The BREL Class 58 locomotives

The BREL-built class 58 co-co loco was introduced in 1983, with the last locomotive being accepted in March 1987. Built at Doncaster the class numbered 50 examples and the early deliveries were subject to extensive acceptance testing which took most of 1984 mainly utilising  58001.

Testing soon found the 58's Achilles’ heel - that of a tendency to slip and a long period of testing and development took place during 1984 in conjunction with the Brush engineers.

The final locomotive, 58050 was fitted with a separately excited traction motor (SEPEX) wheelslip control system, which allowed a much better control of slipping.

I have it on good authority that the sources which say it was only used for experimentation are wrong and the loco DID enter revenue earning service with BR in 1987. Apparently it performed quite well, the weakness being the bogie which was not designed for heavy haulage.

The issue which resulted in its reversion to standard was a major failure which was caused by poor maintenance resulting in the busbars being left loose following some work. These exploded under load with the result that all the electronic firing cards in the rack were destroyed. The cost of repair was going to be high and so it was converted to a standard series motor locomotive.

Although the author was not directly involved with the testing & commissioning of these locomotives they were around at the RTC in 1983/4 when undergoing acceptance testing and commissioning by my colleagues. I was involved doing other things with the prototype Sprinters.

Click on the picture for a bigger image - pictures are BR official unless otherwise credited

RTC 58001 coupled to Test car 6 at the side of the EDU at the RTC sometime in 1983

On the Midland at Sileby on 19th February 1983 sees 45106 with 58001, Lab 6, Lab 10 and Test Car 10 probably heading for Old Dalby. It was hauled by a class 45 as at this stage no Derby drivers were trained to operate the class 58


The same train heads towards Leicester in this view TC6 ADB975290, Lab 10 RDB975428 and TC10 ADB975814


A close up of the locomotive 58001


Turning move A shot of 58001 propelling Test Car 6 towards in order to turn the train on the triangle south of the station in the Spring of 1983 Propelling 58001 propelling Test Car 6 towards Burton on Trent
58001 at Leicester, with TC6 in tow, probably returning to the RTC from a run to Cricklewood sometime during 1984

Paul Rowlatt

Sutton 58004, Test Car 6 and 58005 at Sutton Colliery in 1984 whilst undertaking wheel slip tests- the locos were actually working in multiple as TC6 was through-wired
58005 58005 at Sutton Colliery 58004 58004 - during these trials over a 3 month period one loco was re-wired to have separately excited motors. 58050 was fitted with SEPEX which made a remarkable improvement to the ability of the loco to keep its feet, however it was not pursued
58050 at Old Dalby in April 1987

Paul Clark

In service

Click on the picture for a bigger image - all pictures are the author's except where otherwise indicated

58001 58011 in the sidings at RTC - probably during 1984

58038 official photo

BR Official

Donnington Unidentified class 58 waiting to come off the Donnington Branch on 21st January 1985 Ratcliffe 58022 heading north near Ratcliffe power station in summer 1986
58008 with ballast train at Old Dalby

Andrew Royal

58041 leaving Rattcliffe Power Station



58005 58005 on a test train at Crewe on 14th July 1999


Barrow Restored 58001 at Barrow Hill on 18th May 2008

More will be added


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