Class 66
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The GM JT42CWR Co-Co, better known as the Class 66, has been Britain's standard freight diesel for the last 20 years, with almost 500 delivered between 1998 and 2015. They can be seen everywhere from the Scottish Highlands to Cornwall or Kent on all types of freight traffic.
Although Class 66s look almost identical to Class 59s, they're based on the next generation EMD design. The locos are fitted with a 12 cylinder 710 series 2-stroke engine developing 3200hp and have various other enhancements over their predecessors. Maximum speed is 75mph for most locos although a number are geared for 65mph. Most were built at the GMD plant at London, Ontario, but the final batch were built at Muncie, Indiana, after GM sold EMD and the London factory was closed.

As well as freight operators in the UK, the Class 66 was supplied to several European operators and also to Egypt. A number of locos supplied to the UK are now working in Europe while some of the European locos are now in the UK, working for GB Railfreight.

The Class 66 was designed for EWS, the company that was set up to run most of Britain's railfreight businesses at privatisation. EWS was an offshoot of Wisconsin Central, an American shortline railroad, and naturally turned to American builders for its new locos.

The EWS order was for 250 locos delivered between 1998 and 2001. When EWS entered the French market as Euro Cargo Rail, it transferred a number of locos to France and some later went to Poland. More were sold to GBRf. EWS successor, DB Cargo, currently has around 180 Class 66 in the UK, 5 of which are on long term hire to DRS.

Other UK freight operators quickly followed with Freightliner, GB Railfreight, Direct Rail Services and Fastline Freight all ordering new locos from EMD in the late 1990s or early 2000s. The last locos built were put into service by GBRf in 2016. There has been some redistribution between various fleets since.

The current situation is that Freightliner has 106 locos in the UK, with more in Poland. Included in the 106 are 19 geared for 65mph. DRS has 19 locos including the 5 originally supplied to Fastline. Colas has 5 former Freightliner machines.

GBRf has the most varied fleet, comprising 100 locos and still growing. Of these 59 were built for GBRf, 9 for DRS, 4 for Freightliner and 10 for EWS. The remaining 18 are former European locos with more anticipated.

The old conventions about sub-classes have been well and truly broken with the Class 66 numbering system. It used to be that a sub-class denoted a significant technical or operational difference from other members of the same class. In the case of Class 66 there are a number of significant variations. Some locos have 65mph gearing instead of 75mph, some have knuckle couplers, others don't, some have RETB for working the West Highland and Far North lines and the low-emissions version has smaller fuel tanks than the rest. None of the above can be definitively determined by the loco number and the GBRf locos, numbered 667xx include every one of the variations listed.

Class 66 locos work the majority of British freight trains, far more than all other classes of loco combined. Their duties take them all over the UK, from the north of Scotland to Cornwall on all but the most lightly laid lines. They work all manner of freight traffic and even have some passenger work on Caledonian Sleeper services north of Edinburgh.
page : 1005
WK000 : 2022-07-23
CS000 : 2022-07-09
CK000 : 2022-07-27
GS000 : 2022-07-25
GK000 : 2022-07-22


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