"PROJECT 62" LOCOMOTIVE GROUP - A HISTORY
THE "USA" TYPE TANK ENGINE AND CROATIAN BUILT CLASS 62 DERIVATIVES
In 1990 and subsequently again in 2006, a group of enthusiasts had the opportunity to acquire a USA type 0-6-0 tank locomotive. This type of engine was used by the Southern Railway, mainly for shunting in Southampton Docks between the end of World War Two and the demise of steam in the 1960's. 14 (plus one for spare parts) were purchased by the Southern Railway from the United States Army Transportation Corps in 1946. The class was very successful, proving powerful, economical to operate and relatively easy to maintain. During and immediately after the war, up to 400 were deployed across Europe and many were to become part of the locomotive fleets of railways in France, Greece, Hungary, Turkey, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.
The railway authorities in Yugoslavia were so impressed with the design that, over several years, many reproductions were manufactured in their locomotive workshops. These were almost identical in appearance to the older USA built engines, but included many improvements derived from operational experience. Both the old and new versions were known in Yugoslavia as the Class 62's. In 1990 examples of the class were still active throughout Yugoslavia and so a decision was made to purchase one. Built by Djuro Djakovic of Slavonski Brod in Croatia, a suitable locomotive was located at the Store Steelworks near Ljubljana, in what was to become the country Slovenia. No. 62-669 was built as recently as 1960 and was made redundant after only 25,000 miles in service.
Following a thorough examination, finance was raised on behalf of what was to become "PROJECT 62", named after the class of engine and 62-669 was purchased. The locomotive was dismantled on site in order to ensure clearance through the alpine road tunnels and was transported overland from Slovenia to the Swanage Railway in Dorset, where the engine was re-assembled and prepared for service. After running for a couple of years, many more improvements were authorised and these were carried out in 1994, during a major overhaul. To enhance the link with the old Southern Railway, the owners decided that 62-669 would adopt malachite green livery and take on the next vacant number 30075, after the Southern Region "USA" class series 30061 to 30074, of which today only 4 survive. The locomotive suffered a major steam pipe failure in1998 and was withdrawn from traffic.
30075 was dismantled at Swanage and moved by road to the East Somerset Railway in July 2002 and was returned to traffic at a Press Launch on the 7th of July 2004. 30075 was relocated to the Mid-Hants Railway in August 2009. Following withdrawal due to leaks in the inner firebox, 30075 was eventually moved to Shillingstone Station in Dorset, the base of the Shillingstone Project - North Dorset Railway Trust (NDRT) for repairs in January 2016. The locomotive is of ideal size and power for general service, Special Event use and Footplate Experience services on most UK Heritage Railways. 30075 has also visited the Bodmin & Wenford Railway in Cornwall, the Bristol Docks Railway and the Yeovil Junction Steam Gala, the Churnet Valley Railway and the Dartmoor Railway, whilst also appearing in many railway magazines. Once repaired, 30075 will be available for more guest visits to other Heritage Railways in the future - contact Project 62 (email link below) to enquire about availability.
In 2006 the opportunity arose to acquire a second Class 62, this time from Mittal Steel Zenica in Bosnia & Herzegovina. 62-521 will be rebuilt to form the 16th Southern/BR USA Tank and numbered 30076.
The photos above show a view from the fireman's side of the cab detailing the superb forward view from the footplate and a shot of the driver side controls.
All photos are copyright of Project 62 unless credited otherwise
Contact us - for further information about 30075, 30076, joining Project 62 or comments about this website