South African Class 35-000

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South African Class 35-000
Class 35-000 35-020.JPG
No. 35-020 in Transnet Freight Rail livery,
Saldanha, Western Cape, 10 February 2013
Type and origin
Power type Diesel-electric
Designer General Electric
Builder General Electric
Serial number 38161-38210, 38724-38743
Model GE U15C
Build date 1972-1973
Total produced 70
AAR wheel arr. C+C
UIC class Co'Co'
Gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) Cape gauge
Wheel diameter 915 mm (36.0 in)
Wheelbase 10,782 mm (35 ft 4.5 in)
 • Bogie 3,188 mm (10 ft 5.5 in)
Pivot centres 7,860 mm (25 ft 9.4 in)
 • Over couplers 15,152 mm (49 ft 8.5 in)
Width 2,753 mm (9 ft 0.4 in)
Height 3,874 mm (12 ft 8.5 in)
Axle load 13,720 kg (30,250 lb)
Adhesive weight 82,320 kg (181,480 lb)
Loco weight 82,320 kg (181,480 lb)
Fuel type Diesel
Fuel capacity 2,700 litres (590 imp gal)
Prime mover GE 7FDL-8
RPM range 385-1,050
 • RPM low idle 385
 • RPM idle 450
 • Maximum RPM 1,050
Engine type 4-stroke diesel
Aspiration Elliott H-584 turbocharger
Generator 10 pole GE 5GT-581C15
Traction motors Six GE 5GE-764-C1 DC 4 pole
 • Rating 1 hour 655A
 • Continuous 645A @ 17 km/h (11 mph)
Cylinders V8
Gear ratio 90:17
MU working 4 maximum
Loco brake 28-LAV-1 with vigilance control
Train brakes Westinghouse 6CDX4UC compressor/exhauster
Air reservoir cap 740 litres (160 imp gal)
Compressor cap 0.033 m3/s (1.2 cu ft/s)
Exhauster cap 0.130 m3/s (4.6 cu ft/s)
Couplers AAR knuckle SASKOP DS
Performance figures
Maximum speed 100 km/h (62 mph)
Power output:
 • Starting 1,230 kW (1,650 hp)
 • Continuous 1,160 kW (1,560 hp)
Tractive effort:
 • Starting 201 kN (45,000 lbf) @ 25% adh.
 • Continuous 161 kN (36,000 lbf) @ 21 km/h (13 mph)
Factor of adh.:
 • Starting
 • Continuous 20%
Loco brakeforce 60% ratio @ 345 kPa (50.0 psi)
Dynamic brake peak effort 138 kN (31,000 lbf) @ 28 km/h (17 mph)
Operators South African Railways
Transnet Freight Rail
Zambia Railways
Class Class 35-000
Number in class 70
Numbers 35-001 to 35-070
Delivered 1972-1973
First run 1972

The South African Railways Class 35-000 of 1972 is a diesel-electric locomotive.

Between March 1972 and May 1973, the South African Railways placed seventy Class 35-000 General Electric type U15C diesel-electric locomotives in branchline service.[1][2]


The South African Class 35-000 type GE U15C diesel-electric locomotive was designed and built for the South African Railways (SAR) by General Electric (GE) and imported. The first batch of fifty locomotives was delivered in 1972, numbered in the range from 35-001 to 35-050, with the first locomotives arriving in March. These were followed by a second batch of twenty in 1973, numbered in the range from 35-051 to 35-070. The last locomotives arrived in May 1973.[1][2][3]

Class 35 series[edit]

GE and GM-EMD designs[edit]

Inter-bogie linkage

The Class 35 locomotive series consists of five sub-classes, the GE Classes 35-000 and 35-400 and the General Motors Electro-Motive Division (GM-EMD) Classes 35-200, 35-600 and 35-800. Both these manufacturers also produced locomotives for the South African Classes 33, 34 and 36.[2]

The locomotive has interlinked bogies, hence the Co+Co wheel arrangement classification. The linkage is usually hidden from view by the saddle-shaped fuel tank.

