The Brush Class 89 AC electric Co-Co locomotive

The Class 89 was a prototype 4350kW (5800 HP) high speed co-co 25kV electric locomotive which was designed by Brush Electrical Machines Ltd. at Loughborough and built by B.R.E.L. at Crewe Works.

It was designed for both locomotive-hauled and 'Push-Pull' operation and in the latter mode could be operated remotely from a Driving Van Trailer (DVT) vehicle using a Time Division Multiplex (TDM) system of control by which 'signals' are sent through the standard Railway Clearing House (RCH) lighting jumper cables to operate the controls of the locomotive, or on Mark 4 coaches through specially installed UIC screened cables.

Its principal statistics were :

Weight: 105 tonnes Minimum radius curve negotiable 80 metres 
Max. speed: 200 km/h (125 mile/h)  Route availability:  RA 6 
Brake force: 50  ETH Index:  95
Length over buffers: 19800 mm (65 ft)  

Here is a short pictorial survey of the locomotive's life and times

Click on the picture for a bigger image - All photos are from the author's collection

Double HST! The unusual double ended design was originally to be based on that of the HST cabs as shown on this drawing Jawohl! However, the final design was as shown in this handout from the IVA88 exhibition in Hamburg
BR diagram The official entry in the BR Diagram Book class89 train crew manual.jpg (69993 bytes) The front of the temporary driver's manual for the locomotive which contained information about the locomotive's equipment, driver's preparation procedure etc. 
class89 side A.jpg (342530 bytes) The official diagram from the driver's manual showing the layout of equipment on side A of the locomotive. Drawn by David Gibbon class89 side B.jpg (313278 bytes) The official diagram from the driver's manual showing the layout of equipment on side B of the locomotive. Drawn by David Gibbon
class89 cab.jpg (94261 bytes) The cab layout taken from the driver's manual - once again drawn by David Gibbon

The Class 89 loco was built at BREL's Crewe Works and was delivered by rail to Derby on Wednesday 2nd October 1986. After arrival at Derby, Litchurch Lane (Carriage & Wagon) Works it was placed on a low loader for transport to Brush's works at Loughborough, which at that time had no rail access.  

Following extensive static tests and commissioning, in February 1987 the locomotive arrived back at BREL's Litchurch Lane works on a low loader having taken a couple of days to travel from the Brush works at Loughborough.

The reason for the journey taking a couple of days for the short trip was due to a defective axle on the low loader which occurred at a road junction between Loughborough & Rempstone.

The locomotive was photographed later, on the low loader in a layby at Rempstone, near Loughborough, on its way to Derby on Wednesday February 4th 1987. (Loughborough Echo Friday 13 February 1987 edition).

After arrival it was moved to the RTC. 

Here are some pictures of the loco under test and in service.

Click on the picture for a bigger image - photos are as credited

Crewe The loco leaves Crewe behind a Class 25 on October 2nd 1986 for the trip to Derby

Neil Swift

Loading at Derby On arrival in Derby the loco was placed on a low loader for the journey to Loughborough

R Sweet

Brush Oct 86 The loco is positioned at Brush by the works shunter on October 4th 1986

Murray Brown

Following its arrival at the RTC the locomotive was instrumented and carried out a series of acceptance and performance tests both static and dynamic. The track tests were mainly on the West Coast Main Line (WCML) between Carlisle and Crewe, but it did venture south of Crewe on occasion. It was coupled to the DM&EE's Mk3 Test Car No:10 and had a train made up of the BREL 'International' coaches. It was also hooked up to the R&DD's Lab 6 'Prometheus' for its main line pantograph performance tests.

The locomotive visited the Old Dalby test track in April 1987 to evaluate its pantograph aerodynamics and was tested at up to 100 mile/h. This was the maximum speed of the class 47 which was used to propel the locomotive. See the aerodynamics  page on my Old Dalby site for more details of the pantograph aerodynamic tuning tests undertaken at the test track.

