2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Railway transport

A Chinese-built 2-8-0 on display at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, WI, April 26, 2004.
A Chinese-built 2-8-0 on display at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, WI, April 26, 2004.

In the Whyte notation, a 2-8-0 is a railroad steam locomotive that has a single-axle leading truck followed by four powered driving axles. In the US, this wheel arrangement is commonly called a Consolidation.

The equivalent UIC classification is 1-D.


Of all the locomotive types that were created and experimented with in the early part of the 19th century, the 2-8-0 was a relative latecomer. The 2-6-0, often considered the logical forerunner to the 2-8-0, was first created in the early 1860s.

The first locomotive of this wheel arrangement was likely built by the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), but like the first 2-6-0s, this first 2-8-0 had a leading axle that was rigidly attached to the locomotive's frame. To create this 2-8-0, the PRR's master mechanic John P. Laird modified an existing 0-8-0, the Bedford between 1864 and 1865.

The locomotive Consolidation, built in 1865 is widely considered the first true 2-8-0 built in the United States. It is this locomotive that is the origin of the class name.

Only a few railroads purchased this locomotive type upon its introduction by Baldwin. Even the Baltimore & Ohio, which had nearly 180 of this locomotive type in regular service by 1885, didn't purchase any of this type until 1873.

The 2-8-0 design was given a major boost in 1875 when the PRR made it the railroad's standard freight locomotive. 1875 was also the year that the Erie Railroad began replacing its 4-4-0s in freight service with 2-8-0s. The railroads found that the 2-8-0 could move trains twice as heavy for half the cost of their earlier brethren. From a financial standpoint, the choice of freight locomotives was clear.

European use

The 2-8-0 was also a popular type in Europe, again largely as a freight hauler.


The 2-8-0 enjoyed a brief period of popularity in Germany during the period of the State Railways (Länderbahnen) prior to the establishment of the Deutsche Reichsbahn Gesellschaft (German National Railways) in 1920. The DRG chose the 2-10-0 as the heavy freight locomotive type for the new, unified rail system. Under the DRG's classification system, all 2-8-0s were assigned to series (Baureihe) BR 56, with different types receiving sub-classifications. The earliest type was the Prussian G73 of 1893.

United Kingdom

The 2-8-0 was the standard heavy freight steam locomotive type in the 20th Century. The first 2-8-0 built in Britain was the Great Western Railway's 2800 Class from 1903. Other systems followed the GWR's lead; notable British 2-8-0s include the LMS Stanier Class 8F, the GCR Class 8K, and the WD Austerity 2-8-0 of the World War II period.

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