JNR Class DD51

The Class DD51 (DD51形) is a B-2-B wheel arrangement diesel-hydraulic locomotive type operated in Japan since 1962. 649 locomotives were built between 1962 and 1978 by Kawasaki Sharyo, Hitachi, and Mitsubishi. The class was designed for mainline passenger and freight use with more power than the D51 and a higher maximum speed than the C62 steam locomotive classes. This was achieved by installing two 1,100 hp engines in an 18 metre long centre-cab design, unusual for mainline operation. The V12 DML61 engines were developed from the 6-cylinder inline DMF31 engines used in the Class DD13 locomotives.[3] As of 1 April 2016, 29 locomotives remained in operation.[1]

Class DD51
DD51 1027 in October 2007
Type and origin
Power typeDiesel-hydraulic
BuilderHitachi, Kawasaki, Mitsubishi
Build date1962 - 1978
Total produced649[1]
Gauge1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Wheel diameter860 mm
Length18,000 mm
Width2,951 mm - 2,971 mm[2]
Height3,956 mm
Loco weight84 tonnes
Performance figures
Maximum speed95 km/h (60 mph)
Power output2,200 hp
OperatorsJNR, JR Hokkaido, JR East, JR Central, JR West, JR Freight
Number in class29 (as of 1 April 2016)


Locos numbered from DD51 501 to 799 and from 1001 to 1186 were equipped to operate in multiple, and locos numbered DD51 800 to 899 and 1801 to 1805 were built without steam generators for train heating.[3]


All locomotives numbered from DD51 2 onwards were finished in the standard diesel livery of orange/red with grey upper surfaces separated by a white stripe. Re-engined locos operated by JR Freight in Hokkaido sport a livery based on the Class DF200 colour scheme, with no white stripe. These locomotives were used in pairs double-heading freight trains.

JR Hokkaido locos were all finished in the "Hokutosei" livery of blue with a gold stripe and shooting star logo. These were used in pairs for hauling sleeper trains (Hokutosei, Cassiopeia, and Twilight Express) between Hakodate and Sapporo.[4]

DD51 592 (now withdrawn), and now DD51 791, was repainted in the "Euroliner" livery of pale blue with dark blue stripes for use with JR Central's "Euroliner" Joyful Train set.

DD51 842 was designated as the Imperial Train locomotive. Whereas regular members of the class have white handrails and edges to the running boards, they are polished stainless steel on this particular locomotive, as are the exhaust shrouds. Based at Takasaki Depot, it is also used for special excursion trains.[4]


Many of the JR Freight locomotive underwent life extension refurbishment, which included removal of steam generator equipment where still fitted. These locos are distinguished by a new livery of blue with grey upper surfaces separated by a white stripe, and cream end panels.

DD51 class locomotives also formed the basis for the DD17, DD18, and DD19 self-propelled snow plough units.[4]

Fleet allocation

Following the privatization of Japanese National Railways (JNR) on 1 April 1987, JR Hokkaido received 25 locomotives, JR East received 29, JR Central received 4, JR West received 63, JR Kyushu received one locomotive, and JR Freight received 137.[1]

As of 1 April 2016, 29 locomotives remained in operation, including 17 locomotives operated by JR Freight, four by JR East, and eight by JR West.[1]

Overseas operations

A number of Class DD51 locomotives have been shipped to Myanmar for use on the Myanmar Railways.[5]

As of March 2016, the status of DD51s shipped to Myanmar is as follows.[5]

Original numberManufacturerDate builtLast ownerDate withdrawnDate shippedMR number(s)Status
DD51 797HitachiNovember 1972JR FreightMarch 20032004D2D.2201Stored out of use
DD51 823HitachiAugust 1970JR FreightJune 20052005D2D.2202Status unknown
DD51 1070MitsubishiFebruary 1974JR FreightDecember 20052005DD.1101Cut up May 2015
DD.1102Stored out of use
DD51 1001MitsubishiOctober 1972JR FreightDecember 20052005DD.1103Stored out of use
DD.1104Status unknown
DD51 1006MitsubishiNovember 1972JR HokkaidoDecember 20082012DF.2027Awaiting conversion
DD51 1068MitsubishiFebruary 1974JR HokkaidoDecember 20082012DF.2012Awaiting conversion

Conversion included re-gauging from 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) to 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) and lowering the cab roof profile.[5] Locomotives DD51 1070 and DD51 1001 were heavily rebuilt with parts from other locomotives to form four Bo-Bo wheel arrangement locomotives used for depot shunting work.[5]

Preserved examples

As of April 2016, seven class DD51 locomotives are preserved:

The prototype, DD51 1, with its unique, more rounded appearance, was moved to the Usui Pass Railway Heritage Park in April 1998 and repainted in its original livery of brown with white lining. This locomotive was withdrawn March 1986, and was subsequently stored at Takasaki Depot from March 1987.[2]


The DD51 classification for this locomotive type is explained below.

  • D: Diesel locomotive
  • D: Four driving axles
  • 51: Locomotive with maximum speed exceeding 85 km/h


  1. Miyahara, Masakazu, ed. (December 2016). 国鉄最終章LAST (鉄道ジャーナル2017年2月号別冊) [JNR - The Final Chapter (Railway Journal February 2017 Extra issue)] (in Japanese). Japan: Railway Journal. p. 34–35. ASIN B01N59AJPB. ISSN 0288-2337.
  2. Ishii, Yoshitaka (2004). Dd51物語: 国鉄ディーゼル機関車2400両の開発と活躍の足跡 DD51物語 [The DD51 Story]. Tokyo, Japan: JTB Can Books. ISBN 978-4-533-05661-1.
  3. Inoue, Kōichi (1999). 国鉄機関車事典: 蒸気・電気・ディーゼル機関車66形式 国鉄機関車辞典 [JNR Locomotive Encyclopedia]. Japan: Sankaido. pp. 176–177. ISBN 978-4-381-10338-3.
  4. JR全車輌ハンドブック2006 [JR Rolling Stock Handbook 2006]. Japan: Neko Publishing. 2006. ISBN 978-4-7770-0453-9.
  5. Saito, Mikio (October 2016). ミャンマーに渡ったDD51 [The DD51s shipped to Myanmar]. Japan Railfan Magazine (in Japanese). Vol. 56 no. 666. Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd. p. 149–151.
  6. Sasada, Masahiro (25 November 2014). 国鉄&jr 保存車大全 2015-2016 国鉄&JR保存車大全2015-2016 [JNR & JR Preserved Rolling Stock Complete Guide 2015-2016] (in Japanese). Tokyo, Japan: Ikaros Publications Ltd. p. 123. ISBN 978-4863209282.
  7. 京都鉄道博物館 [Kyoto Railway Museum]. Japan Railfan Magazine (in Japanese). Vol. 56 no. 662. Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd. June 2016. p. 4852–53.
  8. Shibata, Togo (February 2016). 2016年「津山まなびの鉄道館」としてリニューアルオープン [Reopening in 2016 as "Tsuyama Railroad Educational Museum!]. Tetsudō Daiya Jōhō Magazine (in Japanese). Vol. 45 no. 382. Japan: Kōtsū Shimbun. p. 46–47.
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