Written by: TrainSim-James
The Class 58 was built between 1983 and 1987 by BREL in Doncaster Works as British Rail wanted a new freight locomotive that would be lower in cost and maintenance whilst being able to cope with the potential growth in rail freight in the 1980s. It was in the 1970s when BR started looking for this new locomotive when they turned to the American design of a modular structure, meaning the loco would be made up of standardized sections that attach to the underframe, allowing for easy maintenance and lower building costs.
50 Class 58s were built in total and were initially used on coal trains, however that was short lived as they were entering service around the same time of the miner’s strikes of 1984/5 and so were used on a variety of freight services. Contrary to the claims made in the 1980s, the Class 58s proved less successful on various types of freight services when compared to the Class 56s due to an increase in the amount of wheelslip occurred, which was mainly caused by the design of the bogies.
Despite being built for exclusively freight use, the Class 58s did haul various passenger services for example when a loco failed and a backup was required. They also played a key role in ‘Spin and Win’ charters, with 58017 being the only member of the class to have not hauled a charter service. Having started life in the BR RailFreight livery, the 58s have seen a variety of different liveries following sectorisation and privatisation including Coal Sector Triple Grey, Mainline Freight and EWS.
The Class 58s started to be withdrawn from service in in the late 1990s and by 2002, the last few finished operating in the UK. This wasn’t the end of the Class 58 though, in 2000 the Spanish infrastructure operator GIF hired eight Class 58s from EWS, where they have been constantly used up until today and other Class 58s were sent for work in France and the Netherlands. This cascade of Class 58s saw them in a unique set of liveries not usually found on British locos including GIF and ACTS.
Today, the Class 58s that were sent to Spain are still in service under Transfesa, a majority of the remaining Class 58s are stored in France in varying conditions, with only one loco confirmed for preservation, 58016 which was bought by the Class 58 Locomotive Group, they also bought a second loco, 58045 however this was scrapped for spare parts in the hope of restoring 016 in the future.
Soon you will have the chance to revisit this fantastic locomotive and welcome the Bone back to UK rails as the BR Class 58 from Skyhook Games is coming soon to Train Simulator!