New Zealand DH class locomotive

The New Zealand DH class is a type of diesel-electric heavy transfer and shunting locomotive in New Zealand's national railway network. The class consists of six heavy shunt U10B type locomotives built by General Electric United States at their Erie, Pennsylvania plant[2] in 1978.[4][1] Five of the class are used in the Auckland area for heavy shunting duties, including services around Auckland and the Port of Auckland, while one is based at the Port of Tauranga in Mount Maunganui.[4]

New Zealand DH class (1978)
DH 2868 shunting two new DLs at Port of Auckland.
Type and origin
Power typeDiesel-Electric Shunter
BuilderGeneral Electric, United States[1]
Build date1978[1]
Length11.2 m (36 ft 9 in)
Loco weight54 tonnes (53 long tons; 60 short tons)
Prime moverCaterpillar D398
RPM range1300 rpm
Engine typeV12 Diesel engine
GeneratorGeneral Electric GT-601
Traction motorsFour General Electric 761
Cylinder size159 mm × 203 mm (6 in × 8 in)
Performance figures
Maximum speed112 km/h (70 mph)
Power output672 kW (901 hp)
Tractive effort146 kN (33,000 lbf)
Number in class6
Numbers900 - 905 (original)[2]
2816 - 2868 (TMS)[3]
LocaleUpper North Island, mainly around Auckland
First run1978
DispositionAll in service


Originally an order for Philippine National Railways 2500 Class, the six locomotives were purchased as by coincidence NZR needed a heavy shunter for Auckland container port transfer work. At the time two DSC class shunters were linked in tandem to perform this task. The DH class are a light locomotive which are geared to run at 100 km/h (62 mph).

They saw occasional service on the then under-used Auckland suburban passenger network where they performed well, but NZR focused them on their intended purpose, heavy shunting. In the late 1980s, NZR provided a DH unit to the Tasman Pulp and Paper mill in Kawerau to trial[4] for sale as a heavy shunter in the mill's rail yards. The mill turned down the offer, instead, they purchased a DA class locomotive to perform shunting duties. In July 1979 one DH, 905, was trialled at the Te Rapa marshalling yards in Hamilton, but the trial was unsuccessful and the locomotive returned to Auckland later that year.[2]


The class should not be confused with the English Electric DH class of 1956; as all of the old DHs had been reclassified as DG in 1968, the classification was re-used.


The locomotives were upgraded in the late 1990s with shunters refuges at the front and back of the locomotives, in line with other New Zealand shunting locomotives at the time.[1] In the 2010s the class were upgraded again for multiple unit (MU) operation.[5]

Other users

The Hedjaz Jordan Railway has three GE U10B locomotives of 1,050 mm (3 ft 5 1132 in) gauge. These are of A1A-A1A wheel arrangement. Another user is the Belgrano Sur Line (Buenos Aires), Argentina. The Bogotá Savannah Railway has two GE U10B locomotives


Further reading

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