British Rail Class 58

The British Rail Class 58 is a class of Co-Co diesel locomotive designed for heavy freight. Introduced in 1983, they followed American practice of modularisation. EWS withdrew them in 2002 after 19 years in service, and 32 were hired abroad – four to the Netherlands, eight to Spain and twenty to France.

British Rail Class 58
58036 at Saltley in April 1987.
Type and origin
Power typeDiesel-electric
BuilderBritish Rail Engineering Limited, Doncaster Works
Build date1983-1987
Total produced50
Gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Wheel diameter1,120 mm (44.09 in)
Minimum curve4 chains (264.00 ft; 80.47 m)
Wheelbasebogie: 4.18 m (13 ft 9 in)
bogie centres: 14.85 m (48 ft 9 in)
Length19.13 m (62 ft 9 in)
Width2.72 m (8 ft 11 in)
Height3.91 m (12 ft 10 in)
Loco weight130 tonnes (127.9 long tons; 143.3 short tons)
Fuel capacity4,480 litres (990 imp gal; 1,180 US gal)
Prime moverRuston Paxman 12RK3ACT
AlternatorBrush BA1101B
Traction motorsBrush TM73-62
Cylinder size254 mm × 305 mm (10.0 in × 12.0 in),
bore × stroke
MU working Red Diamond
Train brakesAir
Performance figures
Maximum speed80 mph (129 km/h)
Power outputEngine: 3,300 hp (2,460 kW)
At Rail: 2,387 hp (1,780 kW)
Tractive effortMaximum: 60,000 lbf (267 kN)
Brakeforce60 tonnes (59.1 long tons; 66.1 short tons)
OperatorsBritish Rail
EWS / DB Cargo UK
Axle load classRoute availability 7
Disposition5 currently preserved, 36 exported to France or Spain, remainder scrapped


In the late 1970s, British Rail wanted to develop a new, low-cost, easily maintainable freight locomotive that would handle the predicted rail freight growth during the 1980s. The Class 56 had a troublesome entry into service, and BR was also keen to enter the export market. Pre-production drawings of the Class 58s referred to them as "Standard Export Locomotives".[1]

Once a design for the new Class 58 had been approved by the British Railways Board, the contract to build the locomotives was awarded to British Rail Engineering Limited's (BREL) Doncaster Works where work started on a major multi-million pound upgrade of ‘E2’ shop where the locomotives would be manufactured. BREL dropped traditional locomotive construction methods in favour of an entirely new approach – an innovative modular design. This offered savings on construction and maintenance compared to previous locomotive builds. The load-bearing underframe was fitted with exchangeable modules - number 1 cab, radiator, power unit, turbocharger, electrical equipment and number 2 cab. If required, each module could be easily removed from the underframe and replaced.[2]

The narrow body with cabs at either end led to them being given the nickname "Bone" by rail enthusiasts, but the design also made an American-style single cab version possible.[1]


The first locomotive, 58001, was handed over to British Rail at Doncaster Works on 9 December 1982 and delivery of the remainder of the locomotives continued until early 1987 with the final delivery of 58050. This loco was temporarily fitted with a SEPEX wheelslip control system, but upon completion experimental testing the equipment was removed before the locomotive entered traffic. SEPEX was central to the design of the Class 60. No export orders were received and so the jigs at Doncaster were dismantled and 58050 became not only the last Class 58 to be built, but the last diesel locomotive to be built at ‘The Plant’.

Since they were introduced in the early 1980s, the 58s saw service on a variety of freight duties. Despite claims made at the time, their performance was actually inferior to Class 56s on many types of freight train due to their increased tendency to wheelslip, largely as a result of bogie design. Although originally allocated to coal traffic, their arrival coincided with the miners' strike, and British Rail apparently only tolerated the construction of so many units because the components were already on order.[3] As a result, the 58s could also be seen working other types of freight traffic. With the advent of privatisation in the 1990s, Class 58s greatly extended the geographical scope of their operations and were used on general freight traffic until withdrawal.

In their day, Class 58s were powerful and capable freight locomotives, although not without their flaws. However, by the turn of the century they compared unfavourably with the new generation of locomotives and were quickly supplanted by Class 66s. In comparison, Class 58s were expensive to maintain and operate, and delivered much lower availability.

Accidents and incidents


During the late 1990s, it was almost certain that the entire Class 58 fleet would see in the next millennium as working locomotives. However, despite being quoted as EWS's most reliable and consistent Type 5s, it was announced in 1999 that a large number of Class 58s were going to be placed into long-term storage: 58017 was the first to be stored, quickly followed by 58022.

