Under the Whyte notation for the classification of steam locomotives, 0-8-0 represents the wheel arrangement of no leading wheels, eight powered and coupled driving wheels on four axles and no trailing wheels. Locomotives of this type are also referred to as eight coupled.

0-8-0 (Eight-coupled)
Equivalent classifications
UIC classD
French class040
Turkish class44
Swiss class4/4
Russian class0-4-0
First known tank engine version
First use1866
CountryUnited Kingdom
RailwayGreat Northern Railway
DesignerArchibald Sturrock
BuilderGreat Northern Railway
BenefitsTotal mass as adhesive weight
DrawbacksInstability at speed
First known tender engine version
First use1844
CountryUnited States of America
LocomotiveMud Digger class
RailwayBaltimore and Ohio Railroad
DesignerRoss Winans
BuilderRoss Winans
BenefitsTotal engine mass as adhesive weight
DrawbacksInstability at speed


Examples of the 0-8-0 wheel arrangement were constructed both as tender and tank locomotives. The earliest locomotives were built for mainline haulage, particularly for freight, but the configuration was later also often used for large switcher (shunter) types.

The wheel arrangement provided a powerful layout with all engine weight as adhesive weight, which maximised the tractive effort and factor of adhesion. The layout was generally too large for smaller and lighter railways, where the more popular 0-6-0 wheel arrangement would often be found performing similar duties.



Two 0-8-0 locomotives were delivered from Andre Koechlin & Cie in Mulhouse to the Austrian Southern Railway in 1862. They were later sent to Italy and worked over the Apennines between Bologna and Pistoja.[1]


In 1952, the Chrzanów works in Poland supplied 81 750mm gauge locomotives, which were later versions of the Russian P24 class. By 1958, China was building their own copies resulting in such classes as the C2, YJ, ZM-4, ZG and ZM16-4.

Christmas Island

Peckett and Sons of Bristol built a 0-8-0 tender locomotive for the Christmas Island Phosphate Company in 1931.


Freight engines with an 0-8-0 wheel arrangement were once very popular in Germany. The Prussian state railways had several types of 0-8-0s that were all classified as G7, G8 and G9.

The latest of these, the Prussian G 8.1, was the most numerous German state railway locomotive with over five thousand examples being built between 1913 and 1921. They remained in service with the Deutsche Bundesbahn until 1972.

The narrow gauge Heeresfeldbahn class HF 160 D were developed for wartime service during the Second World War. The engines were also classified as Kriegsdampflokomotive 11 (Military steam locomotive 11 or KDL 11). After the war, the locomotives were put to use for civilian purposes.


In Russia, the 0-8-0 type locomotives were represented by the various O-class (Osnovnoj-mainline) freight locomotives. They were built from the end of the 19th century until the 1920s. They were commonly called the Ovechka (Sheep) and were the most common freight locomotives in Tsarist Russia. Some are still preserved in working order.

One-thousand of the 750mm gauge standard design, also known as class 159, were built between 1930 and 1941. They were poor performers, so the Kolomna works built an improved version of these locomotives, known as the P24 class. Nine were built before 1941.

South Africa

On the South African Railways (SAR), shunting was traditionally performed by downgraded mainline locomotives. When purpose-built 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) Cape gauge shunting locomotives were eventually introduced in 1929, the SAR preferred to adhere to the American practice of using tender locomotives for shunting, rather than the European practice of using tank locomotives. Three classes of 0-8-0 shunting steam locomotives were introduced between 1929 and 1952.[2]

In 1929, fourteen Class S locomotives were placed in service. They were built by Henschel and Son in Germany, designed to SAR specifications. The top sides of the tender’s coal bunker were set inwards and the water tank top was rounded to improve the crew’s rearward vision.[3][4][5]

The second type, the Class S1, was designed by Dr. M.M. Loubser, chief mechanical engineer of the SAR from 1939 to 1949. Twelve of these locomotives, a heavier version of the Class S, were built at the Salt River workshops in Cape Town with the first being delivered in October 1947. A further 25 Class S1 locomotives were ordered from the North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow in 1952 and delivered in 1953 and 1954. The Class S1 was noted for its efficiency and economy and could cope with block loads of up to 2,000 long tons (2,032 tonnes).[2][4][5][6]

To meet the need for shunting locomotives with a light axle load for harbour work, these were followed in 1952 and 1953 by 100 Class S2 locomotives, built by Friedrich Krupp AG of Essen in Germany. To adhere to the specified weight limit, the Class S2 was built with a small boiler, with the result that it had the appearance of a Cape gauge locomotive with a narrow gauge boiler, particularly when viewed from the front. Also to reduce the axle load, it had Type MY1 torpedo tenders which rode on Buckeye three-axle bogies.[2][4][5][7]

United Kingdom

Two examples of 0-8-0T tank locomotives were built by Archibald Sturrock of the United Kingdom’s Great Northern Railway in 1866, but the design was not perpetuated. A tender locomotive version was introduced on the Barry Railway Company in 1889 to haul coal trains.