It visited the RTC and Old Dalby again in May 1988 when it was part of the IVA88 special train, which was subject to some braking trials, prior to being despatched to Hamburg for the international transport exhibition IVA88 held during that summer.

It also carried out some test work on ECML - look here for some pictures of 89001 and surrogate DVT's.

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

Litchurch Lane

In March 1987 the locomotive arrived back at BREL's Litchurch Lane works on a low loader having taken a couple of days to travel from the Brush works at Loughborough.

Derek Young

Litchurch Lane

A few hours later the locomotive was back on the tracks and ready for the short journey across to the RTC.

Derek Young


Litchurch Lane

Another shot of the locomotive showing a then new Class 142 railbus in the background - who'd have thought the railbus would fair better than the loco?

Derek Young

Old Dalby

In early April 1987 the loco was at Old Dalby for pantograph aerodynamic tuning tests and is pictured coupled to Lab 6 "Prometheus" just south of the control centre.

Author's collection

Brush Not long after arrival at Old Dalby for these tests the loco was re-called to Brush's works for an open day where it is pictured.

Derek Young

Bogie Rotation test As part of the static acceptance testing the loco was subjected to a bogie rotational test in the Engineering Development Unit (EDU) workshop. The picture shows the bogie being slewed on the rotational rig.

Author's collection

Sway test

Further evaluation included a sway test. The picture shows the class 89 undergoing such a test in the EDU workshop at Derby. This involved jacking the locomotive on one side under strictly controlled conditions and measuring the movement of the locomotive body and hence determine the suspension stiffness.

Note the Class 154 prototype in the background

Author's collection

RTC workshop

Amid the clutter of the workshop 89 001 is pictured coupled to the DM & EE's Test Car 10 whilst being prepared for its main line acceptance testing - probably May 1987.

For more details of the various test cars which have been used by the DM&EE over the years look here

D Bower


89 001 sits at Carlisle with Test Car 10 and probably a train of the BREL 'International' coaches waiting for a trip back to Crewe sometime in summer 1987. These tests were likely to have been associated with the loco's traction performance over Shap Summit.

Author's collection

WCML Here it is heading north at Ledburn Jnc south of Leighton Buzzard on April 28th 1987

Martyn D. Hull

Lune Gorge  The same train pictured in the Lakes with the Research Division's Lab 6 (Prometheus) and Test Car 10 in tow plus a number of the International coaches whilst undertaking performance tests sometime in the summer of 1987. The location is the Lune Gorge, south of Shap on the WCML 

Peter J Robinson

The same consist is seen here heading south at Lancaster in 1986

Paul Rose

Crewe On a test train at Crewe on 24th June 1987 - note the cables on the front for use when the loco ran round its train so that it could be re-connected to the instrumentation and intercom

Jeremy Hinks - see his excellent site here

Beattock load test Pictured at Elvanfoot on Beattock bank on 8th October 1987, the loco is undertaking a load test when it started from a stand and pushed a class 86 plus 6 coaches whilst also hauling 9 International coaches plus 3 Intercity vehicles. 

Tim Harris

Stafford The locomotive undertook pantograph performance tests on the southern part of the WCML, hauling a train made up of TC10 and Lab 6 together with six of BREL's 'International' Coaches. Here it is passing Stafford on a test run on 28th April 1987

Most of these coaches ended up in the Republic of Ireland, usually working on the Dublin-Galway route. After some years out of use, they were sold to IE around 1995/96 and overhauled/modified at Inchicore Works, receiving 5ft 3in gauge bogies. Look here for more information

Steve Jones

89001 heading south through Bletchley on test with Lab 6 plus Test Car 10 plus a few international coaches in tow

Frank Cheevers

Crewe At Crewe, probably on test



With engineers in Lab 6 monitoring pantograph performance, the loco heads through Stafford on 28th April 1987

Steve Jones

Driver training Welwyn North The loco passes Welwyn North station on a driver training run from Hornsey to Peterborough on January 19th 1988 with a rake of Mk1's 

Brian Beer

Following the completion of its type testing and driver training,  the locomotive was put to work on the 17.25 KX to Peterborough train initially. The author was fortunate to have a cab ride on this train on one occasion and can say that it rode very well and was quiet too. Very impressive after the Class 91.

