South African Class 34-200

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South African Class 34-200
SAR Class 34-200 34-227.JPG
No. 34-227 at Wildrand siding, near Piet Retief, Mpumalanga, 17 August 2007
Type and origin
Power type Diesel Electric
Designer General Motors Electro-Motive Division
Builder General Motors Electro-Motive Division
Serial number 37563-37612
Build date 1971-1972
Total produced 50
AAR wheel arr. C+C
UIC class Co'Co'
Gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) Cape gauge
Wheel diameter 1,016 mm (40.0 in)
Wheelbase 14,732 mm (48 ft 4.0 in)
 • Bogie 3,632 mm (11 ft 11.0 in)
Pivot centres 11,278 mm (37 ft 0 in)
 • Over couplers 19,202 mm (63 ft 0 in)
Width 2,819 mm (9 ft 3.0 in)
Height 3,924 mm (12 ft 10.5 in)
Axle load 18,850 kg (41,560 lb)
Adhesive weight 113,100 kg (249,300 lb)
Loco weight 113,100 kg (249,300 lb) max
Fuel type Diesel
Fuel capacity 6,100 litres (1,300 imp gal)
Prime mover GM-EMD 16-645E3
RPM range 250-900
 • RPM low idle 250
 • RPM idle 315
 • Maximum RPM 900
Engine type 2-stroke diesel
Aspiration GM-EMD E16 turbocharger
Displacement 10.57 litres (645 cu in)
Alternator 10 pole 3 phase GM-EMD AR10F-D14
Traction motors Six GM-EMD D29B DC 4 pole
 • Rating 1 hour 485A
 • Continuous 450A @ 21 km/h (13 mph)
Cylinders V16
Gear ratio 63:14
MU working 6 maximum
Loco brake 28-LAV-1 with vigilance control
Train brakes Gardner-Denver ADJV-8101 compressor/exhauster
Air reservoir cap 850 litres (190 imp gal)
Compressor cap 0.021 m3/s (0.74 cu ft/s) @ 475 rpm
Exhauster cap 0.084 m3/s (3.0 cu ft/s) @ 475 rpm
Couplers AAR knuckle type E
Performance figures
Maximum speed 100 km/h (62 mph)
Power output:
 • Starting 2,145 kW (2,876 hp)
 • Continuous 1,940 kW (2,600 hp)
Tractive effort:
 • Starting 272 kN (61,000 lbf)
 • Continuous 218 kN (49,000 lbf) @ 26 km/h (16 mph)
Factor of adh.:
 • Starting
 • Continuous 20%
Loco brakeforce 65% ratio @ 345 kPa (50.0 psi)
Dynamic brake peak effort 188 kN (42,000 lbf) @ 28 km/h (17 mph)
Operators South African Railways
Transnet Freight Rail
Class Class 34-200
Number in class 50
Numbers 34-201 to 34-250
Delivered 1971-1972
First run 1971

The South African Railways Class 34-200 of 1971 is a diesel-electric locomotive.

Between October 1971 and March 1972, the South African Railways placed fifty Class 34-200 General Motors Electro-Motive Division type GT26MC diesel-electric locomotives in service.[1]


The Class 34-200 type GT26MC diesel-electric locomotive was designed and built for the South African Railways (SAR) by General Motors Electro-Motive Division (GM-EMD) and imported. Fifty locomotives were delivered between October 1971 and March 1972, numbered in the range from 34-201 to 34-250.[1][2][3]

Class 34 series[edit]

GE and GM-EMD designs[edit]

The Class 34 locomotive family consists of seven series, the General Electric (GE) Classes 34-000, 34-400, 34-500 (also known as 34-400 ex Iscor) and 34-900, and the GM-EMD Classes 34-200, 34-600 and 34-800. Both these manufacturers also produced locomotives for the South African Classes 33, 35 and 36.[1]

Distinguishing features[edit]

On the GM-EMD Class 34 series locomotives, Class 34-200 and 34-600 locomotives are visually indistinguishable from one another, but they can be distinguished from the Class 34-800 by the thicker fishbelly-shaped sills on their left sides, compared to the straight sill on the left side of the Class 34-800.[4][5]


South Africa[edit]

In South Africa, the Class 34-200s work on most mainlines and some unelectrified branchlines in the central, eastern, northern and northeastern parts of South Africa.[3]

NLPI Ltd.[edit]

NLPI Limited (abbreviated from New Limpopo Projects Investments), a Mauritius-registered company, specialises in private sector investments by using the build-operate-transfer (BOT) concept. It had three connected railway operations in Zimbabwe and Zambia, which formed a rail link between South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo.[2]

In Zambia, the RSZ locomotive fleet included former ZR locomotives, but the rest of the locomotive fleet of all three operations consisted of South African GM-EMD Classes 34-200, 34-600 and 34-800 and GE Classes 35-000 and 35-400 locomotives. These locomotives were sometimes marked or branded as either BBR or LOG or both, but their status, whether leased or loaned, was unclear since they were still on the TFR roster and still often worked in South Africa as well.[2]

Zambia Railways, the state-owned holding company, resumed control of the Zambian national rail network on 11 September 2012. This followed the government’s decision to revoke the operating concession which had been awarded to RSZ, after Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda claimed that RSZ had "blatantly disregarded the provisions of the agreement" and had been "acting in a manner prejudicial to the interests of Zambians”.[6]


One of the Class 34-200 locomotives, no. 34-221, was sold to Sheltam, where it became their no. 4, having since been renumbered to 2601. Sheltam is a locomotive hire and repair company which undertakes complete operating contracts and maintenance contracts, based at the Douglas Colliery near Witbank in Mpumalanga. By the turn of the millennium, Sheltam locomotives were operating at Randfontein Estates Gold Mine in Gauteng, and in Mpumalanga at Douglas and Vandyksdrift Collieries and at SAPPI, Ngodwana. They also operated on Spoornet’s Newcastle-Utrecht branch in KwaZulu-Natal and, for a while, on Kei Rail in the Eastern Cape. Outside South Africa, they operate on the BBR, NLL and RSZ lines through Zimbabwe and Zambia and in the Congo.[2][7]

Works numbers[edit]

The Class 34-200 builder's works numbers and known deployment are listed in the table.[2]


The main picture shows the right side of no. 34-227 in the Spoornet orange livery. The left side and the NLPI LOG livery, as applied to Class 34-200 locomotives, are illustrated below.


  1. ^ a b c South African Railways Index and Diagrams Electric and Diesel Locomotives, 610mm and 1065mm Gauges, Ref LXD 14/1/100/20, 28 January 1975, as amended
  2. ^ a b c d e 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, 41, 45. 
  3. ^ a b Paxton, Leith; Bourne, David (1985). Locomotives of the South African Railways (1st ed.). Cape Town: Struik. p. 141. ISBN 0869772112. 
  4. ^ Class 34-200 sill
  5. ^ Class 34-800 sill
  6. ^ ZRL in charge as RSZ concession revoked. Railway Gazette International, 13 September 2012
  7. ^ SA Rail, Volume 46, Number 2, April 2008, p3-7, ISSN 1026-3195