South African Class 34-200
The South African Railways Class 34-200 of 1971 is a diesel-electric locomotive.
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.
Class 34 series
GE and GM-EMD designs
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.
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.
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.
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.
- The Beitbridge Bulawayo Railway (BBR), commissioned on 1 September 1999, operates the Beit Bridge to Bulawayo line in Zimbabwe.
- From February 2004, NLPI Logistics (NLL or LOG) operated between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe-Zambia border.
- From February 2003, the Railway Systems of Zambia (RSZ) operated on the former Zambian Railways (ZR) from Victoria Falls to Sakania in the Congo.
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.
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”.
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.
The Class 34-200 builder's works numbers and known deployment are listed in the table.
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.
No. 34-209 with NLPI LOG emblems at Koedoespoort, Pretoria, 30 September 2009
- 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
- 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.
- Paxton, Leith; Bourne, David (1985). Locomotives of the South African Railways (1st ed.). Cape Town: Struik. p. 141. ISBN 0869772112.
- Class 34-200 sill
- Class 34-800 sill
- ZRL in charge as RSZ concession revoked. Railway Gazette International, 13 September 2012
- SA Rail, Volume 46, Number 2, April 2008, p3-7, ISSN 1026-3195
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