South African Class 9E, Series 2

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South African Class 9E, Series 2
SAR Class 9E Series 2 E9030.JPG
No. E9030 at Saldanha, Western Cape, 26 July 2009
Type and origin
Power type Electric
Designer General Electric Company
Builder Union Carriage & Wagon
Serial number 5595-5600
Model GEC 9E
Build date 1982-1983
Total produced 6
AAR wheel arr. C-C
UIC class Co'Co'
Gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) Cape gauge
Wheel diameter 1,220 mm (48.0 in)
Wheelbase 16,290 mm (53 ft 5.3 in)
 • Bogie 3,940 mm (12 ft 11.1 in)
Pivot centres 12,700 mm (41 ft 8.0 in)
 • Over couplers 21,132 mm (69 ft 4.0 in)
 • Over beams 20,120 mm (66 ft 0.1 in)
Width 2,900 mm (9 ft 6.2 in)
 • Pantograph 3,900 mm (12 ft 9.5 in)
 • Body height 3,900 mm (12 ft 9.5 in)
Axle load 28,000 kg (62,000 lb) max
Adhesive weight 166,300 kg (366,600 lb)
Loco weight 166,300 kg (366,600 lb)
Power supply Catenary
Current collection Pantograph
Traction motors Six G415AZ
 • Rating 1 hour 690 kW (930 hp)
 • Continuous 640 kW (860 hp)
Gear ratio 18:83
Loco brake Air & Rheostatic
Train brakes Vacuum & Air
Wabco "Vaporid" air dryer
Couplers AAR knuckle
Performance figures
Maximum speed 90 km/h (56 mph)
Power output:
 • 1 hour 4,140 kW (5,550 hp)
 • Continuous 3,840 kW (5,150 hp)
Tractive effort:
 • Starting 570 kN (130,000 lbf)
 • 1 hour 483 kN (109,000 lbf)
 • Continuous 388 kN (87,000 lbf)
Operators South African Railways
Transnet Freight Rail
Class Class 9E
Power class 50 kV 50 Hz AC
Number in class 6
Numbers E9026-E9031
Locale Sishen-Saldanha Orex line
Delivered 1982-1983
First run 1982

The South African Railways Class 9E, Series 2 of 1982 is an electric locomotive.

In 1982 and 1983, the South African Railways expanded its existing Class 9E fleet, by placing six new Class 9E, Series 2 General Electric Company 50 kV AC electric locomotives with a Co-Co wheel arrangement in service on the Sishen-Saldanha iron ore line.[1]


The 50 kV AC Class 9E, Series 2 electric locomotive was designed for the South African Railways (SAR) by the General Electric Company (GEC) and was built by Union Carriage and Wagon (UCW) in Nigel, Transvaal.[2]

GEC works numbers were allocated to Class 9E locomotives. UCW delivered six locomotives in 1982 and 1983, numbered in the range from E9026 to E9031.[1]


The locomotive has a single full width air conditioned cab. At the rear end, the body work is lower to provide clearance for the 50 kV AC electrical equipment, which is mounted on the roof. This consists of a single pantograph, a potential divider, a vacuum circuit breaker, a surge diverter and the main transformer’s high voltage terminal. The electrical control system is solid state, using thyristors.[3]

Since huge voltage drops are often encountered between electric sub-stations, the locomotive was designed to be able to operate on a supply varying between 55 and 25 kV AC. The battery boxes and the main air reservoirs are mounted between the bogies underneath the frame, where a compartment also houses a small motor scooter, for use by the crew for lineside inspections of the train, which can be 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) long.[3]

Series 2 locomotives were delivered with five braking systems, air brakes for the locomotive, train air braking, train vacuum braking, a handbrake and dynamic rheostatic braking, which can dissipate 4,200 kilowatts (5,600 horsepower). The Series 1 locomotives were delivered without a vacuum brake system.[3]

By 2007, the entire fleet of both series of Class 9E electric locomotives were upgraded with Alstom's Agate train control and communication technology. The pantographs on most of these locomotives were also replaced by the single arm type.[4]

The Series 1 and Series 2 Class 9Es can be visually distinguished from each other by their bogies, which were redesigned for the Series 2 locomotives.[1]


Class 9E locomotives are used on the 861 kilometres (535 miles) Sishen-Saldanha iron ore line, to haul export ore from the open cast iron mines at Sishen in the Northern Cape, to the harbour at Saldanha in the Western Cape. Most of the route is across the hot and dry Northern Cape, but the last 75 kilometres (47 miles) to Saldanha runs parallel to the Atlantic coastline and is subjected to the fog and salt sea air of the West Coast.[3][5]

In South Africa, the line is unusual for several reasons.

