British Rail Class 81

Ranked #209 on the list Best Locomotive class of All Time

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About British Rail Class 81

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The British Rail Class 81 is an AC electric locomotive that formerly operated on the West Coast Main Line of the London Midland Region of British Rail. Originally designated AL1, it was the first type of AC electric locomotive to be delivered to British Railways. As part of the modernization of the West Coast Main Line which included electrification, 100 locomotives of five types were acquired, each type from a different manufacturer. The first locomotives to be delivered were of type AL1 designed by British Thomson-Houston (BTH), an order being placed for 25 examples. Of these, 23 were for use on passenger trains with a top speed on 100 mph and were designated Type A. The two remaining locomotives were to be for use on freight trains with a top speed of 80 mph, and were designated Type B. Before the work was completed, BTH amalgamated with Metropolitan Vickers to form AEI (Associated Electrical Industries) traction division, and it was under this name that the locomotives were built in 1959 under subcontract by Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon in Smethwick. The first engine, number E3001, was handed over to British Railways on November 27, 1959. The type was initially used for

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