Since then, the remainder of the Class 58s were stored at various points around Britain. This was hastened by the introduction of 250 Class 66s. The last few Class 58 locomotives were withdrawn in September 2002 after working the last charter train, the "Bone Idol" from King's Cross to Skegness and return.

Seven Class 58s were put on the DB Schenker April 2010 disposals list. This is the first time stored Class 58s have been put up for sale. One of these, 58016, has entered preservation at Barrow Hill with the Class 58 Locomotive Group (C58LG).[5]

Five class 58s were listed for disposal by DB Schenker October 2015 disposals list. Namely 58008, 58012, 58022, 58023, and 58048.

According to Railways Illustrated for August 2014: "..the story of the 58s has been one of a shocking waste - they were nowhere near life-expired when withdrawn and to see them sitting in depots in France when there is a shortage of locos in the UK is baffling..." [6]


In January 2016 it was reported that DB Schenker had disposed of its last Class 58s. Of these 58 012, 58 022, 58 023, & 048 were saved, but 58 008 is to be scrapped by Raxstar.[7]

Service in Continental Europe

EWS announced in 2000 that eight Class 58s were to be moved to Spain (on hire to Spanish infrastructure operator GIF) and later, a large number of Class 58s (alongside Class 56s) operated in France for Fertis, TSO and Seco Rail.

In May 2007, all of the locomotives from the French contract were returned to the UK and placed back into storage.[8] The Spanish locomotives remain active however now under the ownership of Transfesa .[9] The locomotives that were returned to the UK were sent back abroad to France from May–October 2009 on hire to operators TSO and ETF.[10] The Dutch locomotives were prepared for further use in France before being transported to France in July 2009.[11]

