BR Class 60

The BR Class 60 is a 3,100 bhp type five locomotive manufactured by Brush Traction as a heavy freight locomotive. The Class 60 was designed for heavy freight operations in British Rail’s trainload division.

Due to the rigorously increasing rail freight business in Britain, a need for a powerful type five locomotive was recognized. In the eighties, the freight rail industry throughout the country experienced an upsurge, which meant heavier trains, requiring additional horsepower and tractive effort.  During this time, BR did not have sufficient motive power, as the Class 56 and Class 58 were handling much of the heavy hauls, and much of the other motive power dated to the fifties or sixties, and did encompass the required horsepower.


Duncan Cotterill/railography

Although the locomotives performed decently, these two classes struggled with wheel slip issues and were not powerful enough for the trainloads that were demanded. The Class 56, based on the Class 47 body, was constructed as a stop gap locomotive, however, after issues resolved, it became an ample locomotive. In 1983, the Class 58 was constructed by British Rail Engineering Limited (BREL) at Doncaster, for use on heavier trains, mainly coal traffic. However, the Class 58 suffered from wheel slip issues, and was not performing to the caliber that BR, and their customers, had expected.

During this time, BR was on a strict budget and began considering rebuilding locomotives already on the roster, increasing horsepower and tractive effort in an attempt to save costs. As a trial by manufacturer, Hawker Siddely, new prime movers were placed into four Class 37s, re-classified as 37/9’s, which were equipped with Mirrlees prime movers. Additionally, manufacturer GEC installed two Ruston prime movers into two Class 37s. Although the performance was impressive, the horsepower was not sufficient for the duties required, and it was decided that a brand new locomotive was needed. However, these trials assisted BR in the important decision of what prime mover it would use for its new type 5.

British Rail had strict expectations for the manufacturer who would ultimately accept the project, as the order was quite a large investment, with one-hundred units ordered. BR sought the ideal manufacturer where the agency would receive the most value for their investment.  Additionally, in order to meet demand, BR set a strict time frame of three years for the project.

Duncan Cotterill/railography

Due to its power and reliability, the EMD Class 59 was considered for the project, due to its excellent performance on all fronts. However, during this time, industry in Britain was struggling, and British Rail was encouraged by the both the British Railway Board (BRB), and the National Union of Railwaymen to tender a British locomotive manufacturer to construct the new units. British Rail invited various  locomotive manufacturers to tender for the project, GEC, Brush Traction, Electro-Motive Diesel, Hawker Siddely and Metro Cammel Limited. Preferring to contract a British manufacturer, Brush Traction was chosen, with Procor (Horbury Railway Works) of Wakefield constructing the body shells, however, the internals(except prime mover) and running gear were manufactured by Brush. Brush was the chosen tender because British Rail felt they could deliver on their promises in a short time frame, and to a reasonable standard.

Thus, Class 60 construction began at Brush, however, not without some backlash from employees citing the short time frame for the order. According to Edward Gleed’s book, “British Rail Class 60 Locomotives” as part of the contract, two models were to be constructed to aide in the building process. Both models were constructed by Basset Lowke, one was constructed in the two tone gray livery with number 60001, and was painted in General User logos, however, none of the class was utilized in this sector. The second model constructed was painted in two-tone gray livery with construction sector logos.

Upon completion of the first locomotive, a ceremony was held for its handover to BR. 60001 was handed over to BR in June of 1989, and brought to Toton, and later to Derby. Upon arrival at the Railway Technical Centre at Derby, a number of teething problems arose. British Rail engineers discovered various software and bogie issues, which delayed the locomotive’s entry into to service by a year. Because of these technical issue with 60001, after the delivery of the one-hundred strong order of locomotives, a locomotive modification plan was immediately implemented, with modifications similar to 60001.

Syd Young

According to Gleed’s book, in addition to the aforementioned modifications performed, the locomotives also experienced cooling issues, mainly splitting radiators and fractured intercoolers. Upon entering service, the Mirrlees powerplant also began troubling the fleet, as the cylinder heads were prone to cracking, however, these were rectified by Mirrlees immediately. To perform these repairs, BR would remove a few locomotives from service at a given time, keeping most of the fleet in operation during their modifications. The lengthy time frame for construction and modifications resulted in a lawsuit between Brush and the British Railway Board (BRB), in which, the BRB stated that Brush did not follow through with the contract on account of delivery time, and cited the various issues that arose upon delivery.

Although the class experienced teething troubles, the locomotives have surely proved their worth. The Mirrlees prime mover was believed to be superior to any other locomotive on the railway, as although it had less horsepower than the Class 56 & 59, it maintained its speed on steep gradients. The prime mover, in addition to the locomotive’s superior tractive effort, allowed it to accomplish what it had been built for, to haul freight.

As with all new locomotives entering traffic for BR, the Class 60 was rigorously tested, having to acquire one-thousand miles before entering service. This included testing at the Old Dalby Test Track, light engine runs, and revenue earning runs. Additionally, much of the testing was carried out in Scotland as well, as the gradients are some of the steepest in the country, and would put the locomotive’s braking power to the ultimate test.

