Recognition and Equipment information

During the Class 56 build, BR was keen to develop a new low-cost, modular freight loco, which whilst fulfilling a BR need would hopefully push BR into the export market. During 1977 the BR Director of Design at Derby prepared a report on the feasibility of a new breed of freight loco, three main objectives were set: 1. Economy in design; 2. Ease, economy and minimum maintenance; 3. Export potential. In September 1979 it was agreed to go ahead with the construction of a fleet of just three locos, classified by BR as Class 58.
After the build contract had been placed with BREL in September 1979, Doncaster Works was selected for the construction work. From late 1979 through to early 1981 Doncaster was tooled for its new operation. The first stages of producing the modular loco came in spring 1981 when the first underframe joists were cut. During construction of the first three locos a follow-on contract was placed which took the production run to 35, and whilst this was being fulfilled a further order took the fleet to 50. Delivery of the first Class 58 was made to the then Railfreight sector on December 9, 1982, but due to prolonged testing the loco did not operate until the following year. Delivery of the fleet was a very slow process, mainly due to late deliveries of components from outside manufacturers, with the last loco not being completed until early 1987.
From new, the Class 58 fleet were allocated to Toton from where the fleet operated a variety of freight services; originally they were restricted to MGR coal traffic but in more recent years general freight flows have been the norm. Performance on the whole has been good, but the fleet has always had a tendency to suffer adhesion problems.
When locomotive No. 58050 was built in early 1987 it was fitted with a 'Sepex' control system, installed by Brush, in an attempt to improve wheel-rail adhesion. However, many problems were encountered with this equipment and it was nine months before the loco operated a revenue earning train.
Regrettably, BR's export plans for the design never came to fruition, with many foreign administrations making a trip to Doncaster to inspect the locos, but no orders were forthcoming; following assembly of No. 58050, the works jigs were dismantled.
When built, locos were finished in Railfreight grey , with wrap-round yellow ends and a red frame. Following the introduction of Railfreight sector liveries from October 1987 No. 58050 was outshopped by Stratford in the new triple grey scheme and bearing the Railfreight coal sub-sector embellishment . Eventually the majority of the fleet were repainted in triple grey livery. Upon shadow privatisation of the UK freight business, Mainline Freight were the owner of the 50 strong fleet, with a small number re-painted in the operator's aircraft blue livery, while others had Mainline Freight branding applied to the triple grey bodywork. With full privatisation and the takeover of the freight operations by EWS, maroon and gold has been the standard livery for repainted examples since mid-1997.
Until the late 1990s it was assumed that the Class 58 fleet would be 'safe' well into the third millennium; however, in 1999 a large number of locos were placed in long-term store, thus providing spare parts for the remainder of the fleet. In 2000-01 contracts were exchanged to see a handful of locos placed on long term hire to Holland for operating infrastructure trains.

No. 58043, viewed from the No. 1 or cooler group end shows the original livery applied of a grey body, wrap around yellow ends and red sole bar complete with a full height BR logo on the body side. The modular design of this fleet gave east access to internal equipment via side opening doors, and if needed sections of the body could be removed from the common frame for repair or replacement. CJM.

These two views show the triple grey livery, No. 58012 on the left has coal sector side branding, while No. 58010 on the right is devoid of business ownership marks. These two views show the two sides of the locos, which are virtually the same. No. 58010 shows an ex paint shop example with bogie and buffer beam parts picked out in the correct colours. No. 58012 is seen at Merehead and 58010 at Doncaster Works. Both: CJM.

Under shadow privatisation and the formation of three freight operators, each tried to establish its own livery. Mainline Freight adopted this very popular aircraft blue, which can still be seen on the national network in mid-2001. No. 58014 shows this scheme off when just released from the paint shop at ABB Doncaster. In this guise the full running number is applied to the front end. On the cab roof part of the flat National Radio Network system is seen. CJM.

Class 58 front end equipment. Designed for freight train operation, no form of train heating was fitted, and as by the time these were designed vacuum brakes were being phased out, only air brakes were installed. A-warning horns behind grille, B-red diamond multiple control cable, C-red diamond multiple control jumper socket, D-marker light box, red (tail) above and white (marker) below, E-headlight, F-coupling, G-brake pipe, H-main reservoir pipe, I-loco engine control air pipe. No. 58037 is illustrated at Toton. CJM.

Class 58 cab layout, these were the first production locos to have a pedestal power controller with walk round access, which was later followed by the GM Class 59 and 66 fleets. This example shows a NRN radio fitted on the left side below the telephone handset, TPWS on the right of the cab window with a Datacord event recorder below. CJM.