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Diesel Locomotives

Main Line Locomotives

NRC Class 1001


Builder - English Electric

Date Introduced - 1955

Engine - English Electric SRKT - 676 hp

Maximum Speed - (Not Known)

Weight (in Working Order) - 52.76 Tons

Number in Class - 10

The first Diesel Locomotives to be used on the Nigerian Railways.

As would be expected for a country like Nigeria, the Diesel Locomotives were intended for use in the North of the country (between Zaria and Kano) where water supplies had been a problem since the railways were first laid there. To cater for these new machines a new workshop was constructed at Zaria (a Junction Station and Major industrial town) in 1955. Once all 10 locomotives were in service, the Zaria to Kaura Namoda line was also dieselised.

Similar locomotives were sold to Ghana, New Zealand and Jamaica.

In 1956 1008 & 1009 pulled the royal train carrying Queen Elizabeth II from Lagos to Ibadan

In 1966, after the introduction of the 1401 class (with twice the power), the 1001s were moved to local services from Lagos. Several examples exceed their 25 year life expectancy.

NRC Class 1101


Builder - Electro Motive Divistion of General Motors

Date Introduced - 1958

Engine - EMD 12-567C - 1310hp

Maximum Speed - 50 mph

Wheel Arrangement - A1A-A1A

Weight (in Working Order) - 78.5 Tons

Number in Class - 25

The 25 Locomotives of this class were built in 1958 by the Electro Motive Division of General Motors to a standard export design (Class G12).

At double the power of the 1001 class and in a somewhat larger number, these are the first of the big push of dieselising the Nigerian Railway. The class worked the first diesel hauled 'Limited' express out of Lagos in 1961 and were soon handling the trains from Lagos to the north

By 1958 the EMD 567 engine had been in rail use for close to 20 years with many hundreds in use across the USA and Canada NRC were on safe ground with this class. That these locomotives are still operating when many others up to 15 years younger have been withdrawn and scrapped is testament to the design and construction abilities of EMD in its prime.

Although two examples can be seen above (1103 & 1125 outside Zaria Workshops), many are still in service. During 1999, 1101 was running in service mounted on bogies from a scrapped 1401 class locomotive. It is not known when or where this conversion was carried out although from comments made by an engineer, it would seem to have been done at Zaria because of a general dislike for the EMD bogies with cast one piece frames. The Longer fabricated bogies required the batteries to be moved to a new enclosure above the footplates. It is assumed 1101 was running as a Co-Co.

NRC 1126 Class


Builder - Electro Motive Divistion of General Motors

Date Introduced - 1977

Engine - EMD 12-645E - 1500 hp

Maximum Speed - (Not Known)

Wheel Arrangement - Co-Co

Weight (in Working Order) - 80 Tons

Number in Class - 30

At a time when similar sized locomotives had been supplied by MLW and GE, EMD supplied another 30 locomotives. It is surprising that these locomotives were added to the 1101 class as there are a number of major differences with the locomotives supplied 19 years earlier.

Much more so than the 1101, these are recognisable as a standard product from EMD, coming from an time when all the locomotives they produced looked the same. EMD used the class reference GL22CU

The increase in power is a result of the larger 645 engine being used, although by this time it was close to being superseded by the still larger 710 (the engine number is the cubic capacity of each cylinder in inches)

NRC 1201 Class

Builder - Mak

Date Introduced - 1961

Engine - MaK MA301FAK - 1170 hp

Maximum Speed - 50 mph

Wheel Arrangement - A1A-A1A

Weight (in Working Order) - 65.98 Tons

Number in Class - 7 (8th Delivered in 1962)

Built specially for the Maiduguri Line opened in 1961/3 these 8 locomotives were the only mainline Diesel Hydraulics built for Nigeria. As with many other types of Diesel Hydraulic they were German and had a very high power to weight ratio, ideal for the lightly laid Maiduguri Line. Unfortunately, as on British Railways, the hydraulics were always in the minority and were replaced by Diesel Electrics.