Although the locomotives encountered a troubled beginning, the class eventually settled in to their working life, and became favorites among drivers for their tractive effort and anti wheel slip technology. After privatization, the locomotives were transferred to new freight giant, English, Welsh, and Scottish (EWS), and were then transferred to DB Schenker in 2007, when the company purchased EWS. In 2010, DB Schenker announced the rebuilding of twenty Class 60 locomotives, called the “Super Sixty” project, which was designed to extend the lifespan of a select number of the class for the coming years. These rebuilds were completed between 2011-2013. Presently, the operators of this class are both DB Schenker and GBRf, although, various units owned by DB were sold to Wabtec Rail, and are stored. Although many members of the class are inactive, various examples continue to roam the British Rail network, completing the tasks they were designed for, hauling heavy freight trains.

Richard Dyke


Built for sheer power, the Class 60 was fitted with a Mirrlees MB275T, producing 3,100 horsepower, feeding power to a Brush BA1006A  generator, providing electricity to the six TM2161A traction motors. The locomotives included a Deuda health monitoring system, which would continuously monitor the status of the components within the locomotive, however, this system was seen as troublesome before modifications were implemented.

The bogies on the locomotive were manufactured by Brush, and included the separate microprocessor-controlled traffic supply (SEPEX), which was previously tested on a single Class 58 locomotive.

Total Built100
Build Date1989-1993
Wheel ConfigurationCo’Co’
Minimum Curve80 metres
Wheelbase15.3 m
Length21.34 m
Width2.64 m
Height3.95 m
Weight129  t
Fuel Capacity5,900 litres
Prime MoverMirrlees MB275T
Traction MotorsTM2161A
Max Speed60 mph
Horsepower3,100 bhp
Tractive Effort106,500 lbf
Route Availability7

Locomotive Names

The class was named after mountains and famous Britons who contributed to the fields of both engineering and science. Listed below are both original names, and subsequent names in parenthesis.

60001Steadfast (The Railway Observer)
60002Capability Brown (Tempest)
60003Christopher Wren (Freight Transport Association)
60005Skiddaw (BP Gas Avonmouth)
60006Great Gable (Scunthorpe Ironmaster)
60007Robert Adam (The Spirit of Tom Kendall)
60008Moel Fammau (Sir William McAlpline)
60009Carnedd Dafydd (
60011Cader Idris
60012Glyder Fawr
60013Robert Boyle
60014Alexander Fleming
60015Bow Fell
60016Langdale Pikes (Rail Magazine)
60017Arenig Fawr (Shotton Works Centenary Year 1996)
60018Moel Siabod
60019Wild Boar Fell (Port of Grimsby & Immingham)
60020Great Whernside (Pride of Colnbrook)
60023The Cheviot
60024Elizabeth Fry (Clitheroe Castle)
60025Joseph Lister (Caledonian Paper)
60026William Caxton (Jupiter)
60027Joseph Banks
60028John Flamsteed
60029Ben Nevis (Clitheroe Castle)
60030Cir Mhor
60031Ben Lui (ABP Connect)
60032William Booth
60033Anthony Ashley Cooper (Tees Steel Express)
60034Carnedd Llewelyn
60035Florence Nightingale
60036Sgurr na Ciche (GEFCO)
60038Bidean nam Bian (AvestaPolarit)
60039Glastonbury Tor (Dave Holes)
60040Brecon Beacons (The Territorial Army Centenary)
60041High Willhays
60042Dunkery Beacon (The Hundred of Hoo)
60043Yes Tor
60044Ailsa Craig (Dowlow)
60045Josephine Butler (The Permanent Way Insitution)
60046William Wilberforce
60047Robert Owen
60048Saddleback (Eastern)
60050Roseberry Topping
60051Mary Somerville
60052Goat Fell (Glofa Twr The last deep mine in Wales, Tower Colliery)
60053John Reith (Nordic Terminal)
60054Charles Babbage
60055Thomas Barnardo
60056William Beveridge
60057Adam Smith
60058John Howard
60059Samuel Plimsoll (Swinden Dalesman)
60060James Watt
60061Alexander Graham Bell
60062Samuel Johnson (Stainless Pioneer)
60063James Murray
60064Back Tor
60065Kinder Low (Spirit of JAGUAR)
60066John Logie Baird
60067James Clerk-Maxwell
60068Charles Darwin
60069Humphry Davy (Slioch)
60070John Loudon McAdam
60071Dorothy Garrod (Ribblehead Viaduct)
60072Cairn Toul
60073Cairn Gorm
60074Braeriach (Teenage Spirit)
60076Suilven (Dunbar)
60078Stac Pollaidh
60080Kinder Scout
60081Bleaklow Hill
60082Mam Tor
60084Cross Fell
60085Axe Edge (Mini-Pride of Oxford)
60087Slioch (Barry Needam)
60088Buchaille Etive Mor
60089Arcuil (The Railway Horse)
60091An Teallach (Barry Needham)
60092Reginald Munns
60093Jack Stirk (Adrian Harrington 1955-2013) (Royal Navy/BurgesSalmon)
60094Tryfan (Rugby Flyer)
60095Crib Goch
60096Ben Macdui (Impetus)
60097Pillar (Port of Grimsby and Immingham)
60098Charles Francis Brush
60099Ben More Assynt
60100Boar of Badenoch (Pride of Acton) (Midland Railway Butterly)



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