  • Construction, which began in 1973, was not undertaken by the SAR, but by the South African Iron and Steel Corporation (ISCOR), who operated the line with diesel-electric motive power. Operations on the Sishen-Saldanha iron ore line was only taken over from ISCOR by the SAR in 1977.
  • It was electrified by the SAR at 50 kV AC, compared to the 25 kV AC high voltage, which was used in other parts of the country.
  • At the time, it was the longest 50 kV AC electrified railway line in the world.[3]
  • It is the only line in South Africa where electric and diesel-electric locomotives are consisted in mixed power use.[6]

Mixed power[edit]

On the Sishen–Saldanha Orex line, General Electric (GE) Classes 34 of all four series and Class 43-000 locomotives run consisted to Class 9E and Class 15E electric locomotives, to haul the 342 truck ore trains. Each truck has a 100-ton capacity and the trains are at least 3.72 kilometres (2.3 miles) in length, powered by mixed consists of Class 9E and Class 15E electric and GE type U26C Classes 34-000, 34-400, 34-500 and 34-900 and type C30ACi 43-000 diesel-electric locomotives.[1][4][5][6]

Ore train about 100 kilometres (62 miles) north of Lamberts Bay
Ore train about 100 kilometres (62 miles) north of Lamberts Bay

A Class 9E or Class 15E electric locomotive serves as the master of each mixed electric and diesel-electric consist, with a total of between nine and twelve locomotives per train, twelve being the maximum allowed. Before the Class 15E was placed in service in 2010, motive power usually consisted of three sets, each made up of one or two Class 9E locomotives and one or two Class 34 diesels, with each set’s leading electric locomotive controlling its respective set of diesels by means of a slimkabel (smart cable). In effect, each ore train was made up of three separate 114 truck trains consisted together, with the locomotives of all three trains controlled through a Locotrol radio distributed power control system by one crew in the leading electric locomotive. A typical train would therefore be made up of locomotive set A, 114 trucks, locomotive set B, 114 trucks, locomotive set C and 114 trucks.[1][4][6][7]

Some problems were experienced using this configuration and, after a couple of major derailments, the locomotive configuration was changed to four sets, with locomotive set D initially consisting of two Class 34 diesel-electric locomotives at the rear end of the train pushing at between 40% and 50% of tractive power at all times, depending on the grades being traversed. The total number of locomotives were still between nine and twelve locomotives per train.[1][4]

As more Class 15Es arrived and were placed in service, the set D pair of Class 34 diesel-electrics were replaced with Class 9E or 15E electrics. The more powerful Classes 15E electric and 43-000 diesel-electric locomotives also made it possible to use as few as seven locomotives per train, with locomotive sets A, B and C each consisting of one electric one diesel-electric locomotive, and set D of a single electric locomotive.[1][4]


The main picture shows no. E9030 in Spoornet blue livery with outline numbers, at the Salkor yard in Saldanha on 26 July 2009. Both sides and the rear end of the Class 9E, Series 2 are illustrated in the following pictures.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g 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. ^ "UCW - Electric locomotives" (PDF). The UCW Partnership. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 October 2007. Retrieved 30 September 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Paxton, Leith; Bourne, David (1985). Locomotives of the South African Railways (1st ed.). Cape Town: Struik. pp. 129–131. ISBN 0869772112. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Information supplied by Transnet Freight Rail staff
  5. ^ a b 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. 
  6. ^ a b c Actom Divisions News, 22 July 2010
  7. ^ GE Transportation: Locotrol Distributed Power