British Rail Class 89
Get British Rail Class 89 essential facts below. View Videos or join the British Rail Class 89 discussion. Add British Rail Class 89 to your topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
British Rail Class 89

British Rail Class 89
89001 at Doncaster Works.JPG
89001 in GNER livery at Doncaster Works in July 2003
Type and origin
Power typeElectric
DesignerBrush Traction
BuilderBritish Rail Engineering Limited Crewe Works
Serial number875[1]
Build date1986
 o UICCo'Co'
Wheel diameter1.080 m (3 ft  in)[2]
Minimum curve80 m (4 chains)[2]
Wheelbase49 ft  in (15.100 m)[2]
 o Bogie14 ft 5 in (4.39 m)[2]
Pivot centres35 ft  in (10.903 m)[2]
Wheel spacing
  • 2.1 m (6 ft 11 in) (bogie outer axles)
  • 2.3 m (7 ft 7 in) (bogie inner axles)[3]
Length64 ft 11 in (19.79 m)[2]
Width2.731 m (8 ft  in)[2]
 o Pantograph3.975 m (13 ft  in)[2]
 o Body height3.810 m (12 ft 6 in)[3]
Axle load17 long tons 7 cwt (17.6 t)[3]
Loco weight105 tonnes (103 long tons; 116 short tons)[2]
Electric system/s25 kV AC catenary
Current pickup(s)Brecknell Willis high speed pantograph[2]
Traction motors6 × Brush Traction TM 2201A[2][3]
 o Continuous808 Amps per motor[3]
MU workingTDM[4]
Train heatingElectric Train Heating 510kVA at 893V AC, index: 95[2][3]
Loco brakeAir & Rheostatic[5]
Train brakesAir[2]
Safety systemsAWS[6]
Performance figures
Maximum speed
  • 125 mph (201 km/h) (design)
  • 110 mph (180 km/h) (in service)[2]
Power output:
 o Continuous5,850 hp (4,360 kW)[2]
Tractive effort46,100 lb (20,900 kg) (maximum)[2]
Brakeforce50 tf (490 kN)[3] (Rheostatic)
  • Aardvark
  • The Badger
Axle load classRoute availability 6[2]
Delivered2 October 1986[7]
First run9 February 1987[7]
Last run
  • July 1992 (BR)
  • 2001 (GNER)
  • July 1992 (BR)
  • 2001 (GNER)
Current ownerAC Locomotive Group

The Class 89 was a prototype design for an electric locomotive. Only one was built in 1986, by British Rail Engineering Limited's Crewe Works. It was used on test-trains on both the West Coast and East Coast Main Lines. It was fitted with advanced power control systems and developed over 6,000 bhp (4,500 kW). It was given the nickname Aardvark although railfans used to call it The Badger owing to its slanted front ends.[]


89001 in original InterCity livery at Eaton Crossing

The Class 89 locomotive was designed by Brush Traction, Loughborough to meet a specification issued by British Rail, which subsequently changed the requirements, but not before Brush had already committed to build the prototype locomotive.

The locomotive had six DC traction motors. The main armature current for all the motors is fed from a common thyristor drive, whilst each motor has an independent field current controller. The field current controllers comprised a two quadrant chopper inside a thyristor bridge. The bipolar transistor based choppers provides a fast fine control of motor torque for electric braking and slip control, whilst the thyristor bridge is used to invert the field current polarity.


The locomotive was built at British Rail Engineering Limited's Crewe Works, in 1986,[2] emerging and being initially delivered to Derby Litchurch Lane Works that same year.[4][7] The Class 89 was then transferred by road to Brush Traction at Loughborough, for static testing and commissioning.[4] It was initially delivered in the old-style InterCity Executive livery, with no British Rail double arrows, but these were added later when British Rail bought the locomotive from Brush.[]

The locomotive's first powered working was on 9 February 1987, and its first lone run was on 20 February 1987.[7] In April 1987, 89001 visited the Old Dalby Test Track for evaluation.[8] The locomotive was initially allocated to Crewe Electric depot, for trials along the West Coast Main Line.[2] Following the successful testing, 89001 was transferred to Hornsey, and later to Bounds Green, for passenger services on the East Coast Main Line.[2] In May 1988, the locomotive returned to Old Dalby for braking trials.[8] During the early summer of 1988, the International Traffic and Transport Exhibition (IVA88) was held in Hamburg, Germany. British Rail was asked to participate and sent a representative train of rolling stock to the exhibition. On 22 May 1988, 89001 along with a Class 90, Class 91[5] and a two car Class 150/2 unit left for Hamburg, returning on 17 June 1988.

After being used as a test bed, the locomotive was used on passenger trains from London King's Cross to Leeds. As the development of the ECML Electrification continued the engine was painted into the new style InterCity Swallow livery and named Avocet, in recognition of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB),[5] by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on 16 January 1989 at King's Cross station.[9] After the ceremony, the locomotive hauled a special train conveying the RSPB president Magnus Magnusson, along with other VIPs, to Sandy.[10] Passenger use continued on the ECML until 5 March 1989, a week before the Class 91s entered service on the diagrams.

All hope and opportunity ended, however, when 89001 suffered a serious failure and was withdrawn from traffic in July 1992.[2] When 89001 failed, it was still owned by British Rail, and Brush had no contractual obligation with regard to it. Additionally, having no orders from BR for their design investment, there was little incentive for Brush to construct spare parts for it. BR had written off the locomotive as part of the ECML development and thus it was seen as a surplus and nil value asset. As such, the locomotive was sidelined.

It was saved for preservation at the Midland Railway Centre by a group of Brush Traction employees.[11] During this time the locomotive appeared at every major British Rail depot open day, in a slowly deteriorating Intercity Swallow livery.


