Class 66

As the Black 5 and Class 47 were to previous generations the Class 66 is to this one: the universal locomotive than can be seen pretty much anywhere on the national railway network. With a huge fleet of 446 (most of which are still in service) available it handles the bulk of freight traffic and indeed more than any other class is the face of British railfreight.

The Class 66 was based conceptually on the Class 59, a US/Canada built freight locomotive bought in small numbers by private companies to haul trains in the latter days of British Rail. The 66 uses the same body shell meaning there are many aesthetic similarities to the 59 but the 66 has a different engine model and traction equipment [1].

Number built: 446
Built: 1998-2016
Builder: Electro-Motive Diesel
Engine: EMD 12N-710G3B-EC
(66/9) EMD 12N-710G3B-T2
Power: 3 ,300 hp (2, 3460 kW)
Wheel arrangement: Co-Co

The Class 66 was initially ordered by EWS (now part of DB Cargo) in the early days of rail privatisation, the first order was for 250 with subsequent carry-on orders continuing until 2016 when the final batch arrived in the UK. No further new 66s are likely due to changes in EU emission rules (they arn't the only new build locomotives to fall foul of this). Further locomotives have been built by EMD for operators in Europe and elsewhere, some of these being later imported to join the British fleet.

The very final Class 66 or "Shed" as they are known by enthusiasts was painted in British Railways lined green and named "Evening Star" after the last steam locomotive built for British Railways [2], some might say that "Evening Shed" might be a more suitable name of course!

Sub-class Details
66/0 Original 250
66/3 Extra locomotives now operated by DRS
66/4 DRS and Freightliner operated
66/5 Freightliner operated
66/6 Freightliner operated, re-geared for heavier trains, lower top speed
66/7 GB Railfreight operated
66/8 Colas operated 
66/9 With lower emissions engine

The Class 66 is currently operated by DB, Colas, Freightliner, GB Railfreight and DRS. The vast majority are still in service, 2 have been written off following accidents.
DB 66 020 passes through Stafford

DB 66 082 hauls a freightliner through Tamworth High Level

GB Railfreight 66 753 passes through Leamington Spa, part of the final batch of 66s

66 019 at the rear of a triple-header light engine through Cardiff Central

[1] Colin J. Marsden, Traction Recognition 2nd Edition (Ian Allan, 2008) p. 66
[2] "GBRF Names Last 66 Evening Star", Railways Illustrated No. 161 (July 2016)