British Rail Class 70 (diesel)

The Class 70 is a six-axle Co-Co mainline freight GE PowerHaul locomotive series manufactured by General Electric in Erie, Pennsylvania. The order placed in 2007 for 20 units, with an option for a further 10, for Freightliner for operations in the United Kingdom was the first order for the PowerHaul type. General Electric's product code for the class of loco is PH37ACmi.

British Rail Class 70
Freightliner 70017 working a container train out of the Port of Felixstowe in June 2012
Type and origin
Power typeDiesel-electric
BuilderGeneral Electric
Build date2008–2017
Total produced37
Gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Wheel diameter1,067 mm (42.0 in)
Length21.710 m (71 ft 2.7 in)
Width2.642 m (8 ft 8.0 in)
Height3.917 m (12 ft 10.2 in)
Loco weight129 t (127 long tons; 142 short tons) (empty) (135t full)[n 1]
Fuel capacity6,000 l (1,300 imp gal; 1,600 US gal)
Prime moverGE PowerHaul P616
AlternatorGE GTA series
Traction motorsGE 5GEB30 axle hung
Performance figures
Maximum speed120 km/h (75 mph)
Power outputEngine: 2,750 kW (3,690 bhp)
Tractive effort534 kN (120,000 lbf) (starting)
Colas Rail

Background and specification

In November 2007, Freightliner UK announced Project Genesis (unrelated to GE's Genesis series built for Amtrak), a procurement plan for 30 freight locomotives from General Electric. The locomotives ordered were intended to match older types in terms of haulage capacity whilst at the same time being more fuel-efficient. The project was a collaborative effort between Freightliner and GE, with input from drivers on the cab design.[1][2] The locomotives utilize a GE PowerHaul P616 diesel engine rated at 2,750 kW (3,690 hp).[3] the locomotive meets EU Tier IIIa emission regulations.[4] Freightliner expects that the locomotive's efficiency is 7% better than contemporary models, with a further 3% increase in efficiency whilst braking; regenerative braking is used to supply the energy to power auxiliary motors.[5][6]

It was speculated that these locomotives would receive the TOPS classification Class 68,[7] however the locomotives were given the Class 70 TOPS code,[8][9] breaking the previous convention that class numbers in the 70s were used for DC electric locomotives.

The new locomotives are similar in appearance to a Class 58; a hood unit design with a narrow body typical of locomotive types in use in North America, the cabs are accessed from the rear via exterior walkways on the narrow part of the hood. The distinctive front end shape is due to crashworthiness features[4][n 2] It is also fitted with air conditioning and acoustic insulation to improve the crew's environment, making it an improvement over the Class 66.[6]



Construction of the first two locomotives at GE's Erie, Pennsylvania plant was completed in July 2009, with both locomotives being tested during the same month.[10][11] The original plan was for two months of testing, with the locomotives then spending a further three weeks being modified where necessary and prepared for transport to the United Kingdom.[12]

The first two locomotives (nos. 70001 and 70002) arrived in Britain on 8 November 2009 at Newport Docks.[13] The delivery gave GE its first locomotives in service on the British rail network. The first locomotive was given the name 'PowerHaul' at Leeds on 24 November 2009.[4]

Four more locomotives were delivered to the UK on 2 December 2009.[14] On operation tests, 70001 hauled a 30-wagon train consisting of 60 iso containers during December 2009.[14] 70002 also hauled a 19 hopper 1300 tonne coal train in the same month.[15]

On 19 and 20 December 2010, five Class 70 locomotives were loaded onto Beluga Endurance at Erie, Pennsylvania;[16] on 5 January 2011, the ship docked at Newport Docks. Locomotives 70008 to 70011 were unloaded without any problems; locomotive 70012 was being unloaded when part of the lifting gear failed, causing the locomotive to fall back into the hold of the ship and being severely damaged.[17]

The BBC Colorado docked at Newport on 17 December 2011 and unloading of four more class 70s commenced in the late hours of the morning of 18 December 2011.

A number of locomotives are currently in storage at Freightliner's Midland Road depot in Leeds awaiting a decision on their fate.

