The Foster Yeoman Class 59's

The Class 59 locomotives were the first General Motors (GM) product to be employed in the UK and this was as a result of the Somerset-based quarrying firm of Foster Yeoman being dissatisfied with the unreliable motive power supplied by BR for their stone trains. It therefore decided to go its own way and ordered four class 59 locomotives for evaluation from Electro-Motive Division (EMD) of La Grange, Illinois, USA in  November 1984  . So successful were these locomotives that further examples were ordered by FY and by their rivals Amey Roadstone Corporation (ARC) and later National Power.

The original four 3600 HP co-co locos reached these shores on 21st January 1986, followed by a fifth at a later date.

During acceptance trials on 16 February 1986, locomotive 59001 hauled a train weighing 4639 tonnes the heaviest load ever hauled by a single non-articulated traction unit on BR metals.

Although the author was not directly involved with the testing & commissioning of these locomotives they were around at the RTC in early 1986 when undergoing acceptance testing and commissioning by my colleagues. I was involved doing other things with Sprinters.

Click on the picture for a bigger image - pictures are the author's unless otherwise credited

All four together

Brand new EMD class 59 locomotive 59002 sits in the sidings at RTC in the company of the other members of the class on 27th January 1986. All four locomotives came to Derby for weighing although only one went through the acceptance tests.

Author's collection

outside the EDU Pictured between the EDU and the main line

Author's collection

Hooked up to Test Car 10

By 31st January locomotive 59003 was coupled to Test Car 10 ready for a run to Cricklewood.

Thanks to for info - look here and on under Germany, diesel, class 259 for pictures

Author's collection

Ready to depart At Brent Sidings the traction inspector looks back to check that everything is okay before moving off.

Author's collection

59003 59003 in the snow at the RTC on 6th February 1986

Author's collection

The deployment of these locomotives by Foster Yeoman lead in turn to a second order from the Amey Roadstone Corporation (ARC) for four class 59/1 locos which were delivered to UK in October 1990. This was followed in 1994 by five more 59/2 locos for National Power. Much later major orders for variants of the class 59  were placed by EWS, Freightliner and DRS and these became known as the class 66 locomotives, which continue to be delivered.

Eventually ARC and Foster Yeoman amalgamated to form Mendip Rail but ARC was bought out by Hanson who applied their own livery to the locos

59201 passes the site of the present East Midlands Parkway station in the summer of 1994 with Test Car 1 behind the drawbar and in the company of Test Car 5 (formerly Lab 6 'Prometheus') and two unidentified departmental test cars. The train was most likely en route to Old Dalby

Hugh Searle

In mid-1997 59003 was modified and sent to Germany to operate for a new company jointly owned by Foster Yeoman and DB Cargo in order to operate high-capacity aggregate trains to various major construction sites. It was repainted at Eastleigh Works into a blue and red livery and received a number of technical modifications, including a high level headlight above the cab windows to conform with European standards. In 2001 this loco was sold to UK-based Heavy Haul Power who are now a major player in German private freight operations and operates alongside class 66 derivatives.

Before it was shipped abroad it underwent a bogie rotation test and was weighed at RTC

Click on the picture for a bigger image - pictures are courtesy Hugh Searle

59003 undergoes a bogie rotational test in the EDU prior to being shipped to Europe in 1994

Another shot of 59003 on the bogie rotational rig

59003 is weighed at RTC - view from inside the control room

However in 2014 it was repatriated and is now owned by GB Railfreight and wears their livery

However most class 59 variants carry DB Schenker red today.

Westbury Class 59/1 No: 59104 'Village of Great Elm' in Hanson livery arrives at Westbury on 19th October 2006


On 8th August 2003 EWS class 66 No:66118 approaches Oxford past Oxford N Jcn with empty container flats
Dollands Moor EWS class 66 No:66206 at Dollands Moor freight terminal on the night of 19th March 2005 Tempsford EWS 66067 passes Tempsford level crossing on the ECML on 20th May 2005
Wingfield Tunnel Freightliner -owned 66579 leaves Wingfield Tunnel with an Up container train on 28th December 2005 Broadholme Unidentified Freightliner train heads south at Broadholme on 11th May 2006
Ambergate EWS 66207 pictured north of Toadmoor Tunnel on 11th May 2006 66008 EWS 66008 heads north near Wingfield Tunnel on 3rd July 2006
Barnetby EWS 66115 approaches Barnetby with a loaded coal train on 8th September 2006 59206 at Minehead station on WSR in June 2011 carrying DB Schenker red

More will be added


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