Francis Webb of the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) built 282 examples of a compound 0-8-0 locomotive between 1892 and 1904. A further 290 examples of a simple expansion version were built by his successor between 1910 and 1922.

In 1929, R.E.L. Maunsell of the Southern Railway designed and built eight Z class side tank engines.

In 1902, John G. Robinson of the Great Central Railway introduced his Class 8A tender engines, which were designated the Q4 class under the London and North Eastern Railway. From 1934, the class was replaced by the Robinson 2-8-0's and their withdrawal and scrapping began, but between 1942 and 1945 Edward Thompson converted thirteen into side-tanks, designated LNER Class Q1.

Under the grouping of 1923, the LNWR became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS). Henry Fowler designed an inside cylinder engine in 1929 to replace the LNWR examples, but they proved to be unsatisfactory and ended up having shorter lives than the LNWR locomotives.

In 1914, Manning Wardle of Leeds built a side-tank engine called Katharine for the Bridge Water Collieries system. On the Kent & East Sussex railway, the Hecate was built for Colonel Stephens by Hawthorn Leslie in 1904, but the branchline for which it was built was never completed and since the engine was too big for his other railways, it was exchanged in 1932 for a smaller engine from the Southern Railway. The engine Hecate ended up as a motive power depot shunter at Nine Elms shed and was scrapped in 1950.

Southern Railway, Richard Maunsell's Z class were first built in 1929 as a heavy shunting engine, 8 were built by 1930.

United States of America

The 0-8-0 wheel arrangement appeared early in locomotive development in the United States, during the mid-1840s. The configuration became popular and was more commonly constructed as a tender locomotive. It saw extensive use as a heavy switcher and freight engine.

Beginning in 1844, Ross Winans developed a series of 0-8-0 types for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, starting with a vertical-boiler design where the crankshaft was directly above and geared to the rear driving wheel.[8] With a horizontal boiler, this became the Mud Digger class of engines on the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, of which twelve were built. In late 1847, the B&O moved to abandon geared drives and, in 1848, Baldwin delivered the first of a series of 0-8-0 freight engines.[9]

The USRA 0-8-0 was a USRA standard class, designed by the United States Railroad Administration during the First World War. This was the standard heavy switcher of the USRA types, of which 175 examples were built by ALCO, Baldwin and Lima for many different railroads in the United States. After the dissolution of the USRA in 1920, an additional 1,200 examples of the USRA 0-8-0 were built.

In the 1920s the Pennsylvania Railroad wanted the best motive power possible to handle the switching chores at their yards and interchanges. Built in their own Juniata Shops, the PRR C1 class, at 278,000 lb, was the heaviest two-cylinder 0-8-0 switcher ever produced. The calculated tractive effort was 76,154 lb.

The last steam locomotive to be built in the USA for a Class I railroad was 0-8-0 no. 244, a Class S1 switch engine erected by the Norfolk and Western Roanoke shop in December 1953.[10]


  1. Hamilton Ellis, The pictorial history of railways, Hamlyn, 1968, p.57.
  2. Durrant, A. E. (1989). Twilight of South African Steam (1st ed.). Newton Abbott, London: David & Charles. pp. 120–123. ISBN 0715386387.
  3. Henschel-Lieferliste (Henschel & Son works list), compiled by Dietmar Stresow
  4. Holland, D. F. (1972). Steam Locomotives of the South African Railways. 2: 1910-1955 (1st ed.). Newton Abbott, Devon: David & Charles. pp. 63–65, 103–104, 108–109. ISBN 978-0-7153-5427-8.
  5. Paxton, Leith; Bourne, David (1985). Locomotives of the South African Railways (1st ed.). Cape Town: Struik. pp. 80–81. ISBN 0869772112.
  6. North British Locomotive Company works list, compiled by Austrian locomotive historian Bernhard Schmeiser
  7. South African Railways and Harbours Locomotive Diagram Book, 2’0” & 3’6” Gauge Steam Locomotives, 15 August 1941, as amended
  8. Ross Winas, Locomotive, U.S. Patent 3,201, granted July 28, 1843.
  9. J. Snowden Bell, Chapter IV: The Eight-Wheel Connected Freight Engines -- Type 0-8-0, The Early Motive Power of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Sinclair, New York, 1912; pages 55-86.
  10. Morgan, David P. (November 1954). "FAITH IN STEAM the story of Norfolk & Western locomotives". Trains Magazine. Kalmbach Publishing Company.
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