The arrival of four Class 59s used by Foster Yeoman gave influence to the Class 60. The Class 59 had haulage capabilities, and reliability  way above any British Rail locomotive around at the time. The success of the class 59s lead to Railfreight's Trainload Petroleum business to asking the British Rail Board (BRB) to purchase twenty class 59's for it's own traffic. This would allow withdrawal of vast numbers of aged, maintenance intensive and expensive to operate Class 31s, 37s, and 47s, which were being used on the sectors services at the time. At around the same time Trainload Metals, Construction and Coal were also looking for new locomotives to replace and supplement their own fleets, with this in mind and following much consultation, BRB eventually secured treasury funding and ordered 100 locomotives. After a somewhat protracted and difficult procurement process, with some political influence the contract was awarded to the British Company Brush Electrical Machines of Loughborough.

The chosen design incorporated many design features of the American Class 59s. Wheel-creep systems were installed to improve adhesion. The class 60's have a maximum speed of 60 mph and are mainly used on Class 6 and 7 heavy haul freights. Many of the components used in the construction of the locomotives were supplied various other sources outside the Hawker Siddley Group. The bodies, built by Procor of Wakefield were eventually painted using a new long lasting two-pack paint. The power units were built by Mirrlees at their Stockport works.

The first locomotive was handed over to BR on time, on the 30 June 1989, after which it went to the Railway Technical Centre at Derby for testing and commissioning. It was at this point that many problems associated with the microprocessor control were discovered, mainly due to software issues. The suspension also had to go through several major modifications before being accepted. The snowploughs and roof ducting were also changed before the locomotive went into fleet service. These modifications took sixteen months to complete. At one point during the construction programme Railfreight almost cancelled the order, after just 40 locomotives had been delivered, due to the extent of the problems. There were around 10,000 warranty faults on the fleet, an average of 100 per locomotive. This compared poorly to the Class 59s, which entered service within a few months of unloading from the ships.

The original allocation was for 35 locomotives for the Coal sector, 25 to the Construction sector, 22 to the Metals sector and 18 for the Petroleum sector. However by the time they entered service this had changed, meaning that the decals often did not match the operating department. The introduction of the Class 60 has had a cascading effect on the fleets of other locomotive classes. The Class 33s were displaced from aggregates, Class 20s lost their coal duties and the Class 31s lost their petroleum work. Classes 26, 33, and 73 were left to infrastructure work. The Class 60s were allocated to different trainload types and geographical areas. Being 60mph heavy freight locomotives the class has never had any booked passenger work and while initially they made a few appearances on passenger duties, only used for rescue, diversions and rail charters. It is agreed that all members of the fleet have now worked at least one passenger duty.  The first appearance of the class on a passenger working was on 28th September 1990, when 60006 rescued failed 47558 at Horton-in-Ribblesdale and took its train on to Carlisle.

When the three freight companies were set up in 1994, ready for privatisation, the Class 60 fleets were split between the three equally. Five locomotives have been painted in Loadhaul livery and three in Mainline Blue livery. Most of the fleet had decals of the new companies applied during the time before EWS's buyout of the three owning freight companies. During 1996, English Welsh and Scottish Railway (EWS) started painting the fleet into its new red and gold livery with the initial intention of treating all locomotives on an as required basis. However this re-painting program has stalled in recent years and no locomotive has been treated in recent years.

The availability and reliability of the fleet has improved markedly since the early years following introduction. Following introduction it was common to find a at least 10 locomotives at Brush for engine, and other warranty repairs with other locomotives stopped at BR depot around the country for everyday maintenance. However the availability and to some extent reliability of the fleet has always been poor in comparison the North American GMs Classes 59 & 66. In recent times a series of modifications through service experience, both with BR and with post-privatisation EWS  has seen a marked improvement in the fleet availability to around 88 - 90% with each locomotive now managing an average of 2000 hours work per annum, during BR days the average was around 1000 hours per annum.

The first locomotive was handed over to BR on time, on the 30 June Whilst in 1997 it was EWS's stated intention not to reduce the fleet maintaining a fleet of 100 locomotives. In keeping with this policy EWS authorised and completed many heavy repairs to the fleet including extensive fire damage repairs to 60018 and 60002 as well as authorising collision damage repairs to 60088 at Brush's Loughborough works. However, it seems that policy changed in 2004 when a number of locomotives were stored as surplus to operational requirements. This stabilised in late 2007 and has continued to date with the fleet having stabilised out at around 60 operational locomotives and a collection of 40 stored locomotives. This collection of 'stored' locomotives contains everything from heavily cannibalised locomotives such as 60098 and 60070, both stopped in 2004 and heavily stripped and the likes of 60081 which have severe engine damage to other fleet members that are simply undergoing maintenance and will be released back to traffic as and when requirements rise or another fleet member suffers a failure or requires major attention.


In the early part of 2008 EWS was acquired by the German State operator DB Schenker. Along with this deal for EWS DB Schenker acquired the full fleet of class 60 locomotives. Whilst to date (July 2008) no locomotive has currently been outshopped in DB Schenker house colours two class 60s have been the recipients of new 'celebrity' liveries. The locomotives concerned are 60074, pictured above, which was outshopped from the paint shop at Toton TMD in March 2007 in a brand new powder blue livery and named  "Teenage Spirit" at the NRM in York to promote the charity the "Teenage Cancer Trust". since receiving this livery there seems to have been a noticeable effort in keeping the locomotive clean and presentable, as such the locomotive has made a number of open day and special event appearances.  In June 2008 60040 was selected for repainting from EW&S Red Livery into a new celebratory red livery for the British Army and Territorial Army, it too was named and now bears the name "The Territorial Army Centenary".

By mid 2010 the fleet had dropped to an operational fleet of around 6 - 10 locomotives  and rumours of an overhaul, refurbishment, and possible re-engineering remained just rumours. However as increasing numbers of class 66 locomotives were prepared and exported for use on the continent DB Schenker trailed modifications on 60011 and 60099. 60011 received a package of modifications to its electrical equipment whilst 60099 received significant engine work and engine based reliability modifications. Following a period of successful trial running a general overhaul program was announced, initially for 21 locomotives, to be completed at DB Schenker's Toton Depot.

Page Last Updated: July 2013