Names and numbers

Key: In Service Withdrawn/Stored (UK) Withdrawn/Stored (Exported) Preserved Scrapped
NumberNameBuiltUK WithdrawalExportStatusDisposal
5800109 Dec 8208 Oct 9913 Aug 09Stored (France)
58002Daw Mill Colliery, 17 Mar 889 May 8309 Nov 00ScrappedEMR Southampton, Jan 2014.
58003Markham Colliery, Jul 8831 Jul 8329 Nov 99ScrappedEMR Kingsbury, Aug 2010.
5800430 Sep 8309 Jan 0215 Oct 04Stored (France)
58005Ironbridge Power Station, 12 May 9631 Oct 8313 Oct 0020 Jun 09Stored (France)
5800631 Oct 8311 Jan 0024 Nov 09Stored (France)
58007Drakelow Power Station, 25 Aug 9031 Nov 8319 Jan 0014 Oct 04Stored (France)
5800831 Dec 8329 Nov 99ScrappedEastleigh Works in 2016.
5800931 Jan 8416 Jan 0203 Nov 04Stored (France)
58010Audrey Newton, 12 Dec 87 (Worn for 1 day only)29 Feb 8408 Dec 9923 Jun 04Stored (France)
58011Worksop Depot, 05 Sep 9331 Mar 8407 Dec 9930 Jun 05Stored (France)
5801231 Mar 8405 Dec 99StoredPurchased for Preservation in 2016 from Ron Hull Jr's scrapyard and now stored at the Battlefield Line awaiting restoration.
5801331 Mar 8426 Apr 0124 Jun 01Stored (France)
58014Didcot Power Station, 11 Jun 8830 Apr 8417 Nov 00ScrappedEMR Kingsbury, Aug 2010.
5801530 Sep 8408 Oct 9907 Oct 04Stored (Spain)
5801605 Oct 8405 Aug 0214 May 05Under RestorationPurchased for preservation on 28 Jun 10 by the C58LG and now undergoing restoration at Barrow Hill Roundhouse. Owned by UK Rail Leasing Locomotives at Leicester where it will be used on hire to Heritage Railways.
58017Eastleigh Depot, 26 Apr 9531 Oct 8430 Apr 99Stored
58018High Marnham Power Station, 21 May 8831 Oct 8407 Dec 9923 Aug 05In Service (France)
58019Shirebrook Colliery, 01 Oct 8930 Nov 8407 Apr 01Scrapped
58020Doncaster Works BRE, 07 Nov 84 & Doncaster Works, May 8730 Nov 8402 Sep 0223 May 04In Service (Spain)
58021Hither Green Depot, 28 Oct 8531 Dec 8403 Aug 0213 Jul 05In Service (France)
5802231 Dec 8411 Mar 02StoredOwned by Ivatt Diesel Recreation Society. The chassis will be used for the re-creation of the LMS pioneer diesel 10000.
58023Peterborough Depot, 02 Jun 9531 Dec 8424 Jul 99Operational.Purchased in 2016 along with 58012 and 58048. Based at the Battlefield Line and returned to service on November 2016. Now operational in private ownership.
5802431 Dec 8402 Sep 0223 May 04In Service (Spain)
5802531 Jan 8505 Aug 0223 May 04Stored (Spain)
5802631 Mar 8516 Jan 220 Jun 09Stored (France)
5802731 Mar 8505 Sep 9921 Oct 04Stored (Spain)
5802831 Mar 8529 Oct 99ScrappedEMR Kingsbury, Aug 2010.
5802931 Mar 8525 Jun 0223 May 04In Service (Spain)
5803030 Jun 8501 Aug 0223 May 04In Service (Spain)
58031Cabellero Ferroviario, Jun 0830 Sep 8506 Apr 0223 May 04In Service (Spain)
58032Thorsby Colliery, Oct 9530 Sep 8512 Jan 0019 Oct 04Stored (France)
5803330 Sep 8531 Aug 0228 Oct 04Stored (France)
58034Bassetlaw, 12 Dec 8530 Nov 8518 Aug 9921 Oct 04Stored (France)
5803531 Jan 8630 Jun 9927 Oct 04Stored (France)
5803628 Feb 8610 Mar 0011 Sep 99Stored (France)
58037Worksop Depot, 26 Jun 0028 Feb 8608 Apr 02EMR Southampton, Jan 2014.
5803828 Feb 8604 Dec 997 May 05Stored (France)
58039Rugeley Power Station, 13 Sep 8631 Mar 8630 Dec 9925 Jun 03Stored (France)
58040Cottam Power Station, 20 Sep 8631 Mar 8607 Dec 9913 Nov 04Stored (France)
58041Ratcliffe Power Station, 06 Sep 8631 Mar 8608 Jul 0203 Apr 03In Service (Spain)
58042Ironbridge Power Station, 29 Sep 86 & Petrolea, 05 Feb 9631 May 8613 Apr 0220 Aug 09Stored (France)
58043Knottingly, 25 Apr 9331 Jul 8601 Aug 0203 Apr 03In Service (Spain)
58044Oxcroft Opencast, 9 May 9231 Aug 8624 Jul 9916 Oct 03Stored (France)
5804530 Sep 8631 Aug 02ScrappedPurchased on 07 Jul 10 by the C58LG to provide spares for 58016. Later cut up at EMR Kingsbury in Oct 2010.
58046Thoresby Colliery, 29 Jun 91 & Ashfordby Mine, 27 Sep 9531 Oct 8313 Jan 0009 Sep 04In Service (France)
58047Manton Colliery, 28 Apr 9231 Oct 8604 Sep 0228 Oct 04In Service (Spain)
58048Coventry Colliery, 11 May 9130 Nov 8619 Jan 00Under Restoration.Purchased in 2016 from Ron Hull Jr's scrapyard at Rotherham with 58012 and 58023. This engine is being restored and will be joining 58016 in preservation. Will be used by UK Rail Leasing Locomotives at Leicester where it will go into hire on Heritage Railways.
58049Littleton Colliery, 14 Mar 8731 Dec 8629 May 0217 Nov 04Stored (France)
58050Toton Traction Depot, 9 May 8731 Mar 8705 Aug 0218 Sep 08Stored (Spain)


On 28 June 2010, DB Schenker confirmed that the Class 58 Locomotive Group's bid for 58016 had been accepted and thus the locomotive would become the first preserved example of its type. Shortly afterwards, on 7 July, the group announced they had also acquired another locomotive, 58045, as a spares donor. A subsequent posting on the group's website said that the stripping of 045 had proceeded apace and all parts recovered were to be initially stored until the restoration of 016 commences properly.[12]

In 2016 both 58012 and 58023 were both saved from Ron Hull Jr's scrapyard at Rotherham[13][14] and are now at the Battlefield Line, privately owned in preservation. 58023 is now in running order, and there are also plans to restore 58012 to running order as well.

58048 is also owned by the Battlefield Line[15][16] however it is planned that it will be saved for preservation to join the heritage roster at UK Rail Leasing Locomotives in Leicester where it will be on hire to Heritage Railways.