Turkish demonstrator

In August 2012 it was announced that the demonstrator locomotive built in Turkey in 2011[18] was to be transferred to the UK and allocated the number 70099.[19] The locomotive was to be allocated to the private owners pool for use as required.[20] On 19 November 2012 it was announced that 70099 was to test trial with GBRf for coal and intermodal traffic trials,

Colas Rail

In November 2013, Colas Rail announced it had agreed a deal to procure ten Class 70 locomotives, with new builds to be assembled in Erie, Pennsylvania for entry into service in 2014;[21] the order included the Turkish built demonstrator 70099, renumbered as 70801, and the remainder of Freightliner's original order option of 30 locomotives.[22]

Colas' locomotives were allotted numbers in the 708xx range. 7080270805 had already been constructed at the time of the order and were shipped to the United Kingdom in January 2014, with the rest assembled and delivered later the same year.[23] In 2015, Colas announced the purchase of an additional seven locomotives, which were delivered by 2017.[24] Despite the number range, Colas Rail locomotives remain as Class 70/0 rather than 70/8.[25]

Accidents and incidents

  • On 5 January 2011, locomotive 70012 was being unloaded from Beluga Endurance when part of the lifting gear failed, causing the locomotive to fall approximately 13 to 20 ft (4 to 6 m) from the crane, back into the hold of the ship. The impact severely bent the locomotive's frame, rendering it unserviceable and resulting in it later being returned to the United States.[17]
  • On 5 April 2012, locomotive 70018 had an engine room fire requiring the attention of the fire brigade, whilst hauling a freight train on the line between Basingstoke and Winchester.[26][27][28]
  • On 27 February 2016, locomotive 70803 collided with an engineers train at Ivybridge, Devon and was derailed.[29]
  • On 30 October 2016, locomotive 70804 ran away and was derailled at Toton Sidings in Nottinghamshire. [30]


Subclass Operator Total Built TOPS number range Currently in UK Notes
Class 70/0 Freightliner 20 2009-2011 70001-70020 70001-70011
Intended for both heavy haul and intermodal trains.
70012 dropped while being unloaded at Newport; returned to manufacturers and is currently used as a test bed.[31]
Class 70/0[32] Colas Rail 1 2011 70801-70810 70801 Built as demonstrator for Turkish Railways. Transferred to UK in 2012 as 70099. Renumbered 2013.
9 2014 70802-70810
7 2016-2017 70811-70817 70811-70817

List of Class 70 locomotives

Current Number Previous Number Current name Current Livery Operator Status Notes
Class Class
70001 N/A Powerhaul Freightliner Powerhaul Freightliner Operational
70002 N/A N/A Operational
70003 N/A N/A Operational
70004 N/A The Coal Industry Society Operational
70005 N/A N/A Operational
70006 N/A N/A Operational
70007 N/A N/A Operational
70008 N/A N/A Operational
70009 N/A N/A Operational
70010 N/A N/A Operational
70011 N/A N/A Operational
70012 N/A N/A Withdrawn Dropped during unloading in Newport Docks.
Returned + repaired as GE test bed.[33]
70013 N/A N/A Operational
70014 N/A N/A Operational
70015 N/A N/A Operational
70016 N/A N/A Operational
70017 N/A N/A Operational
70018 N/A N/A Operational
70019 N/A N/A Operational
70020 N/A N/A Operational
70801 70099
DE 37 001[33]
N/A Colas Rail Freight Colas Rail Operational Renumbered from Turkish demonstrator 70099.
70802 N/A N/A Operational
70803 N/A N/A Operational
70804 N/A N/A Operational
70805 N/A N/A Operational
70806 N/A N/A Operational
70807 N/A N/A Operational
70808 N/A N/A Operational
70809 N/A N/A Operational
70810 N/A N/A Operational
70811 N/A N/A Operational
70812 N/A N/A Operational
70813 N/A N/A Operational
70814 N/A N/A Operational
70815 N/A N/A Operational
70816 N/A N/A Operational
70817 N/A N/A Operational


  • 70001 PowerHaul[4]
  • 70004 The Coal Industry Society[34]

See also


  1. Full mass is 135t, as displayed on the locomotives information plate.
  2. The relevant standard at the time of introduction being EN 15227.


