South African Class 5E, Series 2

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South African Class 5E, Series 2
SAR Class 5E E326.jpg
Numbers E326, E319 and E297 departing Touws River, September 1984
Type and origin
Power type Electric
Designer English Electric
Builder Vulcan Foundry
Serial number EE 2421-2465, VF E149-E193
Model EE 5E
Build date 1956-1957
Total produced 45
AAR wheel arr. B-B
UIC class Bo'Bo'
Gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) Cape gauge
Wheel diameter 1,219 mm (48.0 in)
Wheelbase 11,279 mm (37 ft 0.1 in)
 • Bogie 3,430 mm (11 ft 3.0 in)
Pivot centres 7,849 mm (25 ft 9.0 in)
Panto shoes 6,972 mm (22 ft 10.5 in)
 • Over couplers 15,494 mm (50 ft 10.0 in)
 • Body 14,631 mm (48 ft 0 in)
Width 2,896 mm (9 ft 6.0 in)
 • Pantograph 4,089 mm (13 ft 5.0 in)
 • Body height 3,937 mm (12 ft 11.0 in)
Axle load 21,591 kg (47,600 lb)
Adhesive weight 86,364 kg (190,400 lb)
Loco weight 86,364 kg (190,400 lb)
Power supply Catenary
Current collection Pantographs
Traction motors Four EE 529
 • Rating 1 hour 377 kW (506 hp)
 • Continuous 325 kW (436 hp)
Gear ratio 18:67
Loco brake Air & Regenerative
Train brakes Vacuum
Couplers AAR knuckle
Performance figures
Maximum speed 97 km/h (60 mph)
Power output:
 • 1 hour 1,508 kW (2,022 hp)
 • Continuous 1,300 kW (1,700 hp)
Tractive effort:
 • Starting 200 kN (45,000 lbf)
 • 1 hour 128 kN (29,000 lbf)
 • Continuous 104 kN (23,000 lbf)
Operators South African Railways
Impala Platinum
Class Class 5E
Power class 3 kV DC
Number in class 45
Numbers E319-E363
Nicknames Balstamper
Delivered 1957-1958
First run 1957

The South African Railways Class 5E, Series 2 of 1957 was an electric locomotive.

In 1957 and 1958, the South African Railways placed forty-five Class 5E, Series 2 electric locomotives with a Bo-Bo wheel arrangement in mainline service.[1]


The 3 kV DC Class 5E, Series 2 electric locomotive was built for the South African Railways (SAR) by Vulcan Foundry (VF) on a sub-contract from English Electric (EE), who had designed the locomotive and supplied the electrical equipment. Forty-five series 2 locomotives were delivered and placed in service in 1957 and 1958, numbered in the range from E319 to E363.[2][3]


These dual cab locomotives have a roof access ladder on one side only, just to the right of the cab access door. The roof access ladder end is marked as the no. 2 end. A passage along the centre of the locomotive connects the cabs, which are identical, except that Cab 2 is where the handbrake is located.[1]


While the locomotive itself used air brakes, it was only equipped to operate trains with vacuum brakes. While hauling a train, the locomotive's air brake system would be made subordinate to the train's vacuum brake system and would come into operation as the vacuum brakes were being applied, gradually building up to its maximum of 350 kilopascals (51 pounds per square inch). While working a train downgrade, the locomotive's regenerative braking system would also work in conjunction with the train's vacuum brakes.

The locomotive's air brakes would usually only be used along with the train brakes during emergencies. Under normal circumstances the train would be controlled, using the train brakes alone to slow down and stop.

While the locomotive was stopped, the air brakes on each bogie could be applied independently. The handbrake or parking brake, located in Cab no. 2, only operated on the unit's last axle, or no. 7 and 8 wheels.

Class 5E series[edit]

SAR Class 5E Series 2 E343 (Dries 8) ID.jpg

The Class 5E was produced in three series, the EE and VF-built Series 1 and the VF-built Series 2 and Series 3. The VF-built locomotives all have a works number for EE as well as VF, since the order was placed with EE, who then subcontracted their construction to VF. Between 1955 and 1959, altogether 160 Class 5E locomotives were delivered, 60 Series 1, 45 Series 2 and 55 Series 3.[2][1][3]

According to crews, the Class 5E gave a rough ride, which soon earned it the nickname balstamper. The successor Class 5E1, with its new design bogies, gave a smoother ride.


The Class 5E introduced a locomotive body shape which eventually became the most prolific to ever run on South African rails, serving on all the 3 kV DC lines country-wide. The body shape and dimensions were continued with the Class 5E1 in 1959, the Class 6E and the Class 6E1 from 1969 to 1985, and still later with the rebuilding of Class 6E1 locomotives to Class 18E, a project which was begun in 2000.[1][3][4]

Industrial service[edit]

Three Class 5E, Series 2 locomotives were sold into industrial service.

  • No. E320 was sold to the Impala platinum mine in Rustenburg.
  • No. E343 and E356 were sold to the Driefontein gold mine near Carletonville.[2]

Works numbers[edit]

The EE and VF works numbers of the Class 5E, Series 2 and their disposal are shown in the table.[2]


The main picture shows Series 2 no. E326 and E319 and Series 1 no. E297, departing Touws River and heading northeast towards Beaufort West in September 1984. The following pictures depict the SAR Gulf Red and the Driefontein mine liveries. An overhead view of the locomotive is shown in a picture which was taken at an accident scene near Olifantsfontein in 1975.


  1. ^ a b c d 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 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. 50, 62. 
  3. ^ a b c Paxton, Leith; Bourne, David (1985). Locomotives of the South African Railways (1st ed.). Cape Town: Struik. pp. 127–128. ISBN 0869772112. 
  4. ^ Dulez, Jean A. (2012). Railways of Southern Africa 150 Years (Commemorating One Hundred and Fifty Years of Railways on the Sub-Continent - Complete Motive Power Classifications and Famous Trains - 1860-2011) (1st ed.). Garden View, Johannesburg, South Africa: Vidrail Productions. p. 292. ISBN 9 780620 512282.