Class 58 History | Spain

Class 58s in Spain

The Class 58s in Spain are not the first British traction to reach Spanish soil… In mid 2001, fourteen ‘heavyweight’ English-Electric Class 37/7s were prepared and re-painted at Toton and Thornaby depots. These were then hauled through the Channel Tunnel and through France to Irun in north-east Spain, just inside the Spanish/French border. From here they were taken by road to Calatayud and Salilas bases where they were employed on construction trains for the section of a new standard-gauge high-speed line being constructed between Madrid and the French border via Zaragoza and Barcelona. EWS also provide resident staff in Spain to provide maintenance.
Standard-gauge diesel locomotives are in short supply in Spain and GIF has had to source suitable traction from several other countries in Europe, including Romania, the UK and Germany. A small batch of General Motors-powered RENFE Class 319s was also re-gauged from the Iberian standard 5ft 6in for work on the Madrid-Seville AVE line, and has been used alongside the EWS Class 37s and ex-Romanian 060DA Co-Cos. Also in use on inspection trains over the new line are ex-East German Class 771/772 four-wheel railbuses acquired from Deutsche Bahn.
In early 2002, 37885 and 37899 sustained accident damage when they rolled away whilst stabled near Zaragoza. When they came to rest off the end of the track and down an embankment, the damage was evident, the locomotives having collided into each other. They were temporarily ‘stored’ in April 2002. In January 2003, an accident befell 37802. The locomotive was deemed beyond repair and was cut up, along with 37885 and 37899, on-site by July 2003. Neither of these accidents was down to technical faults with the locomotives.
Following these mishaps, EWS had to look at supplying replacement locomotives to send to Spain to continue assisting with the construction of the new line. Although it would have perhaps made more sense to send replacement Class 37s, EWS decided to send two of the recently-retired Class 58 locomotives instead. As with the Class 37 contract, GIF would manage the locomotives, but they would be retained in EWS ownership.
After minor repairs and some other modifications at Eastleigh and a ‘trial’ on the load bank, it was on the 17th March 2003 that 58041 was driven out of Eastleigh depot in its new coat of two-tone GIF blue for an official photo-shoot. Interestingly, although the repainting of the locomotive was done by Eastleigh depot staff, the bodyside doors had to be sent away to Toton to receive their new colours as the Hampshire depot did not have the capability to carry out this work. Sister 58043 was having the final touches put to its livery inside the shed on the same day. Just two days later, they were ‘fit for service’ and were driven, under their own power (as they still had a safety case to operate on Network Rail), to Dollands Moor (0Z15 10.09 ex-Eastleigh) to await forward transfer to Spain. Finally, on the 3rd of April, the pair were allocated to be hauled ‘dead’ on the 4408 service to the French depot in Frethun. From here, over the next few weeks, they slowly made their way south through France to the French/Spanish border where the change of gauge forced onward transport to the depot at Calatayud by road.
From here, the pair of ‘Bones’ waited for transfer to Puigverd depot in Leida where the final few modifications were undertaken ‘on site’. An air conditioning unit was fitted to the secondman’s side and external rear-view mirrors were also fitted. Once accepted into traffic, driver familiarisation and training took place (with the help of an English/Spanish translator!) and it wasn’t long before the locomotives were working alongside the Class 37s once again.
A year later, EWS won the contract to provide more locomotives to GIF for further work on similar high-speed line construction in the country. Again, EWS chose six Class 58 locomotives for this project, with 58020, 58024, 58025, 58029, 58030 and 58031 being the winning candidates. At the end of April 2004, plans were well in place for their export. Firstly, once remedial work and the painting had been completed at Eastleigh and Old Oak depots, 58025, 58029 and 58030 were moved to Cardiff Canton for tyre turning at the end of April, soon followed by 58024. The Class 58s were hauled to Cardiff by other locomotives because they no longer had any operating case on the UK mainline and drivers had lost their traction knowledge. Finally, once work had been completed on 58020/031 at Eastleigh, 66014 hauled them (58020 and 58031) to Alexandra Docks Jn (Newport) on Wednesday the 19th May. After dropping off the two ‘Bones’, the ‘Shed’ then ran light engine to Canton where it picked up 58024, 58025, 58029 and 58030 and hauled them to ADJ. From here they were tripped to the dock side and on Saturday 22nd May the locomotives were loaded onto the ship Fairload. From here, leaving the UK the next day, they sailed over to Seville (rather than being hauled through France due to ‘complications’ with the SNCF system as 58041/58043 took much longer to get to Spain than had been anticipated). Upon arrival at Seville, the six 58s were unloaded onto road lorry for onward transport to their ‘base’.
These six 58s were joined by the ‘original’ Spanish 58s in the southern part of the country for work on the new high-speed rail link line between Cordoba and Malaga - being based at Bobadilla depot (near Antequerra), whilst the fleet of ‘Spanish’ Class 37s remained at work between Lleida and Tarragona.
From Bobadilla depot, the locomotives have been constantly engaged on engineering trains involved with the building of the 350 km/h AVE (high-speed) line which extends from Cordoba (the junction being at Almodovar) to the south coast city of Malaga. Work on this line took from 2002 to 2007 to complete with final testing and opening having taken place in early 2008 with the biggest project on the line being the construction of the tunnel through the Abdalajis mountains which comprised of two separate bores running parallel to each other (one for each direction) and took over 26 months to complete.
In late 2007, 58031 was transferred (by road) to Olmedo (on the high speed line between Madrid and Valladolid) for a few months to assist with engineering work there but by mid-2008, this loco, along with all the remaining ones at Bobadilla (which had now finished work on the Cordoba-Malaga AVE) to Albacete for yet another new standard-gauge high speed line undergoing construction – this time from Albacete to Madrid.
The operation for this extension is obviously on a greater scale than previous lines as Continental Rail (the company hiring the locomotives for all the AVE projects) have requested at least a further four locos. As a result, EWS have identified 58015, 58021, 58027 and 58050 as potential candidates for this work and remedial work (and a repaint from their French liveries) is, at the time of writing, being undertaken at Eastleigh depot. Rumours suggest that further examples may be joining them, but this is as yet unconfirmed.
In Spain, the 58s were given new identification numbers and these are detailed below:

Spanish Class 58 summary (pool WZFS)


BR No. 'L' No. UK prep depot Front end Window Beading
58020 L43 Old Oak Common 1/2 yellow end Light blue
58024 L42 Old Oak Common 1/2 yellow end Light blue
58025 L41 Old Oak Common Full yellow end Black
58029 L44 Eastleigh Full yellow end Yellow
58030 L46 Eastleigh Full yellow end Black
58031 L45 Eastleigh Full yellow end Yellow
58041 L36 Eastleigh Full yellow end Yellow
58043 L37 Eastleigh Full yellow end Yellow


The Spanish Liveries In Detail...

The ‘GIF’* Livery
This livery was first seen on Class 37s shipped to Spain for work with GIF which undertakes work on the building of new rail infrastructure. When two class 37 were written off in collisions GIF approached EWS for two 58s to replace them. There are three versions of this livery on eight locomotives!
The livery basically consists of the following with some differences which I will deal with later. Light Grey roof, Sky/Powder Blue body, including all body side grills and cab sides. Cabs have full yellow ends. A Dark Blue band roughly the same size as the gold band on EWS locomotives runs along the body side. This is at the bottom of the body side doors however rather than mid body as with the EWS locomotives. Incorporated within this band are the letters GIF in White. The locomotives have a black underframe and buffer beams with black bogies and tanks. Locomotive numbers are in the front bottom corner on the driver’s side in a German railways type font. These are repeated on the front of the locomotives next to the headlight and both sets are white. EWS ‘three beasties’ logos are on the second man’s cab side as with the EWS locomotives. All have the standard orange cantrail overhead wires warning stripe. Differences are as follows:
58041 and 58043
These were the first two Class 58s to go to Spain in 2003. They have the wording “Continental Rail” in small lettering on the front end just below the handrail and in very small lettering under the ‘three beasties’ on the cab-side. These have the metal beading around the front windows painted black. Since going to Spain 58043 has had a large blue L37 number applied on the front ends and a large spotlight. L37 is its GIF number and it has been fitted with wing mirrors. The white 58043 numbers on the front have been removed. It is likely 58041 has had the same treatment but this is not confirmed and to date its GIF ‘L’ number is not known.
58025, 58029, 58030 and 58031
These formed part of the second batch of six Class 58s to go to Spain in 2004. They were painted at Eastleigh and are basically the same as 58041 and 58043 with the following differences. The beading around the front cab windows is yellow as opposed to black. The lettering ‘Continental Rail’ is larger. 58031 left the UK minus the GIF lettering on the dark blue band. It is unknown whether this has been added in Spain.
58020 and 58024
These Class 58s were painted at Old Oak Common in 2004 and formed the other part of the second batch of six to go to Spain. They are the same as 58025, 58029, 58030 and 58031 but they have the large radiator grills on the body side painted black and the cab window surrounds on the front are sky/powder blue so they do not therefore have full yellow ends like the rest of the GIF locomotives. Window frame beading is light blue.
* Whilst we have referred to the liveries as “GIF”, since the 58s were painted, this company has since been incorporated into Continental Rail who are now the official lessees of the locomotives.