Distinguishing Features[edit]

With the GE U15C Class 35 locomotives, the Class 35-000 and 35-400 are visually indistinguishable from each other. An externally visible modification, which was done during major overhauls, is the addition of a saddle hood astride the hump on the long hood behind the cab. By 2013 this modification had been done on a large number of Class 35-000s, but not on any Class 35-400s.[4][5]


South African Railways[edit]

The Class 35 is South Africa’s standard branchline diesel-electric locomotive. GE Class 35-000s were designed for light rail conditions and they work on most branchlines in the central, western, southern and southeastern parts of the country.[3]

In the Western Cape, they work out of Cape Town on the branchlines to Bitterfontein, Saldanha and Caledon, and out of Worcester to George. A threesome is allocated to the Swartkops depot in Port Elizabeth, from where they work the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) MetroRail commuter trains to Uitenhage.


Between October 1978 and May 1993, Zambia Railways (ZR) hired locomotives to solve it's chronic shortages in motive power, mainly from South Africa but at times also from Zaire, Zimbabwe, the TAZARA Railway and even the Zambian Copper Mines. In Zambia, the South African locomotives were mainly used on goods trains between Livingstone and Kitwe, sometimes in tandem with a ZR locomotive and occasionally also on passenger trains.[6]

The first period of hire lasted from October 1978 until about April 1981. Locomotives were selected from a float of engines in the Classes 33-400, 35-000 and 35-200, which were allocated by the Railways for hire to Zambia. The South African fleet in Zambia was never constant, since locomotives were continually exchanged as they became due back in South Africa for their three-monthly services. [6]

The float of Class 35-000 locomotives, allocated by the Railways for hire to ZR, included the locomotives annotated "Zambia" in the "allocation" column in the table below. The first Class 35-000 locomotives to serve in Zambia, were on hire by May 1980. They served there for less than a year, being employed on road work as well as shunting. By the end of March 1981, the last Class 35-000 to remain there was no. 35-064, which was due to return south as soon as the last of ZR’s new Krupp-built diesel locomotives, no. 0-210, was delivered.[6]

NLPI Ltd.[edit]

NLPI Limited, abbreviated from New Limpopo Projects Investments, is a Mauritius-registered company which specialises in private sector investments, 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.[1]

No. 35-041 in Spoornet livery in the OREX yard, Saldanha, Western Cape, 12 September 2007
No. 35-041, now in NLPI Logistics livery with the cabside's "Spoornet" painted over, Lusaka, Zambia, 12 November 2008

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. The locomotives did not appear to be restricted to working in any one of the three operations sections and have been observed being transferred across the bridge at Victoria Falls between Zimbabwe and Zambia, as required. Class 35-000 locomotives which serve with NLPI, include the locomotives annotated "NLPI" in the "allocation" column in the table below.[1][7]

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”.[8]

Works numbers[edit]

The Class 35-000 builder’s works numbers and, where applicable, leased service in Zambia or lately with NLPI, are listed in the table.[1]


The main picture shows no. 35-020 in the Transnet Freight Rail livery and with a saddle hood, in the Orex Yard at Saldanha on 10 February 2013. Other liveries which were applied to Class 35-000 locomotives, are illustrated below. The last picture displays the top of a locomotive with a saddle hood. It was involved in a major derailment near Moorreesburg on 7 June 2007, when the track roadbed was washed away during heavy rain and flooding.[9]


  1. ^ 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, 41–42. 
  2. ^ a b c South African Railways Index and Diagrams Electric and Diesel Locomotives, 610 mm and 1065 mm Gauges, Ref LXD 14/1/100/20 (amended ed.). 28 January 1975. 
  3. ^ a b Paxton, Leith; Bourne, David (1985). Locomotives of the South African Railways (1st ed.). Cape Town: Struik. pp. 141–142. ISBN 0869772112. 
  4. ^ "35-003 without saddle filter". 
  5. ^ "35-001 with saddle filter". 
  6. ^ a b c Bagshawe, P.F. Spoornet Diesels Leased to ZR 1978-1993. [full citation needed]
  7. ^ "35 Class Diesels". Railways Africa. 7 December 2006. 
  8. ^ "ZRL in charge as RSZ concession revoked" (PDF). Railway Gazette International. 13 September 2012. 
  9. ^ "Derailment at Moorreesburg". 7 June 2007.