South African Class 31-000
No. 31-028 (D727) at Bellville Depot, 31 October 2010
The South African Railways Class 31-000 of 1958 was a diesel-electric locomotive.
In June and July 1958, the South African Railways placed forty-five Class 1-DE General Electric type U12B diesel-electric locomotives in service. They were later reclassified to Class 31-000 and renumbered.
The South African Class 31-000 type GE U12B diesel-electric locomotive was designed for the South African Railways (SAR) and built by General Electric in 1958. They were the first diesel-electric road locomotives to enter SAR service in quantity.
Reclassification & renumbering
Upon delivery, they were classified as Class 1-DE and numbered in the range from D700 to D744, in the electric locomotive number range. When the SAR adopted a new classification and numbering system for electric and diesel-powered locomotives c. 1960, they were reclassified to Class 31-000 and renumbered in the range from 31-001 to 31-045.
The Class 31-000 is a high short hood locomotive. While the short hood end is usually considered as the front end, the cab is equipped with dual station controls to make it fully bidirectional.
They were placed in service working out of Johannesburg to Kroonstad in the Free State and to Volksrust on the mainline to Natal. By the 1980s they were relegated to shunting and pickup service on the Reef and at some other major centres.
Of the original forty-five locomotives, forty survived into the Spoornet era in the 1990s. Now retired from Spoornet service, some still see service in private hands. Three of them, numbers 31-001 (D700), 31-005 (D704) and 31-038 (D737), were acquired by Sheltam for use at Rand Uranium near Randfontein and at Welkom. The first two were converted to low short hood locomotives and were still in service in 2014, while the third was used for spare parts.
Another private rail operator, RRL Grindrod, owns no. 31-009 (D708) as its no. RB-201, which is employed at Welkom.
The Class 31-000 builder's works numbers, renumbering and disposition are listed in the table.
Some of the liveries which were applied to Class 31-000 locomotives are illustrated below.
Sheltam no. 1201, ex SAR no. 31-005 (D704), 19 May 2010
No. 31-007 (D706) at Bellville Depot, 10 January 2009
- South African Railways Index and Diagrams Electric and Diesel Locomotives, 610 mm and 1065 mm Gauges, Ref LXD 14/1/100/20, 28 January 1975, as amended
- Paxton, Leith; Bourne, David (1985). Locomotives of the South African Railways (1st ed.). Cape Town: Struik. pp. 137–138. ISBN 0869772112.
- Middleton, John N. (2002). Railways of Southern Africa Locomotive Guide - 2002 (as amended by Combined Amendment List 4, January 2009) (2nd, Dec 2002 ed.). Herts, England: Beyer-Garratt Publications. pp. 38, 45.
- SAR-L Yahoogroup message no. 47981 of 17 October 2014
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