British Rail Class 68
Power type Diesel-electric
Builder Vossloh España / ABB / CAT[1]
Model Vossloh Eurolight
Total produced 15 (planned)[1]
Configuration Bo-Bo
UIC classification Bo'Bo'
Gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) Standard gauge
Locomotive weight 77.5 to 79 tonnes (76.3 to 78 long tons; 85.4 to 87 short tons)[2]
Prime mover 16 cylinder Caterpillar Inc. C175[1]
Traction motors ABB[2]
Top speed 160 km/h (99 mph)[1]
Power output Engine: 3,750 bhp (2,800 kW)[1]
Career Direct Rail Services
Delivered 2013 (planned)[1]

Class 68 is the TOPS classification given to a variant of the Vossloh Eurolight diesel rail locomotive that has been developed for use on the British railway network. The initial order of 15 new locomotives was for the freight operator Direct Rail Services.


In 2009, Vossloh announced its plans to develop a lightweight diesel-electric locomotive for axleloads below 20t.[3] This incorporated a number of components from the existing Vossloh Euro family, but with a different engine. The new type was designed in a four-axle configuration with a low axle load to enable it to operate on secondary routes as necessary, bypassing major rail corridors.[4] The new deisgn was said to be adaptable to broad gauge and narrow gauge versions, and to the British loading gauge.[5]

Eurolight UK

In Jan 2012 Direct Rail Services (DRS) announced it had ordered 15 locomotives from Vossloh España; the locomotives were based on the 160km/h mixed traffic Vossloh Eurolight type, and were adapted to a smaller loading gauge for UK use by Vossloh in association with DRS and Beacon Rail Leasing.[1][6] This involved narrowing the body profile of the locomotive, allowing it to fit within the loading gauge constraints, and fitting electric train heating for passenger use.[2] The initial contract included options for an undisclosed additional number of locomotives.[1]

DRS intends to use the locomotives for mixed-traffic duties - the company has stated that the Class 68 will have more flexibility than the Class 66, in that in addition to nuclear and intermodal trains, the Class 68 is also intended for passenger trains.[2] Although primarily a freight operator, DRS has ambitions to expand into passenger operations, but recent passenger contracts have specified that it use locomotives no more than a decade old, which has meant that DRS has had to hire locomotives from elsewhere.[2] The mixed traffic capabilities of the Eurolight UK is intended to fulfil both needs. The locomtives are due to be constructed by Vossloh España at Valencia, and expected to be delivered towards the end of 2013.[1] In May 2012, DRS confirmed that the new locomotive would become Class 68, with the number series 68001-68050 reserved.[7]


Operator Subclass Number built (year) TOPS number range Currently in UK Operators Notes
Direct Rail Services 68/0 15 (planned) (2012-2014) 68001 - 68015 Under construction N/A


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Sources:
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Clinnick, Richard (2012). "DRS to receive Vossloh diesel locomotives next year". Rail (Bauer) (688): 18-19. 
  3. "Vossloh - Position paper 2009", (Vossloh): pp. 17, 
  4. "Light and powerful". Railway Gazette International: 34. 1 July. ".. EuroLight is intended to meet the potential requirements of cross-border freight and passenger operators. According to the manufacturer, EuroLight will be 'light enough to operate on branch lines but powerful enough to keep up with main line traffic'. Vossloh sees an important market niche for a high-performance four-axle diesel loco for use on routes with UIC Class C or Class D track, which have an axleload limit of less than 20 tonnes" 
  5. Kevin Smith (Sept 2010), "EuroLight punches above its weight: Vossloh will officially unveil its new highly-modular yet lightweight locomotive at InnoTrans. Kevin Smith takes a closer look at EuroLight", International Railway Journal 50 (9): 73–74,  HTML text via
  6. Vossloh to supply EUROLIGHTs to Britain and books additional order for six EURO 4000s. European Railway Review (12 January 2012). Retrieved on 1 June 2012.
  7. Dunn, Pip (2012). "Vosslohs will be Class 68". Modern Railways (Key Publishing) 69 (765): 87. 
British railway locomotives and miscellany, 1948 to present
Diesel shunters
Diesel shunters
Main-line diesels:
Main-line diesels

External links

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