It was hoped that the Class 89 design would be used for electric locomotives for the Channel Tunnel, and some investigation was undertaken. It was also hoped the Class 89 would be a viable Class 86 replacement, however an upgraded version of the Class 87 was ordered as the Class 90 instead.

Ultimately only technology and ideas from 89001's internal design were used in the Class 9 Eurotunnel locomotives and some similarity in electronics lives on today in the Class 92 locomotive design. Brush did eventually win the contracts to build Channel Tunnel locomotives, and the similarities between these and 89001 enabled suitable spares to be constructed.

GNER ownership

In 1996, the InterCity East Coast franchise was won by the Great North Eastern Railway (GNER). Suffering from a motive power shortage, it purchased 89001 and repaired it for use on London to Leeds and Bradford services, investing £100 000 in an overhaul.[12] It was also re-painted in the GNER blue and orange livery.[13] The locomotive returned to service in March 1997.[14] However, in 2001, the locomotive again suffered a major failure and was withdrawn from traffic. Its future was again in doubt, and it was laid up for a period at Doncaster Works.

In December 2004, the locomotive was moved into the care of the AC Locomotive Group at Barrow Hill Engine Shed for secure storage. With the overhaul of the British Rail Class 91 fleet complete, plus the availability of Class 373 trains for lease, 89001 was seen as a one-off asset with little economic value.


89001 at Barrow Hill Engine Shed in September 2011

In October 2006, GNER put 89001 up for sale with a six-week deadline for bids. The AC Locomotive Group launched an appeal and fundraising effort to save the locomotive which was ultimately successful, purchasing the locomotive in December 2006.[15] The locomotive is mostly complete although a number of major components require expensive overhaul before the loco could run on the main line again. A thorough survey has been undertaken to establish exactly what is required, and costs drawn up. Cosmetic work in 2007 saw the loco return to its original InterCity Executive colour scheme. Electrical restoration work has focussed on repairing and/or refurbishing the items that led to the locomotive being withdrawn from service, namely the traction motors and their associated field converter electronics. The locomotive was lifted by Harry Needle Railroad Company at Barrow Hill Engine Shed in December 2010, and three traction motors were removed including the one known to be faulty. These are currently (February 2011) being examined at Bowers to allow repair cost estimates to be made. Two of the field converters have been removed, one is faulty and again repair estimates are being sought. Initially it is intended, as funds become available, to allow one power group (i.e. one bogie) to become fully operational.

After many months of waiting, 2 September finally saw testing of the first field converter overhauled at Fletcher Moorland Ltd, Stoke. There will be several iterations of testing so that there is a full understanding of any remaining defects and ensure that all aged or failed components are changed. The overhauled converter was completely dismantled with each power component being checked and replaced where required. A number of components were found to be performing outside of their specification and have been changed. The three control PCBs, these run the height of the converter, totalling the best part of £1m. The largest of the three is 2/3 of that. All electrolytic capacitors have been changed, both on the control PCBs and in the power circuit. These deteriorate with age.


Class 89 89001 is being made as a kit and a ready-to-run model in OO gauge by Silver Fox Models.[16]

Other uses of Class 89

Since 1989, the Class 89 series has also been used for preserved diesel and electric locomotives (excluding shunters) registered to run on the mainline.[17] The numbers are allocated in the following way:

  • Third digit: 1-5 representing Types 1-5 (see here for details). Electric locomotives have also been allocated numbers in the 89xxx series, in the appropriate series for their power rating.
  • Fourth and fifth digits: The last two digits of the locomotive's original number. If this results in a duplication of an existing number, then the number was increased by 1.

So, as an example, the Type 4 locomotive number D1062 was allocated 89462.

Current List as of June 6, 2006


  1. ^ Marsden 1991, p. 206
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Marsden & Fenn 2001, p. 111
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Vehicle Diagram Book No. 110 for Electric Locomotives (PDF). Barrowmore MRG. Derby: British Railways Board. December 1986. 89-0a.
  4. ^ a b c "The Brush Class 89 AC electric Co-Co locomotive". Retrieved 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d Marsden & Fenn 2001, p. 112
  6. ^ "Driving Cabs". Dawlish Trains. Retrieved 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d Morrison 2013, p. 57
  8. ^ a b "The Brush Class 89 Co-Co AC electric locomotive". Retrieved 2016.
  9. ^ "Prime Minister names 89001 Avocet". The Railway Magazine. No. 1055. March 1989. p. 143.
  10. ^ "Prime Minister names Class 89". Rail Magazine. No. 90. EMAP National Publications. 12 February - 8 March 1989. p. 9. ISSN 0953-4563. OCLC 49953699.
  11. ^ "Class 89 Avocet Preserved". The Railway Magazine. No. 1100. December 1992. p. 4.
  12. ^ "Class 89 is bought by Sea Containers for East Coast". Rail. No. 289. 9 October 1996. p. 10.
  13. ^ "Class 89 goes into GNER blue". The Railway Magazine. No. 1152. April 1997. p. 10.
  14. ^ Pigott, Nick, ed. (May 1997). "89001 Arrives Back on the ECML". Traction & Stock News. Railway Magazine. Vol. 143 no. 1153. London: IPC Magazines. p. 61. ISSN 0033-8923.
  15. ^ "The Badger is saved: ACLG appeal a success". Rail Express. No. 128. January 2007. p. 27.
  16. ^ "Class 89 Co-Co British Rail Crewe". Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 2012.
  17. ^ "Preserved Main Line Diesels to Become TOPS Class 89s". The Railway Magazine. No. 1116. April 1989. p. 64.


Further reading

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



Music Scenes