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The Class 08 Diesel Electric Locomotive

Image of MATT LOVELL. MATT LOVELL tells us about his favourite locomotive.


Being a fan of industrial railways I would have to say that my favourite class of locomotive has to be the Class 08 Diesel Electric.


The History

The Class 08s were built in 1952 at BR Works in five different factories including Crewe, Darlington, Derby, Doncaster and Horwich. A total number of 996 Class 08 Diesels were produced at these works which made it the most numerous of all British locomotive classes.

These locomotives are typically seen in goods yards organising and shunting heavy freight into position, ready for a larger locomotive to haul them around the UK (and beyond!) They could also be seen in and around large stations moving coaches in and out of the platforms.

The Tech behind the Locomotive

The Class 08 is fitted with a 350hp English Electric generator which produces a maximum speed of 20mph. The short 0-6-0 wheelbase gives this class an advantage on tighter radii, which means they can operate on dockyards and industrial sites where space is an issue, and larger locomotives would be too big and heavy.

It measures just 29'3" by 8'6", making the Class 08 one of the smallest locomotives made by BR. The early designs had a total weight of 49.6 tons but later designs were increased to 51 tons.


With freight trains being mostly fixed rakes of wagons, and passenger trains being mostly DMUs or EMUs, the requirement for small shunting locomotives has become almost nonexistent, so a great many of the class have been withdrawn from service. In the 1990s with privatisation the BR Class 08s were inherited by EWS, and most were stripped of usable parts and scrapped. At the same time of these locomotives being withdrawn over 60 were purchased to run on heritage/preserved railways including the Kent and East Sussex, Great Central and West Somerset Railways - The most numerous BR locomotive has now become the most numerous preserved locomotive.

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Over the years the Class 08 has been a popular model for both steam and diesel era railway modellers in both N and OO scales. Hornby and Bachmann have both produced these diesels in OO scale and Graham Farish produced them in N scale.

Hornby have produced lots of these diesels in various different liveries and over the many years in production the design has changed. The old design consisted of the con-rods being connected directly to the wheels (like a steam locomotive) these designs are still available in the Hornby Railroad Range.

Hornby Class 08 13363 BR Black

Hornby Class 08 644 BR Blue Laira Diesel Depot

Dapol are producing a Class 08 in O Scale in various different liveries with and without DCC Sound.

Dapol Class 08 13003 BR Black

CLICK HERE to view all available Class 08 locomotives.

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