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

Bounds Green In early July 1988 the Class 89 locomotive is pictured at Bounds Green depot prior to working a special to York in connection with the 50th anniversary celebrations of the class A4 Mallard's high speed run in 1938. It has been specially cleaned and the buffers quartered and polished for the occasion. KX Mallard special And here it is about to depart from 'The Cross'



Ally Pally On its first journey in passenger service the loco passes Alexandra Palace station on 15th July 1988 heading the 17.35 KX to Peterborough train. The polished buffer heads are still evidence. Waiting to leave the Cross on the 17.35 to Peterborough

David Walsh

Dover Earlier in the year it was a long way from the ECML. Pictured on May 23rd 1988 the class 89 locomotive is being loaded onto the Nord Pas De Calais train ferry at Dover Western Docks en route for Hamburg - see my IVA_88 page for details and more pictures.
Copley Hill

Whilst in service with InterCity it was named 'Avocet' on 16th January 1989 at Sandy, Beds - the home of the RSPB - by the anti-rail PM Margaret Thatcher. Following this it acquired the nickname  'Aardvark' although the gricers used to call it 'The Badger'.

It also worked some specials and is seen here at Copley Hill near Leeds with a rake of Pullman coaches.

Simon Judd

Leeds Here it is at Leeds with an evening departure for Kings Cross in May 1990.

John Armitstead 

The loco is seen here out of service at Hornsey Depot during the summer of 1990 when it was unloved and unused

Once it was fitted with the Time Division Multiplex (TDM) control system, the locomotive was used for a few years alongside the Class 91's on the KX-Leeds services.

However following several failures it was stored out of use at BN for a year or so.

It was then sold and ended up at the Midland Railway Centre, Butterley, Derbyshire.


The locomotive is pictured at the MRC, Butterley around 1994/5

Garry Brookes

Much later, after several abortive attempts to resurrect the loco, it was finally re-furbished for Sea Containers and put back into service on GNER trains in 1996 between KX and Leeds on its familiar stamping ground. It was also re-painted into the GNER blue for the role but lost its name in the process.


The loco in GNER livery with the original silver lettering at Leeds City ready to push its train to Kings Cross

Simon Judd


Another shot of the loco at Leeds this time in GNER livery with the later gold lettering.

Simon Judd


The loco looked a picture in its new livery although it lost its 'Avocet' nameplate during the refurbishment

Simon Judd

Wakefield Westgate

Rolling into Wakefield Westgate on a KX-Leeds service

Simon Judd

89001 sits at Kings Cross, 12th July 1997

Pete Hawkins

Early morning in London,6th September 1997, the 08.10 to Bradford awaits its driver

David Walsh


At Leeds on 19th May 1998

A Stobbs


In 2000 the loco was withdrawn following serious traction motor defects and in late 2001 it was transferred to Bombardier's works at Doncaster where it was stored out of service.
However in mid-2004 with the imminent redevelopment of  the Doncaster site, 89001 was facing homelessness. Following discussions between GNER's engineering team and The AC Locomotive Group, it was offered a home at Barrow Hill, alongside their existing heritage electric fleet. It made its move by road from Doncaster Works to Barrow Hill on the morning of 17th December 2004.

89001 was finally purchased from GNER towards the end of 2006 and has now been re-painted into its original InterCity livery and looks a treat.

Rumours in November 2010 suggested that moves were afoot to restore the loco to working order

Look here under the 'gallery' link for some pictures.

Crewe 10-9-05

89001 pictured at the 'Great Gathering' at Crewe Works on 10th September 2005


That looks much better!

Repainted into its original InterCity livery 89001 is seen at Barrow Hill on 17th May 2008


See the IVA88 page for more pictures of the Class 89 in foreign climes.


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