  1. "Freightliner Group Orders 30 Locomotives from GE - Transportation for UK Market" (Press release). GE Transportation. 26 November 2007. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
  2. "Freightliner Group Ltd has placed an order for 30 brand new locomotives". (Press release). Freightliner (UK). 19 November 2007. Archived from the original on 26 September 2008.
  3. "Freightliner order 30 General Electric Genesis JS37ACi locomotives". 26 November 2007.
  4. "PowerHaul brings Evolution technology to Europe". Railway Gazette International. 26 November 2009.
  5. PowerHaul locomotive specification sheet (Version 3). Freightliner details may not be final
  6. "Freightliner PowerHaul loco design on show". Railway Gazette International. 8 September 2008. Archived from the original on 15 April 2012. Retrieved 2 August 2009.
  7. "How Freightliner's new GE locos will look". The Railway Magazine. November 2008. p. 63.
  8. Rail Express: 5. October 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. Railways Illustrated: 13. November 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. "PowerHaul® locos ready for testing" (PDF). (Press release). Freightliner Group Ltd. 10 July 2009.
  11. "Freightliner PowerHaul locomotives ready for testing". Railway Gazette International. 10 July 2009.
  12. Haigh, Philip; Clinnick, Richard (2009). "Freightliner PowerHaul starts tests ready for autumn". Rail. No. 623. pp. 6–7.
  13. "PowerHaul arrival brings GE into European loco market". Railway Gazette International. 8 November 2009.
  14. "PowerHaul - Longer, Heavier Trains". Freightliner Group. Freightliner is pleased to announce that PowerHaul locomotive 70001 has successfully completed operational trials hauling, the first ever 30 wagon train to and from the Port of Felixstowe
  15. "PowerHaul runs first loaded trial". QMJ Publishing. 4 December 2009.
  16. Erie Shipping News (20 December 2010). "Beluga Endurance in the port of Erie".
  17. "New Class 70 dropped during unloading". RAIL. Bauer Consumer Media (662). 26 January 2011. Archived from the original on 15 July 2011.
  18. "Tülomsas rolls out Turkish PowerHaul". Railway Gazette. 1 March 2011.
  19. Coward, Andy (2012). "Demonstrator '70' set for UK use". Rail (701): 30.
  20. Coward, Andy (2012). "GBRf in the frame for Turkish '70'". Rail (702): 33.
  21. "Colas Rail orders 10 GE Transportation PowerHaul locomotives". Railway Gazette. 21 November 2013.
  22. "Colas Rail PowerHaul order now official [Updated 2013-11-22]". Mainline 22 November 2013. Archived from the original on 7 December 2013.
  23. "Colas Class 70 moves". Railways Illustrated. Eastfield Media: 11. January 2014.
  24. Pritchard, Robert (February 2016). "More 70s for Colas Rail". Today's Railways. Platform 5 (170): 58.
  25. TOPS enquiry.
  26. "Train fire causes "significant" delays to South West Train services", BBC News, 5 April 2012
  27. Melanie Adams (5 April 2012), "Fire on train at Micheldever causing delays on line between Hampshire and London", Southern Daily Echo
  28. Adrian Williams (5 April 2012), "70018 On fire near Wallers Ash Loop" (Image),
  29. "Collision between two freight trains in a work site near Ivybridge, Devon, 27 February 2016". Rail Accidents Investigation Branch. 19 May 2016. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  30. "Runaway of locomotive - News stories - GOV.UK". Retrieved 10 November 2016.
  31. "Macquarie Class 70/0". Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  32. TOPS enquiry.
  33. Dunn, Pip; Patston, John (December 2012). "Turkish Class 70 to run trials in UK". News Front. Modern Railways. pp. 14–15. GE has confirmed ... 70012 – which suffered a bent frame when it was dropped during unloading at Newport in 2010 – has been repaired but will remain in the USA as a test bed loco for major components.
  34. A. Samuel (11 February 2011). "Freightliner names PowerHaul 70004". Archived from the original on 20 March 2012.
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