The 1201s were allocated to Kafanchan Shed, at the junction with the Jos/Maiduguri lines. Even with the full line open to Maiduguri, 1201s could be found on the Kaduna to Jos trains.

The sad remains of 1202 at the back of Zaria Workshop. February 1999

As time took its toll on these locomotives, the number serviceable dropped until only two were in service by 1982 and by 1997 only a few remains seemed to be left at Zaria. The chassis, bogies, cab and shot nose of 1202 are shown above, close by were engine and gearbox parts stored on an open wagon. It is likely that these parts did not survive the 1999 scrap drive.

NRC 1401 Class


Builder - AEI / Metropolitan Vickers

Date Introduced - 1966

Engine - Sulzer LDA28C - 1300 hp

Maximum Speed - 43 mph

Wheel Arrangement - Co-Co

Weight (in Working Order) - 77.85 Tons

Number in Class - 27+2

This seems to be as close as it comes to a standard export class, being developed from a type sold to Zambezi and identical locomotives being delivered to Malawi at the same time (Four locomotives intended for Nigeria went to Malawi with Nigeria getting four locomotives from later in the construction programme). Used in its hundreds in the UK, the Sulzer engine was tried and trusted by the time the 1401s entered service with NRC.

All 29 locomotives carry the names of major towns or cities on the Railway, including Lagos (the then Capital), Kaura Namoda, Jos, Zaria, Kafanchan & N'guru (Railway workshops or Termini)

Locomotives 1428 & 1429 were supplied with dynamic braking (requiring resistors to be mounted in the body sides).

Following the lead of the 1101 class, the 1401s were allocated to services from Lagos to the north. They could also work to Jos and Maiduguri.

The last four locomotives in service (1404, 1406, 1428 & 1429) were painted in blue and white for the re-launched passenger service in the North of the country but were out of use by 1997.

1401 class locomotives stored in the open at Zaria. March 1999

Interestingly all 29 locomotives still existed in one form or another until the end of the 20th Century. As did the remains of a spare cab.

NRC Class 1601


Builder - Hitachi

Date Introduced - 1972

Engine - MAN 6V 22/30ATL - 1500 hp

Maximum Speed - (Not Known)

Wheel Arrangement - 1Co-Co1

Weight (in Working Order) - 80 Tons

Number in Class - 12

The 1601 class were low axle load Diesel Electrics specially intended for use on sections of lightly laid railway. There first use was on the main line but once trusted they were used to dieselise the Mina - Baro, Zaria - Kaura Namoda & Kano N'guru branches.

They were allocated to Zaria Shed, this being the centre of their territory.


1603 'North Western State' is shown at the rear of Zaria Workshops in September 1999. Having stood in this location for some time the locomotive was scrapped where it sat. Other withdrawn 1601 class locomotives were scrapped at the same time. Typical of Nigeria, the locomotive had been cut vertically where it stood, with a gas cutting torch, into manhandlable lumps.

It is not know when the locomotives were withdrawn but it is assumed that non had been in service for some time. Hopefully one of these business like locomotives has been preserved for the museum in Lagos.

Those locomotives seen all carried names from the then states (Since 1972 many new states have been created and all carry more local and traditional names than those applied to the locomotives - for example 'North Western State' (1603) is now Yobi State and Borno State).

NRC 1701 Class


Builder - Montreal Locomotive Works (Bombardier Inc)

Date Introduced - 1972

Engine - ALCO 8.25IE - 1500 hp

Maximum Speed - (Not Known)

Wheel Arrangement - 1Co-Co1

Weight (in Working Order) - 99.41 Tons

Number in Class - 54

1500 hp 1Co-Co1 Diesel Electrics built by MLW in Cananda during 1972/3.

Somewhat typically of Alco/MLW (MLW continued building Alco designs after Alco had stopped building Locomotives in the US) these are chunky and heavy locomotives that follow the well known tradition from the US of throwing out large quantities of black smoke.

