 mph), though some of the class can travel at 160 km/h (99 mph) with appropriate modifications. The bogies are of the 'flexicoil' type.

ASFA, a Spanish train safety system was also fitted (See Train protection system)

Service history and operators[edit]

The 93 units of the original series were ordered from Macosa for RENFE and delivered between 1974 and 1976, having had many years in service these locomotives have drawn all sorts of trains.

One of the first Class 333 hauled services was the legendary express train from Barcelona to A Coruña / Vigo via Roda de Barà, la Plana- Picamoixons and the station of Miranda de Ebro.

Other notable services were the fast Madrid to Canfranc, and the locomotives use in dragging the Madrid to Vigo Pendular service until the line was electrified.

Even the modest Ourense-junction to Medina del Campo route was ennobled by the mighty Class 333s, which also were found in other less glamorous roles such as transporting coal from Samper de Calanda to thermal power stations in Andorra, and working in pairs to bring ore from Ojos Negros to the steel works at Sagunto.

On 1 January 2005 a law came into effect[9] that began the de-monopolisation of the Spanish railway system[10] - one effect of this new law was that private rail companies could now operate services in Spain alongside existing RENFE services. Two companies "Continental Rail" (part of ACS) and "Acciona Rail" bought Class 333.3 locomotives to operate freight services.[9]

Variants and rebuilds[edit]

Part of this class were destined to have a second life, some were upgraded in the 1990s, and yet more were totally rebuilt in the early part of the 2000s to meet new demands and at the same some losing the locomotive's distinctly 'Viking' appearance. With the rebuilding complete none of the original type remain in service.

Subclass 333.0[edit]

These are the remainder of the original 93 locotives, consisting of the locomotives that have remained unrebuilt, and un-upgraded. They are (or were) numbered 333.001 to 333.093[11]

Subclass 333.1[edit]

Eight locomotives had new bogies fitted suitable for 160 km/h operation in the early 1990s forming the subclass 333.1 They are numbered 333.101 to 333.108[11] and are intended for passenger operation.

Subclass 333.2[edit]

In the 1990s four locomotives intended for mixed operation had new bogies fitted including gearing suitable for 140 km/h operation forming the subset 333.2 They are numbered 333.201 to 333.204[11]

Subclass 333.3[edit]

From 2000 to 2005 a total of 92 locomotives were produced from new using some components from the original series; only the engine (or prime mover) and generators as well as the ASFA train protection system were reused - the rest of the locomotive being completely new type with input from Alstom. The control electronics have been upgraded from the system of relays and contactors with a block rectifier with power electronics which are electronically controlled by microprocessors and software. The traction motors have been updated from the D-77 to D-78 type,[12] additionally the fuel capacity has been increased from 4500 to 7200 l.(6000l?[3])

The new designs have a top speed of 120 km/h, and are intended for freight traffic. The rebuild gives improvement of 8–10% in tractive effort over the original machines which is explained by the use of the power electronics system.

One of them 333.304 (previously 333.050) was destroyed in an accident at Chinchilla in 2003.[11]

Subclass 333.4[edit]

Between 2003 and 2004 eight of the converted 333.3 machines were converted to 140 km/h running for passenger services and given the classification "333.4"[11][13]

333.031 with freight at Teruel (2005) 
Class 333.101 pulling talgo cars (c.2006) 
333.203 at with talgo cars (2010) 
333.328 showing the new design of bodyshell (2005) 
333.407 with talgo cars (2010) 

See also[edit]

  • RENFE Class 334 This model is very similar to the rebuilt 333.3 and 333.4 sub types - except it uses a different GM-EMD engine.
  • Vossloh Euro locomotives These 'Euro' locomotives technically may include the RENFE class 334, and are built at the same plant in Valencia.