Class 58022 was saved by the Ivatt Diesel Recreation Society with plans to build a replica of LMS 10000. The group intends to use the chassis of 58022 for the rebuilding of the locomotive with the rest being scrapped.[17]

In 2002, 58050 was nominated by the Railway Heritage Committee for preservation at the conclusion of its service life.[18]

As of 2018 five members of the class have been preserved.

List of preserved locomotives

Number Name Livery Status Location Notes
58012 N/A N/A Stored Battlefield Line Purchased from Ron Hull Jr's scrapyard in 2016 and now stored awaiting restoration.
58016 N/A Fertis Grey Under Restoration Barrow Hill Roundhouse Purchased for preservation in Oct 2010 to become the First member of class to be preserved.
58022 N/A N/A Stored Peak Rail Purchased from Ron Hull Jr's scrapyard in 2016 and now stored awaiting deconstruction, with the frames destined for the LMS 10000 replica.
58023 Peterborough Depot Mainline Blue Operational Battlefield Line Purchased for preservation in 2016 from Ron Hull Jr's scrapyard along with 58012 & 58048 and moved to the Battlefield Line. This was the first Class 58 to be started in preservation.
58048 Coventry Colliery N/A Under Restoration Battlefield Line Purchased from Ron Hull Jr's scrapyard in 2016 along with 58012 & 58023 and now undergoing restoration.


From new, all locos were outshopped in Railfreight grey, with yellow ends and red solebars. The introduction of Railfreight sector liveries from October 1987 saw 58050 outshopped by Stratford in the new triple grey scheme, complete with the Railfreight coal sub-sector logo. Eventually the majority of the fleet were repainted in triple grey livery. Upon shadow privatisation of the UK freight business, Mainline Freight became the owners of the 50 strong fleet, which saw a small number re-painted into the operator's aircraft blue and silver livery, while others had Mainline Freight branding applied to the triple grey bodywork. With full privatisation and the takeover of the freight operations by EWS, maroon and gold became the standard livery for repainted examples from mid-1997 and beyond.


In 1979, prior to the building of the first locomotive by British Rail Engineering Limited, a 1:25 scale model was made by a member of the staff of the Locomotive Drawing Office at the Railway Technical Centre (RTC) in Derby, using the General Arrangement drawings of the proposed design. The model formed part of an exhibition at the RTC to illustrate the work of the Locomotive Design Office to the then Chairman of British Rail, Sir Peter Parker. In 1982 Hornby Railways released 00 gauge model of a Class 58, with variants produced over the next two decades.[19] Heljan released an OO model in 2008.[20] In 2011 Dapol released a model in N scale.[21]


  1. "Artists Impressions - Locomotives". Retrieved 25 October 2007.
  2. "Class 58". Southern E-Group. Retrieved 25 October 2007.
  3. Thomas, David St John; Whitehouse, Patrick (1990). BR in the Eighties. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. p. 142. ISBN 0-7153-9854-7.
  4. Earnshaw, Alan (1993). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 8. Penryn: Atlantic Books. p. 38. ISBN 0-906899-52-4.
  5. "About us | Class 58 Loco Group". Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  6. Railways Illustrated, August 2014, page 94, ISSN 1479-2230
  7. Rail Magazine Issue 792, Page 29, 20 January 2016
  8. "Focus: France WZFF WZGF WZKF". Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  9. Lowe, Chris (20 October 2011). "58s in Spain change hands | Class 58 Loco Group". Archived from the original on 29 April 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  10. "Focus: France WZFF 2009". Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  11. "Focus: Holland WZFH". Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  12. "News". Class 58 Locomotive Group. Archived from the original on 17 July 2010.
  13. Rail (UK) (7 May 2016). "Battlefield transfer for ex-DB '58s'". PressReader. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  14. "Mainline 58023 first start up in preservation on the Battlefield Line 17th November 2016". Archived from the original on 13 December 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  15. Rail (UK) (4 June 2016). "Raxstar scraps former DB Cargo Class 58". PressReader. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  16. Hood, Jason (13 August 2016). "Ex-British Rail Class 58 No.58048". Flickr. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  17. Ivatt Diesel (8 January 2016). "Successful Purchase of a suitable chassis and components". LMS10000. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  18. Railfreight 58050 is saved for the National Collection Rail issue 432 3 April 2002 page 64
  19. "Hornby Railways Collector Guide - Class - Class 58 (Type 5) - Diesel-Electric",, retrieved 10 January 2012
  20. "Class 58 models in 'OO' gauge: HELJAN",
  21. "Dapol launches 'N' gauge Class 58",, 1 June 2011, archived from the original on 6 September 2011

Further reading

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