Unlike the 1601 class, the 1701s need the extra carrying wheels to meet the normal axle loading being some 20 tons heavier than their contemporaries (1126 & 1807 classes).

The body shares the design on the 1401 class with a full width nose and narrow engine compartment, but these are much more angular than the British locos.

The 1701s were again used on the trains running out of Lagos but soon found themselves based at Kafanchan working all main lines. They were still in this position in 1999.

NRC 1801 Class

[No Photograph available at this time]

Builder - General Electric (USA)

Date Introduced - 1976

Engine - GE - FDL-12 - 2200 hp

Maximum Speed - (Not Known)

Wheel Arrangement - Co-Co

Weight (in Working Order) - 91.55

Number in Class - 6

The 1801 class is a General Electric locomotive from a time when GE were getting into their stride as a major locomotive builder. Although never rivalling EMD in Europe, GE were to become leading locomotive seller in the US and their exports included South Africa.

1801 locomotives (GE class U22C) were the most powerful diesels in Nigeria for over 10 years.

NRC 1807 Class


Builder - General Electric (USA)

Date Introduced - 1977

Engine - GE FDL-8 - 1820 hp

Maximum Speed - (Not Known)

Wheel Arrangement - Co-Co

Weight (in Working Order) - 82.13 Tons

Number in Class - 45

The 1807 class are another GE U series diesel (U18C - U for Universal, 18 for 1800hp and C for six wheeled trucks).

The massive order for mainline diesel locomotives saw (45 1807s at the same time as the 30 1126s) spelt the end of steam traction in Nigeria.

With the 1801s, the 1807 class were allocated to Enugu, and while they spread out to Kafanchan, there remain concentrated on the east.

NRC Class 1901


Builder - ABB

Date Introduced - 1992

Engine - EMD 12-645E3B - 1750 hp (Assumed)

Maximum Speed - (Not Known)

Wheel Arrangement - Co-Co

Weight (in Working Order) - 100 Tons (Assumed)

Number in Class - 10

Built by in Germany these 10 locomotives use General Motors Engines, Generators and control equipment.

3 Collision damaged examples were stored in Zaria Workshops throughout 1999, although 3 or 4 examples were in service in the south of the country.

All locomotives seen were in the livery shown in the photograph above, with light and dark green separated by yellow and black stripes.

NRC 2001 Class


Builder - Hyundai - Based on an EMD design

Date Introduced - After 1991

Engine - EMD 12-645E3B (Assumed)

Maximum Speed - (Not Known)

Wheel Arrangement - Co-Co

Weight (in Working Order) - (Not Known)

Number in Class - 5

Little is known by the writer about this Lagos based class of locomotives. To see one in the dark days of 1997 as far north was a treat that was not repeated.

It can only be assumed that these locomotives have a similar specification to the 1901 class.

NRC 2101 Class


Builder - Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Works, China

Date Introduced - 1996 to 99

Engine - Type Not Known - 3000 hp

Maximum Speed - 120 kph (75 mph)

Wheel Arrangement - Co-Co

Weight (in Working Order) - 90 Tons

Number in Class - 50

This class, with its two or three sub classes, of locomotive are the major part of a massive rehabilitation project undertaken by the Chinese. The locomotives are very much a copy of the American 'Road Switcher' design pioneered by Alco, EMD and GE. Matching the development of the American locomotives during the 1960s the first locomotives delivered to Nigeria in 1996/7 had a high short hood, like that of the 1101 class, somewhat limiting visability when travelling short hood first. While this would not seem to be too much of a problem when all main line trains have a driver and second man, the locomotives from 2111 onwards have a low short hood, making them look much more like the 1126, 1801 or 1807 classes.

2123 in the goods yard at Zaria. June 1999

In common with other designs, the locomotives have dual controls and are right hand drive.

The first locomotives were delivered in a livery of Light Grey, with a large Red horizontal stripe encircling the body. Two small yellow stipes were a short distance off the red stripe. This matched the livery applied to the new coaches. Locomotives from 2126 were delivered in Grey with a Large Blue and small Yellow stripes. Both these were a marked departure from the normal green based livery.

2131 arriving at Zaria with a Kano to Kaduna passenger train. February 1999

It is possible, but not confirmed, that the final few locomotives (2146 to 2150) were of a modified design to reduce the axle load, although as the standard locomotives have been seen in Gussau and Gombi (on the most vulnerable lines) the design might not have been produced.

Shunting Engines

NRC 901 Class


Builder - MaK

Date Introduced - 1958

Engine - MaK MS304 - 388 hp

Maximum Speed - (Not Known)

Wheel Arrangement - 0-6-0DH

Weight (in Working Order) - 40.1 Tons

Number in Class - 15

Locomotives similar to these were sold to Ireland and the US. In Nigeria there were the first diesel shunters and arrived at the start of the serious push to introduce diesel traction to the country.

The 901 class in affect has three variants, 901 to 904 were the first batch, 905 to 910 were the second modified batch with modifications such as a greater fuel capacity. 911 to 915 were in fact second hand being bought from the Nigerian Port Authority. It is not know what happened to the three remaining NPA locomotives that NRC did not buy.

As with the 1001 class, the first locomotives were allocated to Zaria, allowing steam to be eliminated from there.

Typical of MaK shunters, they have an off centre cab which tapers both in width and length above the bodywork.

Chassis, with engine and gearbox, of 910 at the rear of Zaria Workshop. May 1999

Most of the 901 class locomotives ended up dumped at Zaria, almost all in a partially dismantled state. With their long wheelbase and hydraulic transmission added to their age, it is doubtful if any will ever run again.

NRC 921 Class


Builder - Brush Traction

Date Introduced - 1973/8

Engine - Ruston Paxman RPHXL MK7 - 364 hp

Maximum Speed - (Not Known)

Wheel Arrangement - 0-6-0DE

Weight (in Working Order) - 39.5 Tons

Number in Class - 42

These machines found use all over the railway system. Similar locomotives were supplied to Western Australian Government Railways.

The locomotives pictured are in New Nigerian Petroleum Company livery, but it is not known if they were NRC locomotives used by NNPC, sold to NNPC or bought new by NNPC and dumped at Zaria awaiting repairs.

The fact that so many of these locomotives were purchased goes to show the extent that NRC must have used steam shunting locomotives into the mid 1970s.

What shunting work is still done, now seems to be carried out by the mainline diesels, with no signs of shunting engines being used in the North of the country in the late 1990s.

NRC 981 Class

[No Photograph available at this time]

Builder - North British

Date Introduced - 1963

Engine - Paxman RPHL

Maximum Speed - (Not Known)

Wheel Arrangement - 0-8-0DH

Weight (in Working Order) - Tons

Number in Class - 2

These two locomotives were taken over from the contractor at the end of the construction work on the Maidugari line. Their long wheelbase made them unsuitable for shunting work on NRC.

Steam Locomotives

Standard Gauge

0-6-0T Shunting Engines

Tank Engine No.94 (No.86 behind) at Gombi - August 1999 Tank Engine No. 86 at Gombi - August 1999

The two engines photographed above in 1999, are dumped at the end of a head shunt at Gombi, in the North East of Nigeria. It is had to judge how long they have been there, but are remarkably complete. Gombi has a large yard, including cattle loading ramps and a small quarry. These could be the last steam shunting engines to work at Gombi, but it seems strange that steam was used on a line built in the early 1960s and equipped with its own design of mainline diesel.

NRC River Class Engines

157 at Kaduna Junction

Narrow Gauge

Bauchi Light Railway No. 4

BLR No.4 in it's shed at Jos Zoo. March 1999

Bauchi Light Railway No. 56

One of the limiting factors on economic activity is a functional and cost effective transportation system. Injection of private funds into the Nigerian railway system will boost the Nigerian economy. Applied and sustained investment in a Nigerian railway network could pave the way for development of a sub-regional international railway corridor in West Africa early in the 21st century.

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